Daily Survey

Belgrade, March 15, 2012


SERBIA

TADIC: VLACH MINORITY ENJOYS ALL RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

BELGRADE, March 15 (Beta) –President Boris Tadic and representatives of the Vlach National Council agreed Thursday that the Vlach minority in Serbia enjoy all rights and freedoms, and that they represent loyal citizens of Serbia. Representatives of the Vlach National Council expressed satisfaction with the fact that Serbia has been granted the status of candidate country for EU membership.They also thanked President Tadic for the principled stand on national minorities' right to self-identification, all in keeping with the Serbian Constitution and international documents in the field of minority protection.The Serbian president and representatives of the Vlach National Council concluded that the economic development of eastern Serbia (where Vlachs are most numerous) should be further encouraged, Tadic's press service released.The meeting was also attended by President of the Vlach National Council in Serbia Radisa Dragojevic, Vice Presidents Miletic Mihajlovic, Dragi Damjanovic, Neli Djordjevic, Miodrag Markovic, Dragan Balasevic, and Secretary of the Vlach National Council Bojan Modrlanovic.

AMBASSADOR UDOVICKI AWARDED FOR CONTRIBUTION TO RELATIONS

HONG KONG, March 14 (Beta) –The editorial office of the media company Home and Abroad News Press, granted the Serbian ambassador to China, Miomir Udovicki, the award for newspaper personality of the year for 2012, as posted on the website of the Chinese International Radio. At the award ceremony organized by the Hong Kong based company, representatives explained that the award was granted because of the cooperation of Ambassador Udovicki with the Chinese media, and for the overall development of relations between Serbia and China. The award was also granted to Chinese artists and public figures, as well as to ambassadors from all continents.

KOSOVO & METOHIJA – KOSOVO * – DIALOGUE

STEFANOVIC & SCHWARZENBERG DISCUSS BELGRADE-PRISTINA DIALOG

PRAGUE, March 14 (Beta) –Belgrade's chief negotiator in the dialog with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on March 14 said it was necessary to apply solutions in line with the thus far reached agreements. In Prague, Stefanovic and Schwarzenberg discussed Serbia's further EU integration and the BelgradePristina dialog, read a statement from the Serbian cabinet.

DACIC: ELECTIONS IN KOSOVO A CLOSED ISSUE

KRALJEVO, March 14 (Tanjug) –Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said in the central Serbian town of Kraljevo that parliament speaker Slavica Djukic Dejanovic has called elections in Kosovo and that this closes the issue, although there have been pressures from the international community against this election."Serbia absolutely refuses to discuss whether it should hold elections in Kosovo. These elections have been held for the past 12 or 13 years and I do not see why they would be problematic now," Dacic said.Commenting on the statement of European Parliament rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin who said it would be a problem if Serbia held elections in Kosovo, Dacic said it is not for Kacin to decide."Serbia does not need to ask anyone outside the country whether to hold elections. We are a state whose sovereignty needs to be respected. And Kosovo is not a state, at least not one recognized by the UN," Dacic said.Since Serbia insists on UN Resolution 1244, it should see whether it needs UNMIK's cooperation and consent for the local elections."When it comes to presidential and parliamentary elections, there is no dilemma," said Dacic.

TIRANA PLANS ELECTIONS IN NORTH KOSOVO IN ADVANCE

TIRANA, March 14 (Tanjug) –The Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that Belgrade's decision to stage elections in northern Kosovo is unacceptable and contrary to the law.In a release, the Ministry in Tirana believes that staging elections in several Kosovo municipalities is unacceptable and contrary to the law, and that it destroys the integrity of a neighbouring sovereign country, ATA new agency reported.Tirana officials also underscored that Serbia's efforts aimed at staging elections in the territory of Kosovo are contrary to the spirit and contents of the Belgrade-Pristina talks conducted so far under the auspices of the EU.In the release, Albania backed finding a solution to the problems in northern Kosovo in keeping with the Martti Ahtisaari Plan.From day one, Tirana has been fully supporting Kosovo's aspirations for independence of Serbia and it has also lobbied for recognition of the self-declared government in Pristina.

SERBIA – REGION

BIH AND SERBIA NEED TO IMPROVE POLICE COOPERATION

BELGRADE, March 14 (Tanjug) –Interior Minister Ivica Dacic and his Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) counterpart Zlatko Lagumdzija expressed hope on Wednesday that the police cooperation between the Serbian Interior Ministry and all BiH police structures would be additionally enhanced in the time to come.Dacic, who also holds office as the Serbian deputy prime minister, and his BiH colleague agreed during the meeting that bilateral cooperation is very successful.The meeting also covered the development of regional security cooperation, and ministers underscored that cooperation with other countries in the region is highly important.Lagumdzija started his two-day visit to Belgrade on Tuesday by a meeting with Serbian President Boris Tadic, and on Wednesday he met with Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic and Parliament Speaker Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic.

