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2019: Serbia The Year As It Was

Although we attempt to compile a list of the most memorable events of the last 12-month period at the end of each year, and to place them in a historical perspective, we are sometimes blind to the most important events that shape our destiny. When it comes to 2019, some hope is provided by the fact that it wasn’t just another year during which we wasted our precious time

What makes a year memorable or just one of many that are unworthy of occupying a specific and indelible place in our hearts and minds? Obviously, disasters like the 2008 financial crisis end up being carved into the memories of almost every country and all people. We measure our days between those before and after the crisis that resulted in us losing a job or barely escaping personal financial collapse. But what about a year that saw your country attract nearly 12 times as much FDI as other economies of equivalent size? It sounds like a good one, but the real gains – major or modest – will probably only be properly measurable in years to come. Or how about the year that saw the first ever cargo train depart from China bound for Serbia? Would that represent a milestone in Serbia-Sino relations, a watershed event signalling a shift of the Serbian economy towards the Chinese market, or just an episode with no additional value?

Each year we delve into the calendar behind us, and the one ahead of us, in an attempt to make sense of the events that seemed only momentarily important and/or those that set the stage for events that are yet to come. Indeed, some events seem to be important on a large scale – like if Serbia and Kosovo had reached a final agreement on their relations in 2019, it would mark the resolving of a problem that has hung over the Western Balkans for years. However, we already know that 2019 is one of the many years in which nothing important happened in that respect, or during which some things made the eventual reaching of a solution even harder. And 2020, at least for now, doesn’t promise to be any different.

Some years are important because they mark anniversaries of decades, centuries or even longer periods since something relevant happen. For example, it was on 22nd December 2009 that Serbia officially applied for European Union membership, which was considered an important milestone in our mutual relations. From today’s perspective, this anniversary may also cause bitterness, given that not as much as we hoped for has happened since.

Some events will probably dissipate from our collective memory. One of them is the huge queues in front of the first ever Starbucks coffee shop in Belgrade, which opened at the Rajićeva Shopping Centre in April 2019. After all, it is hard to beat a new McDonalds in that respect.

For some years, we only discover that they were historical long after they've passed. For example, perhaps one of the Belgrade Mathematical Grammar School's winners of the three gold medals, one silver and two bronzes at the 60th International Mathematical Olympiad, held in the UK in July 2019, will one day become a Nobel Prize winner in mathematics. Perhaps the beauty is precisely in that which is unknown.

January

Novak Đoković sets record with seventh Australian Open title

Novak Djokovic won the Australian Open title for a record seventh time setting. In the finals Novak beat Rafael Nadal (Spain) in straight-sets 6:3, 6:2, 6:3.

Novak-Djokovic-Australian-Open

Serbia recorded solid economic growth in 2018, but face a larger trade deficit and brain drain

The Serbian economy achieved partially positive results in 2018, with the growth of GDP reaching the average level of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. However, the country's trade and current account deficits also increased, investments remained low, while the workforce fled abroad en masse. Serbia's economic growth of 4.3 per cent in 2018 was largely the result of one-off factors. Had they not been forthcoming, annual GDP growth would have remained between 3.3 and 3.4 per cent. Real wages increased by around four per cent, while registered employment grew by 3.3% and unemployment dropped by as much as 13.2%. This is also a result, among other things, of the departure of workers abroad, leaving domestic companies and institutions lacking skilled workers.

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Government decides to provide financial support to airlines of public interest

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The Government of Serbia has reached a decision enabling certain airlines to be declared as connections of public interest and introduced the possibility of compensating airline companies running flights along these routes. Airlines could be proclaimed as being in the public interest, based on a decision reached on 31st January, if they run flights along routes via an airport serving one or more developing regions in Serbia, as well as routes with traffic of up to 100,000 passengers per year towards any other airport. The Serbian Government’s decision left the possibility of establishing an airline of public interest on the basis of bilateral and multilateral agreements.

Putin visits Serbia, announces $1.4 billion investments and the return of a 166th missing page from “Miroslav’s Gospel”

Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced during his visit to Belgrade that Russia is ready to invest approximately $1.4 billion in the development of infrastructure in Serbia and, among other things, the continuation of construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline across the territory of Serbia.

The Russian President stressed that Russia's position on Kosovo is clear – Moscow supports a mutually acceptable solution for Belgrade and Pristina that must be based on UN Security Council Resolution 1244. One of the agreements reached in the meeting between President Vladimir Putin and President Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade relates to the 166th page of the manuscript “Miroslav's Gospel”, one of the oldest surviving documents written in the Serbian recension of Church Slavic.

It was agreed that the missing page, which has been kept at the National Library of Russia in St. Petersburg since 1846, would be returned to Belgrade. Miroslav's Gospel is the oldest preserved illustrated manuscript in Serbian Cyrillic script. Added to UNESCO's Memory of the World Register in 2005, it is preserved at the National Museum in Belgrade. Page 166 was taken to Russia by Archimandrite Porphyria Uspensky, a scientist, researcher, theologian and later Bishop of Kiev, after his visit to Hilandar Monastery in January 1846. It is believed that Dutch monks gave the guest the page from Miroslav's Gospel.

Serbia's population will have reduced by 21 per cent by 2060 compared to 2015

According to the projections of Eurostat, the European statistical agency, Serbia will have a population 21 per cent lower than in 2015 by the year 2060, which classifies it among the European countries with the largest expected fall in population numbers, Eurostat announced.

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Record competition for NIN Award, Vladimir Tabašević winner with the novel “Saint Sebastian’s Delusion”

The announcement of the NIN Award winner reawakens Serbia's culture scene each year, following the post-holiday standstill. The NIN Award itself annually determines and announces the best novel, traditionally prompting year-long speculations and predictions of who the next winner will be. On 14th January 2019, it was Vladimir Tabašević who won the NIN Award, with the novel "Saint Sebastian's Delusion”, published by Laguna. He won in a record-breaking competition, with as many as 201 novels competing for this respected annual award. In the award-winning novel, Tabašević addresses the phenomenon of victimhood and its misconceptions, taking as a subtext the story of Saint Sebastian, the commander of the Praetorian guards that persecuted Christians, writing the story of the wars of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia in this light, as well as contemporary misconceptions in which memories are constantly transformed.

