BELGRADE, October 11, 2005
* * *
REHN HERALDS NEW PHASE IN RELATIONS BETWEEN EU, SERBIA MONTENEGRO
BELGRADE, Oct 10 (Beta)-EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has said that the launching of negotiations on a Stabilization and Association Agreement on Oct. 10 marks the start of a new stage in the relationship between Serbia Montenegro and the EU.
"This agreement will deepen our relationship, and create a contractual bond... It is a crucial step forward on Serbia and Montenegro's way towards the European Union," Rehn said at a celebration in Belgrade.
He added that next year would bring a confrontation with difficult political issues, including possible negotiations on the status of Kosovo and the future of the common state of Serbia Montenegro. "It is in everyone's interest not to allow them to obstruct the SAA negotiations."
He added that the many clauses in the agreement refer to "shared competences," adding that the EU is looking for "a counterpart who presents common positions a counterpart who is willing to cooperate and find common solutions.
"The negotiations could stall if there is not enough cooperation on your side," he warned. "May I remind you that as long as one part or title of the agreement has not been finished, we cannot close any of the other parts. In this respect, it is one single agreement."
Rehn went on to say that the Council of Europe "has given the [European] Commission a mandate to negotiate an agreement with the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, including its two constituent republics. It is not useful at this point to start a hypothetical discussion about what would happen if a referendum next year resulted in [the] secession [of Montenegro]."
"Instead, we need to work on the reality of today. But it is quite clear that if separation occurred, the Commission would have to refer the issue to the Council and seek new mandates for separate negotiations with Montenegro and Serbia," Rehn said, adding that this could take precious time.
"For the smooth conduct of the negotiations, it is crucial that you maintain your efforts and enhance cooperation with the Hague Tribunal. During the negotiations, we will continue to monitor progress closely, and the Commission will not hesitate to recommend the suspension of negotiations if the efforts falter," he underlined.
Opening the celebrate, Serbia Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic said that the start of the talks is indeed a festive occasion and that the negotiating teams are ready.
He stressed that no one in Serbia Montenegro has the right to believe that progress can be made without meeting all the obligations to the Hague tribunal. Marovic said that this means resolving the matter of Ratko Mladic as quickly as possible, since it is obstructing the path to Europe.
Serbian Premier Vojislav Kostunica said that Serbia Montenegro "is closer and closer to the EU and the goals and values that we have believed in and worked towards all these years."
"The Serbian cabinet has prepared itself well for embarking on these negotiations and the most important thing now is for all of us in this common state to devote ourselves to this job fully. The opportunity is at hand and we must not let it pass us by," he added.
His Montenegrin counterpart, Milo Djukanovic, said that Montenegro's referendum on independence planned for next year "will in no way affect the efficiency of the negotiations."
Djukanovic added that meeting all conditions for EU membership will be a "long and complex progress" requiring strategic partnership with "partners at home and abroad."
British Ambassador David Gowen, representing the EU chair country in this half of the year, said that decisive action in the way of extraditing war crimes suspects, including former Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Mladic, would best demonstrate the country's proEuropean disposition.
AGREEMENT WITH EU MIGHT BE SIGNED NEXT SUMMER, SAYS DRASKOVIC
BELGRADE, Oct 10 (Beta)-The Serbia Montenegro foreign minister and head of the country's negotiating team for association with the EU, Vuk Draskovic, on Oct. 10, said he expected negotiations on stabilization and association with the EU to be completed very quickly and that an agreement could be signed by summer 2006.
After his meeting with EU Enlargement Commissioner Ollie Rehn, Draskovic said he had given firm guarantees that all the requirements imposed on Serbia Montenegro in the negotiations will be fulfilled in the shortest period possible.
He said that, as the country's chief negotiator, he will do everything to make the efforts of both Serbia's and Montenegro's negotiating teams productive and that he will not hesitate to publicly denounce anyone, who might obstruct political and other processes in association with the EU on either side.
"Our priority today is to remove things which are not part of the negotiations from our European path, because if we fail to do so, there will be no negotiations, I'm afraid. I'm talking about the extradition of all Hague indictees," said Draskovic.
After his meeting with Rehn, Serbian President Boris Tadic said that in association with the EU, Serbia is now facing the greatest reforms in its history, which will change its society and the citizens' attitude towards work, the state and the international community.
"Today is a great day for our country and all well intentioned citizens must fully support the negotiations on a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU," Tadic told a news conference.
He said the primary aim of the negotiations and the country's integration in the EU is the improvement of the citizens' standard, the stability of Serbia and Serbia Montenegro and a better security situation in the region.
