Russia tries to derail Sofia-Skopje thaw in relations

The presidents of Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia will visit Rome together on 27 May to honour St. Cyril and St. Methodius, which is seen as a step towards warming relations. [EFE/SERGEY ILYIN / KREMLIN / SPUTNIK POOL ]

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 In today’s news from the Capitals:


While Bulgaria is making efforts to improve relations with North Macedonia, the Russian embassy in Skopje issued a message that could only be seen as a provocation in Sofia.

24 May is celebrated in several countries, including Bulgaria, Russia and North Macedonia, as the day of the Saint Brothers Cyril and Methodius and of the Cyrillic script. The presidents of Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia will visit Rome together on 27 May to honour St. Cyril and St. Methodius, which is seen as a step towards warming relations. More.



Budget rules to apply from 2023 to avoid ‘fiscal risks’ – commission. The European Commission’s executive vice-president, Valdis Dombrovskis, has argued that the provision of liquidity to the debt markets for “too long” in the European Union could result in “fiscal risks” and that therefore the EU’s rules on budgetary discipline are to be reactivated in 2023. More


German Greens favour supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine should have the prospect of joining NATO and should be provided with defensive weapons for the resistance against Russian military intervention in the country’s east, German Green co-leader Robert Habeck told FAZ and Deutschlandfunk after visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj in Kyiv. More.



Scepticism of vaccines is declining in Austria. While scepticism surrounding COVID-19 vaccines has been running high in Austria throughout the pandemic, a new study conducted by the University of Vienna, shows a increase in the percentage of people willing to get vaccinated. Read more 



Next Belgian Consultation Committee postponed to June. Belgium’s next Concertation Committee, meant to discuss a further opening from COVID-19 restrictions, has been postponed from 28 May to 4 June. The decision was linked to the process of approval of the European COVID certificate. However, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo announced that the postponement of the consultation committee does not call into question the following stages of deconfinement, with the date of 9 June earmarked for the reopening of a series of indoor activities, including indoor hospitality sector. (Alexandra Brzozowski,



UK slaps airspace ban on Belarus. UK ministers have told airlines to avoid Belarusian airspace following the arrest of dissident journalist Roman Protasevich after the Ryanair flight he was on board was diverted to Minsk. Read more.



Northern Irish Health Minister disappointed his Irish counterpart won’t meet to discuss cross-border travel. Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster on Monday, Northern Ireland’s Minister for Health Robin Swann said he was disappointed his Republic of Ireland counterpart Stephen Donnelly had “encouraged our officials to meet” rather than taking part himself. Read more.



Think tank: Finnish government will ‘destroy’ country’s future. The left-leaning five-party government of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) will “destroy Finland’s future”, according to a report published Monday by the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (Etla), a think tank close to the country’s industrial and business community. Read more.



Tension rises in Italian government over dismissal ban extension. Italy’s extension of the ban on staff dismissals in large companies until 28 August, proposed last week by Italian Labour Minister Andrea Orlando, was revoked on Monday, after Confindustria, the association of the largest companies in the country, criticised the move.

“I have proposed a selective extension of the block because I am deeply convinced that all possible tools are needed to deal with the June transition,” said Orlando, as reported by the newspaper la Repubblica.

However, the issue of employment remains central for the government, which aims to launch a package of rules to counter the crisis caused by the pandemic. A study by the Bank of Italy predicts 577,000 possible dismissals after the end of the ban. (Daniele Lettig |



Spain positions itself to be Europe’s green hydrogen hub. Spain has the “best conditions” to become Europe’s green hydrogen hub, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Monday. Read the full story



Slovak cultural sector demands interference from the Commission. Almost 650 representatives of the Slovak cultural sector and cultural institutions sent an open letter to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and other representatives of the European institutions demanding they pressure the Slovak government to include culture and creative sectors in the country’s recovery and resilience plan. Read more.



Poland will not comply with EU top court ruling on Turow, PM says. Poland will not comply with the ruling of the European Union’s top court, which ordered Warsaw to immediately stop mining in the Turów lignite mine on the border with the Czech Republic, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday (24 May). More



Global corporate tax proposal could see Hungary losing foreign investments. Fears are growing in Hungary over the US government’s proposal of 21% global corporate tax, with one op-ed warning the country, which currently has a 9% corporate tax, the lowest in the EU and the fourth lowest in the world, has much to lose.