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Protests “One Of Five Million”

In late 2018, a series of peaceful protests took place in Belgrade, soon spreading to cities across the country. The demonstrations have lasted more than a year during 2019 and they become some of the longest-running in Europe.

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Etihad cancels order of 10 Airbus aircraft for Air Serbia

Airline Etihad Airways decided to cancel the purchase of ten Airbus A320 Neo aircraft, with the deposit paid to Airbus in 1998 by Air Serbia predecessor JAT Airways returned to the Serbian national carrier. As part of the ongoing restructuring of the Etihad Group, Etihad Airways decided to cancel the purchase of a number of aircraft, though the company later stated that the purchase was postponed rather than cancelled.

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February

Serbia becomes full member of Erasmus+

Serbia has officially become a full member of the Erasmus+ Programme, the EU's largest educational programme, with assets standing at €14.7 billion. The agreement on Serbia’s formal admission into the programme was signed in Brussels by Serbian Education, Science and Technological Development Minister Mladen Šarčević and European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Tibor Navracsics.

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Serbia progresses 11 places on list of economic freedoms

Serbia has advanced on the index of economic freedoms of the Heritage Foundation for 2019, ranking 69th among 180 countries, representing an advancement of 11 places compared to the previous year. Serbia's overall score, according to the Foundation’s website, increased by 1.4 points to 63.9 points, which placed the country in the category of economically “moderately free countries”.

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38,000 people visited exhibition of one of the most famous 20th century Serbian painters Marko Čelebonović

A retrospective exhibition of one of Serbia's most famous 20th century painters, Marko Čelebonović, had been planned to end in January, but – in response to the huge interest in the works of this great painter – the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts set a precedent by extending the duration of the exhibition. Around 38,000 people saw the marvellous paintings of Marko Čelebonović during the showing of this exhibition.

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Vinci takes over Nikola Tesla Airport

French company Vinci aims to reach a figure of 15 million passengers per year at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport, said Vinci Concession General Director and Vinci Airports Chairman Nicolas Notebaert, speaking on the occasion that saw Vinci officially become the operator of Nikola Tesla Airport. Vinci took control of Nikola Tesla Airport for a 25-year period after paying a one-off concession fee of 501 million euros.

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Coca Cola buys Bambi

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Company Coca-Cola HBC AG purchased Serbia's leading confectionery company, Bambi, from buyout investor Mid Europa Partners for a price of approximately 260 million euros.

Ralph Fiennes guest of the 47th International Film Festival-FEST

The FEST - International Film Festival is traditionally the star of Belgrade’s cultural life during the month of February. Dubbed by many as one of the most prominent film festivals in this part of Europe, this year's 47th edition of FEST presented 125 local film premieres, screening films that won awards at other international film festivals, as well as Oscar-nominated pictures, Hollywood hits, feature films and documentaries. Among many guests, British actor and director Ralph Fiennes attracted the greatest attention. One of the most frequent guests of FEST in recent years, Fiennes was this year presented with the Belgrade Victor Award for his past work.

March

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte Visits Belgrade, His First Visit To The Western Balkans Since Coming To Office

The visit of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to Serbia marked his first visit to the Western Balkans since coming to office, but also his first bilateral visit to a European country since the beginning of the year. “With my visit to Belgrade, I conveyed a clear message about the importance that Italy attaches to political and economic, but also cultural relations with Serbia… This year we celebrate the 140th year since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Rome and Belgrade and the 10th anniversary of the consolidating of our strategic partnership,” said Conte in the Serbian capital.

Serbia makes progress on prevention of money laundering

According to a report of Moneyval – the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism – Serbia has made major progress on its compliance with recommendations from the Council of Europe’s permanent monitoring body for assessing compliance with the principal international standards to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism. As opposed to an April 2016 report that rated Serbia as “partially compliant” or “non-compliant” with nine out of 10 Moneyval recommendations, the new report stated there were no cases of non-compliance with any of the recommendations. A new Moneyval report is due out in December.

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Ivana Španović Defends Gold Medal With 6.99m Jump

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Ivana Španović Defends Gold Medal With 6.99m Jump At The Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships

Restored Golubac Fortress officially opens

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Golubac Fortress, a 14th-century medieval fortification built at the very entrance to the Đerdap 'Iron Gates' Gorge, has been restored with financial support from the European Union. The restored Golubac Fortress was officially opened in the presence of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, then European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia H.E. Sem Fabrizi, Austrian Ambassador to Serbia H.E. Nikolaus Lutterotti and a large number of citizens.

Serbian-Russian Film ‘the Balkan Line’ Seen By Around Two Million Viewers In Serbia And Russia

Serbian-Russian-Film-‘the-Balkan-Line’-Seen-By-Around-Two-Million-Viewers-In-Serbia-And-Russia

During its first five days of screening, Serbian-Russian film 'The Balkan Line' (Balkanska Medja) was watched by 50,000 people, with 150,000 having seen it after a month and a half, and - after just a few months – it had been seen by around two million viewers in Serbia and Russia! The Balkan Line is a war spectacle directed by Andrey Volgin and starring Miloš Biković, the current leading light of Serbian cinema. The film is inspired by a real-life event that took place on 12th June 1999 and follows the action of Russian soldiers during the capture of Pristina's Slatina Airport. Aircraft, bombing, scenes of violence, love, very realistic audio-visual effects, patriotic fervor, hope, and the impression that justice is victorious are the main details that ensured The Balkan Line filled cinema halls and received positive reviews and awards at international festivals.