EUROPEAN FUTURE FOR SCG, KOSOVO: REHN
BELGRADE, Oct 11 (Tanjug) - European Union (EU) Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn said in Belgrade late on Monday that the EU, along with the entire international community, was doing all it could so as to ensure a European future for Serbia and Montenegro (SCG), as well as for Kosovo-Metohija.Commenting on the writing of the press that independent Kosovo was the price SCG had to pay for joining the EU, Rehn said that the issue could not be presented in such a way.We expect that Belgrade will be constructive and that it will give an active contribution to the resolution of the future status of Kosovo-Metohija, Rehn said in an interview for the National Radio Television (RTS), adding that the EU would pay particular attention to the protection of minorities in Kosovo and to the province's economic development.According to Rehn, the standards regarding the protection of minority ethnic communities have to be fulfilled and ensured, and the process of resolving the status of Kosovo continued.
BELGRADE, Oct 11 (Tanjug) - EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn voiced expectation in Belgrade late on Monday that the authorities in Serbia and Montenegro (SCG) would realise that negotiations on stabilisation and association with the EU represented a top priority of the state union. All must dedicate their energy to the realisation of reforms in SCG, Commissioner Rehn said in the interview.Commenting on the announcements on a possible Montenegrin referendum, Rehn underscored that the EU respected the Constitutional Charter, which specified such a possibility, and voiced expectation that partners from both republics would now realise that negotiations on the agreement on stabilisation and association were the state union's top priority.The EU Commissioner repeated once again that cooperation with the ICTY represented an essential precondition for SCG European prospects, and pointed out that the country had to realise a full cooperation with the tribunal.The cooperation must continue as long as Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic are at large, Rehn said.
BELGRADE, Oct 11 (Tanjug) - European Union (EU) Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn said in Belgrade late on Monday that the people of Serbia and Montenegro (SCG) would experience improvement even before an agreement on the state union's association and stabilisation with the EU was concluded.The people of SCG will become aware of the improvement because of better economic opportunities in the field of free trade and easier access to European markets, as regards both industrial agricultural products, Commissioner Rehn said in the interview.Rehn, however, also said that SCG inhabitants would experience real benefits only once the agreement on stabilisation and association with the EU came into effect.Rehn underscored that it was extremely important that during the negotiations, the state union had a joint stand, so that the EU could have a partner on the other side of the negotiating table.Assessing that both economic and political issues were important in the forthcoming negotiations on stabilisation and association, Rehn said that quite difficult issues were before us, which referred to negotiations on the future status of Kosovo-Metohija and possible referendum in Montenegro.It is of vital importance that all partners, both in Serbia, in Montenegro and the state union, realise that they have to dedicate their energy to the agreement on stabilisation and association, so that the negotiations could be concluded earlier than envisaged, the Finnish diplomat said.
SOLANA STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF START OF TALKS WITH SERBIA MONTENEGRO
BRUSSELS, Oct 10 (Beta)-EU High Representative Javier Solana said in Brussels that Oct. 10, 2005, is an important day for Serbia Montenegro as it heralds the beginning of negotiations on a Stabilization and Association Agreement. Following a meeting of the EU Political and Security Committee and the NATO Council, Solana told reporters that he welcomed the start of talks with the country, adding that he had invested a lot of effort in his official capacity to make that happen.
He emphasized that U.N. Envoy Kai Eide will inform the U.N. Security Council of his report on the situation in Kosovo, adding that if the council reaches agreement on the issue, Secretary General Kofi Annan will announce when negotiations on Kosovo will begin.
Solana added that the international organization will first choose a person to represent it at the talks, after which the negotiations will be scheduled. He could not say who that person would be.
Asked to comment on reports that the EU, International Contact Group, and other international groups already have an agreement on Kosovo, Solana's spokeswoman, Christina Gallach, dismissed such claims as laughable. Gallach stressed that the future of Kosovo will be determined by negotiations between the two sides, assisted by high-ranking international officials, including those from the EU or EU countries.
NEGOTIATIONS ON POLITICAL ISSUES TO BEGIN IN NOVEMBER
BELGRADE, Oct 10 (Beta)-The beginning of technical negotiations on the agreement on Serbia Montenegro's stabilization and association with the European Union has been scheduled for the beginning of November, said Serbia Montenegro's office for association with the EU on Oct. 10.
The participants will first discuss political issues and the general terms of the agreement and then hold separate talks with the member states on economic issues.The Serbia Montenegro office for association with the EU said that within the established period of time, the state union will discuss the issues within its jurisdiction foreign policy, security, and the visa regime, asylum and joint control of borders.The state union will also negotiate the issues of human and minority rights, intellectual property and standards, and other spheres of jurisdiction defined by the Constitutional Charter. The negotiating teams of the two member states will separately negotiate the economic aspects of the agreement.
