Montenegro repays first instalment of Chinese motorway loan

Denitsa Koseva in Sofia July 21, 2021

Podgorica struggled to repay loan for Bar-Boljare motorway after Montenegrin economy suffered the deepest contraction across the emerging Europe region in 2020.

Georgia’s banks boast biggest profits ever in June

Iulian Ernst in Bucharest July 21, 2021

Also, in January-June, aggregated profits exceeded one billion lari, or more than $300mn.

Turkey extends financial restructuring law by two years

Akin Nazli in Belgrade July 20, 2021

If creditors covering 2/3 of a syndicated loan agree to a restructuring with the debtor, the other creditors can be obliged to go along with the deal. Forbearance measures, meanwhile, make it impossible to track lending to Turkish real sector.

European Commission slams Bulgaria on rule of law, Slovenia on media freedom

Denitsa Koseva in Sofia, Iulian Ernst in Bucharest, Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje July 20, 2021

Highly critical European Commission report issued as Sofia tries to sack chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev, who has thwarted efforts by the caretaker government to investigate top-level corruption. Shortcomings reported in other SEE EU members.

North Macedonia expects cannabis cultivation to boost GDP by €250mn a year

Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje July 20, 2021

Skopje allows export of dried cannabis flowers as it seeks to boost exports and create 'cannabis tourism' sector modelled on Amsterdam.

Brussels approves Czech national recovery plan but warns about Babis' conflict of interest

bne IntelliNews July 20, 2021

€8bn in EU grants could be held up because of dispute over Prime Minister Andrej Babis' continuing control of his Agrofert holding.

Hungarian government caught off guard by spying revelations

bne IntelliNews July 20, 2021

Ruling party to boycott parliamentary committee meeting on its alleged use of Israeli software to spy on journalists and opposition politicians.

Romania’s PM bullish expectations may put fiscal consolidation at risk

Iulian Ernst in Bucharest July 20, 2021

Florin Citu says GDP growth could hit 10% in 2021 as he heads into party leadership campaign.

Russia shows tentative willingness to let US use Central Asia bases

Eurasianet July 19, 2021

Moscow wants to heavily constrain Washington's scope for action, however.

Azerbaijani journalist targeted with Pegasus spyware ‘ready to take fight to European courts’

bne IntelIiNews July 19, 2021

Phone number of Sevinj Vaqifqizi one of 50,000 worldwide discovered on leaked database that appears to implicate a dozen governments.

Leaders of Serbia and Kosovo blame each other for failed talks in Brussels

Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje July 19, 2021

No progress on normalisation of relations at second meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti.

Iran’s “vaccine tourists” sleeping on streets of Yerevan after tightening of rules

bne IntelIiNews July 19, 2021

Taxi drivers charging Iranians seeking jabs $120 for round trip from Tehran to Armenian border.

Hungarian government accused of using Israeli software to spy on investigative journalists

bne IntelliNews July 19, 2021

At least 10 Hungarian lawyers, one opposition politician and five journalists' phone numbers are on the leaked list of potential targets.

CEE dealmaking back at pre-COVID levels in H1, says Mergermarket

bne IntelliNews July 19, 2021

The first half was particularly strong in the mid-market and smaller-ticket segment.

Russia to pause support for overheated car market

bne IntelliNews July 19, 2021

Russia's Ministry of Industry and Trade will pause the support programme for discounted car leasing worth RUB5bn ($67.5mn), as the car market is seen as overheated, Kommersant daily reported.

Romania’s bourse over 30% above pre-crisis peak

Iulian Ernst in Bucharest July 19, 2021

The Bucharest Stock Exchange's blue chip BET index crossed the 12,000 points threshold for the first time on July 13 and ended the week at 12,026.

Tikhanovskaya goes to Washington as Lukashenko’s media crackdown intensifies

Ben Aris in Berllin July 19, 2021

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya arrived in Washington on July 17 to lobby the US government for support in the struggle to oust Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, whose crackdown on the media intensified in the lead-up.

UK waste exporters welcome Turkey U-turn on accepting shipments of plastics

Akin Nazli in Belgrade July 18, 2021

Campaigners, who say such waste is being dumped and burned, say it is concerning Turkish government has so quickly succumbed to industry lobbying.

Russian prosecutors propose suspended sentence for Calvey

Ben Aris in Berlin July 16, 2021

Kremlin seeks face-saving solution for American fund manager accused of embezzlement and fraud by former partner.

Water stress protests break out in Iran’s southwest

bne IntelIiNews July 16, 2021

Anger over effects of severe drought add to difficulties and tensions seen over lack of water in Central Asia and Turkey.