Daily Survey

Belgrade, January 16, 2012

SERBIA

SERBIAN DIPLOMATS MEET IN BELGRADE

BELGRADE, Jan. 16 (Tanjug) Serbia's approaching the EU, fultillment of standards regional cooperation and resolution of the Kosovo issue will continue to be the top priorities of Belgrade's foreign policy in 2012, said Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic. Opening an ambassadorial conference in the Palace of Serbia, which has gathered Serbia's ambassadors worldwide, Jeremic underlined that it is of utmost importance for the entire nation to achieve each one of the foreign policy goals without sacrificing one for the other.Serbia's objective is to achieve European standards, fulfill the Copenhagen criteria, no matter when the EU may reach consensus on the next formal steps on the road of Serbia's European integration.Despite the crisis in the EU, the greatest challenge in terms of the faith in the European project which will undoubtedly have an impact on the Balkans, Serbia is committed to integration, he underlined, stressing that "nothing can affected the government's strategic determination to drop Serbia's anchor in the EU."He recalled that at the beginning of its mandate, the Serbian government defined four diplomatic pillars - Euro-integration process, regional harmony, just and sustainable solution to the Kosovo issue and boosting of economic cooperation with the world."During our mandate, we pursued a consistent foreign policy of principle on those very foundations, under very difficult circumstances. Now it is evident that relevant political factors in Serbia have reached consensus on four foreign policy priorities," Jeremic assessed.Speaking about the process of reconciliation in the Balkans, Jeremic announced that Serbia's regional activities in 2012, the year that marks the 100th anniversary of First Balkan War, will be held under the slogan 'From Balkan wars to peace in the Balkans', which he hopes would unite efforts towards that aim.Expressing gratitude to all countries that showed solidarity with Serbia in terms of Kosovo, Jeremic pointed out that Serbia's stance on Kosovo and UN SC Resolution 1244 would not change, as that would set a grave precedent which would encourage separatism worldwide.

SUTANOVAC: BOTH 'KOSOVO AND EUROPE' POLICY IS NOT MEANINGLESS

BELGRADE, Jan. 16 (Tanjug) - Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac has stated that 'both Kosovo and Europe' policy has not become meaningless."Nobody can stop us from taking care of the people living in Kosovo-Metohija," Sutanovac said in an interview for Belgrade daily Politika.Speaking about the possible solutions to the Kosovo issue, one of which is a special status for north Kosovo, Sutanovac said that the current government is trying to lay focus on people when addressing this problem."Serbs are what is most precious for Serbia, our cultural treasure, historical and religious sites come next. If there were no Serbs these monuments would vanish just like some civilizations did. First of all, we must make sure that Serbs in enclaves have guaranteed safety and jobs" the minister said."On the other hand, it is a fact that Pristina cannot establish its regime in northern Kosovo and that is why both Europe and the world seek solutions through the dialogue," he added."We believe that the north has to have specificity compared to other parts of Kosovo because it is a region that functions independently from Pristina," Sutanovac noted, stressing that this would not be a tact recognition of Kosovo' unilateral declaration of independence.

SLAVOLJUB MATIC: FOUR SERBIAN CITIZENS RESCUED FROM SUNKEN SHIP

ROME, Jan. 15 (Beta) - Four Serbian citizens who were on the sunken cruise liner Costa Concordia three passengers and one crew member, have been rescued and provided for, BETA learned at the Serbian embassy in Italy. Consular department head Slavoljub Matic said in a telephone statement that Mr and Mrs Vujovic had been evacuated after the accident, that neither was injured, and that they had been issued new travel documents so they could return home. A woman who had not asked for assistance from the consulate was evacuated together with the couple. A Serbian member of the ship's crew, left without any documents or money, was also rescued. She remained in Grosseto to await instructions from the company that hired her. Matic said he had no official information whether there were any more Serbian passengers or crew aboard the Costa Concordia, which ran aground a reef near the Giglio island, late on Jan. 13. The ship's passengers and crew numbered 4,299.

