Belgrade, March 08, 2012
SERBIA - EU
TADIC: DATE FOR ACCESSION TALKS BY YEAR'S END
BELGRADE, March 08 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic said Thursday that Serbia could get a date for accession talks with the EU by the end of the year, which would make the EU integration process irrevocable.
"This will be a crucial achievement, because Serbia's European path will have come to a point when it can no longer be jeopardized, but a lot of work needs to be done so that Serbia will continue to carry out reforms and be a desirable partner to everyone in the region and Europe," Tadic said in an interview for the daily Blic.
Asked whether Serbia will become a more attractive destination for investors now it is a candidate for EU membership, Tadic said he expects Serbia will establish strategic partnerships with all EU member countries. "I expect Serbia will now be seen as a more attractive investment destination in international business circles, and candidate status, which is important for our perspective, changes Serbia's overall image," said the president.
According to him, candidate status is a guarantee of security for investors, as well as a message that Serbia is a country which respects European values. Tadic said there is no danger of a new economic crisis in the eurozone threatening the realization of Fiat's investment in Serbia.
According to him, the example of Fiat shows this is the only way for Serbia to solve the chronic problems of its economy, above all the foreign trade deficit.
Talking about the start of production on the new Fiat 500L, Tadic said he is proud that a highquality, technically advanced and sophisticated product will appear in the world market with the label "Made in Serbia."
"Serbia has succeeded not only in bringing a major automobile manufacturer, but also in restarting its production of car parts. All this is our new economic perspective," believes the head of state.
Talking about Italian investments in the Serbian economy, Tadic reminded that it took five years to bring Fiat and Benetton to the country, but said he recently talked to Danieli Board of Directors Chairman Gianpietro Benedetti about the possibility of the company building a factory for special steel products in Serbia.
Tadic said he expected the decisionmaking processes to move faster now that Serbia is an EU candidate country.
DELEVIC: PREPARATIONS FOR EU TALKS SOON
BELGRADE, March 07 (Beta) - The most important condition for launching accession talks between Serbia and the European Union is further improving relations with Kosovo, said Milica Delevic, director of the government's EU Integration Office.
In an interview with the EurActiv website, Delevic said preparations for the negotiations would probably begin soon, and that the EU would give particular attention to the chapters on the judiciary, basic rights of citizens, security, justice and freedom.
"The Commission defined improving relations between Belgrade and Pristina as a key priority (for broaching the talks) and I believe they will look at the implementation of what was agreed, the making of the agreements in energy and telecommunications, and paving the way for the EULEX mission to execute its mandate in the entire territory of Kosovo," Delevic said. She stated that Serbia would also have to continue reforms and advance its relationships with EU members in order for the negotiations to begin.
BUT: SLOVENIA WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT SERBIA
GORNJI MMILANOVAC, March 07 (Beta) - Slovenia has always been completely supportive of Serbia's bid to join the European Union and will continue to be so in the future, Slovenian Ambassador to Belgrade Franc But said in Gornji Milanovac, on March 7.
At the opening of a new factory of powder products for use in construction, "Zvezda Helios," he said Slovenia was one of the biggest investors in Serbia, and that Slovenian companies employed 30,000 workers in Serbia. Stanica Levajac, director of Zvezda, which operates as part of the Helios Group, said this was the biggest investment in Gornji Milanovac in the last 12 years, specifying that EUR2.5 million were invested.
The production capacity is 15,000 tons of powder products, half of which is to be sold internationally.
"Zvezda's total income last year was EUR23 million, while 11 million came from export, mostly to Russia and Belarus," Levajac said.
AMBASSADOR: EU MEMBERSHIP GREATLY BENEFITED IRELAND
BELGRADE, March 07 (Beta) - Ireland has enjoyed multiple benefits from integration into the European Union, despite the current crisis, and has had a positive impact on the peacebuilding process in Northern Ireland, Irish Ambassador to Serbia Charles Sheehan said on March 7.
In a debate about Ireland's experiences in joining the EU, Sheehan said he was very glad that the European Council had granted Serbia the status of candidate member, adding that Ireland was ready to assist Serbia with its experience and knowledge to accomplish its aspiration to become a full member.
Sheehan stressed that there were no easy parallels between Northern Ireland and other conflicts in the world, but that its experience could teach others how to put the issue of conflict into a wider, international context.
The Irish ambassador added that EU membership had provided many benefits to his country, chiefly access to a big market.
SERBIA – ECONOMY, FINANCE
TADIC ANNOUNCES NEW ITALIAN INVESTMENTS
SVILAJNAC, March 07 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic said Wednesday that small businesses from Serbia will soon be able to connect with those from Europe and announced that two or three major investors from Italy will come to Serbia.
"We are talking with major Italian investors. I hope that in a month of two we could have several big investments like that of Fiat. I cannot guarantee it, but we are working on it," he said.
