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The row between Moscow and Ankara may not lead to proxy contests in countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, but Balkan states should be wary of potential consequences.

Are the current tensions between Turkey and Russia likely to spill over to the Balkans? The international media coverage of the crisis following the downing of the Russian Su-24 is peppered with references to the old rivalry between the Tsarist and Ottoman Empire.

sarajevo european capital of culturePresident of the Association of Publishers and Booksellers in Bosnia and Herzegovina Ibrahim Spahic yesterday visited the the 23rd International Sarajevo Book Fair with Director-General of European Culture Maribor 2012 Suzana Zilic-Fiser.

The premiers of Serbia and Kosovo on Friday initialled a historic deal to normalise ties in a move key to the future of the Western Balkans, said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

"These negotiations have been concluded," Ashton said. "The text has been initialled by both prime ministers."

"What we are seeing is a step away from the past and, for both of them, a step closer to Europe," Ashton said after winding up talks with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci.

"The agreement will help us heal the wounds of the past," Thaci said. "This agreement represents the start of a new era, an era of reconciliation and inter-state cooperation."

The EU has brokered two years of talks aimed at easing mutual tensions following Serbia's continued refusal to recognise Kosovo's 2008 unilateral declaration of independence.

Discussions between the two premiers, crucial to future ties with the EU, were the second in Brussels this week after they hurried back on Ashton's request less than 48 hours after the collapse of an earlier round.

sec-patriot-actAt least one writer over at Salon is hoping that whoever is behind the Boston Marathon bombing "is a white American."

balkan vetEdin Kapidzic fought in Croatia's brutal war for independence and came out alive. Carrying on in peace turned out to be harder.

Years after returning from the front lines, the former soldier from eastern Croatia hanged himself in a park in the hometown he defended during the 1991-95 conflict, part of the wider disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. Kapidzic left behind a wife and four children. But no suicide note.

rafa sanudo cartoon eu propagandaPlus, four-fifths of Croatian voters stay home on Euro-election day and Moscow threatens to close a vital transport link for migrant workers.

1. Bulgarian politics on the boil as new scandal breaks

Bulgarian authorities say a wiretap investigation initiated on a tip-off by Socialist Party leader Sergey Stanishev has turned up numerous violations, Balkan Insight reports.

At a press conference 15 April, Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said investigators had found evidence of official misconduct and improper use of wiretaps. Three Interior Ministry officials and one employee are under investigation.

eu zone debtEurozone government debt levels reached the highest level on record last year, the region's official statistics office said, even as austerity measures around the single currency area narrowed budget deficits levels amid a deepening recession.

Government debt as a percentage of the eurozone economy 3.3 percentage points to 90.6 percent at the end of last year, Eurostat said Monday in a statement published on its website. At the same time the collective budget deficit of the 17 countries that use the single currency fell to 3.7 percent of Eurozone GDP from 4.2 percent the previous year, Eurostat said. Around the 27-memeber European Union, which includes Great Britain, the figures fall to 85.3 percent and 4 percent respectively.

flattaxThe leaders of the three governmental parties in the ruling coalition decided to cut social insurance contributions 3 per cent, up pensions by 10% from October and introduce a flat tax of 10 per cent for individual incomes as of next year. The decision paves a way for a big change in Bulgarian tax system

The meeting was held to discuss the macroeconomic framework of the 2008 budget. Participating were Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Ahmed Dogan of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha of the Simeon II National Movement, the political leaderships of the three parties and MPs.

hungPMwideThe Hungarian, Slovenian and Romanian banking industries will remain unprofitable this year as owners cut spending to boost capital during the euro area's financial crisis, according to Moody's Investors Service.

Lenders in Hungary and Romania are hurt by their reliance on funding from parent companies in western Europe, said Simone Zampa, a senior analyst for Moody's, in a phone interview from London.

But Czech, Slovak and Polish banks fund themselves mainly with deposits and will keep reporting profits, he said.

horse-hamburgerThousands of DNA tests on European beef products have revealed extensive food fraud across the European Union, with almost one in 20 meals marketed as beef likely to be tainted with horse, the European Commission said Tuesday.

