Belgrade, February 13, 2012
JEREMIC: SERBIA ENJOYS WORLDWIDE RESPECT
NIS, Feb. 12 (Tanjug) - Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic stated in Nis late on Saturday that there Serbia enjoys worldwide respect although some countries are openly working against its foreign policy priorities and do not like what the country is doing.
Commenting on the decision to award chairmanship over the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to Serbia, Jeremic stated during a lecture at the Nis Faculty of Law that many international factors maintained an attitude of disbelief and ridicule when it comes to the country's candidacy for the chairmanship.
A total of 56 member countries, including the U.S. and Canada, European countries, Russia and Central Asian countries, voted in favor of Serbia's candidacy in Vienna, Jeremic stated and added that this is the reply to criticism voiced against Serbia's foreign policy and the response to questions as to the scope of Serbia's influence in the world.
The vote shows that Serbia's foreign policy priorities comprise European processes, preservation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, development of positive relations with neighbors and economic diplomacy.
There is no doubt that the enthusiasm as regards EU enlargement has dropped, which is a result of the economic crisis, Jeremic noted.
He assessed that all countries that are to take the EU path would have a more difficult and more complex task than before, which goes for all Serbia's future governments. Jeremic stated that the European process could be the common denominator around which the nation can crowd together just like it does around the national interest.
Jeremic said that Serbia is fighting secessionism in its territory by peaceful and diplomatic means and has managed to reduce the scope of recognition of Kosovo Metohija's independence and prevent its membership in international organisations as an independent country.
He noted that relations with neighbors are now better than they were ever since the beginning of the Yugoslav wars and that Serbia aims to develop best possible relations with its neighbors.
SWITZERLAND HAILS DECISION ON OSCE CHAIR
BERN, BELGRADE, Feb. 10 (Beta) - On Feb. 10, Switzerland hailed an OSCE decision on Switzerland and Serbia successively chairing the organization in 2014 and 2015, respectively, as an opportunity to contribute to the positive development of the region of South East Europe.
"This decision is good news for Switzerland", Didier Burkhalter, head of the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs, said in a post on the department's website. He added that it perfectly matched one of the country's foreign policy priorities Switzerland's commitment to the stability of Europe and improving security and cooperation throughout Europe.
Burkhalter announced that he would discuss cooperation with Serbia through the OSCE presidency with Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic in Bern, on March 1.
Switzerland and Serbia handed in their candidacies for the OSCE chair in 2014 and 2015 at the same time. They outlined the principles of cooperation during this twoyear period in a document called "Principles of Cooperation." The twoyear shared presidency is new for the OSCE, the website said, adding that this "innovative approach will allow for longterm planning and consistency that will benefit our organization" and "facilitate the development of a perspective for the future of the OSCE."
REACTIONS TO SWISS, SERBIAN PRESIDENCY OVER OSCE
VIENA,Feb. 10 (Beta) - On Feb. 10, Italian Foreign Minister Guilio Terzi hailed the OSCE's decision to hand the chair over to Switzerland and Serbia in 2014 and 2015 respectively, according to a statement the Italian Embassy in Belgrade, which was handed to BETA late on Feb.
"With great pleasure, I welcome the achievement of results which Italy gladly hails through its intense diplomatic activity at the OSCE Head Office," Terzi said.
On Feb. 10, President Boris Tadic called the fact that Serbia had been given the OSCE chair in 2015, good news. Tadic told reporters in Nova Varos that Serbia's upcoming OSCE presidency was good for the country's international reputation and credibility.
BELGIUM-SERBIA ART BIENNIAL BEGINS
BRUSSELS, Feb. 10 (Beta) - A series of events, including an exposition called "Serbia the Home of Frescoes" opened "the Belgium Serbia Art Biennial" in the Belgian towns of Verviers and Theux on Feb. 12. The start of the biennial also opened a celebration of Serbian Statehood Day at the Serbian Embassy in Belgium.
These two towns in northern Belgium will host a number of cultural events by March 25, with the aim of acquainting visitors with contemporary culture in Serbia and Serbian heritage.
"The Belgium Serbian Art Biennial" is the brainchild of Serbian painter Dragana Fransen Bojic, who resides and works in Verviers. Serbia is the third country, after Canada and Mexico, to have an entire event devoted to it. The biennial is sponsored by the Serbian Ministry of Culture, the Tourism Organization of Serbia and the Serbian Embassy in Belgium.