One Of World's Greatest Ballet Artist, Polunin, Made A Guest Performance At The National Theatre In Belgrade

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Sergei Polunin, who is widely regarded among experts as the greatest ballet artist in the world today, made a guest performance at the National Theatre in Belgrade with the ballet Posvećenje [Sacre], choreographed by Yuka Oishi. He gave three performances in front of an auditorium that was packed out from the ground floor to the third gallery, in the literal sense of the word. Polunin, now aged 30, was just 19 when he became the youngest principal dancer of the Royal Ballet in London. He opened his own foundation for talented young ballet dancers in Belgrade and formally opened last year's Exit Festival in Novi Sad, while in Belgrade he drew attention to the opening of the renovated building of the National Museum with a video with which he wanted to raise interest in Serbia's rich cultural heritage among people around the world.

April

Serbia becomes a member of CERN

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CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, welcomed Serbia as its 23rd Member State, with formal notification from UNESCO confirming that Serbia has acceded to the CERN Convention. As a CERN Member State, Serbia will have voting rights in the Council - CERN’s highest decision-making authority, and will contribute to the organisation’s budget. Membership will enhance recruitment opportunities for Serbian nationals at CERN, as well as the chances for Serbian industry to bid for CERN contracts. Serbia’s main involvement with CERN today is in the ATLAS and CMS experiments, in the ISOLDE facility, which carries out research in areas ranging from nuclear physics to astrophysics, and on design studies for future particle colliders – FCC and CLIC – both of which are potentially new flagship projects at CERN.

30 Years Of Bitef Theatre Marked With The Guest Appearance Of Famous Italian Theatre Director Roberto Ciulli

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Famous Italian theatre director Roberto Ciulli, 85, one of the most significant and provocative directors of our time, was the guest for the 30th anniversary of Belgrade's Bitef Theatre. Ciulli is among the witnesses of the emergence and rise of the Bitef Festival, which formed the basis for founding the eponymous theatre. Cuilli's directorial performances have strongly marked the festival itself, while the presentation of his lexicon - “Mein ABC des Theaters” - was part of commemorations marking the anniversary and evoking the memories of Bitef founders Mira Trailović and Jovan Ćirilov, who – according to Ciulli himself – also significantly influenced the work of the Theater an der Ruhr that he founded in Milheim, Germany. “Together, Mira and Jovan succeeded in achieving something very big and significant in cultural and artistic terms in the former Yugoslavia,” said Ciulli.

During the Western Balkans Digital Summit held in Belgrade, the agreement was reached for the WB countries to abolish roaming charges by 2021

Western Balkan countries reached agreement on 4th April, during the Western Balkans Digital Summit held in Belgrade, to reduce and eventually abolish roaming charges for mobile devices. Starting in July, the deal will cut roaming charges by 27 per cent across Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. The plan is to then abolish such charges completely by 2021, according to a Serbian government announcement.

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The 32nd Belgrade Marathon & CorD Charity Masters

CorD-Charity-Masters-at-Belgrade-Marathon

This April marked the 13th consecutive year during which CorD Magazine organised the CorD Charity Masters, the first humanitarian race to be held in cooperation with the Belgrade Marathon. The CorD Charity Masters has been held under the scope of the Belgrade Marathon each year since 2006 and aims to bring together readers and partners of CorD Magazine to help those in need. The success of this CorD Magazine humanitarian initiative led to many companies, organisations and individuals following with their own humanitarian actions, which today represent one of the basic elements of the Belgrade Marathon.

Serbia's first Starbucks opens

One of the world's most popular coffee shop chains, Starbucks, has arrived in Serbia for coffee lovers, with the first cafe located in the new Rajićeva Shopping Centre in Belgrade city centre.

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Serbia posts €100m loss after 100 days of tariffs imposed by Kosovo

According to the official statistics of the Serbian Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications, in the 100 days since the Kosovo authorities imposed tariffs on products from Serbia, the country placed fewer goods in Kosovo (worth €100,630,000) than during the same period of the previous year. The tariffs were imposed unilaterally in November 2018.

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Gorenje to relocate all production to Serbia

Gorenje's Valjevo factory, a member of the Gorenje Group that has been majority owned by China's Hisense Group since last year, is set to become the group's European hub for the manufacture of cooling devices in the period ahead, while the remainder of the group's refrigerator production operations for a new generation of appliances is currently being transferred from Slovenia to the Serbian town of Valjevo. This would lead to the production of approximately 150,000 appliances annually and mark an enterprise investment of approximately four million euros.

Gorenje-to-relocate-all-production-to-Serbia

NBS starts monitoring bank adverts as of 1st April

The National Bank of Serbia (NBS) started monitoring the advertising of banks, to check if their commercial messages are accurate, decent or insulting to clients or the competition. During the pre-monitoring of new products, NBS will request the submission of advertising messages, i.e. a description of an advertising campaign in order to be able to assess whether they are in accordance with the formal decision regulating standards and rules.

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May

Ambassador Fabrizi officially submits 2019 EU report to PM Brnabić

Ambassador Sem Fabrizi, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Serbia, handed the latest Annual Report of the European Commission on the Republic of Serbia to Prime Minister Ana Brnabić.

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Parliament adopts lex specialis for loans in Swiss Francs

The Serbian National Assembly adopted the Law on the Conversion of Housing Loans Indexed in Swiss Francs, as the result of a compromise solution between the government, civil society and banks. Under the new law, borrowers have the choice between converting their loans into euros or resuming litigation in court. The lex specialis envisages the conversion of outstanding portions of debt into euros and a 38% reduction in the amount thus obtained, as well as limiting the interest rate to 3.4%. This solution will cost the state (taxpayers) just under 100 million euros.

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Nikola Jokić named one of the NBA Top Five cest centres

Serbian basketball player Nikola Jokić (Denver) was named as one of the NBA top five best centres. The other four are Stephen Curry (Golden State), James Harden (Houston), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee) and Paul George (Oklahoma).

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Serbia among World's top 54 countries for digital start-ups

The Belgrade-Novi Sad Start-up Ecosystem has been included in the top 54 such systems in the world for the first time, according to U.S. organisation Startup Genome, which analyses more than 150 cities across all continents. According to an announcement of the Digital Serbia Initiative, Startup Genome sees accessible and high-quality engineering experts as the strongest quality of the Belgrade-Novi Sad ecosystem, while games and blockchain technology are seen as its strongest sectors.