Tadic said Prime Minister Mario Monti will head a big Italian delegation in a visit to Serbia, which shows that EU candidate status is having an immediate effect. "Right away we have a meeting with representatives with one of Europe's biggest economies, which is also very complementary to ours," he added.
Asked by Tanjug's reporter what assistance is planned for small and medium companies, Tadic said a development bank will be formed. "For my part, I can contribute by taking entrepreneurs abroad," Tadic said, adding he wants to be the bridge and feels he can do a good job.
Without going abroad, small businesses cannot bring a new quality to their production, said the president.
"I have talked with the president of the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia . Italy, especially its northern regions, are champions of small and medium companies and I would like to see several hundred of our businesses find partners there," Tadic said. He pointed out that people in all fields should be encouraged to start businesses and find an adequate product which Serbia could export to the world market.
TADIC: NO CHANCES SHOULD BE LOST IN AGRICULTURE
SVILAJNAC, March 07 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic stated in Svilajnac, central Serbia, on Wednesday that agriculture is Serbia's chance and that the country holds considerable potential in the agriculture sector and that no chances should be lost in the future.
Tadic said that both certain mistakes and good moves were made in the agriculture in the past but no chances should be lost in the time to come. He especially underscored that the funds available to the government have to be invested in the right domains such as the irrigation system.
We lost much in the past due to the traditional approach in the agriculture sector, but now we are trying to implement new knowledge and new technologies, Tadic said. He announced that the Development bank would soon open because adequate assistance cannot be provided to businessmen without it.
BREFOR: STRUCTURAL REFORMS TO ENCOURAGE GROWTH
KOPAONIK, March 07 (Tanjug) - Serbia must not suffice with minor steps forward as it needs structural reforms which would encourage exportled economic growth, Head of the World Bank Office in Serbia Lu Brefor said on Wednesday.
I am aware that the implementation of these measures would not be an easy task, but this is the only manner in which progress could be made. Both Serbia and Europe need courageous statesmen, he underlined at the Kopaonik Business Forum.
According to Brefor, the reforms of public enterprises should be the core of the postcrisis growth model. Improvements must not necessarily come from privatization, but it is fairly certain that they should stem from depoliticization, better management, transparency, responsibility, and larger productivity, he noted.
Brefor pointed out that the key triggers of export and the new model of economic growth in Serbia are innovations, agriculture, energy and industry. According to him, trade should receive a strong impetus, business environment should be promoted, while state subsidies and bureaucracy should be cut down.
Brefor recalled that the World Bank has completed a study into a new model of Serbia's exportled growth.
EBRD INVESTS EUR3.3 BILLION IN SERBIA
BELGRADE, March 07 (Beta) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is the biggest investor in the Serbian economy, with EUR3.3 billion invested since 2001, an expert of the Public Procurement Bureau, Veljko Sikirica, said in Belgrade on March 7.
Speaking at the opening of a seminar of EBRD rules in the field of public procurement, Sikirica said that last year this bank financed 28 projects in Serbia with EUR526 million, and that it will continue investing at a similar rate this year. The bank's activities will represent an extension of constant efforts in the development of traffic, the energy sector and municipal infrastructure, he said.
He also said that the EBRD will attempt to increase the participation of companies in Serbia in the projects financed by the EBRD, adding that neither the private entrepreneurs in Serbia, nor the EBRD, can be satisfied with the current level of participation.
"Over the past four years, there have been attempts at participating in 10 tenders in Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Montenegro, where companies from Serbia won only one, worth EUR1.5 million," Sikirica said.
IMF SAYS SERBIA STILL NEEDS EXPORTBASED GROWTH MODEL
BELGRADE, March 07 (Beta) - The head of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) office in Belgrade, Bogdan Lissovolik, stated on March 7 that Serbia should continue to build a new model of growth based on exports, austerity and investments.
Speaking at the Kopaonik Business Forum, Lissovolik said that Serbia must continue carrying out reforms, which should include difficult measures, so that their effects are better, and utilize the possibilities provided by the obtaining of EU candidate status. According to him, the structural reforms in Serbia so far have not been enough to solve the problems of the economy.
The IMF representative said that the public sector in Serbia is spending too much, while the participation of the private sector in exports and austerity is still very low.
Lissovolik said that, for this reason, there is a need for the consolidation of public finances through structural fiscal reforms, primarily on the expenditure side of the budget.
SERBIA - K&M
IVANOVIC: BAN ON SERBIAN PLATES AGAINST BRUSSELS AGREEMENT
KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, March 07 (Tanjug) - State Secretary with the Serbian Ministry of Kosovo Oliver Ivanovic said Wednesday that the Kosovo authorities announced ban of Serbian license plates for vehicles in the province is against the agreement reached by Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels.
Ivanovic told Tajnug that the ban on Serbian license plates with the initials of towns in Kosovo is undoubtedly contrary to what the negotiating team presented as the results of the dialogue in Brussels.