CROATIA WILL NOT STALL SERBIA'S EU INTEGRATION

BELGRADE/ZAGREB, March 14 (Tanjug) –Croatian President Ivo Josipovic said relations between Serbia and Croatia are better than a few years ago, and the political dimension of the mutual genocide lawsuits is overestimated."The public, and therefore the political scene, of both countries is very sensitive when it comes to this issue. At the same time, the effects of the lawsuits might be overestimated as far as what is believed the suits can achieve," Josipovic said in an interview to the weekly NIN.Asked whether Croatia plans to stand in the way of Serbia's EU integration over an unresolved border dispute along the Danube, Josipovic said this will not happen."Our parliament has even passed a special declaration which states that Croatia, as a soon-to-be EU member country, will not abuse this status to solve bilateral problems and disputes with neighbors," said the Croatian president.According to him, the border dispute does not greatly affect daily politics in Croatia."On the other hand, if each side stays rooted in its position, it will be hard to come to an agreement," he noted.Josipovic said there are also a lot of open issues."These are serious problems, but with what we have accomplished in our relations so far, we have created a good foundation to start talking very openly about these problems, and to finally start solving them, one by one," he said.Josipovic said there is a vocal segment of the political scene both in Croatia and in Serbia which would put up a Chinese wall between the two countries, but the voters did not choose this policy and it does not carry political weight.

JOSIPOVIC: DEAL ON WAR CRIMES TO BE INKED WITH SERBIA ASAP

ZAGREB, March 14 (Beta) –Croatian President Ivo Josipovic said interstate agreements, under which war crimes indictees would be tried by their place of residence, should be signed as soon as possible, primarily with Serbia, which had already demonstrated readiness to ink such a document, and then also with BosniaHerzegovina and Montenegro. "It will be difficult to reach a lasting peace before all those who committed war crimes are brought to justice,"he said at a round table on ensuring better war crimes prosecution through strengthening regional cooperation.Josipovic criticized the Hague tribunal and local courts for their practice of statutory release, stressing that he would never pardon war criminals.

SERBIA – EU

LUNACEK: DATE FOR TALKS MUST BE CONTINGENT ON KOSOVO

VIENNA, March 14 (Tanjug) –Standing Rapporteur of the European Parliament (EP) for Kosovo Ulrike Lunacek is of the opinion that Serbia's date for accession talks must now be contingent on further progress in the relations with Kosovo.European Commissioner Stefan Fuele is quite clear on that. I hope that Vienna will also impose increased pressure on Serbia, and make it clear that without marked improvement in relations with Kosovo, there would be no date for start of the EU accession talks, Lunacek wrote in an article published in the Vienna-based daily Die Presse.Lunacek notes that the compromise, into which Belgrade was forced, shows that the EU Council did the right thing when it decided to postpone the decision on Serbia's candidate status from December last year to its spring summit.She is of the opinion that 5 countries which have not yet recognized Kosovo's independence have to be forced to normalize relations with Kosovo.Austria, together with 21 member states which have recognized Kosovo's independence, must impose greater pressure on Greece, Cyprus, Slovakia, Romania and Spain, she underlined.The EP rapporteur for Kosovo said that Kosovo's nameplate in regional meetings that includes the word 'Kosovo' and an asterisk followed by the footnote, which was agreed during the latest round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina, represents a light at the end of the tunnel.The footnote has recently paved the way for Serbia's candidate status, and a stabilization and association agreement (SAA) feasibility study for Kosovo as its first step in the EU integration process, Lunacek said.

WAMMEN: DATE OF NEGOTIATIONS WITH EU BY YEAR'S END

BELGRADE, March 14 (Tanjug) –Danish Minister for European Affairs Nicolai Wammen said that the next EU report on Serbia is expected in October and expressed hope that the decision on the beginning of accession negotiations will be made before the end of 2012.The Serbian government during the past month showed that it is devoted to its main objective - the EU integration process - and is ready to make the difficult compromises necessary to achieve this priority, he said in an interview to New Magazine.Wammen, whose country holds the EU presidency, expressed hope that, given the hitherto ambitious and realistic policy, the dialogue with Pristina will continue to bring positive results, which will be in the interest of both Serbia and Kosovo, not only of Serbs living in Kosovo.This will be the main item in the Council's decision-making about the beginning of accession negotiations, he said.It is certain that difficult work lies ahead, he said, but expressed conviction that the Serbian government will continue its endeavors in that direction and thus place Serbia firmly on the road to full membership in the EU.

