In Brief

Greece seeks new rule for tax-free peacekeeping Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis urged the European Union yesterday to make the cost of international peacekeeping operations exempt from national budget calculations. Greece, which has troops in Afghanistan, Kosovo and elsewhere, is struggling to keep its budget deficit below the EU-required ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product. «Greece would like to take part in more peacekeeping operations… but this implies costs,» Meimarakis told a business conference near Athens. «We have to explain to (Greek voters) why our resources go to the military… and not to schools and hospitals.» Meimarakis proposed that European defense and finance ministers meet regularly in joint sessions to discuss peacekeeping costs. Greece has already brought its deficit down sharply over the past three years, from an estimated 7.8 percent of GDP in 2004 to 2.6 percent last year. (AP) Turkish GNP growth seen at 7 pct 2007-2013 Turkey’s Finance Minister Kemal Unakitan said yesterday his country’s gross national product (GNP) was expected to grow 7 percent annually from 2007 to 2013. Unakitan, in a statement issued at a business conference in Athens due to his absence from the event, also said foreign direct investment (FDI) was expected to reach $11 billion in the first quarter of 2007. FDI reached $20.2 billion for the whole of 2006. Unakitan repeated an export target of $100 billion for 2007. Separately, the main Turkish share index ended up more than two percent at a record closing high yesterday, boosted by easing political tensions after the ruling party named its candidate for the presidential election. The ISE National-100 index closed 2.16 percent higher at 48,032.72 points, exceeding a 2006 all-time closing high of 47,728.50. (Reuters) Bor mine deal null Serbia’s privatization agency yesterday declared null and void a deal to sell mining and smelting complex RTB Bor to Cuprom after the Romanian company failed to provide payment guarantees on time. On Tuesday, the last day of Cuprom’s deadline to show it had the funds for the $400 million deal, Cuprom asked for an extra three months to solve outstanding issues, notably resistance from trade unions and local officials. The government did not respond and the deadline expired. (Reuters) Albania-Kosovo road Albania has appealed for a commercial loan to help fund construction of a road segment that would shorten the route to neighboring Kosovo. Albania needs an additional 200-230 million euros over the next two years for the project, which when finished will reduce travel times to Kosovo from six hours to two, the Finance Ministry said in a statement. A US-Turkish joint venture signed a 418-million-euro contract with Albania in October to build a 60-kilometer road segment, including a 6-kilometer tunnel, by June 2009. The road segment would be part of a 170-kilometer highway to Kosovo. The road will run from the port city of Durres, 35 kilometers west of the capital, Tirana, to the town of Kukes, 200 kilometers northeast of Tirana, and then to the Morina border crossing point. (AP)

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