Kremlin threatens gas supplies to Southeast Europe


Several nations receive Russian gas via Ukraine. In other business news: Albania's credit rating sees improvement and Turkey's military spending surpasses Canada.

The EU says Russia should not politicise its contractual shipments of gas. [AFP]

In a letter to several Southeast European nations, Russia's President Vladimir Putin threatened to shut off gas supplies to Ukraine. The letter, which is intended to increase pressure on Kiev as Kremlin-backed troops stir insurgency in eastern Ukraine, warned of action unless Ukraine starts repaying its debt and unless the EU agrees to joint talks with Russia on the country's economic future. The European Commission responded in a statement and said it expects suppliers to stick to their commitments. The letter was sent to 18 European heads of states that depend on Russian gas transit via Ukraine, including Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia and Turkey.


EU countries should make more efforts to increase gender equality in the bloc, according to a fresh report from the European Commission. Greece is one of the countries with the lowest female employment rates at about 50 percent compared to an average of 63 percent in the EU as a whole and as high as 75 percent in the Nordic countries, the report noted.


Albania is preparing to import electricity worth up to 90 million euros to compensate for the loss of local output caused by recent drought. The flow of water to Albanian power stations for the past year has declined by 40 percent.


Greece will issue more bonds after the successful five-year debt sale last week, Stelios Papadopoulos, head of the country's public debt management agency, told the Kathimerini daily. Greece raised 3 billion euros at less than 5 percent interest in a move that was welcomed by its international creditors.


Turkey surpassed Canada last year and moved into 14th place in global military spending, according to research by the Stockholm-based International Peace Research Institute. In 2013 Turkey's military spent $19.1 billion, or 2.3 percent of its GDP.


Rating agency Standard & Poor's changed its outlook for Albania's economy from negative to stable. The agency said the country's 330.9 million euro loan agreement with the IMF in February has "brought financial consolidation, increased debt sustainability and reduced the risk of refinancing" in the country.


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Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina are working to expand their free trade agreement, Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said during a visit to Sarajevo. The current deal became effective in July 2003.


The first woman appointed as head of Cyprus' central bank and the only woman at such a post in the Eurozone, Chrystall Georghadji, assumed her post last week. She replaced Panicos Demetriades, who resigned last month.

(Various sources -- 09/04/14-15/04/14)

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