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Merging of Vojvođanska and OTP banks finalised

Vojvođanska Bank and OTP Bank Serbia officially finalised what has been described as “one of the most complex integrations on the domestic financial market”, opting to continue operating under the name of Vojvodjanska Bank. The OTP Group acquired Vojvodjanska Bank in December 2017 and the unified bank generated profits of €58.7 million in the first four months of 2019, with overall assets increasing by 17 per cent to reach €1.7 billion.

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Serbia Introduces Life Imprisonment

Serbia introduces life imprisonment, initiated by Igor Jurić, father of Tijana (14), girl who was brutally murdered in 2014.

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54th Sterijino Pozorje held under the slogan “Rebellion - Female Gender”

Rebellion—Female-Gender-Sterijino-pozorje

This year saw the 54th Sterijino pozorje [Sterija's Theatre], the festival of theatrical performances based on local plays, held in Novi Sad. This year's Pozorje was experienced as “something new” due to a change in the concept according to which plays were selected.

Specifically, selector Svetislav Jovanov chose eight plays that are characterised by an authentic and exploratory approach to the issue of female emancipation and - the Pozorje again became a topic of discussion among the cultural public.

12th Beldocs Opens With the screening of "Line Of Life"

12th-Beldocs-Opens-With-the-screening-Line-of-Life

This year's 12th edition of Beldocs, the Belgrade documentary film festival, opened with a screening of film Line of Life by Darko Bajic, after which more than a hundred local premieres of contemporary documentaries from all over the world were screened at 11 locations across Belgrade. This year's special programmes were dedicated to retrospectives of Japanese director Kazuo Hara and Serbian director Goran Dević. An exceptional number of top documentaries were on show, but it can safely be said that Line of Life left the strongest impression.

June

Serbia wins fifth consecutive water polo world league title

Serbia-wins-Water-Polo-World-League-Title

Serbia's national men's water polo team won the sport's world league by defeating Croatia 12-11 in the final played at Belgrade's Tašmajdan Sports Centre. Following the 12:11 (1:3, 5:2, 1:3, 5:3) victory over Croatia in a spectacular final played in heavy rain, Serbia's water polo national team also entered qualifications for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. The hero of the victory was captain Filip Filipović, who scored a total of four goals including the last three – the last being the victorious shot scored 17 seconds before the end of the match.

Telenor opens first 5G base station in Serbia

Telecommunications company Telenor Serbia established the first 5G base station in Serbia, at Science-Technology Park Belgrade, making it available for use by domestic and foreign companies, start-ups and students of technical faculties.

Telenor-opens-first-5G-base-station-in-Serbia

Imposing tariffs brings no benefit to Kosovo

The GAP Institute presented a report entitled “What is the effect of the 100 per cent tariffs on the Kosovo economy". The report found that imports from Serbia dropped by 88 per cent in the five-month period following the imposing of tariffs, or by 160 million euros. The greatest advantage during this period was achieved by Slovenia, Israel and Turkey, which saw enormous growth in exports to Kosovo. According to the institute's report, Kosovo's trade deficit continued to rise despite the drop in imports from Serbia. The results of analysis conducted by the GAP Institute in Pristina show that the introduction of 100 per cent tariffs on products from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina has brought no economic growth in Kosovo.

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Morava Airport becomes Serbia’s third international airport

Morava Airport became Serbia's third official international airport, joining Belgrade Nikola Tesla and Niš Constantine the Great. Morava Airport, also known as Ladjevci Airport, is a mixed public and military airport located in the village of Ladjevci just 15km from the city of Kraljevo, 25 km from Čačak and 39 km from Kragujevac.

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Dušan Tadić among Champions League’s top 20 players

Dušan Tadić (Ajax) is included in the ideal Champions League football team with 20 players. These include Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Van Dyck (Liverpool), De Bruyne (Manchester City), Lukas Mura (Tottenham)…

Dusan-Tadic-Among-Champions-League’s-Top-20-Players

Serbia issues first state bonds in euros

The first Serbian state bonds indexed in the euro were successfully issued on the international capital market, with this issuance representing a total value of a billion euros. The bonds are due to mature in 2029 and will be listed on the London Stock Exchange to enable the early redemption of state bonds indexed in U.S. dollars. According to a statement of the Serbian Ministry of Finance, the bond issuance will bring savings of more than 3.8 billion dinars in interest alone. Total demand of 6.4 billion euros has come from respectable global funds, insurance companies and banks, the statement said. The interest rate has been set at 1.5 per cent a year.

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Vilenica Literary Prize goes to Dragan Velikić

An 11-member international jury declared Dragan Velikić this year's winner of the European Vilenica Literature Prize for lifetime achievement. As the jury noted, Velikić is a writer who “uses bitter humour that exposes inhumane ideological narrow-mindedness". His protagonists live with their suitcases unpacked, with one foot always at the doorstep; continuously in search of a solid point that they could catch a breath at, possibly realising their mistakes, finding themselves and, renewed, head into the right direction.

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After 70 years of operations, the future of Grafički Kolektiv is uncertain

The end of June marked the expiry of the deadline for the relocating of the Grafički kolektiv from the Obilićev Venac gallery where it has been operating for almost 70 years, leaving this collective and gallery homeless. Following an online petition that was signed last spring by more than 2,300 people, including numerous artists and other public figures, another public appeal to preserve this important arts centre was launched this June.

The building which has housed this graphics collective since it was founded in 1949 was returned to its original owners, under the restitution process, who subsequently sold it to a hospitality company, which – according to earlier announcements – intends to open a cake shop in the building. The art collection of the Grafički kolektiv today includes over 5,000 works, with its exhibitions representing an indicator of the development of this branch of art. The media and cultural public have issued myriad reactions in support of Grafički kolektiv.