POSITIVE MINORITY POLICY GENERALLY PRACTICED, SAYS LJAJIC
BELGRADE, Oct 10 (Tanjug) - A positive minority policy was practiced in the past five years in Serbia, which essentially presented a process of integration of national minorities into all social developments, but not enough has been achieved yet, Serbia-Montenegro (SCG) Minister of Human and Minority Rights Rasim Ljajic said on Monday."We have significantly advanced in the process of the integration of national minorities, cultural autonomy has been made possible, legal foundations have been set and a good environment has been created for political activities by national minorities, but not enough has been achieved," Ljajic said.Speaking at a seminar on the implementation of the monitoring results of the framework conference for the protection of national minorities, organized by the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and the Council of Europe (CoE), Minister Ljajic said that, in spite of the good legislature and model for forming national councils, much still remained to be done in the direction of engaging minorities in the judiciary, the police and education."There have been insufficient results regarding the model of electing national councils, which are mostly one-party in structure, and we must seek a compromise solution in order to secure that both large and small minorities are satisfied in this selection," Ljajic said.
GUL: TOGETHER TOWARDS FUTURE
BELGRADE, Oct 11 (Tanjug) - Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has assessed that after several-year clashes in the Balkans and since relative stability had been achieved, it was time that countries in the region decided whether they wanted to go on nourishing their animosities or wished to draw corresponding morals and plan their future in a responsible and constructive manner.I believe that we have strong motives and that we look into the future with hope, Gul, who is also Turkish deputy prime minister, said in an interview for the Tuesday issue of the Belgrade daily Politika.All countries of the region have a joint vision and prospects for integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, and such prospects do not just lead our region towards stability, cooperation and prosperity, but also get us closer to each other, the Turkish ranking official said.Minister Gul, who will arrive in a official visit to Serbia and Montenegro, underscored that Turkey gave particular importance to the Balkan countries' integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, and backed the efforts the countries were making to that effect, since, as he put it, they believed that the process would provide a better future for the region as a whole.
EUROPEAN ROAD FOR SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO, SAYS REHN
NOVI SAD, Oct 11 (Tanjug) - European Union (EU) Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn reiterated in Novi Sad on Tuesday that the negotiations on stabilization and association present the beginning of the European road for Serbia and Montenegro and that these negotiations need not last long.Rehn said he knew that people in the Western Balkans were concerned for their future, but wished to point out yet again that the EU doors were open, and that the Union would admit to its ranks all candidate countries who are ready. Rehn was addressing MPs in the Vojvodina parliament.The reconstructed Freedom Bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad presents a bridge between Serbia-Montenegro (SCG) and the EU, both in a physical and metaphorical sense, Rehn said. Nevertheless, he pointed out that Belgrade and Podgorica, together or separately, must build many more bridges before they can reach Brussels, but said that the foundation stone had already been laid.Rehn also spoke about the difficult tasks ahead of the state union, such as the negotiations on the status of Kosovo and the future of the state union itself. The senior official observed, however, that this should not have any negative effects on the parallel negotiations on the SCG joining the Union.A firm bridge must also be built toward Pristina, he said, because that is the only way to establish mutual confidence and to resolve certain problems. Regarding the referendum in Montenegro, the most important thing at this time is that it should be organized according to top European standards, Rehn said.Vojvodina province is an example of harmonious coexistence of large numbers of nations, he said, and it could also be a model for others in that respect. However, isolated incidents mar the general impression, he said, and they should be overcome by acting on the recommendations made by Doris Pack, who had visited the province at the head of a European Parliament commission early this year.
KOSTUNICA OPENS ITALIAN DAYS IN BELGRADE
BELGRADE, Oct 10 (Beta)-Serbian Premier Vojislav Kostunica said on Oct. 10 that a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU will already be signed by October 2006, after which the country will enter the second phase of accession to the EU. "The process of Serbia Montenegro's accession to the European Union is unstoppable and it is no longer a question how to do so but when," Kostunica said at the opening of the second Days of Italy in Belgrade, a conference on business and cultural issues, which is being attended by 450 Italian companies.
Kostunica said that extraordinary results have been achieved since last year's conference and that Italy has become Serbia's leading foreign trade partner.Kostunica said that Serbian exports to Italy have increased 120 percent while imports have gone up by 42 percent."It is up to businessmen to cooperate and it is up to the Serbian government to create a business environment that will be liberal and stable in political and legal terms," the Serbian premier said.Kostunica said that Serbia had introduced favorable tax and customs duties to attract foreign investors and that such measures have already begun to produce results.