SERBIA – ECONOMY, FINANCE
IMF: LOWER GROWTH, RISING UNEMPLOYMENT A PROBLEM
BELGRADE, Feb. 10 (Tanjug) - In the circumstances of the slowdown of economic activities in the eurozone, Serbia's GDP growth is expected to total 0.5 per cent in 2012, and one of the main reasons for concern is embodied in the already high and still increasing unemployment, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released on Friday within its final report after the visit of the IMF delegation to Serbia.
The IMF mission, headed by Zuzana Murgasova, stayed in Serbia from February 2 to 9, during which it discussed the status of the precautionary standby arrangement with Serbia.
The GDP projections coincide with the forecast by the National Bank of Serbia (NBS), Murgasova stated in the release and added that on the bright side, inflation will slow down and should return to the limits of allowed deviation from NBS target inflation rate in early 2012.
She underscored that the reaction of the economic policy to the growth slowdown and inflation drop in 2011 was adequate on the general level.
The implementation relative to the goals for the end of 2011 was generally in keeping with the arrangement although the target deficit of the general government sector was exceeded slightly since additional consumption limits did not entirely compensate for the lower revenues.
The completion of the first revision of the arrangement with the IMF was put off since the budget for 2012 deviated from the agreed fiscal programme, especially in terms of higher public debt plans, including government guarantees and projects funded from local sources, Murgasova recalled.
The mission mostly focused on the 2012 fiscal policy, she said and added that unless additional measures are implemented, fiscal deficit would be significantly higher than was defined in the budget, partly due to the lower growth. The mission welcomed the government's willingness to fulfill the quarterly goals of the programme in terms of deficit, by means such as consumption limitation.
Having in mind the fact that the share of the GDP would exceed the lawenvisaged limit of 45 per cent of the GDP at the end of 2012, the mission underscored that the preservation of debt sustainability requires an effective and credible midterm fiscal stabilisation.
According to preliminary agreements, the IMF mission should return to Belgrade in mid2012 to conduct talks with the new government as regards steps that should be taken in order to continue revision of the agreement, Murgasova stated.
The steps would imply the 2012 budget review as in keeping with the goals of the programme as regards debt and deficit, midterm fiscal consolidation programme and a package of structural reforms that would encourage economic growth, she specified and noted that the mission prepared AideMemoire (Letter of intent) that presents a detailed account of key recommendations issued by the IMF team, which should be published soon.
SERBIA,DENMARK SIGN AGREEMENT WORTH EUR 9 MILLION
BELGRADE, Feb. 10 (Tanjug) - The governments of Serbia and Denmark signed in Belgrade on Friday the agreement which envisages EUR 9 million worth of investments for the enhancement of fruit production and processing in underdeveloped parts of southern Serbia.
The agreement was signed by Serbian Minister of Agriculture and Trade Dusan Petrovic and Danish Ambassador in Belgrade Mette Nielsen Kewell.
After the signing, the Serbian minister specified that the Danish government would set aside EUR 5.35 million for the realisation of the programme, the Serbian government would allocate EUR 3.3 million for the purpose while local selfgovernments would have the obligation to invest EUR 300.000.
The assistance would be available to farmers from five districts, the Pcinja District, the Jablanica District, the Toplica District, the Nisava District and the Pirot District, Petrovic stated.
He noted that farmers would be granted subsidies for planting berry crops and procurement of equipment and refrigerators, and added that training activities would also be organised.
The Danish ambassador underscored that Serbia is already an important producer of berries and that the realisation of the programme is also important in terms of exports.
The aim of the programme is to enhance production and raise competitiveness of Serbian producers, the ambassador said and noted that the country already imports considerable quantities of Serbian fruit and that the export of processed products would also have to increase.
The programme should be realised in the period from 2012 to 2014.
SERBIAN COMPANIES PRESENT AT MOSCOW FAIR
BELGRADE, Feb. 12 (Tanjug) - Serbian companies will present the potentials of Serbia's food industry at the 19th International Exhibition for Food, Beverages and Food Raw Materials PRODEXPO which will be held in Moscow from February 13 to 17, Vice President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) Mikhail Veronica announced.
He noted that the Serbian stand will showcase 12 companies from the agricultural and food industry, as well as fruit and vegetable processing, confectionery which are said to be the leaders in the export to the Russian market.