Kosovo's Interior Minister Bajram Redzepi said Wednesday that vehicles with new Serbian license plates of Kosovo towns will not be able to enter Kosovo starting April 1.
Starting June 1, vehicles with old Serbian plates with the initials of towns in Kosovo will also be banned from entering, so owners will have to reregister them by this date.
Ivanovic said is he certain "Serbs in northern Kosovo will not agree to take Kosovo documents."
Our Constitution gives Serbs the right to use Serbian documents and have Serbian citizenship in the territory we consider ours, said Ivanovic. He said the decision is not in accordance with the Ahtisaari plan and the Kosovo Constitution, which is based on the plan.
DE MARNHAC: FLYERS EXPLAIN DETAILS OF AGREEMENT
PRISTINA, March 08 (Tanjug) - EULEX Head Xavier Bout de Marnhac said late Wednesday in Pristina that the flyers distributed in northern Kosovo inform the citizens about the agreement reached between Belgrade and Pristina.
Asked about the flyers related to car registration, De Marnhac told a news conference that the flyers were meant to inform the people about the technical details of the Belgrade Pristina agreement.
At the checkpoints in northern Kosovo on Wednesday, some people received flyers from EULEX officers which said that they must switch to KS or RKS license plates by June 1.
EULEX spokeswoman Irina Gudeljevic told Tanjug on Wednesday that the mission temporarily pulled the flyers in order to clarify the text and improve the way they will be presented.
WARLICK: U.S. AGAINST ELECTIONS IN KOSOVO
BELGRADE, March 07 (B92, Vecernje novosti) - The U.S. supports Kosovo's sovereignty, U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Mary Warlick has said.
She added that local election in the north would bring representatives who would have no authority according to Kosovo laws. Warlick stressed that this was an issue that "should be addressed".
"When Serbia carried out the voting in Kosovo in 2008, a special UN secretary general's envoy stated that the elections and their result, just like the formed Serbian municipal institutions, had no legitimacy. Therefore, this is the issue we should address," she told daily Vecernje novosti.
The ambassador says that the issue of Kosovo's status was "finished" as far as the U.S. was concerned.
"President (Boris) Tadic has spoken about his fourpoint plan many times, we have realized that his ideas are still being debated so we do not have an official stand on it," she explained.
The ambassador explained that the U.S. believed that Kosovo's independence was a "special case" and that it should be treated as a precedent.
"One should keep in mind that the Kosovo Constitution provides protection to Kosovo Serbs. Serbs south of the Ibar River are already using these guarantees in order to develop their communities and protect their interests. We would like to see progress in the rule of law in northern Kosovo so the Serbs living there would have a better quality of life. We strongly believe that partition is not in anybody's interest and that it would only divert energy from the real focus improvement of people's lives," Warlick pointed out.
She added that the issue of Serbia's recognition of Kosovo was at the moment much less important than the issue of better life of the people in the region.
The U.S. ambassador noted that the issue of Kosovo was something that the U.S. and Serbia saw through different eyes.
"But we have been working hard together, despite our mutual differences regarding the recognition of the independence. Both Serbia and the U.S., and all the countries in the region, recognize the importance of stability and good neighborly relations. There is a great understanding of importance to establish normal and predictable relations with Kosovo in Serbia as well, so both sides could move forward. The U.S. will continue to do its part as far as the support is concerned, primarily the dialogue, which we believe is extremely important in order to find a solution to open issues," Warlick concluded.
EULEX TO UNDERGO RECONFIGURATION AS OF JUNE 14
PRISTINA, March 08 (Tanjug) - The EULEX Mission stated on Wednesday evening that as of June 14, 2012, when the new mandate is expected to take effect, changes to EULEX will be implemented through downsizing of staff and allocation of additional resources to north Kosovo, while the mission's work will concentrate in the justice area.
During his visit to Kosovo, EU Civilian Operations Commander Hansjoerg Haber pointed to the details of the review, which is expected to be finalized shortly, and according to which EULEX will undergo a significant reconfiguration, adding that EU member states want to extend the mission's mandate for another two years.
There will be a downsizing of both international and local staff, especially in the areas of police and customs. Work will concentrate in the justice area, especially with EULEX's executive mandate. Additional resources are also expected to be allocated to northern Kosovo, the statement reads.
EULEX has done a great job. But changing circumstances mean changing priorities. Significant progress has been made in some rule of law areas by the Kosovo institutions and therefore the EULEX mission must reflect that. EULEX will refocus its priorities, reconfigure and become stronger, leaner and more efficient, said Haber.
The Head of EULEX, Xavier de Marnhac, stated that real progress has been made by the Kosovo institutions. This new reality has to be recognized. But challenges remain, especially in the judiciary. We will redouble our efforts in this area, and become better equipped to face these challenges, De Marnhac noted.
EU Special Representative in Kosovo Samuel Zbogar stated that there are several parallel processes of Kosovo-EU relations that we will focus on this year: from visa liberalization to the feasibility study and EULEX will play a key role in them.