Belgrade, April 6, 2010
SREBRENICA DECLARATION REPRESENTS IMPORTANT STEP FOR SERBIA
ISTANBUL, April 5 (Tanjug) - International Crisis Group Director of the Europe Programme Sabine Freizer has said that the Serbian Parliament's Declaration on Srebrenica, denouncing the 1995 massacre, was a very important step, adding that it is now necessary to find a formula that would ensure that both Serbia and Kosovo would attend regional meetings.
Serbia is moving forward, and the declaration shows that it is possible for the country to talk about what really happened during the war in the former Yugoslavia, as well as about Serbia's responsibility for it, Freizer told South East Europe TV Exchanges. Regardless of the fact that the choice of words was perhaps not entirely explicit, the declaration indicates that Serbia is willing to move forward, said Freizer, noting that she hopes the region will see it that way as well.
Freizer stated that it is now necessary to find a formula that would ensure the participation of both Serbia and Kosovo in regional meetings, especially in view of the coming EU-Western Balkans summit in Sarajevo. Commenting on cooperation in the region, Freizer said it is regrettable that Serbia, as a leader in the region, did not attend the meeting in Slovenia on the grounds of Kosovo's participation.
STEINBERG ENCOURAGED BY SERBIA'S PROGRESS TOWARD EU
WASHINGTON, April 6 (Tanjug) - U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said that Serbia has made encouraging progress in European integration and that during his visit to Belgrade in April he will broach some topics the U.S. and Serbia disagree on, primarily the status of Kosovo.
Ahead of his visit to the Balkans, which starts in Ljubljana on April 6, Steinberg said that the current U.S. administration has always been committed to stability and prosperity in the region. After Ljubljana, Steinberg will visit Sarajevo, Belgrade and Pristina. "We've been very encouraged by some of the steps that Serbia has taken towards EU integration this past year," Steinberg told a news conference late in March, referring to the visa liberalization, Serbia's EU membership application and the unfreezing of the interim trade agreement. He said he was assured by Serbian officials that Serbia understands the importance of cooperation with the Hague Tribunal.
Steinberg said he will also discuss the relations between Belgrade and Pristina with Serbian officials. "We recognize that despite the differences, the formal differences, that there are common interests there, and that it's important to work in ways that do not create greater instability in the region," he pointed out.
69TH ANNIVERSARY OF BOMBING OF BELGRADE IN WORLD WAR I
BELGRADE, April 6 (Tanjug) - The Day of Remembrance of the victims of the German aggression on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, which began on April 6, 1941, with heavy bombing and mass destruction of Belgrade, is being marked in Serbia Tuesday.
The attack of Hitler's Third Reich began without the declaration of war, despite the fact that several days earlier the government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia declared Belgrade an open (undefended) city. The first bombs were dropped on Belgrade on Sunday morning, April 6, 2941, at 6.30 a.m., while a large majority of the inhabitants of the capital was still asleep. The German bombers released destructive and flammable bombs on Belgrade four times on that day, and around 4 p.m. around thirty bombers came from the direction of Romania shooting refugees who were leaving the ruined city in panic. The then capital of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was again attacked on April 11 and 12. The attacks were also performed at night and a total of 440 tons of bombs were dropped on the city. The exact number of victims was never precisely determined. There were 2,274 people listed as killed in Belgrade, which then had 370,000 inhabitants, but it is believed that the real number was around 4,000 people. The city sustained considerable material damage - 714 buildings were completely destroyed, 1,888 were severely damaged, whereas 6,829 were partly damaged. The densely populated parts of the city, hospitals, market, the railway station, the main post office and Zemun airport were bombed. By April 17, 1941, when the army of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia capitulated, the towns of Kraljevo, Leskovac, Kragujevac and Novi Sad were bombarded, as well as several other towns in which mostly strategic objects such as infrastructure and airports were targeted.
EUR 180 MN OF IMF CREDIT TO SERBIA TO BE DISBURSED APRIL 6
BELGRADE, April 6 (Tanjug) - The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) positive evaluation of Serbia's performance under a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) will allow for EUR 180 million to be disbursed on April 6, which is half of the credit's third tranche and will be used to strengthen the country's foreign exchange reserves, the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) has stated.
