Belgrade, March 07, 2012
STEFANOVIC: SECOND PHASE OF DIALOGUE TO BE "MORE COMPLICATED"
BELGRADE, March 07 (Tanjug) - The second phase in the Belgrade - Pristina dialogue will come after forming of a new Serbian government, says Belgrade's lead negotiator Borislav Stefanovic. He added that it would bring the most complicated topics to the negotiating table.
The Belgrade team chief pointed out the topics would range from the issues of energy and telecommunications to the Serbian president's plan on a way to resolve the Kosovo issue, adding that the new phase of talks would hold great weight when it came to getting a date for the start of negotiations on EU membership.
"The first phase of the dialogue was completed with achieving seven agreements governing important areas related to daily life of citizens," he added on the eve of a day to mark one year since the beginning of the talks.
Stefanovic told Tanjug said he was satisfied with what had been achieved, adding that he believed that to sit down at the negotiating table with Priština was a wise decision, despite the huge and essential differences between the two sides.
"It is certain that although a number of painful issues have already been raised and resolved in the marathon rounds of talks that we had, the one who will continue the negotiations will have to face up to the most complicated phase of the dialogue," he pointed out.
"They will have to face up to the possibility of the dialogue growing into a political one that will finally put the relations between Belgrade and Priština in line with respect for the national interests, the Constitution and laws of Serbia, noted Stefanovic.
"Over the year behind us, we have reached seven important agreements and I think that we have showed that the problems in Kosovo can be resolved by agreement, through the negotiating process, while keeping to our position on the status of Kosovo, which for us is not and never will be an independent state," he said and added:
"This is definitely the end of a cycle. We are entering an election campaign, and after the elections, the new government will have to see in what direction and in what form the dialogue will continue. I expect the talks to continue in a form that will touch on the issues of telecommunications and electric power, and certainly on issues we hold very important, such as the return of those expelled from Kosovo Metohija to their homes, the return of property and missing persons."
"These are issues of great significance to us and we will seek every opportunity to discuss them," the team head stressed.
They are part of the fourpoint plan by President Boris Tadic, which, according to Stefanovic, arrived at the right moment.
"The initiative precisely located the unresolved issues in the system. The biggest problems lie in these four areas and it will be important for the future government to enter into that process after the elections. Finding a way how and in what form to do that will rest with the future government itself," Stefanovic explained.
STEFANOVIC: DECISION ON ELECTIONS IN KIM WILL NOT BE SIMPLE
BELGRADE, March 0 (Tanjug) - Head of Belgrade's negotiating team in the Belgrade Pristina dialogue Borislav Stefanovic warned on Tuesday against the increasing number of countries opposing the idea that forthcoming parliamentary elections in Serbia should be staged in Kosovo Metohija (KiM).
When the moment to adopt this decision comes, government bodies will primarily have to take into account the Serbian Constitution and laws, UNSC Resolution 1244 and the situation in Kosovo, but there is a strong group of countries within the international community which oppose the staging of elections and the number of these countries is increasing, Stefanovic told Tanjug.
The decision will be adopted in time and it will reflect all elements, he stated. This would not be a simple decision to make, Stefanovic underscored but he also expressed certainty that it would be the best possible decision under the given circumstances.
Stefanovic told Kosovo Serbs, whose legitimate representatives are insisting that the elections should be staged, that no matter what the decision might be, the Republic of Serbia would not abandon them.
Serbs in Kosovo Metohija should know that their government will never abandon them and will always be by their side, Stefanovic said and added that Serbia is doing its best to act in agreement with Kosovo Serbs in all the activities it is implementing because these are the matters that have direct influence on their life, which is why it would be positive to maintain a much higher level of coordination, agreement and unity.
When asked whether the potential failure to stage elections in Kosovo would jeopardize the survival of Serbian institutions in the northern part of the province which are the only legitimate bodies that exist there, Stefanovic replied that the elections are no guarantee of the survival of the institutions.
I believe that the survival of Serbian institutions in KiM primarily depends on funding, and this process is regulated by law and it is a functional one, but it also depends on the degree to which Serbia can defend itself from unilateral attempts by Pristina to completely remove the institutions, Stefanovic stated.
SERBIA TO GRADUALLY GAIN MORE ACCESS TO EUROPEAN FUNDS
BELGRADE, March 07 (Beta) - Serbia will not be able to count on more money from the EU's preaccession funds before 2014, but the amount of funds available to it will gradually increase as it advances along the road to membership, the participants of a March 6 public briefing "Utilizing EU (IPA) Preaccession Funds," were told.
Gaining the status of a candidate for membership has qualified Serbia for IPA human resource, rural and regional development funds, and the total amount allocated to Serbia is EUR1.4bn for the 20072013 period.
Serbian Parliament Speaker Slavica Djukic Dejanovic said that the advantages of becoming a candidate and membership in the EU "are much greater than being able to access IPA funds" and that through the process of accessing the IPA funds, Serbia would gain knowledge of how the EU system works, which is important for when it became a member.
Deputy EU delegation chief in Serbia Adriano Martins said that the EU had dispensed EUR2.2bn in aid to Serbia since 2000, that with an annual average of EUR200 million, it was Serbia's biggest donor.
Serbian Office for European Integration chief Milica Delevic said that Serbia stood to receive EUR1.4 billion annually from European funds as a member of the EU.
Delevic also said that since the start of the transition process, Serbia had received EUR3.5bn from preaccession funds or from individual donations made by memberstates.
HAND: SERBIA TO CONTINUE WITH REFORMS
WASHINGTON, March 07 (Tanjug) - Advisor at the U.S. Helsinki Commission Robert Hand has stated that acquiring of the EU candidate status is important for Serbia, but yet only one step on a long pathway of the EU integration.
From the Commission's viewpoint, it is important for Belgrade to continue with the democratic reforms, particularly in the domain of the rule of law, Hand said.
From the viewpoint of the Commission, which is focused on human rights, fundamental freedoms and civil rights, it is important to establish a legal system which would be independent from political influence and aimed at true justice, Hand said for the Voice of America.
He added that crime, human trafficking, and drug smuggling know no borders.
This lies in the interest of all regional countries, as such illegal activities actually weaken the economic strength of each of the states in conditions of a general economic halt. Therefore, regional cooperation is very important, Hand said.
Even though, the candidate status does not guarantee an increase in foreign investments, the country's progress towards the membership will certainly contribute to the cause, Hand said.
The more Serbia takes measures aimed at the EU accession, the greater chances it will stand for foreign investments, including the U.S. ones. The more persistent it gets on that pathway, the greater its reputation as a stabile country would be and that is very important for investors. Serbia will have to take reform measures, which are far from easy, but I have no doubts that they will pay off in the long run, Hand noted.