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Merkel: Solution brings benefit both to northern Macedonia and Greece

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who arrived in Greece on Thursday for a two-day visit, at a joint press conference with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, has referred to Macedonia as Northern Macedonia, according to Greek daily Ekathimerini.

“I am grateful for the Prespa Agreement. It really closes a circle. When Mr. Tsipras came to Berlin for the first time, things were different. Confidence has developed between us, I know that the Greek people have gone through a difficult period. The Greeks had to suffer painful reforms,” Chancellor Merkel has told a news conference.

While referring to the Prespa agreement, Merkel is quoted by Ekathimerini as saying “I am grateful to Alexis Tsipras who worked with Mr Zaev on a solution to the name dispute. The name Northern Macedonia is clear. It is clear that relations are formed. I can only congratulate the Greek Prime Minister because the solution will benefit us all – Greece, Northern Macedonia and the whole of Europe ”.

Merkel welcomed Tsipras’s determined efforts to resolve the perennial row over Macedonia’s name, supporting a landmark agreement that will see Greece’ s northern neighbor being renamed the Republic of Northern Macedonia. Germany, like other EU members, says resolution of the dispute is crucial to shoring up the stability of the fragile western Balkans at a time of mounting Russian influence in the region.

Greek PM Tsipras praised the deal reached between Athens and Skopje, noting that it can set a positive example, a “model” for solving other problems in the region. He described Geece as a pillar of stability in the region. Tsipras said the country used to be a part of the problem but now it is part of the solution.

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Stones hurled at Sofia Central Synagogue

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An unidentified man hurled stones through the window of a synagogue in Bulgarian capital Sofia on Saturday afternoon, local Jews said.

Alexander Oscar, the president of the Shalom Organization of Jews in Bulgaria, wrote on his Facebook page that the man who hurled stones left the scene without intervention from passersby. The sanctuary sustained light damage from the attack and no one was hurt.

Their inaction was one of the most worrisome aspects of the incident, Oscar has said.

“The language of hatred in Bulgaria already manifests itself in physical incidents with direct attacks on Jewish communal property,” he added.

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Greece: Mitsotakis rejects Tsipras’ invitation to TV debate on Prespa accord

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Greece’s main opposition New Democracy party on Thursday turned down Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ invitation to a televised debate with New Democracy leaders Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

If the opposition leader agreed to a TV duel with the prime minister, the two were to debate the Prespa agreement Greece and Macedonia had signed to end perennial row over the latter’s name.

The announcement, released by the New Democracy press officer, says “international agreements are debated and ratified in Parliament, with participation of all parties and all MPs, who must assume a historic responsibility, particularly for an agreement as important as the one resolving the dispute with FYROM”.

The opposition party calls on Tsipras to explain to parliament why he intended to ratify the “damaging Prespes Agreement” and “hand over the so-called Macedonian ethnicity and language, a concession no Greek government has ever dared to consider”.

“If the prime minister was in a hurry for debate, he should call early elections and let the people have the final say.

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Slovenia: Thieves make off with EUR1million stolen from security vehicle

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Thieves reportedly stole one million euros from armored vehicle of Slovenian Security Agency in Celje. Local media said Slovenia security van robbery, which happened in late December, netted around 1 million euros and that police are still searching for perpetrators.

The Maribor-based newspaper Vecer, two security employees had left the vehicle unsupervised at the Agency’s yard. They didn’t wait for their colleagues to take up the shift and the shipment.

Thieves made off with around EUR 1 million cash.

It is assumed that the thieves had insider source that helped them in the heist as they knew where the vehicle key was stored.

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