This will bring the total amount of funds provided by the SBA to EUR 1.3 billion, which is 253 percent of the country's IMF quota. In 2009, Serbia received the previous two tranches totaling EUR 1.13 billion, while the total amount of the approved loan is EUR 2.87 billion.
ITALY IS SERBIA'S TOP EXPORT, RUSSIA IMPORT PARTNER
BELGRADE, April 6 (Tanjug) - Italy was Serbia's top export partner in the first two months of 2010, with USD 156.9 million in exported goods, while the biggest import came from Russia, with USD 350.8 million, shows the data of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia.
After Italy, Serbia's main export trade partners were Germany with USD 143.3 million and Bosnia-Herzegovina with USD 127.1 million. After Russia, most of Serbia's imports came from Germany (USD 232.3 million) and Italy (USD 184.3 million).
Over half of Serbia's entire trade exchange was with the EU, while the country had the greatest surplus in trade with Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia. Serbia suffered the greatest deficit in trade with the Russian Federation from which it imports energy, primarily oil and natural gas.
KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
IVANOVIC VISITS SERBS WHO RETURNED TO EASTERN KOSOVO
ISTOK, April 5 (Tanjug) - Serbia's State Secretary for Kosovo Oliver Ivanovic visited Monday Serb refugees who have returned to two villages in northeastern Kosovo, and he stated that the goal of the ethnic Albanian protests there is to intimidate the Serbs who are returning to their homes.
Ivanovic said that the ethnic Albanians have no argument against the Serbs returning apart form "the fear that they will not be able to use the Serbs' land any longer." "It is obvious that the intention is to intimidate and discourage refugees from returning and make them go back to camps in central Serbia. It seems that the ethnic Albanians who have been exploiting someone else's land for 10-11 years without any compensation are now worried," Ivanovic told Tanjug.
Ivanovic said that the returned a determined to stay, adding that the only goal of his visit to Dragoljevac and Zac, the two villages, was to encourage them to do so, because the protests are simply initial problems that will not last long. He said that the next protest is scheduled to happen in 15 days, adding that KFOR and the Kosovo police have reacted very professionally so far and prevented any potential incidents. Ivanovic pointed out that it is very important to help the returned Serbs with food, house reconstruction and planting resources during the current stage. "Those people need all the help they can get, particularly from the Serbian government, but also from international sources. Right now, the Kosovo government is also being very helpful; it is providing considerable funds to make their return permanent," said Ivanovic.
A total of 26 Serb families returned to Zac at the end of March at their own initiative. They have been placed in UNHCR tents until their old homes are rebuilt or new ones are constructed in their place. The ethnic Albanians who are protesting the return say that there are some among those Serbs who took part in killings and forced relocation of ethnic Albanians from that and the neighboring villages during the war in Kosovo, which the Serb returnees deny, saying that there are no war or any other kind of criminals among them. Several days before the return to Zac, 18 families returned to Dragoljevac.
IVANOVIC: EU HAS MADE KOSOVO INTO ANOTHER CYPRUS
NOVI SAD, April 6 (Tanjug) - State Secretary at the Serbian Ministry for Kosovo-Metohija Oliver Ivanovic has stated that the European Union has made the southern Serbian province into "another Cyprus" and would have to accept it as such.
Brussels can complain about not needing another Cyprus, Ivanovic said in an interview for the Novi Sad daily Dnevnik. But if they really want the region to be under the EU's patronage, there is no other solution. After all, they are the ones who made Kosovo into "another Cyprus", he added. According to him, the countries which recognized Kosovo's independence keep saying that neither the return to the previous situation, nor the freezing of the conflict, nor new negotiations on the Kosovo status are possible.
"If the status of Kosovo was that fixed, the same countries would not mention the models of two Germanies, China and Taiwan, or Ireland and Great Britain. Therefore, it is clear to them that they have not actually completed the business, nor will they be able to until Serbia agrees with some kind of solution," Ivanovic said. He believes that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina would have a chance of success only if it was initiated by the EU and the U.S., as they have the greatest influence on the decisions of the Pristina government. Ivanovic said that Serbia will never recognize the independence of Kosovo and announced that the participation of top Belgrade and Pristina officials in the conference on the Western Balkans in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, on June 1, will be possible only if Kosovo delegation attends the conference as UNMIK-Kosovo or "Kosovo under the Resolution 1244."