Belgrade, March 02, 2012
SERBIA EU CANDIDATE / REACTIONS
HEADS OF STATE & PRIME MINISTERS OF EU: SERBIA BECOMES EU CANDIDATE
BRUSSELS, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –Heads of state and prime ministers of EU member countries decided in Brussels on Thursday to grant Serbia EU candidate status.The news was first made public by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on his Twitter account, and the information was confirmed by representatives of Denmark and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso on their Twitter profiles.
President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy released late on Thursday that EU leaders decided to grant Serbia EU candidate status.This is an important achievement, Rompuy told a news conference in the seat of the EU following the meeting of heads of state and prime ministers of EU member countries, and added that this decision comes as a result of the successful dialogue for which both sides are to be credited.
EU leaders expect the Thursday decision of the European Council to serve as an encouragement to Serbia to continue meeting the criteria on its EU path and to remain committed to the dialogue, Rompuy stated.President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed the decision of the European Council and recalled that he expressed belief during the meeting with President Tadic that Serbia would win the candidate status at the council of ministers or the EU summit, because the country deserves this.
The debate on Serbia's candidate status was a rather short one. Prior to the decision, Serbia and Romania signed a protocol regarding the position of minorities in both countries and thus removed the final obstacle on Serbia's path to winning the candidate status.
TADIC: DOOR TO PROSPERITY OPENS
BELGRADE, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –President Tadic congratulated all Serbian citizens on the fact that the country has won the EU candidate status, and underscored that the status should open the door to economic progress and prosperity in Serbia.Serbian citizens bore the greatest burden of comprehensive reforms the country carried out so as to become a democratic society regulated by laws which respects human and minority rights and affirms European values, the president stated.
Tadic pointed out that one of the benefits which the EU candidate status would bring to Serbia lies primarily in economic security because the country now has a guarantee that it is a safe destination for foreign investments, which makes room for the arrival of new investors, an increase in the number of jobs and better employment prospects for all citizens."This is not merely a matter of a political process and integration," Tadic said and pointed out that the candidate status serves as a guarantee of safety for foreign companies and increases the likelihood of new jobs being opened, and it also represents an opportunity for Serbian businessmen, small and mid-size companies, as well as the local agriculture sector which is the country's forte on the EU market.
Tadic believes that a lot of work still needs to be done so that the talks on EU membership could also be initiated, which represents the country's final step on the EU path after winning the candidate status."I believe that the 'Both EU and Kosovo' policy has passed the international test despite all challenges and obstacles, and I am certain that there is no better alternative," Tadic said as reported by his press service, and added that the government needs to take care of the citizens and their living standards, and also protect the country's interests while at the same time contributing to the policy of reconciliation and making progress on the EU path in order to ensure a better future for the coming generations.
TADIC: CANDIDATE STATUS IS SUCCESS OF CITIZENS
BELGRADE, Mar. 02 (Tanjug) –President Tadic stated at a press conference that the EU candidate status is not an epochal but rather a great achievement, and congratulated to all citizens of Serbia on, as he put it, the success they achieved."This is not an epochal achievement, it will be epochal when Serbia becomes an EU member, and by that point we need to make two more steps," Tadic noted.
The importance of the candidate status is reflected in the fact that Serbia is on the right track, which was confirmed by the most important European institutions."Serbia is on the right track, since if it was not, it would not have been given the EU candidate status," Tadic added.He also said that it is important that Serbia has been qualified as a country of freedom and democracy, which all citizens should be proud of, since ten years ago we could only dream of that. Tadic has said that the recent events in Brussels connected with the reserves some countries, like Romania, Lithuania and Poland, had towards granting Serbia the status of a candidate for EU membeship will not change Serbia's relations with them.
"Serbia is Romania's traditional friend. Romanians are Serbian citizens and nothing will change in that respect. We thank Romania for its support in the past regarding Kosovo," he stated.Tadic thanked for the support the EU member states had given Serbia in its effort to gain the status, adding that Croatia had also provided support."I thanked President Josipovic and PM Milanovic for the support," Tadic stated.
STEFANOVIC: ONGOING REFORMS HAVE GREEN LIGHT OF ALL EU BODIES
NOVI SAD, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –Head of Belgrade's team in the dialogue with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic said that the anticipated obtaining of candidate status and the start of accession talks prove that Serbia will "definitely join the EU in the coming period."