Releasing the results of more than 4,000 tests in recent weeks to detect the potential mislabelling of beef products, the EU executive said 193 products contained positive traces of horsemeat DNA, or 4.55 percent.

currency warOne more domino in the dollar reserve supremacy regime falls. Following the announcement two weeks ago that "Australia And China will Enable Direct Currency Convertibility", which in turn was the culmination of two years of Yuan internationalization efforts as summarized by the following: "World's Second (China) And Third Largest (Japan) Economies To Bypass Dollar, Engage In Direct Currency Trade", "China, Russia Drop Dollar In Bilateral Trade", "China And Iran To Bypass Dollar, Plan Oil Barter System", "India and Japan sign new $15bn currency swap agreement", "Iran, Russia Replace Dollar With Rial, Ruble in Trade, Fars Says", "India Joins Asian Dollar Exclusion Zone, Will Transact With Iran In Rupees", and "The USD Trap Is Closing: Dollar Exclusion Zone Crosses The Pacific As Brazil Signs China Currency Swap",

slovenia self bailoutSlovenian Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek has said the country can save its banks by itself, amid growing opinion it will need EU help.

Speaking in Brussels on Tuesday (9 April) alongside European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, she said: "Day and night, we are dealing with this problem … I'd like to assure you we will solve our problems on our own."

She rejected comparisons with Cyprus, which had to seek an EU bailout to stop its banks, worth almost eight times the island's GDP, from going bust.

SUspended cafe-BucharestSuspended coffee. Caffe sospeso. Pin a cup. Pay it forward. A good deed that has more than one version – random generosity meets cozy coffee shop and friendly customers or small charity gesture flows in local tribes.

How did the suspended coffee movement start in Romania?

Lost-sisters-reunitedTwo Bosnian sisters who lost track of each other almost 72 years ago met for the first time with the help of Facebook although they lived only 200 kilometres apart, local media reported.

getlokal and became friends for the good of the locals and tourists in Bucharest that want to move efficiently through the city and decide fast and informed where to spend their free time.

SpyFor years, online investigators have warned consumers about the dangers of opening or downloading files emailed to them from unknown or suspicious sources. Now, they say malicious software and computer code could be lurking on computers before the bubble wrap even comes off.

The team of Microsoft researchers in China investigating the sale of counterfeit software tested some computers made in China. They suddenly had been introduced to a malware called Nitol. The incident was revealed in court documents unsealed Thursday in a federal court in Virginia. The records describe a new front in a legal campaign against cybercrime being waged by the maker of the Windows operating system, which is the biggest target for viruses.

scribalThe explosion of information via social media is nothing new. Europeans were similarly bombarded with an avalanche of new communication forms during the 17th and 18th centuries.

win8Microsoft is putting a special price on its next version of Windows - offering upgrades to the operating system for just $40.

The offer, which translates to about £25 in the UK, will run until next January and applies to the previous versions of Windows - XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

Microsoft has not yet confirmed the price in the UK yet, but the company is likely to price the upgrade at between £25 and £40.


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PUBERTY-9One day last year when her daughter, Ainsley, was 9, Tracee Sioux pulled her out of her elementary school in Fort Collins, Colo., and drove her an hour south, to Longmont, in hopes of finding a satisfying reason that Ainsley began growing pubic hair at age 6. Ainsley was the tallest child in her third-grade class. She had a thick, enviable blond-streaked ponytail and big feet, like a puppy's. The curves of her Levi's matched her mother's.

bed bugsBedbugs have become a growing problem around the world, with epidemics New york and other world cities.

However, researchers have found an unlikely solution - kidney bean leaves.

Patriarch MaximThe Bulgarian Ortodox Patriarch Maxim, who weathered a revolt over his Communist-era ties to lead his country's Orthodox Christians for more than 40 years, died here on Tuesday at age of 98.

The Bulgarian Ortodox church's top clerical body Holy Synod said in a statement that the cause of death was heart failure.

Maxim was born as Marin Naidenov Minkov on Oct. 29, 1914. He has graduated from the Sofia Seminary in 1935 and then studied theology in Sofia University's, before rising in the hierarchy of the Ortodox church and to be named Patriarch on July 4, 1971.

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