SERBIA – EU

TADIC MEETS WITH PORTUGAL'S FOREIGN MINISTER

BELGRADE, Jan. 16 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic met on Monday with Portugal's Foreign Minister Paulo Portas during the annual Ambassadors Conference.The Portuguese official is the guest of honour at this year's event.Portas addressed the participants on Monday, saying that the EU would remain an incomplete project unless the entire Western Balkans were integrated.According to him, Serbia will face many hard decisions during its EU integration, but the pro-European government in Belgrade has proven itself up to the task.Tadic will also address the ambassadors later in the day. They will also talk to Serbia's prime minister and a number of ministers during the two-day conference.

JEREMIC & PORTAS: PORTUGAL STRONGLY BACKS SERBIA'S EU MEMBERSHIP

BELGRADE, Jan. 16 (Tanjug) - Portuguese Foreign Minister Paulo Portas said in Belgrade it would be a mistake if the EU did not understand the reasons why Serbia should be granted candidate status, underlyining that country proved to be most active in carrying out reforms. Portugal had no doubts in terms of Serbia's candidacy. Had the reaching of the decision on Serbia's candidacy status at the December (EU) summit depended only on Portugal, the whole issue involving the European Commission recommendation would have already been solved, Portas told a joint press conference, following his talks with Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic. Portas underlined that his country strongly supports Serbia's EU membership, as well as its candidacy for chairing the OSCE in 2014 or 2015.There is no European Union without the Balkans, and there is no Balkans without Serbia, said Portas, who will be a special guest at today's ambassadorial conference in Belgrade.He said he is confident that 2012 will be the year of Serbia in terms of EU integration, adding that granting candidate status to the country is very important now that Croatia is at the very EU threshold.Both Jeremic and myself are pragmatic and realistic ministers, and we believe that Belgrade has to continue its dialogue with Pristina and head in the direction of a solution, said the Portuguese foreign minister.As far as the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, Portas said that Portugal trusts Belgrade does not back initiatives such as barricades and that it guarantees stability in the terrain, recalling that Portuguese soldiers are part of KFOR.Jeremic pointed out that there is no doubt whatsoever that the Serbian government will adhere to its strategic orientation of continuing the process of reforms that would bring the country in line with the European standards.He said, however, that consensus still lacks on concrete integration steps regarding Serbia, and that it remains unclear when the consensus would be reached.What is encouraging is that there is a large number of countries within Europe that back the European perspective of the West Balkans, including Portugal, Jeremic said.During their Sunday talks, Jeremic and Portas also touched on the issue of economic cooperation.

PORTAS: EU INCOMPLETE WITHOUT BALKANS AND SERBIA

BELGRADE, Jan. 16 (Tanjug) - Serbia belongs in Europe and the EU would remain an incomplete project without the Balkans and Serbia, Portuguese Foreign Minister Paulo Portas stated. In his address to Serbian ambassadors at the fifth annual conference in Belgrade, Portas underscored that Serbia's EU path would not be easy and that Belgrade is facing decisions which call for considerable responsibility and risks which can be tackled only by a courageous leadership.We believe in Serbia's pro-European leaders who have demonstrated that they are prepared to take on that responsibility, the Portuguese minister stated.Portas underscored that EU leaders are committed to offering Serbia and the Balkans an unambiguous EU membership perspective, and expressed belief that the time for Serbia and its EU integration has come.The EU would remain an incomplete project until the Balkans become a part of it, and Europe without the Balkans is pointless and represents an incomplete project which needs to be finished, Portas stated and added that there can be no Balkans without Serbia and no Europe without Serbia.He recalled Portugal's long EU path and the fact that the country applied for membership in 1977 and was granted membership in 1986.Speaking from its experience, Portugal knows just how difficult this path was, but it was worth it, he underscored.Participation in the process was worth the while and the country emerged more stable and prosperous upon its completion, Portas stated and added that Europe does not boil down to money, it also implies higher security and guarantees of peace, democracy and an open society. Portas noted that Europe means solidarity and sharing common values, and a chance for obtaining a voice in the world of growing giants.Serbia is facing a huge task embodied in fulfilment of conditions, and this process takes time, the Portuguese minister said and added that Serbia has demonstrated that it is capable of meeting the requirements.Pointing out that it is clear to everyone that the Kosovo issue is of key importance in the realisation of the joint goal of EU accession, Portas recalled that Portugal hesitated quite a while in the recognition of Kosovo's independence but that it does not regret the hesitation because everyone need to look for sustainable, lasting and peaceful solutions.Serbia has a tangible EU perspective, it has a role it needs to play in the European family and a place under the European roof, Portas underscored and expressed readiness to assist Serbia on it further EU path.If it were up to Portugal solely, Serbia would have been granted the EU candidate status at the December summit, Portas stated and expressed hope that the final decision would be adopted in February, since there are many reasons for it.