"Serbia will surely be fully capable of responding to that administrative, technical and political challenge," Stefanovic told , ahead of a roundtable dubbed 'West Balkans - between crisis and European perspective' in Novi Sad.
According to him, the problems Serbia would have to solve in the days ahead are not linked only to the ongoing reforms, which have the green light of all EU bodies, but also to the issue of Kosovo and the people that live there."Those issues have to be resolved not because that is required from us, but because they will not disappear just like that," Stefanovic said, adding that whatever the future government, it would have to deal with that.
INFANTE: SERBIA STARTS DOWN NEW ROAD TO NEW CHALLENGES
NIS, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia William Infante said that after getting EU candidate status, Serbia will head down a new road to meet new challenges.The process of changes in Serbia is well under way and the trend will be accelerated after the decision of the Council of Ministers, Infante said in Nis, noting that the road leads Serbia to a new future filled with challenges and obstacles.
Today Serbia starts toward a new future, it will meet with new opportunities, new chances, new challenges, and of course obstacles, Infante told Tanjug.Infante also believes the process of changes taking place in Serbia needs to be more intensive and creative.I firmly believe the process will speed up. How? It will go in two directions - by investing in the young and investing in education. This way we will get young people in Serbia who possess the skills needed as elements of competition on the European market, Infante concluded.In Nis, Infante took part in a two-day seminar on gender equality and minority rights, organized by the Peacebuilding and Inclusive Local Development (PBILD) program.
SERBIA – EU
STEFANOVIC: KOSOVO IS NOT CONDITION FOR NEGOTIATIONS DATE
NOVI SAD, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –Head of the Belgrade team for talks with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic stated in Novi Sad Thursday that setting the date for the negotiations with the EU on Serbia's accession is not conditioned by the issue of Kosovo-Metohija.Addressing the press prior to a roundtable conference "Western Balkans between a crisis and a European perspective", Stefanovic reiterated that the issue of Kosovo's status is clearly defined by the Serbian Constitution.
Noone will seek to change our state and national positions, nor would we accept it, Stefanovic said.He added, however, that the issue of determining the date for beginning negotiations with the EU regards other things that are definitely related to Kosovo.He said that the problems that will have to be dealt with are only not linked to the implementation of reforms which were highly graded and green lighted by EU organs, but also to resolving concrete problems of everyday lives of people in the province.
The approval of Serbia's candidate status will be an extremely important step in the EU integration process, while the beginning of negotiation talks will represent the final confirmation of Serbia's EU entry, Stefanovic added.This is a very important step for which we waiting, and the start of negotiations for membership in the EU is something that definitely confirms that the country will join the EU in the future, said Stefanovic.
He voiced his hope that the date of the negotiations will also be determined this year, adding that Serbia will be fully capable of responding to these administrative, technical and political challenges.Stefanovic reiterated that agreements reached in dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina do not predict the province's status, adding that the line between Kosovo and Serbia will be administrative, without any characteristics of a state border, but with certain control which has to be in place.
By UNMIK's decision, which was affirmed by the UN Security Council, Kosovo is a special customs territory, therefore there can be no customs control there, he said.Stefanovic noted the importance of opening two crossing points in the north of Kosovo which were blocked, adding that Serbia will keep working on that.
CANDIDATE STATUS BRINGS NEW TASKS
NOVI SAD, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –Vojvodina Assembly Speaker Sandor Egeresi voiced expectation that Serbia will be granted the candidate status for EU membership on Thursday, adding that it will entrust new tasks to Vojvodina's office in Brussels.Since 2000, Vojvodina has been pursuing an unequivocal European and regional policy, said Egeresi, who is taking part in the work of the roundtable dubbed 'West Balkans - between crisis and European perspective' held in Novi Sad.
"A new task awaits Vojvodina's EU Integration Office in Brussels, which is to increasingly lobby above all for economic interests of the province, and in that sense concrete results are expected in a very shortly," Egeresi told Tanjug.The roundtable dubbed 'West Balkans - between crisis and European perspective' was organized by the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence and Slovak Atlantic Commission.
ASHTON: GET ENTIRE REGION CLOSER TO EU
BRUSSELS, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said in Brussels, following the meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Hasim Taci that the main goal of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is to get Serbia and Kosovo, and the entire Western Balkan region, closer to the EU.
Only ten days ago, the historic agreement on (Kosovo's) regional representation and the management of crossings was achieved here in Brussels, Ashton said in a short address to journalists after the meeting with Taci, adding that it is a major step forward.The goal is to get the two sides closer to the EU, encourage them to establish cooperation, and most importantly, to secure better living conditions for citizens, Ashton said that overcoming historical divides and fears through cooperation is an EU path, which should be followed by all regional countries.