SERBIA – ECONOMY

TADIC: NEW STEPS TO ASSIST SMALL AND MEDIUM COMPANIES

STARA PAZOVA, March 14 (Tanjug) –President Boris Tadic announced in Stara Pazova new measures to help small and medium businesses, including redirections of subsidies for foreign investors and involvement of the president's National Office.After visiting the Umprom company from Stara Pazova, Tadic stated that such companies face great problems during their creation and early stages of operation, adding that a tax reduction during the first year of company's existence should be considered.Small and medium companies are extremely important for the entire society and economy, and not just the family economy. The National Office could have a completely new role in the future and facilitate company creation, Tadic noted.He appealed to successful small and medium companies and their managers to spread their spirit of entrepreneurship to others."We have to direct people by personal example how to cope with problems and start production," he stressed.

KALANOVIC: BENETTON TO BUILD TEXTILE CENTER IN NIS

NIS, March 14 (Tanjug) –Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Regional Development Verica Kalanovic stated that Benetton's textile centre in Nis will employ 2,000 workers by the end of 2013.While touring the complex of former textile company Nitex, which was purchased by Benetton, Kalanovic stressed that the construction works are unfolding as planned, adding that four factories have been reconstructed and built, while others are still being constructed.Currently, 400 workers are employed and by the end of 2014 the textile centre will have taken on 2,700 workers, Kalanovic specified, adding that Benetton will have a turnover of EUR 72 mil once it starts operating at full capacity with its subcontractors and the production will be export-oriented.She noted that the agreement between Benetton, Serbia and the city of Nis, which was signed last year, anticipates the reconstruction of factories, environmental clean-up of the complex and destruction of useless facilities.These works should be completed by the end of this year, she noted.Benetton promised to invest EUR 43 mil and employ 2,700 workers, while the state approved grants amounting to EUR 9,000 for each newly created job. So far 20,000 sqm of production space has been reconstructed, out of 75,000 square metres of space in the halls that should be built or reconstructed.

KONUZIN: SOUTH STREAM CONSTRUCTION STARTS IN 2012

BELGRADE, March 14 (Tanjug) –Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Konuzin expects the construction of the South Stream pipeline to start by the end of the year and added that it should become operative by the end of 2015 as envisaged in the plans.During a break at the meeting entitled 'Russia and the Balkans - The past and perspectives' in Belgrade's Sava Centar, Konuzin told reporters that the statements of Gazprom Chairman of the Board of Directors Alexei Miller indicate that the construction of the South Stream pipeline would start before defined in the original plans, that is, as soon as at the end of 2012.The goal remains the same, that is, ensuring that the South Stream becomes operative by the end of 2015 and everything is going according to the plans, Konuzin stated.Speaking about the work of the Petroleum Industry of Serbia, the ambassador stated that the company wants to get engaged in new domains such as oil shale exploitation and expand the activities to other countries in the region.Commenting on the expected Russian loan for the development of Serbia's railway system worth USD 800 million, Konuzin noted that relevant sides need to supply complete project documentation so that the agreement could be closed.Konuzin stated that projects in Serbia's charge have not been completed yet.We are willing to grant funds, but the Russian Finance Ministry grants money for tangible contracts, he stated.

SIMPO AND IKEA JOIN FORCES

VRANJE, March 15 (Tanjug) –Swedish Ambassador to Serbia Christer Asp has told Tanjug he met head of Simpo Dragomir Tomic in Vranje to discuss cooperation between that furniture manufacturer and IKEA.Simpo and IKEA have been working together successfully for 30 years, and time has now come to open joint production facilities here in Serbia, he stated.Asp remarked that he had thought it very important to visit Simpo and hear from Tomic in person about the programmes such a large Serbian company was working on.The Swedish ambassador said he did not know the annual turnover, but that IKEA valued the fact that Simpo had been supplying 8 large IKEA stores in Russia for years.IKEA has been a strategic partner to Simpo for years, and its high standards also served as an indicator of success and Simpo's way of moving closer to the world's highest standards of quality.Today, IKEA is the 5th largest retail chain in terms of total turnover and the largest furniture retailer with 285 large outlets in 37 countries.

COMICO WELCOMES SMEDEREVO REFINERY DEAL

SMEDEREVO, March 15 (Tanjug) –Comico Overseas board member Brian Murray congratulated Wednesday the Smederevo local authorities on the progress in the refinery building project, announcing the company will soon sign a contract with the town and pay the lease.Comico Oil came out with a statement after the Smederevo town assembly decided to allow the company to lease land to build a modern refinery.Now we need to put together a lot of paperwork in order to get the necessary construction permits. We are sure everything will be done in a short timeframe, concludes the statement signed by Murrey.The town assembly adopted Tuesday an altered lease agreement for a plot of land in the industrial zone, which had been the cause of dispute between the local government and opposition for three and a half years.The 113-hectare plot will be leased to Comico Oil for a period of 99 years for RSD 652 million (EUR 1 = RSD 110) with additional benefits, for the purpose of building a refinery for the processing of crude oil and production of oil derivatives.