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July

French President Emmanuel Macron visits Serbia during the year that marks the 180th anniversary of the establishing of diplomatic relations between Serbia and France

Emmanuel Macron and Aleksandar Vučić

French President Emmanuel Macron visited Serbia during the year that marks the 180th anniversary of the establishing of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Speaking during his visit to Belgrade, President Macron recalled that it had been 18 years since the last time a French President visited Serbia. The visit included the signing of a very ambitious Agreement between the Government of the Republic of France and the Government of the Republic of Serbia on cinematographic co-productions with competent bodies named as the French National Centre for Film and Motion Pictures (CNC) and the Film Centre of Serbia. The agreement was signed on the basis of previous experiences of cinematographic collaboration between the two countries – the films Migrations, Peacetime in Paris, Balkan Sworn Virgins, Cabaret Balkan, The Tragic Burlesque, Underground, Arizona Dream...all the way up to and including this year's film Ajvar.

Serbian maths team among World's top ten

The 60th International Mathematical Olympiad, which was held in the UK in July 2019, saw the Serbian mathematical team achieve an historic success. In competition among 112 countries, the mathematical team from Serbia won ninth place at the IMO with 171 points, thus confirming its place among the top ten in the world. All members of the team are students of Belgrade's Mathematical Grammar School. The Serbia team also won three gold medals, one silver and two bronzes in the individual part of the competition.

Serbian maths team among world’s top ten

Internet roaming in the Western Balkans becomes 87 per cent cheaper

Internet-roaming-in-the-Western-Balkans-becomes-87-per-cent-cheaper

Roaming prices in the countries of the Western Balkans fell significantly as of 1st July 2019, in some cases dropping by as much as 99 per cent, according to an announcement of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC). The cost of outgoing mobile calls dropped by an average of 65 per cent, while the price for data transfers dropped by 78 per cent. For Serbian numbers, the price of roaming in some of the countries of the Western Balkans fell by 62 per cent for outgoing calls and 20 per cent incoming calls, while SMS messages became 50 per cent cheaper and internet connection prices dropped by 87 per cent.

Novak Đoković is crowned Wimbledon champion

Novak-Djokovic-is-crowned-Wimbledon-champion

Novak Đoković wins Wimbledon, only Grand Slam tennis tournament held in the grass, for the fifth time after an epic final with Roger Federer (Switzerland). Novak beats Roger in five sets, saving two balls - 7:6 (7:5), 1:6, 7:6 (7:4), 4:6, 13:12 (7:3). This was the longest finale in Wimbledon history, lasting 4 hours and 57 minutes.

Women's basketball team of Serbia wins bronze

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The women's basketball team of Serbia won a bronze medal at the European Championships match held in Belgrade. In the fight for the bronze Serbian team defeated the UK with 81:55.

In The Last Two Years, More Than 51,000 People Left Serbia For Germany

The German Federal Migration Office estimates that in the last two years, more than 51,000 people have arrived in Germany from Serbia.

In-The-Last-Two-Years,-More-Than-51,000-People-Left-Serbia-For-Germany

IMF warns Serbia that is will lose a fifth of its workers

The IMF predicts that Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland and Ukraine will see the greatest drop in their workforce, by more than 30 per cent, over the next three decades, while the workforces of Slovakia or Serbia could drop by 20 per cent. However, the IMF also suggests possible solutions, such as raising the age limit for retirement, encouraging women and older workers to enter the labour market and as well as those rendered technologically redundant.

IMF-warns-Serbia-that-is-will-lose-a-fifth-of-its-workers

Record-breaking numbers attend this year's EXIT Festival

The trademark and main attraction of this year's Exit – a festival that has lured lovers of music festivals from around the world to Novi Sad for four days in July for the last 19 years - was enduring British rock band The Cure. During a performance lasting two and a half hours, frontman Robert Smith and his fellow band members performed the greatest hits of their 40-year career, such as Friday I'm in Love, Lovesong, Pictures of You, In Between Days, Boys Don't Cry, Close to Me, Love Cats, Just Like Heaven, A Forest etc.

Record-breaking-numbers-attend-this-year’s-EXIT-Festival

August

Prime Minister Of Slovenia On Official Visit To Serbia

Prime Minister of Slovenia Marjan Šarec during his official visit to Serbia, said Serbia is the second largest recipient of Slovenian investments.

Prime-Minister-Of-Slovenia-On-Official-Visit-To-Serbia

Miloš the Great highway ceremoniously opened

Opening of the Miloš the Great highway, on the section from Obrenovac to Ljig, is considered as being of the utmost importance as it will relieve traffic congestion on the Ibar National Road and bring Western Serbia significantly closer to Belgrade.

Miloš-the-Great-highway-ceremoniously-opened

Young Serbian Chemists Second In The World

Young Serbian chemists achieved outstanding results at the International Chemistry Tournament (IchTo) that was held from 20th to 25th August at Lomonosov Moscow State University. Serbia's team of young chemists won overall silver as well as three individual awards at the international tournament in the Russian capital.

Young-Serbian-Chemists-Second-In-The-World

Stefanović won silver at the Canoe Sprint World Championships

Stefanovic-won-silver-at-the-Canoe-Sprint-World-Championships

Serbian canoeist Strahinja Stefanović won a silver medal at the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Szeged, Hungary. In the 200m singles final Stefanovic finished at 35.04 seconds, just 0.18 slower than gold winner Liam Heath of the Great Britain (34.86). Strahinja edged Carlos Garrote of Spain (35.12) in a very exciting race securing his place at Tokyo 2020.

Red Star Qualifies for Champions League

The Red Star qualified for the Champions League after two games in the playoffs against Young Boys from Switzerland, with 2:2 in Belgrade and 1:1 in the rematch.

Red-Star-Qualifies-for-Champions-League

Serbia among top 50 countries for medicine safety

The World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked Serbia among the top 50 countries in the world when it comes to the safety of medicines and vaccines. Serbia was participating in the assessment for the first time and was the only country from the region to receive a positive evaluation, according to an announcement of the Serbian Ministry of Health. The announcement stated that Serbia “came shoulder-to-shoulder with the world's most developed countries in terms of medicine and vaccine regulations in comparison with another 195 UN members”.

Serbia-among-top-50-countries-for-medicine-safety

Epochal archaeological discovery

A figurine belonging to the Vinca culture from the Neolithic age and dating from between 4,500 and 3,500 BC was discovered by archaeologist Sanja Crnobrnja Krasic, a senior curator of the local museum in Zupa.