She voiced confidence that the authorities will soon start working on a feasibility study on Kosovo.Taci said that the future of Serbia and Kosovo, and all countries in the region, is in the EU and NATO, and agreed that the recent agreement with Belgrade was a key event.It was a hard step due to burdens of the past, but necessary for a common European perspective, he said.
JEREMIC & BURKHALTER: SERBIA & SWITZERLAND TO FOSTER COOPERATION
BERN, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –Serbia and Switzerland will work closely together during their successive presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Foreign Ministers of the two countries Vuk Jeremic and Didier Burkhalter said Thursday.The main objective will be the preservation of security and stability in Europe, as well as intervening in the resolution of conflicts and crises in Euroatlantic and Eurasian regions, they noted.
Jeremic and Burkhalter confirmed after a meeting in Bern the principles of cooperation during the presidency of Switzerland in 2014 and Serbia in 2015, and said that the cooperation within the OSCE will contribute to the strengthening of overall bilateral relations.This is an opportunity for the development of relations between our two countries, Burkhalter stressed at a news conference.Burkhalter said that the OSCE is a very important organization for his country, and that the acceptance of joint presidency bid was sign of confidence of the 56 member states of the organization.
Jeremic agreed that joint chairmanship introduces a new era in relations between Serbia and Switzerland and the opportunity to make the two countries' bilateral ties closer and better than ever.Serbia and Switzerland have entered into a new and better phase of bilateral relations, he said. Some OSCE members thought that we would be rivals, but we came out as close partners Jeremic said.He said that no country in the Western Balkans has ever had an opportunity to chair the OSCE, and that Serbia was the first to submit a bid successfully.
This is great recognition and honor for Serbia and all should be satisfied with the trust shown to a country in this region, Jeremic said.The OSCE member countries reached a decision in Vienna on February 10 on the two countries' joint, successive chairmanship over the organization. Switzerland will be the OSCE chairman-in-office in 2014, and will be succeeded by Serbia a year later. Successive presidency is a novelty for the OSCE, and Switzerland and Serbia have agreed to cooperate closely and to set joint priorities during the two years. Serbia and Switzerland have good cooperation.
Serbia and Switzerland have established a successful cooperation in the area of migration and fight against organised crime, the foreign ministers of the two countries, Vuk Jeremic and Didier Burkhalter respectively, assessed.Burkhalter, who discussed with Jeremic the two countries' successive OSCE chairmanship, qualified the bilateral relations as excellent and problem free. He voiced hope that the relations would be further improved when Switzerland becomes the OSCE chairman-in-office in 2014, and Serbia one year after that. As regards migration, the cooperation between the two countries has reached a satisfactory level, Burkhalter said.
Jeremic agreed with his Swiss counterpart, and underliend that Serbia treated the issue of migration very seriuosly. The cooperation between the two countries in this field and many other areas will be further boosted in the years to come, Jeremic added.
JEREMIC & SWISS MINISTER ON CHAIRING THE OSCE
BERNE, Mar. 01 (Beta) –Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic met in Berne on March 1 with the new Swiss foreign minister, Didier Burkhalter, and discussed the two countries' cooperation during the joint chairing of the OSCE, the Swiss media reported.
Switzerland will assume the chair of the OSCE in 2014, and Serbia one year later, in 2015. Speaking at a news conference after the meeting, Jeremic and Burkhalter stressed that the two countries' governments wish to cooperate closely and announced that an action plan will be created by mid2013, with the key goals during the chairing of the OSCE.
The OSCE is a very important organization for Switzerland, Burkhalter said, adding that this is the only international security institution of which Switzerland is a member.
According to reports in the Swiss media, besides the chairing of the OSCE, the ministers also discussed cooperation between Serbia and Switzerland, while Burkhalter underlined the two countries' cooperation in the field of migration policy, and within the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
COE NORTH-SOUTH PRIZE 2011 GOES TO TADIC
BELGRADE, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –President Boris Tadic will be awarded the Council of Europe (CoE) North-South Prize 2011 for the North on March 27, in recognition of his political action for the reconciliation of the Balkans and the integration of his country in the process of European construction.The award will be presented by President of Portugal Anibal Silva.