PKS President Milos Bulgarian will head the Serbian economic delegation comprising companies such as Drave Organic Selenca, Class Comer Parading. ITN- Belgrade, Pionir- Subotica, Aretol- Novi Sad, Venac -Stara Pazova, Master Frigo- Belgrade, Frigo Zika Soko- Ruma, Banini -Kikinda, Promount Group- Novi Sad, PIK Becej- Becej, Aleva-Novi Knezevac.
Vesovic underscored that the greatest hike in export of Serbian products to the Russian market was recorded with agricultural and food products while apples constitute the most important export product. According to PKS data, Serbia exported food products worth over USD 160 million to the Russian market, of which the export of apples reached USD 60 million and recorded 35 per cent increase relative to 2010.
Vesovic said that although the exchange between the two countries is on the rise, there is great room for additional hikes in Serbia's export to Russia, but this also calls for wider scope of local production. Total exchange between Serbia and Russia in 2011 reached almost USD 3.3 billion, which is 22 per cent more than in 2010.
The PRODEXPO 2012 will be held under the auspices of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation, with the support of the Russian Ministry of Agriculture. The trade fair will bring together 2,200 companies from 60 countries, and leading world companies account for 80 percent of exhibitors.
KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
DENIAU: REFERENDUM WILL NOT AFFECT EU CANDIDACY
BELGRADE, Feb. 11 (Tanjug) - French Ambassador in Serbia Francois Xavier Deniau stated that France strongly supports EU candidate status for Serbia, and added that the referendum in northern Kosovo should not affect the decision of the European Council.
France strongly supports Serbia's EU candidate status and calls on the country to do everything it can without delay so that the European Council could confirm its candidate status, Deniau said in an interview for the Saturday edition of the Belgradebased daily Politika and added that this point is close at hand.
When asked how the referendum in Serbian municipalities in northern Kosovo could affect the decision on Serbia's candidate status, Deniau expressed belief that the referendum should not entail any consequences since the Serbian government is not included in the initiative, and has publicly distanced itself from it. Deniau stated that it would be good for Belgrade and Pristina to resolve the issue of Kosovo's presentation as soon as possible and added that France does not find any mention of Resolution 1244 problematic. There are no hardset dates for Belgrade and Pristina to reach an agreement on Kosovo's presentation at regional forums but it should better be achieved as soon as possible because the European Council does not like solutions arriving in the nick of time, he stated.
When asked whether UNSC Resolution 1244, on which Belgrade insists in the matter of Pristina's regional presentation, could pose a problem to France in any way, Deniau stated that the talks are not being led with France and that the dialogue is conducted between Belgrade and Pristina.
France considers it important for a solution to be found, the ambassador said and added that Resolution 1244 does not constitute a problem because France has decided that the resolution should be mentioned in all documents that apply to Kosovo within the EU.
DREWS WARNS AGAINST RISKS OF UNRESTS IN KOSOVO
BERLIN, Feb. 11 (Tanjug) - KFOR Commander General Erhard Drews from Germany warned that certain conflicts in Kosovo could arise in case Albanian nationalists should feel provoked by the referendum northern Kosovo Serbs announced, and added that any potential incidents should prevented.
There will certainly be certain expressions of dissatisfaction, and the referendum does not suit many people, Drews stated in an interview for the German magazine Focus which will be published on Monday.
Estimating that as many as 98 per cent of Serbs would vote negative at the forthcoming referendum as regards acceptance of Kosovo institutions, Drews warned that certain conflicts with the Serb minority in the south could arise in case Albanian nationalists should feel provoked.
This needs to be prevented by all available means, Drews stated.
When asked whether Serbia still has government over Kosovo Serbs since the referendum blocks the longawaited EU candidate status, Drews stated that Belgrade is still providing considerable financial assistance to the northern Kosovo public life and that Belgrade has an influence over northern Kosovo representatives.
However, interests of northern Kosovo Serbs do not coincide with Belgrade's interests any longer, Drews said and added that compromises Belgrade is making do not suit northern Kosovo Serbs, having in mind the EU stand. When asked whether the background of the conflict is more political or criminal, the KFOR commander replied that both are present.
Both sides are present, he said and added that there are strong political forces which want to see the area stay within Serbia, but at the same time, the local population fears that if the EU and the Kosovo Police Service take over the border control, they would lose their revenue sources, that is, the funds from Belgrade and the money obtained by smuggling.