COVID-19 and Trump’s indifference helped human rights abusers in 2020
Durov rejects Western funds’ offer to buy 5%-10% of Telegram with $30bn valuation
Belarusian government sees $2bn of withdrawals, issues $580mn worth of bonds in 2020
Lukashenko: I am no enemy of the people
One of Russia’s biggest wood product companies, Segezha could be Sistema’s next IPO
The volume of the Russian National Wealth Fund tops $183.93bn as gold overtakes dollar asset for first time
New Ukrainian VC firm QPDigital aims to invest up to $100 million in digital startups
EBRD investments reach record €11bn in pandemic-struck 2020
FPRI BMB Ukraine: Most Ukrainians are optimistic about 2021 – poll
OUTLOOK 2021 Lithuania
EBRD says loan to Estonia’s controversial Porto Franco project was never disbursed
Estonian premier quits after Tallinn development scandal
Top Centre Party official suspected of corruption in Tallinn real estate scandal
Czech Pirates and Mayors approve final coalition agreement for 2021 elections
OUTLOOK 2021 Czechia
BRICKS & MORTAR: Rosier future beckons for CEE retailers after year of change and disruption
Romanian tech entrepreneurs expand into banking sector
OUTLOOK 2021 Hungary
Hungarian government remains silent after Capitol riots
Storming parliaments: New Europe's greatest hits
World Bank expects modest recovery for Europe and Central Asia in 2021
FDI inflows to CEE down 58% in 1H20 but rebound expected
OUTLOOK 2021 Slovakia
Slovakia to invest €1.2bn in digitisation
BALKAN BLOG: The controversial recipe for building up Albania
Heavy flooding causes chaos in parts of Southeast Europe
Vodafone Albania plans €100mn infrastructure investments after AbCom merger
OUTLOOK 2021 Albania
Kyiv accuses Bosnian President Dodik of lying about icon gifted to Russian foreign minister
Bosnia’s real GDP contracts 6.3% y/y in 3Q20
Sofia-based LAUNCHub Ventures holds first close of new fund on €44mn
ING THINK: Growth in the Balkans: from zero to hero again?
OUTLOOK 2020 Bulgaria
Labour demand down 28% y/y in Croatia in 2020
Zagreb Stock Exchange's Crobex10 index at highest level since March 5
OUTLOOK 2021 Kosovo
Arrera Automobili aims to launch Albania’s first supercar
World Bank revises projection for Moldova’s 2020 GDP decline to 7.2%
Moldova’s PM resigns to prepare the ground for early elections
Socialist lawmakers in Moldova scrap settlement on $1bn bank frauds
Montenegro’s new ruling coalition carves up top state jobs
OUTLOOK 2021 Montenegro
Vast tide of floating waste threatens Balkan hydropower plants
North Macedonia's manufacturing confidence indicator down by 8.5 pp y/y in December
OUTLOOK 2021 North Macedonia
Transparency International warns of high corruption risk in CEE defence sectors
Moldova fears flooding from Ukraine's planned Dniester hydropower plants
Romania’s industrial recovery paused in November
OUTLOOK 2021 Serbia
Slovenia’s government to release funds to news agency STA after EU pressure
UK Moneyhub picks Slovenia for post-Brexit European base
Slovenia’s dire COVID-19 situation in 4Q20 caused second economic dip
Slovenia’s Eligma completes €4mn funding round
Turkish opposition leader lawsuit demands one lira from Erdogan, police probe “bald” interior minister posts
Akbank takes over Istanbul's Palladium Atasehir shopping mall
OUTLOOK 2021 Armenia
Armenia’s PM cautions conflict with Azerbaijan “still not settled” after trilateral meeting with Putin
COMMENT: Record high debt levels will slow post-coronavirus recovery, threaten some countries' financial stability, says IIF
Russia, Kazakhstan pushing for oil production increases on the back of coronavirus vaccine-fuelled oil price optimism
OUTLOOK 2021 Georgia
Georgia’s political kingpin Bidzina Ivanishvili quits politics
Modern-day “Robin Hood” inspires Georgians drowning in debt
Iran’s navy conducts missile drill while analyst argues Trump even capable of nuclear strike in final days
TEHRAN BLOG: Who’s more credible? Johnson backing Trump’s Nobel chances or Iran applauding arrest warrant for US president?