The day before the ceremony Tadic will leave for an official visit to Portugal, where the CoE North-South Centre is situated, the Belgrade daily Politika reported.This will be the first time that the prize, which has been awarded every year since 1995 for exceptional commitment to promoting North-South solidarity, human rights and intercultural dialogue, is given to an active head of state.
JEREMIC TO VISIT LATVIA
BELGRADE, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic will pay a one-day visit to Latvia on Friday, and confer with the country's top officials.According to the Serbian Foreign Ministry, Jeremic is to meet in Riga with President Andris Berzins and his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics.The Serbian minister is also scheduled to confer with Parliament Speaker Solvita Aboltina.
KOSOVO – METOHIJA
JEREMIC: BORDERS CANNOT BE CHANGED UNILATERALLY
BERN, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic stated in Bern that the borders of internationally recognized countries cannot be changed as someone chooses and unilaterally, adding that there are rules upon which a state is created and that what ethnic Albanians did in Kosovo was not in line with those rules.
Answering an Albanian journalist's question whether he thinks that during his mandate he "wasted his time" trying to convince other countries not to recognize Kosovo instead of promoting good-neighborly relations, freedom and democracy on which the modern world is based, Jeremic told the press conference that both freedom and democracy are based on rules.You cannot change borders of internationally recognized countries as you choose, using unilateral means.
The rules of the international community and international law dictate the ways to create a state, and what ethnic Albanians and the local leadership of our southern province Kosovo-Metohija did on February 17 is not a way how a state can be created, he said. As he put it, his main task was to make that understood in all parts of the world.Jeremic also said that after the unilateral act, Serbia has behaved in a way which made it possible for peace and stability to be preserved in the region.This was the first time that an armed conflict did not take place in the Balkans after a unilateral move of such capacity, he stressed.
FUELE: PRISTINA SHOULD WORK ON AGENDA FOR NORTH
BRUSSELS, Mar. 01 (Tanjug) –EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said in Brussels on Thursday that Pristina should work on a long-term agenda for the north of Kosovo.I again stressed the need for Pristina to work on an inclusive and long-term agenda for northern Kosovo, Fuele said in a statement given after a meeting with Hasim Taci.
According to him, it is clear that further progress towards Europe is now in Kosovo's hands.Commenting on the intention to start with a feasibility study, Fuele said that this is an important step for the relations between Kosovo and the European Union.He noted that Kosovo leaders should reach a consensus on the necessary reforms as soon as possible, especially when it comes to the rule of law and trade, and announced that a structural dialogue on the rule of law will be launched in Brussels in the spring.
DAVENPORT: VOTE IN KOSOVO'S NORTH WOULDN'T CALM TENSION
BELGRADE, Mar. 01 (Beta) –British Ambassador to Serbia Michael Davenport on March 1 said scheduling local elections in Kosovo's north would not contribute to avoiding tension in that part of Kosovo.
"It is important that the government in Belgrade avoids increasing tension in Kosovo's north. They should weigh up whether scheduling local elections would contribute to that goal. I do not think so," Davenport told the Vojvodina Radio and TV.
He recalled UNMIK's position that holding local elections in Kosovo's north "is not in line with international law," stressing that "it is important that we understand that."
The ambassador also said the EU candidacy would mark "a new beginning for Serbia," noting that it would also strengthen confidence between Serbia and the EU.
DIPLOMATIC CONFLICT BETWEEN SERBIA AND GHANA OVER KOSOVO
BELGRADE, Mar. 01 (Beta) –Diplomatic relations between Serbia and Ghana have suffered "a serious blow" because this western African country has recognized Kosovo, and Belgrade demanded that the ambassador of Ghana, Samuel ValisAkianu, leave Serbia, the media in Ghana reported on March 1.
The Serbian Foreign Ministry did not wish to comment on these reports on March 1, nor was it possible to obtain confirmation from the Embassy of Ghana in Belgrade.
The websites City FM Online, City News, Joy Online, the private paper Daily Guide and other media, reported on March 1 about the "diplomatic conflict" between Serbia and Ghana, and conveyed the statement of Foreign Minister Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, who said that Ghana will close down its diplomatic mission in Belgrade.
On Feb. 29, Mumuni stated before the Parliament of Ghana that the many years of cordial relations with Serbia have suffered serious blows, after the government in Accra recognized Kosovo, a month ago.
BETA was told by the Embassy of the Republic of Ghana in Belgrade that no information can be provided about whether the ambassador is still in Belgrade, nor confirmation of announcements about closing down the Embassy.