EP OFFICIALS EXPRESS SUPPORT TO SERBIA'S EU COURSE

PRAGUE, Jan. 16 (Tanjug) - Serbia should get the EU candidate status, since on the contrary the consequences would be difficult not only for Serbia, but also for the entire region, said members of the EP for Radio Free Europe.Head of the EP Delegation for Southeast Europe Eduard Kukan underlined that in the days ahead it will be very important for Belgrade to show that it really wants to normalize relations with Pristina.Belgrade has to engage in a dialogue with Pristina with care. Progress must be made, not only in the form of suggestions and proposals, but also concrete implementation. This will be monitored by both the EP and the EU states, Kukan underlined.EP member from Austria Hannes Swoboda believes that if Serbia does not get the EU candidate status, far-reaching and negative consequences will follow.People will be very disappointed. It would be the end of the reform process in the country and of course the entire region would be disappointed to see that the largest regional country was left short of support. It is high time, now that Croatia has joined the EU, to turn to Serbia and launch real, serious preparations for its accession, Swoboda underlined.Serbia has to make progress, and if it does the entire region will progress as well. On the contrary, if Serbia goes backwards, the collateral damage will be enormous and spill over all neighbors and wider region. If we speak about the EU enlargement after Croatia, we need positive news from southeast Europe, EP Rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin said.

DEGERT: EU CONCERNED OVER SITUATION IN VSS

BELGRADE, Jan. 15 (Tanjug) - The EU Delegation to Serbia is concerned over the situation in the High Judicial Council (VSS) and shares the opinion of Serbian Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic that the operation of the council is illegitimate due to a lack of quorum, Head of the EU Delegation Vincent Degert has stated.The EU will carefully study the ombudsman's opinion. In the first reaction we can confirm that we share his concern regarding several things, especially when it comes to the lack of quorum in VSS, Degert said for Belgrade daily Blic.He said that EU representatives in Serbia have launched the issue for several times in the last few months, including the letter to the Serbian officials on December 14, 2010, urging them to ensure greater transparency in the VSS work.Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia recalled that the European Commission in its annual report on progress in 2010 pointed to shortcomings in re-election of judges and prosecutors, which was carried out a year ago as part of the justice system reform.In a reaction, the Serbia authorities launched a revision of dismissed judges and prosecutors. The commission is monitoring the revision very carefully. Whenever we spot shortcomings, we alert Serbian authorities and encourage them to take measures to correct that, Deger said.Serbian Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic stated that that the VSS operation is illegitimate due to a lack of quorum, and that therefore the highest judicial body, which according to the Constitution and laws guarantees and secures independence of courts and judges, should stop making decisions.Jankovic voiced this view on the occasion of the accusations presented by the Judges' Association of Serbia claiming that all members of VSS were present at only one out of 16 sessions held during the revision of the re-election of judges i.e. decisions were rendered without quorum as one VSS member was suspended after being arrested, the second resigned, while the third one is, according to the Anti-Corruption Agency, in a conflict of interests.VSS President Nata Mesarevic stated that VSS will hold a session on Monday, but could not confirm whether Jankovic's opinion will be discussed since that depends on whether the opinion will reach VSS before the session.

KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

DAVENPORT: POSSIBLE TALKS ON TADIC'S KOSOVO PLAN

BELGRADE, Jan. 15 (Tanjug) - The implementation of the Belgrade-Pristina agreements and enabling Kosovo's participation in regional forums would build trust necessary for tabling the topics that Serbian President Boris Tadic mentioned in his plan for Kosovo, British Ambassador to Serbia Michael Davenport said in an interview for Belgrade daily Blic.Trust needs to be built first, since it is necessary for a wider discussion, the ambassador explained.The ambassador assessed that the Ahtisaari Plan contains the greatest guarantees for Kosovo Serbs, especially in those fields that President Tadic mentioned in his speech at the UN General Assembly and recently in his interviews, regarding the enclaves in the south, Serb community in the north, religious and cultural heritage, and protection of property.Tadic recently told Belgrade weekly Nedeljnik that a solution for Kosovo needs to contain four important items - a special solution for the Serbian Orthodox monasteries and their administration, special guarantees for Serbs in enclaves, resolution of the Serbian citizens and state's property issues, and a special solution for northern Kosovo.When asked about the Serbian institutions in northern Kosovo, the ambassador said that he does not expect them to be abolished in such a short period, but that he expects that the institutions will begin to function properly with time.Davenport added that the referendum run by Serbs in northern Kosovo, which is to declare whether they accept Kosovo institutions, would not contribute to the solution of the problem.

GENTILINNI AGAINST ADMINISTRATIVE CROSSING BLOCKS

PRISTINA, Jan. 15 (Tanjug) - EU Special Representative in Kosovo Fernando Gentilini stated that the announced action aimed at blocking the free flow of goods on two administrative crossings would not be of any use for Kosovo's European future and that it would not be of assistance in the normalisation of relations with Serbia either.In a release, Gentilinni underscored that joint market, including the freedom of movement for passengers and goods and good neighbourly relations constitute some of the basic European values and are very important for all EU hopefuls.Kosovo has so far implemented all important steps towards fulfilment of the standards and any action aimed at imposing obstacles instead of removing them constitutes a risk and undermines progress, he underscored and called on all relevant sides to refrain from actions aimed at obstructing any of these freedoms, because such moves are just a step back in terms of the European agenda.

BOGDANOVIC: SELF-DETERMINATION HAS DONE DEMONSTRATION EXERCISE

BELGRADE, Jan. 15 (Tanjug) - Minister for Kosovo-Metohija Goran Bogdanovic voiced concern that protests by members of the Self-Determination movement at the Merdare crossing and all that happened on Saturday were just a demonstration exercise for violence, which could repeat in northern Kosovo-Metohija."They did not accidentally choose just this moment to add fuel to the flames in Kosovo. Now, when the talks between Belgrade and Pristina have yielded results and when the agreements are being fully implemented, it is obvious that someone needs new provocations in order to turn things back to the way they were before. It is evident that stability and less divergent views are not in someone's interest," Bogdanovic said for the Tuesday edition of the Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti.The minister said that he does not understand what kind of reciprocity in export the Self-Determination is demanding since Kosovo produces almost nothing."The transport of goods from Kosovo-Metohija across the administrative line is in line with the agreements reached. Neither (Aljibin) Kurti, nor his followers have chosen on their own this moment to block Merdare and raise tension.I am convinced that they have masterminds even outside the territory of Kosovo. However, I also believe that a great part of the international community has now realized that such extremists represent a key danger to peace and stability," the minister said.Bogdanovic called on Serbian citizens to demonstrate special caution and restraint."Whenever violence becomes an instrument of political struggle, Serbs become the main victims. For that reason, it is important that we remain calm, and not respond to provocations coming from the Albanian side," Bogdanovic stressed.

