BELGRADE, July 18 (Reuters) – Serbia’s prime minister said
on Friday he planned to cut the public-sector workforce by some
13 percent over the next three years, but he declined to back
explicitly a proposal by his new finance minister to cut
pensions and wages by 10 percent.
In an interview with Reuters, Prime Minister Aleksandar
Vucic said he planned to lower the deficit to less than 5
percent next year, then 3 to 4 percent. He would not say whether
that would involve a 10 percent cut in pensions and public
sector wages, as Finance Minister Dusan Vujovic advocates.
BELGRADE, July 18 (Reuters) – The Serbian Parliament adopted
the first in a raft of reforms intended to cut spending and
attract investors, with measures that liberalise the labour
market and raise the retirement age for women.
The government is now expected to move quickly to push
through legislation on bankruptcy and privatisation. That will
provide a basis for restructuring dozens of loss-making
BELGRADE, July 15 (Reuters) – Serbia will likely delay a
possible Eurobond until at least October, aiming to first secure
an IMF loan deal and revise the budget, and is considering ways
to tackle banks’ bad loans, caretaker Finance Minister Dusan
Vujovic said on Tuesday.
Vujovic, who is expected to take control of the finance
portfolio long-term after the resignation of Lazar Krstic on
Saturday, told Reuters he had met officials from Goldman Sachs
, who showed him the model of Slovenia’s ‘bad bank’,
created last year to ring-fence billions of euros in toxic debt
and unburden teetering domestic banks.
DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine on Saturday released a second group of four monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) who had been seized on May 29, a Reuters witness said.
Their release, which followed the freeing of another group of OSCE monitors early on Friday, came after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced a 72-hour extension to a ceasefire until Monday night. That ceasefire appeared under threat when three members of the Ukrainian military were killed in a rebel attack on their post near the eastern city of Slaviansk.
DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian separatist leaders voiced willingness to extend a shaky ceasefire in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east on Friday, after releasing four out of eight international observers captured over a month ago, in an apparent goodwill gesture.
The ceasefire between the rebels and the government, set to expire later on Friday, has been marred by violations, including the death of five Ukrainian servicemen in overnight clashes and the downing of a military helicopter earlier this week.
BRUSSELS/SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Western powers warned Russia on Wednesday that they could impose new sanctions if it did not do more to defuse the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where a ceasefire between Russian-speaking rebels and government forces appeared to be crumbling.
The upper house of Russia’s parliament fulfilled a request by President Vladimir Putin to rescind the right to invade Ukraine in defense of its Russian speakers that it had granted him in March.
KIEV/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Rebels shot down a Ukrainian helicopter carrying technicians who had been installing equipment to monitor violations of a peace plan in Ukraine’s rebellious east on Tuesday, killing all nine people on board, a military spokesman said.
The technicians had been returning from setting up specialised equipment when their Mi-8 cargo helicopter was struck by a rebel missile near Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine, government forces spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov said.
DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Separatist leaders in two main areas of Ukraine’s east have agreed to observe a ceasefire with Ukrainian forces until June 27, one of them, Alexander Boroday, said on Monday.
The truce is to run parallel to a unilateral Ukrainian military ceasefire declared by President Petro Poroshenko on Friday as part of a peace plan to end the insurgency by pro-Russian separatists in the Russian-speaking east that threatens the dismemberment of the former Soviet republic. The separatists’ announcement, after talks which also involved a senior Russian diplomat and a former Ukrainian president, came after a day of high diplomacy in which the West urged Russia to use its influence to defuse the conflict in Ukraine’s rebellious east.
KIEV/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian separatists attacked Ukrainian posts on the border with Russia and a military base, and tried to storm an airforce base overnight into Saturday, government forces said, putting a Ukrainian unilateral ceasefire under pressure.
The fresh action came just hours after the start of a ceasefire at 10 p.m. on Friday by Ukrainian forces, ordered by President Petro Poroshenko as part of his plan to end the rebel insurgency in the east of the country.
SLAVIANSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Clutching empty plastic bottles, hundreds of people stand waiting for water in this besieged city, with the almost constant thud of artillery shells echoing in the distance.
More than two months after pro-Russian separatists rose up in east Ukraine, electricity and water have been cut off in this depressed industrial city, food is running low and half the population has fled.