In an article for Hungary Today, journalist Zalán Trajbár raised fears that the proposal by the Biden administration for a global 21% corporate tax on multinational companies would lead to companies leaving Hungary. “Hungary is not a tax haven; it does not host a multitude of multinational headquarters who use it to avoid paying taxes. Hungary is using a low corporate tax rate, combined with many other economic incentives, to bring in large amounts of foreign capital investment,” Trajbár wrote.(Željko Trkanjec |



Slovenia proposes compromise to appoint EU delegated prosecutors. After months back and forth over the appointment of two EU delegated prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO), a compromise solution to allow Slovenia to appoint only one prosecutor has been proposed by EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders. Read more.



Romania’s president calls for fair ‘burden-sharing’ in climate change fight. Romania wants to be part Europe’s fight against climate change as long as the burden-sharing is carried out fairly, President Klaus Iohannis told a European Council meeting in Brussels.

“The fight against climate change must be manageable for both national economies, and for each citizen, and I will be very engaged in finding a solution, a fair regulation, that would put us in a position to fight against climate change, but with just burden sharing,” Iohannis added.

The head of state said the EU’s recently updated climate targets set out by EU leaders in December are ambitious yet achievable. In December, EU leaders endorsed a binding EU target for a net domestic reduction of at least 55% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990. (Bogdan Neagu |



Croatia could relax COVID-19 rules before 1 June. Some of Croatia’s pandemic restrictions, including the opening of restaurants’ indoor sections, could be eased before 1 June, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Monday. Read more.



Swedish Minister: Serbia making headway in reforms, quality needs work. Serbia has made headway in reforms but the quality of these reforms still needs work, according to Sweden’s Foreign Minister Ann Linde, who is currently chairing the OSCE. The OSCE is ready to support the path taken by Serbia had taken, said Sweden’s foreign minister after meeting her Serbian counterpart Nikola Selaković in Belgrade who confirmed his country’s support for the OSCE’s priorities set during the Swedish presidency of the body.

Linde also praised Serbia for donating vaccines to neighbouring countries and stressed the good bilateral relations between the two countries. The topics discussed at the meeting included the implementation of reforms in Serbia, the Belgrade-Priština dialogue and bilateral relations. ( |



Belgrade extends financial assistance to every Serb in Kosovo. Every Serb in Kosovo, including children, will be given a payment of €100 from the Serbian government on Monday as part of a “one-off financial package”, Serbian Finance Minister Siniša Mali has said. Read more.



HDZ BiH leader: BiH will never be unitary state. Dragan Čović, the leader of  HDZ BiH, has said that “Bosnia and Herzegovina will never be a unitary state. It will not be a civic state either, in the way that some are thinking and trying to implement it through domination over others”  N1 reported. Read more.



Montenegrin PM gives personal apology for Srebrenica genocide victims. Montenegrin Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić said in Sarajevo on Monday that he was deeply sorry for all the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide and recalled that he had demanded the dismissal of his cabinet’s minister after he had downplayed that war crime against local Bosniaks. Read more.


  • France: National assembly to debate the reinforcement of national and EU digital sovereignty.
  • Spain: Trade unions and business associations are to negotiate the extension of temporary lay-off schemes known as ERTE, which are due to expire at the end of May.
  • Poland: Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife will visit Tbilisi in Georgia from Wednesday to Thursday.
  • Czechia: Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek will visit Germany, where he will meet his counterpart, Heiko Maas to discuss the Czech-German strategic dialogue, new travel and transport rules, as well his country taking over the rotating EU Council presidency in the second half of 2022.
  • Croatia: Interior Minister Davor Božinović will hold a press conference on the decision on financing the project “Demining and Protection of Karst Forests in Natura 2000 Areas in the Southwestern Part of Karlovac County – Karlovac KARST”, while the parliament’s judiciary committee is to hold a session at which it gives its opinion on the candidates for the Supreme Court President.
  • Slovenia: Top officials from the EU Parliament will start talks with Prime Minister Janez Janša, Foreign Minister Anže Logar and Speaker Igor Zorčič as part of their two-day virtual visit.
  • Serbia: Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde is continuing her visit to Serbia, where she is to meet with Serbia’s president, prime minister, EU integration minister, justice minister and parliament speaker.


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Josie Le Blond]

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