IVANOVIC: SERIOUS INCIDENTS AT ADMINISTRATIVE CROSSING

BELGRADE, Jan. 14 (Tanjug) - State Secretary at the Ministry for Kosovo-Metohija Oliver Ivanovic has stated that a large number of arrested and injured in Saturday's clashes between the Self-determination movement and the Kosovo police proves the gravity of the incident, and that the international community will have to make clear to ethnic Albanians that violence cannot be tolerated."I expect that the international community will make clear to Kosovo Albanians and their authorities that it will not tolerate incidents which may turn into large-scale clashes," Ivanovic said for TV B92.He said that the fact that 14 protesters were arrested and eight policemen injured shows that incidents were serious, as well as that the fact that between 30 and 40 busses with members of the Self-determination movement arrived in such a small area indicates that much larger incidents could have occurred.

ROADS IN KOSOVO PASSABLE

BELGRADE, Jan. 14 (Tanjug) - After Saturday's clashes between members of the opposition parliamentary party Self-determination and the Kosovo police, magistrate roads in Kosovo are passable.There are no checkpoints of the Kosovo police along the Pristina-Podujevo-Merdare road, and traffic flow was unhindered.There are no jams at the Merdare administrative crossing, and passenger control on both sides of the checkpoint is regular.The Bela Zemlja administrative crossing is open for traffic, and after Saturday's clashes, traffic is moving with minor halts.The administrative crossings of Merdare and Bela Zemlja in Kosovo were blocked Saturday by ethnic Albanians who clashed with the police.A large number of people were arrested, including members of the Self-determination movement, which organized the protests in order to ban passage of goods from central Serbia.

ZBOGAR NAMED SPECIAL EU REP IN KOSOVO

BRUSSELS, Jan. 14 (Tanjug) - Slovenian outgoing foreign minister Samuel Zbogar was appointed the special EU representative to Pristina.A few weeks ago he was also appointed the EU ambassador to Kosovo.Zbogar was appointed by the Political and Security Committee of the EU Council while the final formal stamp of approval will be provided by the EU Council by the end of the month, EU sources said.His appointment to the helm of the EU office in Pristina is in the domain of EU's high representative for foreign and security policy Catherine Ashton, while the status of special representative needs to be confirmed by the Council, where member states have the say.Zbogar's appointment got Slovenia its first high-raking official in the European External Action Service (EEAS). The Kosovo post is one of the key posts in the Western Balkans.

SERBIA – REGION

SERBIAN CITIZENS TO TRAVEL TO MACEDONIA WITH IDS

BELGRADE , Jan. 14 (Tanjug) - As of midnight, the Serbian citizens will be able to travel to Macedonia with IDs only, Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic told Tanjug on Friday."This is another contribution to improvement of our bilateral relations, which are at a very high level as regards the domain of home affairs," said Dacic, who is also a deputy prime minister.He said that the Serbian citizens can also go to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro with IDs only, and that such an agreement has been proposed to Croatia.

PUSIC TO VISIT BELGRADE LATER THIS MONTH

ZAGREB, Jan. 14 (Tanjug) - Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusic will visit Belgrade later this month, it was announced Friday during her meeting with the Serbian Ambassador to Croatia Stanimir Vukicevic.According to a ministry release, Pusic and Vukicevic expressed confidence in the continuation of good relations in all areas of common interest.They also emphasized the importance of continuing to resolve outstanding issues from the past, and agreed that such issues should be resolved as far as possible only at the bilateral level.Pusic and Vukicevic specifically addressed the issue of identification of missing persons and expressed their support to speedier resolving of that issue, the release says.They noted that cooperation in the region was considerably improved in recent times, especially as regards the fight against corruption and cross-border crime.Pusic expressed Croatia's readiness, as a state on the threshold of full membership in the EU, to share its experiences in the accession process to help all countries of the region, including Serbia, on their way to EU integration.Vukicevic congratulated Pusic on her appointment as minister and welcomed the announcement of her official visit to Belgrade this month, the ministry said.