ITALY, SERBIA HAVE LONG-TERM STRATEGIC INTERESTS: TADIC
BELGRADE, Oct 11 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic assessed late on Monday that the current visit of Italian businessmen to Belgrade was the biggest one in the history of the two countries, and pointed that Italy was one of Serbia's three most important foreign trade partners. At a reception held for participants of the two-day conference on Italy in Belgrade, Tadic said that Italy and Serbia had mutual long-term strategic interests, and assessed that besides cultural, Italy also had a major influence on the Serbian technology.Tadic reminded that over the past five years, the Italian government had allocated 95 million euros for humanitarian aid and about another 33 millions for the development of small and medium companies, and had also assisted the Serbian energetic sector.Last year, Italy was Serbia's third most important foreign trade partner, with an overall two-way trade amounting to the value of some 1.5 billion US dollars, Tadic reminded, and added that owing to the Italian Ambassador in Belgrade, Antonio Zanardi Landi, the scope of the two countries' trade had increased."As a president of Serbia, I will always back the cooperation between Italy in Serbia in all fields," Tadic said and welcomed the arrival of Italian banks and companies in Serbia, which have come to the country by way of privatisation and takeover of companies.Tadic called on Italian financiers and businessmen to participate in the construction of the Pan-European Constanca-Pancevo-Trieste oil pipeline, since it was of joint interest."I truly believe in the strategic importance of Italian-Serbian and Italian-Serbian-Montenegrin relations," Tadic underscored.In thanking President Tadic for his cordial words, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Roberto Antonini pointed out that that day (Monday) also had a symbolic significance, since Serbia and Montenegro had begun negotiations on stabilisation and association with the European Union.
CONTRIBUTION TO SCG'S INTEGRATION IN EU ECONOMIC SPACE, URSO
BELGRADE, Oct 10 (Tanjug) - Italian Deputy Minister for Productive Activities Adolfo Urso said on Monday at the opening of the events Italy in Belgrade that they were organised with a view to giving an impetus to trade and contribute to the integration of SCG into the economic space of the European Union before its formal accession to the EU.At the gathering, which has been organised by the Italian Foreign Trade Institute, Urso pointed out that Italy worked a great deal for the start of the association of SCG to the EU.Urso pointed out that since last year's events the scope of Italian investments in Serbia had risen and that Italy was at the top by the number of investments through privatisation, which totaled 17 this year alone.Recalling that the Italian government had approved a 33-million-euro loan for small and medium scale enterprises in Serbia, Urso announced that this month would start the first tranche of the five million euros.As possible fields of cooperation of our and Italian firms he cited the construction industry, production of clothing, footwear, the wood industry, energy and production of spare parts.
OFFICIAL TELLS ITALIAN INVESTORS OF BETTER BUSINESS CLIMATE
BELGRADE, Oct 10 (Beta)-Serbian Vice Premier Miroljub Labus said on Oct. 10 that he is convinced that Italian business people will realize that the investment climate in Serbia is much better than it was a year ago.
At the Italia a Belgrade conference in Belgrade, which has brought over 450 Italian companies to Belgrade, Labus called on the Italians to invest in the regional market, which comprises 50 million consumers, and to use the benefits offered by free trade and economic growth.He stressed that Serbia's macroeconomic situation is not perfect, adding that inflation and foreign trade remain a problem, although the trade deficit has been cut and has reached a sustainable level."We have about 15 percent in annual inflation, which worries us and is the reason the Serbian cabinet's main priority next year will be to cut price growth to under 10 percent," said Labus. Labus added that Italy is Serbia's best trade partner, adding that mutual trade has made more progress than with any other country. He also said that Serbia's deficit has dropped from 60 percent to 20 percent. The vice premier said he expects an agreement to be reached with the Paris Club by the year's end, reducing the country's foreign debt.
Montenegrin Vice Premier Branimir Gvozdenovic said that he hopes that Montenegro's tourism revenues will increase from EUR235 million to EUR600 million with Italian assistance.
SERBIA, ITALY TO BUILD LOGISTIC TERMINAL, WORTH EUR2.9 MILLION
BELGRADE, Oct 10 (Beta)-The Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Union of Chambers of Commerce (Unioncamere) on Oct. 10, signed an agreement on the construction of a logistics and transport terminal in Serbia, worth EUR2.9 million, during the business conference "Italia a Belgrado 2005."
