A CNN affiliate has launched a broadside against the Serbian government over a draft law that it says restricts media freedom, threatening to take the case to European level if Belgrade does not back down.
Brent Sadler, a veteran CNN reporter and now chief executive of N1, an affiliated local-language 24-hour news channel that would broadcast to Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia from their capital cities, told beyondbrics that the proposed electronic media law would “strangle the channel before it is born”. Continue reading »
Masked men storming polling stations, assaulting officials and voters and throwing gas bombs; ballot boxes disappearing; international observers fleeing for their safety; an atmosphere of intimidation. Sunday’s local elections in Kosovo were not quite the affirmation of new-found inter-ethnic cooperation and free and fair democracy the European Union had hoped for. Serbia will wish to disassociate itself from the violence swiftly, lest it prove a setback to its budding hopes of EU accession, and the investment related to it. Continue reading »
It was the biggest initial public offering in Romania’s history, and the latest of several big IPOs in eastern Europe. But will Friday’s part-privatisation of natural-gas utility Romgaz reinvigorate Romania’s stalled liberalisation programme? Continue reading »
Just days before Serbia unveils its rebranded flag carrier in partnership with the UAE’s Etihad, Croatia has announced that it is seeking a strategic investor with ambitious plans for its own national airline. Where national carriers seemed to be dying off, killed by competition from budget carriers and western European rivals, there is now real hope of revival. Continue reading »
A landmark deal with Kosovo, a $3bn loan package from a new Emirati ally, a high-profile anti-corruption drive: Serbia has been filled with a new boldness in recent times.
It continued on Friday as the National Bank of Serbia cut its policy interest rate by half a point to 10.5 per cent, more than the expected quarter-point cut. The bank had held steady for the previous three months following reductions totalling 75 bp in May and June, as inflation fell from double figures. Continue reading »
Hollywood, Bollywood, Nigeria’s Nollywood; France’s arthouse cinema scene, British romcoms, Italian and Russian film from the likes of Fellini and Tarkovsky; the Korean Wave. The cinema culture of south eastern Europe may be rather less celebrated outside the region than those of its more famous peers, but there is growing recognition both of a resurgent home-grown movie scene and the competitive advantages of SEE as a location for shoots. Continue reading »
Reports of Serbia’s near-bankruptcy are exaggerated. True, the country is in a tight fiscal spot, growing slowly and in need of external help – but the apocalypse is not yet nigh. The government seems to be flagging up long-awaited cuts in the public sector. It is sweetening the pill with the announcement of a loan package worth up to $3bn from the UAE – Serbia’s new best friend – that could make a big difference to the beleaguered country. Continue reading »
Here to help
Serbs are justly proud of their hospitality. Traditionally, guests – whether old friends or new – are welcomed into the home and treated to limitless coffee, or meze and lashings of potent homemade slivovitz. Serbia’s latest guests this week, from the IMF, are as much old sparring partners as friends, but no doubt will receive a particularly warm welcome. For the country needs a new deal with the Fund to underpin its fledgling economic revival. Continue reading »
Romania’s interest rates have hit a record low, but will it be enough to revive its flagging economy?
As central banks in some developed markets seem to be gearing up for tighter monetary policy, Romania’s announced a third consecutive interest rate cut on Monday, citing falling inflation, and with an eye on sluggish growth. Continue reading »
It’s a precautionary arrangement, but could it spell another step towards economic recovery for beleaguered Romania? This week, the International Monetary Fund reached a deal with the Romanian government on a €4bn standby loan, tied to the condition that Bucharest push ahead with planned reforms to the health system, and with its stalled privatisation programme. Continue reading »
The government besieged, protesters and police packing the streets, an ongoing air of uncertainty over the country’s future – name the country. Not Turkey, or Egypt, but Bulgaria. But while demonstrators rage against the newly-appointed prime minister, the Balkan country has received a remarkably upbeat report from the International Monetary Fund, which praised the country’s economic stability and policies.
At the end of a regular staff visit on July 3, Michele Shannon, IMF Mission Chief for Bulgaria issued a statement that may give a fledgling, fragile and beleaguered government some succour. Continue reading »
Romania’s main interest rate was cut to record low on Monday on the expectation that inflation will slow, in what could be the first of several reductions. The National Bank of Romania (BNR) cut its benchmark rate to 5 per cent, after CPI came in at 5.3 per cent year-on-year in May, the same rate as April. The Bank expects inflation to fall into its target range of 1.5 to 3.5 per cent for the full year. Rates have been kept on hold since March 2012. Continue reading »
Ivica Todoric, the bullish owner of Agrokor, Croatia’s largest company, has, after many years of wooing, secured a majority stake in Mercator, Slovenia’s biggest retailer and largest employer.
Agrokor has announced that it has agreed with Mercator shareholders to take a 53.1 per cent stake in the company for €240m. The deal values Mercator at €120 per share, substantially below the €221 Agrokor reportedly offered last year. Continue reading »
Bulgaria’s Danubeside city of Vidin has a somewhat forlorn air. The great grey river slinks slowly by a long waterfront of panel blocks gazing across the water to the forests of Romania. Among the cracked pavements, despoiled Communist monuments and boarded-up shops, there are, however, a few glimmers of a noble past: an old quarter with some charm, and the stout fortress of Baba Vida, which stands on ancient foundations. The fortress and the elegant gateway to the old city – the Stambul Kapiya, or Istanbul gate – remind the visitor that this was once an important centre in a European network of empire and trade. Continue reading »