Epochal-archaeological-discovery

After more than 30 years a theatre play from Serbia performs at Dubrovnik Summer Festival

After a break of more than 30 years, a theatre play from Serbia participated in the Dubrovnik Summer Festival in Croatia for the first time! The play in question was Dušan Kovačević's legendary satirical farce The Balkan Spy, which addresses the relationship between the authorities and individuals, providing a brilliant analysis of the case of a man who perceives the world as systematically conspiring against him and the ideals he represents.

After-more-than-70-years-a-theatre-play-from-Serbia-performs-at-Dubrovnik-Summer-Festival

Belgrade-based company CarGo among the World’s top ten companies on the Forbes List

The application of Belgrade-based company CarGo, which offers ride sharing services, found itself on the Forbes magazine list of the world's top ten companies when it comes to fundamentally changing industry, announced CarGo. According to the announcement, its application has been listed “among the first ten companies worldwide which have, with the aid of technology, transformed traditional industries, such as transport, construction, employment, investment”.

CarGo-on-Forbes-list

Serbia officially becomes AIIB member

Serbia officially became the 73rd non-regional member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) during August. According to the assessment of the Serbian Ministry of Finance, this is important news for our country, which gains access to favourable credit funds for the implementation of priority projects by joining this organisation.

Serbia-officially-becomes-AIIB-member

September

Marina Abramović Exhibits In Serbia Again After 40 Years

Marina-Abramović-Exhibits-In-Serbia-Again-After-40-Years

A retrospective exhibition of the works of Marina Abramović, entitled 'The Cleaner', opened at Belgrade's Museum of Contemporary Art on 21st September and prompted a shift in the way local people consider art and exhibitions. The Cleaner is Abramović's first major retrospective in Europe. It includes 120 works that chronologically represent her 50-year-long career.

First cargo train departs from China to Serbia

The first cargo train bound for Serbia departed from the Chinese city of Yinan, Shandong province, at the end of September. The train was carrying equipment used by Chinese companies CRBC and CCCC for the construction of the hi-speed rail link between Belgrade and Budapest. The cities of Yinan and Belgrade are separated by a distance of approximately 10,500 km, with transports along the route taking 25 days.

First-cargo-train-departs-from-China-to-Serbia

Headquarters of the newly established Western Balkan Transport Community opens in Belgrade

The headquarters of the newly established Western Balkan Transport Community opened in Belgrade during September. Speaking at the formal opening of the office, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that the “opening of the headquarters of the Transport Community Treaty in Belgrade is another symbol of the progress that Serbia has made, along with the entire region. It also confirms the place of our region at the heart of Europe.”

Regional-transport-community-HQ-opens-in-Belgrade

Largest wind farm in Serbia launches operations

With a capacity of 104 MW, the newly commissioned Čibuk 1 Wind Farm facility will produce electricity equivalent to the annual demand of 60,000 households and reduce CO2 emissions by almost 250,000 tonnes per year. The EBRD supported the construction of the wind farm with a loan of €49 million, while other financiers included Erste Group and Erste Bank Serbia, covered by Euler-Hermes ECA. The project had a total cost of €189 million, with Israel's Enlight Renewable Energies as the investor. According to EBRD Regional Director for the Western Balkans Zsuzsanna Hargitai, “investment in renewable energy is at the core of our energy strategy. It is particularly important for the Western Balkans, a region which is heavily dependant on coal for generating electricity”.

Largest-wind-farm-in-Serbia-launches-operations-Cibuk-1

Moody’s improved the chances of increasing Serbia’s credit rating

Credit ratings agency Moody’s has improved the chances of increasing Serbia’s credit rating from “stable” to “positive” for debts in domestic and foreign currencies. According to an announcement of Serbia's central bank – the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) – Moody's confirmed Serbia’s credit rating at the level of “Ba3”.

Moody’s-Improves-Chances-To-Improve-Serbia’s-Credit-Rating

Serbia storms to top of FDI List

Serbia tops the Greenfield FDI Performance Index 2019, with the country ranked number one according to the annual study of fDi Intelligence – a Financial Times data division that also includes fDi Magazine and which surveyed inbound greenfield investment in 2018 relative to the size of each country’s economy. Serbia scored 11.92 on the index, closely followed in second place by Montenegro (11.49), with Cambodia (10.82) ranked third.

Serbia-Storms-To-Top-Of-FDI-List

Serbia wins 2019 Women's European Volleyball Championship

Serbia-Wins-2019-Women’s-European-Volleyball-Championship

Serbia's ladies national team retained its EuroVolley crown after edging hosts Turkey 3-2 at the end of a truly exciting final match that was filled with drama and turnarounds. This victory saw Serbia secure its third EuroVolley title, with previous victories coming in 2011 and 2017. The win saw the team emulate the achievements of Italy (2007 and 2009) and Russia (2013 and 2015), which have also celebrated back-to-back European gold medals in recent years.

Serbian Communications Market Worth 200 Billion Dinars

Total revenue generated on Serbia's electronic communications market in 2018 equated to around 198.7 billion dinars, which was 3.9% more than in the preceding year. Electronic communications represented a 3.9% share of Serbia's GDP in 2018. The highest share of this total income was registered - as in previous years - in mobile telephony, which accounted for 58.2% of total income (115.6 billion dinars), according to a statement of Ratel - the Republic Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Services. Investments in the electronic communications sector in 2018 totalled 41.7 billion dinars, representing an increase of 27 per cent compared to 2017. Two thirds of total investments were directed towards mobile (17 billion dinars) and landline networks (11.1 billion dinars).

Serbian-Communications-Market-Worth-200-Billion-Dinars

Wrestlers Among World’s Top Three

Mate Nemeš and Mikheil Kajaija win bronze medals at the World Wrestling Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

Wrestlers-Among-World’s-Top-Three

Republic Square opened after the renovation

One of the Belgrade's central squares, Republic Square, was reopened on 1st September following reconstruction works lasting slightly over a year.