Serbian Chamber of Commerce President Slobodan Milosavljevic said that the terminal would occupy up to 400,000 square meters and would be connected with the highway, the railway network, and have access to river transport, but added that the location had not been determined yet. He further said that EUR1.9 million would be provided from the Italian fund for establishing links between Italy's and the Balkan countries' economies, while the rest will be furnished by Italian companies interested in the project.
The chambers of commerce of Trieste, Milan, Florence, and the Bari, Veneto and Campagna regional chambers of commerce, the Italian Foreign Trade Institute (ICE), and the Simset and Finest financial institutions will also take part in carrying out the project.
SERBIAN PRESIDENT BRIEFS SPC PATRIARCH ON VISIT TO VATICAN
BELGRADE, Oct 10 (Tanjug) - Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Patriarch Pavle received Monday Serbian President Boris Tadic who briefed him on his recent visit to the Vatican and conveyed the brotherly greetings from Pope Benedict XVI and the latter's best wishes for fostering cooperation with the SPC.Patriarch Pavle said that cooperation with the Roman Catholic Church has a growing importance, as both churches are facing the same challenges at present.Tadic and the Patriarch also exchanged views on the latest developments regarding the search for a solution for Kosovo-Metohija, the SPC press service said.
EBRD TO INVEST 250 MILLION EUROS IN SERBIA'S INFRASTRUCTURE
BELGRADE, Oct 10 (Tanjug) - European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Director for Western Balkans Claudio Viezzoli said Monday that EBRD will invest by 2006 about 250 million euros in infrastructure development in Serbia and about 450 million in the Balkans, and urged Italian companies to be more active in Serbia.Adressing a seminar on infrastructure and logistics during a two-day conference Italy in Belgrade, Viezzoli said that EBRD invested over the past three years about three billion euros in Western Balkans and about 750 million in Serbia.He urged Serbian companies, which are smaller and have less capacity than foreign competitors, to merge and respond together to international tenders for the construction of infrastructure in Serbia.European Investment Bank executive for the Balkans Richard Rawlings said that EIB plans to invest about one billion euros in infrastructure development in southeastern Europe by 2007, of which about 800 million euros in Serbia-Montenegro alone.The investments will be made in reconstruction of roads, railways, waterways and other projects, he said.
ONE MILLION UNEMPLOYED IN SERBIA
BELGRADE, Oct 10 (Tanjug) - There were about one million unemployed persons in Serbia, in July 2005, and 60,000 in Montenegro, including over 50 percent women, state union of Serbia and Montenegro (SCG) Chamber of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions Secretary-General Svetozar Gataric said on Monday.Addressing a press conference at the Tanjug Press Center, Gataric said this negative trend was expected to continue in future as well, having in mind the announced restructuring of companies and cutting down production costs and the costs of the labor force."Aleviating unemployment and the overall employment policy are among the most important preconditions for economic reforms and stabilization, and all participants in society must take part in that process - the state, the employers and the trade unions," Gataric pointed out.
I COMPOSED REALISTIC REPORT, SAYS EIDE
BELGRADE, Oct 11 (Beta)-The U.N. Secretary General's special envoy for the assessment of standards in Kosovo, Kai Eide, said he had composed a very sincere and realistic report and did not only underline serious problems in the rule of law domain and interethnic relations, but also furnished suggestions for improving the situation in these fields, the Belgrade daily Danas reported in its Oct. 11 issue.In a statement to Danas, Eide said that in the report, which he handed to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on Oct. 4, he paid special attention to the reconciliation process and the necessity for continuing the work on resolving the fate of missing and abducted persons in Kosovo."I composed the report in the best interest of those living in Kosovo and those who wish to return to their homes in Kosovo," Eide said as cited by the daily. Eide emphasized that he did not compose the report in order to please either side, adding that he formulated a realistic solution for the decentralization of the province, which is considerably broader than the current pilot projects, Danas reported.
VUJANOVIC: MONTENEGRIN REFERENDUM WILL NOT ENDANGER TALKS
PODGORICA, Oct 10 (Tanjug) - Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic on Monday thanked European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn for his personal contribution to the adoption of the decision to start negotiations on the agreement on stabilization and association with the EU, evaluating it as a "big day for both Montenegro and Serbia".During the meeting in Belgrade, Vujanovic informed Rehn that Montenegro had developed an administrative concept and reform potential to meet all of its obligations in the process of association with the EU in time, a statement released by Vujanovic's cabinet said.Vujanovic underscored that a referendum on Montenegro's state and legal status is in keeping with the Belgrade Agreement and the Constitutional Charter, and that it would, in no way, jeopardize or slow down the process of European integration.