Daily Survey

Belgrade, February 14, 2012



BELGRADE, Feb. 13 (Beta) - Serbian President Boris Tadic met today with Greek Parliament Speaker Philippos Petsalnikos in Belgrade to discuss relations between their two countries and Serbia's bid to join the European Union.
According to the Serbian president's media office, Tadic thanked Petsalnikos for Greece's principled support to the preservation of the territorial integrity and EU integration of Serbia.
The heads of the Serbian and Greek parliaments, Slavica Djukic Dejanovic and Petsalnikos, signed a memorandum of cooperation between the two legislative bodies.
Petsalnikos said Serbia had implemented "significant reforms" and voiced hope that the European Council would award Serbia the status of candidate EU member in March.
The memorandum of cooperation, which paves the way for technical support from the Greek to the Serbian parliament by loaning specialized experts, is based on the selection of the Greek parliament for implementing the European Commission's Twinning project for building the parliament of Serbia.


BELGRADE, Feb. 13 (Beta) - German Ambassador to Serbia Wolfram Maas said on Feb. 13 that he hoped Serbia would meet the conditions required to obtain European Union candidate status on March 1, but that he was not optimistic in this regard.
"I'm not an optimist but neither am I a pessimist. The conditions for candidacy are clear and they are simple to meet the application of the agreements with Pristina, EULEX and KFOR carrying out their mandate across the entire territory of Kosovo and the agreement on the regional representation of Kosovo," said Maas at the German Embassy, at a gathering of students participating in the "Welcome to Germany" program.
Maas stressed that Serbia's place was in the EU and strongly criticized the stance of Democratic Party of Serbia President Vojislav Kostunica that Serbia was losing out by implementing the Stabilization and Association Agreement.
"Whoever claims this either does not know what it is about or is, simply, lying. During the three years the agreement has been implemented, EUR500 million have been lost but EUR1.5 billion have been received," said Maas.


BELGRADE, Feb. 13 (Beta) - Head of the OSCE Mission in Serbia, Dimitrios Kypreos, said on Feb. 13 that the decision that Serbia should chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2015 was a diplomatic success for the country and an important step ahead.
As any other success, this also generates new responsibilities for the presiding country, as Serbia will be the leader in fulfilling international obligations and standards of all 56 OSCE members, Ambassador Kypreos told BETA.
Kypreos said the decision on the successive OSCE presidency of Switzerland in 2014 and Serbia in 2015 was the first case of two countries opting to chair the organization according to a model of a joint two-year program.
The ambassador further said it was important that a country from Southeast Europe would soon be at the helm of the OSCE, and commended the "dedication" of Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic in achieving this goal.


BELGRADE,CAMBERA, Feb. 13 (Beta) - Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic spoke on Feb. 13 in Canberra with Australian Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Bowen about possibilities of introducing facilitation measures for the issuance of Australian visas for Serbia citizens.
The Serbian Interior Ministry announced that an agreement had been reached to begin talks that could lead to procedural relief measures being introduced during the issuance of Australian visas to Serbian citizens and their validity being extended.
Dacic recalled that after 2000, Serbia abolished visas for Australian citizens, but that Australia had a visa policy according to which everybody is required to have a visa to enter the country, except the British Queen and citizens of New Zealand.
Dacic and Bowen also spoke about the Serbian diaspora which numbers more than 100,000 citizens in Australia. Dacic also spoke in Canberra with members of the Australian parliament's foreign policy committee and Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, who announced that he would visit Belgrade.



BELGRADE, Feb. 13 (Beta) - A referendum, in which approximately 35,000 citizens with the right to vote will make their stance on Kosovo's institutions known, will be held in four northern Kosovo municipalities on Feb. 14 and 15.
The referendum question is: "Do you accept the institutions of the socalled Republic of Kosovo?"
Citizens in the north of Kosovska Mitrovica, Zvecan and Zubin Potok will vote over two days, with citizens in Leposavic voting only on Feb. 15, Serbia's Statehood Day.
Ljubo Radovic, a member of the municipal commission for conducting the referendum, told BETA that the distribution of electoral material was in progress and that final consultations with members of the electoral committee in the municipalities were being held.
The representatives of the international community in Kosovo are against the referendum, stating that it will not have any legal outcome. Officials from Belgrade are also against the referendum because they believe it will worsen the position of Serbia and the Kosovo Serbs.


KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Feb. 13 (Beta) - Oliver Ivanovic, state secretary at the Serbian Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija, said on Feb. 13 that a referendum in northern Kosovo would damage the interests of Serbia and Kosovo Serbs.
"The referendum question 'Do you accept the institutions of the socalled Republic of Kosovo' will bring the expected result. Serbs have said no to Pristina institutions on many occasions since 1999, therefore [the referendum] will bring nothing new in that respect," Ivanovic told reporters in Kosovska Mitrovica.
Democratic Party of Serbia vice president Slobodan Samardzic said on Feb. 13 that the referendum in northern Kosovo, scheduled for Feb. 14 and 15, was "historically important" for Serbia, because the people will show "in which country they want to live."
Deputy Kosovo Premier Hajredin Kuci voiced conviction that there would be no interethnic incidents during the referendum.


BELGRADE, Feb. 13 (B92) - Oliver Ivanovic welcomed on Monday the initiative of Serbia's foreign minister to block EUR 400mn from the sale of Serbian property in the province.
The funds have been deposited into the account of the Kosovo Privatization Agency.
Ivanovic, who is state secretary with the Ministry for Kosovo, told Tanjug that due to the difficult economic situation, the authorities in Priština were trying to sell off everything they can "and later when the question arises of who the property belonged to, it will already be sold and damages will have to be sought through lawsuits".
FM Vuk Jeremic opened the issue of privatization in Kosovo during a recent meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon and asked that the money obtained from the sale of public property in Kosovo be blocked.
Ivanovic said that "we do not consider Kosovo independent, and neither do international institutions such as the United Nations." "Priština must act in line with the laws which apply in such situations," Ivanovic said.
He said Priština next plans to sell the property of Telekom Srbija and the Brezovica skicenter.
Ivanovic noted this was not the first time they have attempted to sell the property of these companies and that there was an attempt to sell Telekom's property several years ago.
At the time, Telekom published an ad in the Financial Times, warning potential buyers they would face lawsuits if they purchased the property, so the sale was unsuccessful, he said.
Ivanovic said it is a problem that any lawsuit Serbia might file for damages due to illegal sale of property would be politicized.
The state secretary said the problem requires a systematic approach.
"I do not know exactly what the value of the property is. I think we need to systematize everything and set down some rules we would use to calculate Serbia's investments in Kosovo," Ivanovic stated.
This official is convinced this issue "should also be solved by way of a political agreement".


BRUSSELS, PRIŠTINA, Feb. 13 (B92) - The upcoming referendum in northern Kosovo is not the path to a solution says a spokesman for the EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule.
Violence, barricades or the referendum are not the solution, Peter Stano told Tanjug.
Relating the European Commission's position on the referendum which will be held Tuesday and Wednesday in three municipalities in northern Kosovo, Stano said a solution can be reached only through peace, consultations and dialogue.
Stano said the EC has acknowledged Belgrade's position that the referendum on the nonacceptance of Priština's institutions is unnecessary and counterproductive. The position of the Belgrade authorities on this issue is more than clear, Stano said.
Meanwhile in Kosovo, UN mission UNMIK spokesperson Olivier Salgado said on Monday that the referendum in northern Kosovo will be held contrary to the existing law, and hence it will have no legal repercussions. In a statement for Tanjug, Salgado stressed that taking into account that the holding of the referendum is contrary to the current law, UNMIK will play no role in it, i.e. UNMIK will not monitor how it will be carried out. The UNMIK spokesperson noted that for them, the referendum, which will be held in northern Kosovo in the next two days, will have no legal repercussions.