Republic-Square-opened-after-the-renovation

OTP Group acquires Societe Generale Serbia

Hungary’s OTP Group has announced that it has successfully completed procedures for the acquisition of Societe Generale Serbia, which continues to operate under the new name of OTP Bank Serbia AD Belgrade. According to a press release from this Hungarian financial group, Societe Generale Osiguranje (Insurance) will change its name to OTP Osiguranje ADO Belgrade, while leasing company Sogelease will become OTP Leasing Serbia d.o.o.

OTP-Group-Acquires-Societe-Generale-Serbia

53rd Bitef held under the slogan “Let’s Start Love Over"

Despite Marina Abramović having outperformed everyone around her, the Belgrade International Theatre Festival, BITEF, still managed secure its place among September's top events, and to do so seemingly easily. This was BITEF as a warning, an instalment of BITEF that was filled with hope that there is even a remedy and for us. Under the slogan “Let's Start Love Over” and through plays selected by artistic director Ivan Medenica, it called on us to think in a positive direction – at least during the time of BITEF.

53rd-Bitef-held-under-the-slogan-Let’s-Start-Love-Over

October

Kalemegdan's Victor Transferred to Smederevo for Restoration

The Victor (Pobednik) monument, one of the symbols of Belgrade, was removed from its 13 metre-tall pedestal at Belgrade's Kalemegdan Fortress and transported to the Smederevo studio of sculptor Zoran Kuzmanović for restoration. More than 50 workers were hired to participate in all stages of the restorations project. This is the first time that the magnificent Victor has been removed from his pedestal since the monument was first unveiled in 1928.

Kalemegdan’s-Victor-Transferred-to-Smederevo-for-Restoration

FIC: Steady but Moderate Progress on Reforms in Serbia

FIC-Steady-but-Moderate-Progress-on-Reforms-in-Serbia

Serbia continues steady but moderate progress on reforms, said Yana Mikhailova, president of the country's Foreign Investors Council (FIC), speaking during the presenting of the annual White Book for 2019, which represents a list of FIC recommendations aimed at supporting economic growth and the improving of living standards for Serbian citizens. According to the latest White Book, three key FIC expectations of the Government are to continue and accelerate membership negotiations with EU, as a means of improving business regulations and their implementation, work on sustainable fiscal consolidation (structural reforms, especially the privatisation and corporatisation of state-owned enterprises) and to improve the implementation of laws, especially in the area of tax (strengthening tax administration), with a focus on reforms in nine priority topics: tax, labour, digitalisation & e-commerce, real estate, inspections, food safety, pharmaceuticals and the overall legal framework, with an emphasis on regulations governing bankruptcy procedures and foreign exchange operations.

Serbia Signs FTA with EAEU

Prime Minister Ana Brnabić signed a free trade agreement between Serbia and the Eurasian Economic Union, thus extending the list of Serbian products that can be exported to the territory covered by the EAEU without customs duties and increasing quotas for exports of goods that are subject to restrictions. This FTA will replace existing bilateral agreements with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, as well as extending the free trade zone to encompass Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, thus covering a market of approximately 185 million people.

Serbia-Signs-FTA-with-EAEU

Turkish President Erdoğan Visits Serbia

Speaking during the Serbia-Turkey Business Forum held during the visit to Belgrade, President Erdoğan noted that trade between Serbia and Turkey has increased by 200 per cent since 2010, when an FTA between the two countries was signed.

Turkish-President-Erdoğan-Visits-Serbia

Serbia Advances to 44th on Doing Business List

Serbia has progressed four places on the list of the World Bank's Doing Business Index for ease of business operations for 2020 and is now ranked 44th among 190 countries. According to a report published on the website of the World Bank, Serbia ranks among 42 world economies that conducted regulatory reforms in three or more of ten rated areas during the 2018/19 period, thus improving conditions for doing business. It is stated that Serbia has facilitated the issuance of construction permits by introducing new taxes and internal terms for VAT refunds, and by improving its procedures for approving electricity connections and strengthening the protection of minority investors.

Serbia-Advances-to-44th-on-Doing-Business-List

Google Play Merchant Account Also Available in Serbia

Google has enabled the use of its trade platform through the Google Merchant Account for Serbia, thereby enabling domestic IT companies to charge in future for their services and products available through the Google Play Store worldwide.

Google-Play-Merchant-Account-Also-Available-in-Serbia

Serbia ranked in the middle of Global Competitiveness List

Serbia has been ranked 72nd among 141 countries around the world according to the World Economic Forum's 2019 Global Competitiveness Report. According to the report that was released on the official WEF website, Serbia saw the same overall score as last year, with 60.9 points, but still advanced on eight of the 12 “pillars” of competitiveness analysed.

Serbia-ranked-in-the-middle-of-Global-Competitiveness-List

EU Removes Serbia From “Grey List” of Tax Havens

The Council of Ministers of the European Union has removed Serbia from the “grey list” of tax havens, after having determined that the country complies with all commitments on tax cooperation and that it has carried out all the necessary reforms towards harmonisation with EU tax principles.

EU-Removes-Serbia-From-Grey-List-of-Tax-Havens

ProCredit becomes First bank in Serbia with an Investment Rating

One of the world’s largest rating agencies, U.S.-based Fitch Ratings, raised the credit rating of ProCredit Bank in Serbia to “BBB”, with which this bank became the first bank in Serbia to see its operations receive the so-called “investment assessment”, i.e. a rating that makes ProCredit Bank the first in Serbia to be added to the map of institutional investors, according to a Fitch Ratings statement.

ProCredit-becomes-First-bank-in-Serbia-with-an-Investment-Rating

Rich Cultural Life of Belgrade in October

October is traditionally the month of the Belgrade Jazz Festival, the Bemus music festival and the Belgrade International Book Fair, thus making it a month that's dedicated to music and literature. The main stars of this year's 35th edition of the Belgrade Jazz Festival were bass guitarist Stanley Clarke and Dianne Reeves, a great jazz diva and one of the three most important contemporary singers.