Central Asia vaccination plans underwhelm, but governments look unruffled
Fears of authoritarianism as Kyrgyz populist wins landslide and backing for ‘Khanstitution’
OUTLOOK 2021 Kyrgyzstan
Mongolia's winter dzud set to be one of most extreme on record says Red Cross
Mongolian coal exports to China paralysed as Beijing demands virus testing of truck drivers
Mongolia fears economic damage as country faces up to its first local transmissions of coronavirus
Mongolia in lockdown after suffering first local coronavirus transmissions
OUTLOOK 2021 Tajikistan
China business briefing: Not happy with Kyrgyzstan
OUTLOOK 2021 Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan: How the Grinch stole New Year
Turkmenistan: The dammed united
COMMENT: Uzbekistan is being transformed, but where are the democratic reforms?
OUTLOOK 2021 Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan’s Makro positions itself for growth in a more competitive market
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The rate of increase of new coronavirus (COVID-19) infections has started to slow or even flattened across much of Central and Southeast Europe.
While the number of cases is still rising, there has not been an acceleration in the rate of increase as seen in some West European countries and the US.
Looking at data compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO), on April 5 it had taken 11 days for the number of infections to double in Slovenia, and more than a week in numerous countries across the region.
This is in contrast to 10 days ago, when it had taken barely two to three days for the number of infections to double in most Central and Southeast European countries.
The lack of acceleration in the infection rate in these countries is most likely down to the strict social distancing measures and lockdowns in countries across the region. With the virus taking up to 14 days to show up, the impact of these measures would only have become apparent at the tail end of March and early April.
The three worst affected countries in the region are Czechia, where the total number of infections reached 4,472 as of April 5, Poland (3,627) and Romania (3,613). However, nowhere in the region have cases reached the tens — or hundreds — of thousands, as has been seen in Italy and Spain.
Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech said on April 6 that they may consider lifting restrictions if the levelling off of new infections continues, Reuters reported. “We are clearly saying now that we are able to relatively well manage the pandemic here, it is not the pandemic managing us,” the minister told a press conference.
The Central and Southeast European countries that have seen their infection rates stop increasing have mostly managed to contain the number of cases in the hundreds rather than thousands. Their governments are remaining cautious, with both Bulgaria and Slovenia having recently extended emergency measures.
On the other hand, the number of cases are increasing particularly fast in Moldova, where they have doubled in around three days. This is of concern, because as the poorest country in the region Moldova is one of the least equipped to handle an epidemic. Infection rates are still relatively fast in Romania and Serbia, despite easing somewhat in recent days.
Slovenian PM hails success of lockdown
A Slovenian government spokesman said on April 5 that the strict lockdown measures against the spread of the coronavirus are working and will last for another “two to four more weeks".
The measures were imposed three weeks ago and include the closure of schools, bars and restaurants and a ban on public gatherings.
"Once we start relaxation measures, they should be carefully planned, with the awareness that we will have to live with the virus and the epidemic for a while," government spokesman Jelko Kacin said.
Three days earlier, the parliament in Ljubljana endorsed a €3bn economic stimulus package to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the local economy.
Prime Minister Janez Jansa told MPs the package is the first of three. His government is already working on a second package, and a third will follow after the epidemic.
Virus contained but worries about democracy in Bulgaria
At a session on April 3, Bulgaria’s parliament approved an extension of the state of emergency by one month until May 13 as requested by the government and also adopted the proposed budget revision.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that the peak of infections is expected in the next two or three weeks. He also said that the government will ease the restrictions when the infection rate declines for three consecutive days.
While the emergency measures appear to be having an effect on reining in the spread of the epidemic, they have caused concerns about the additional powers given to the government. Opposition politicians sought to extend the state of emergency only until April 30, but failed to have this approved.
Over 10,000 people signed a petition calling for the resignation of Health Minister Kiril Ananiev after he signed a highly controversial deal worth BGN100mn (€47.8mn) for the construction of a national children’s hospital. Critics say Ananiev abused the state of emergency by signing the contract during a period when protests and public discussions are banned.
Peak of epidemic prolonged in Estonia
Speaking to public broadcaster ERR, virologist Irja Lutsar, who is part of the government’s COVID-19 working group, said that efforts to delay the peak of the epidemic and avoid exponential growth had succeeded. Lutsar forecast a long, flat peak of infections in the country.
Meanwhile, the government is seeking to alleviate the impact on the economy. In response, Tallinn has inflated its programme to fight the effects of the pandemic to €2.6bn – equivalent to around 9% of GDP – from the original €2bn.
The government expects the country’s GDP to contract 8% in 2020 but hopes for the fall to be just half that forecast, if the relief programme works.
According to Estonia’s central bank Eesti Pank, GDP will fall 6% this year, while Swedbank predicts a contraction of 5%.
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