Rich-Cultural-Life-of-Belgrade-in-October

New Law on Alternative Investment Funds Adopted

The Republic of Serbia passed a set of new financial laws, with the members of the National Assembly adopting the Law on Open-End Investment Funds with a Public Offering and the Law on Alternative Investment Funds. The adoption of these laws served to separate this area into two laws, in accordance with the EU acquis.

New-Law-on-Alternative-Investment-Funds-Adopted

November

Novak Đoković Secures 5th Paris Masters Title

Serbian tennis ace Novak Đoković beat Canada's Denis Shapovalov in straight sets - 6-3, 6-4 - in the final of the 2019 Paris Masters, thus winning his fifth Paris Masters Title. Đoković gained redemption after losing the 2018 final to Karen Khachanov, winning six consecutive matches without dropping a single set at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris. During 2018, Đoković won the ATP Masters 1000 Paris, Tokyo, Wimbledon, the ATP Masters 1000 Madrid and the Australian Open.

Đoković-Secures-5th-Paris-Masters-Title

Institute For Artificial Intelligence Opens In Belgrade

Institute-For-Artificial-Intelligence-Opens-In-Belgrade

Based on an initiative of company Teodesk, the Institute for Artificial Intelligence has officially opened at Science Technology Park Belgrade. This institute is a non-profit organisation that aims to connect experts on AI, young innovators and companies, creating surroundings in which they can share knowledge and create new solutions. Ivan Ralić, one of the founders of the Institute, emphasised at the opening that the organisation's role is to be a connector and incubator for ideas, and that the key activities will including organising education courses, providing the necessary resources to young professionals and creating a community for exchanging knowledge and experience.

“Mini-Schengen” formed

Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia, have decided to advance regional cooperation by forming the so-called “mini-Schengen” in order to improve life and the economy in the region until the EU opens its doors to them.

Mini-Schengen-formed

Ban on Hiring in Public Sector Set to Remain Until Year's End 2020

The ban on hiring additional staff in the public sector is set to remain valid until the end of 2020, although the Law on Determining the Maximum Number of Employees in State Services expired at the end of 2019. The control of hiring new full-time employees will continue, although it will do so in accordance with the new Law on the Budget System. Hiring workers in the public sector, as in the previous five years, will only be possible with the express approval of a government commission.

Siniša Mali’s doctoral dissertation proved to be plagiarized

The doctoral dissertation of the Minister of Finance of Serbia, Sinisa Mali recognised as plagiarism. The Commission on professional ethics concluded that there is a fact of plagiarism, i.e. theft of another’s intellectual property without proper reference,” said the rector.

Citizens of Serbia Rate their Financial Situation as 4.4 out of 10

Citizens of Serbia assessed their financial situation in 2018 as being at a level 4.4 on a scale of 1 to 10, which marks a slight improvement over 2013, when that rating was 4.0. The rating came as a result of the latest survey conducted by Eurostat, the European statistical bureau, which asked “how satisfied are you with your life?”. EU citizens rated their financial situation as 6.5 of 10, compared to 6.0 five years ago.

Police seize four tonnes of illegal cannabis

The total length of the entire Corridor 10 in Serbia is approximately 813 km, and its eastern branch from Nis to Dimitrovgrad is 86.9 km in total. The Eastern fork of Corridor 10 connects Serbia with Bulgaria. It is also important as a transit corridor through which traffic between Central Europe and Turkey to the Middle East takes place.

The section on the Eastern fork of Corridor 10, which opened today, is located between the Prosek settlement and the Red River. It is total 22.5 kilometres long (Prosek-Bancarevo 9.4 km, Bancarevo tunnel about 700 m, Bancarevo-Crvena Reka 12.4 km).

Eastern arm of Corridor 10 put into service

The total length of the entire Corridor 10 in Serbia is approximately 813 km, and its eastern branch from Nis to Dimitrovgrad is 86.9 km in total. The Eastern fork of Corridor 10 connects Serbia with Bulgaria. It is also important as a transit corridor through which traffic between Central Europe and Turkey to the Middle East takes place. The section on the Eastern fork of Corridor 10, which opened today, is located between the Prosek settlement and the Red River. It is total 22.5 kilometres long (Prosek-Bancarevo 9.4 km, Bancarevo tunnel about 700 m, Bancarevo-Crvena Reka 12.4 km).

December

Tijana Bogdanović Wins Gold, becomes the European taekwondo champion

Members of the Serbian national team won gold, silver and two bronze medals at the Taekwondo European Open Masters Championships held in Dublin, Ireland. Tijana Bogdanović became the European taekwondo champion.

Serbia Opens Chapter 4 in negotiations with EU

Serbia opened Chapter 4 (Free movement of capital) at the Intergovernmental Conference in Brussels in the accession negotiations with the EU on freedom of movement of capital. Serbia currently has 18 opened accession chapters, two of which have been provisionally closed.

Chapter 4 of the EU membership talks opening this year is the second in a row since Chapter 9 on financial services opened in June.

Fake sale of Megatrend University

Megatrend's University, founder and owner Mića Jovanović, revealed that the university was sold, allegedly for €56.1 million to Dejan Đorđević, who leads the undisclosed German fund consortium, for which Jovanović said that he is not sure if it exists.

46 Serbian Athletes Qualify For Tokyo 2020

By the mid-December 46 Serbian athletes have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, in volleyball, water polo, athletics, canoe, swimming, wrestling, archery, rowing, basketball 3on3 and taekwondo.

Photo Source: Zoran Petrovic, Jelena Petrovic, Spanovic/Archieve, NIN/Archieve, Serbian Government, BUNT, Airbus Archieve, EU Delegation, Russian Government, Nikola Tesla Airport Archieve, Coca Cola Archieve, Fest/Archieve, Gallery Rima/Archieve, Polunin/Archieve, Golubac Fortress Archieve, NBS Archieve, ilovezrenjanin.com, Sterijino Pozorje, Beldocs, Graficki Kolektiv, Serbian Water Polo Federation, EXIT/Archieve, Basketball federation Serbia, Dubrovacke igre, Canoe Federation of Serbia, blic.rs, Bojana Janjic / MSUB, Jerris Madison, Envato, FK Red Star Archieve, Cultural Monument Protection Institute.

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