Daily Survey

Belgrade, March 16, 2012


SERBIA

JEREMIC: RUSSIA - SERBIA'S CLOSEST PARTNER AND ALLY

MOSCOW, March 16 (Tanjug) – Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic stated in Moscow that Russia remains Serbia's closest partner and ally.Jeremic and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov conferred at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Reception House in Spiridonovka Street, concluding that their stands on the Kosovo issue coincide.Serbia and Russia share the same views of the world and international issues, the ministers underlined.The agenda of the meeting includes the Moscow-Belgrade cooperation, the Kosovo issue, the situation in the Balkans, international situation, as well as the mutual desire to raise the level of cooperation to a higher level.After the meeting, the two ministers are to sign a protocol on Russia's participation in the interior decoration of the St. Sava Cathedral Church in Belgrade.

JEREMIC: EU CANDIDACY DOES NOT CHANGE TIES WITH MOSCOW

MOSCOW, March 16 (Tanjug) – Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said in Moscow, after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, that Serbia's candidate status will not change the relations between Belgrade and Moscow."There will be no changes in the Serbia-Russia relations following the achievement of the candidacy. The EU integration process was and will remain one of the priorities of the Serbian government, and Russia was and is our friend. This friendship requires no candidacy," Jeremic noted.Answering journalists' question at a press conference on the stands of Belgrade and Moscow on the candidacy, which was posed to Jeremic, the Serbian minister said that the spiritual unity of the two people is a basis for close relations between the two countries.Jeremic said, after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, that there are no open issues between the two countries and that Russia remains Serbia's closest partner and ally.Jeremic and Lavrov conferred at the Russian Foreign Ministry's Reception House in Spiridonovka Street, concluding that their stands on the Kosovo issue coincide."Kosovo is the greatest challenge in the Balkans and the issue can only be solved on the basis of international law and UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The views of Serbia and Russia coincide fully on this and other issues," Jeremic said at a joint news conference.Lavrov reaffirmed that Russia's position on Kosovo is unchanged and the problems should be solved through the dialogue of Belgrade and Prisitna, on the basis of mutually acceptable solutions.The Russian foreign minister also pointed out that Russia will fully support Serbia's efforts to initiate an investigation into human organ trafficking in Kosovo under the auspices of the UN.I hope our Western partners who are not enthusiastic about the issue will change their mind, because the issue at hand are human rights that they care about. I hope there will be no double standards, said Lavrov.According to him, bilateral and economic relations between Serbia and Russia are on the rise.Lavrov also announced the realization of the Russian loan for the modernization of Serbian railways, the opening of a humanitarian center in Nis, and more investments in the energy sector.

CVETKOVIC SIGNS CONDOLENCE BOOK

BELGRADE, March 16 (Tanjug) – Prime Minister Cvetkovic signed the book of condolences at the Belgian Embassy in Belgrade opened after a bus crash which killed 28 people, including 22 children, with the message that the people of Serbia stand by the friendly nation of Belgium."In this difficult time for the Kingdom of Belgium, all people of Serbia are keeping the victims' families and the friendly nation of Belgium in their thoughts. On behalf of the Serbian government and myself, I express deep and sincere condolences," wrote Cvetkovic. Belgium has declared a national day of mourning for the victims of the accident.

DEJANOVIC: DEATH OF CHILDREN IS GREATEST SORROW

BELGRADE, March 16 (Tanjug) – With the message that the death of children is the greatest sorrow, parliament speaker Slavica Djukic Dejanovic signed the book of condolences at the Belgian Embassy in Belgrade opened after the bus crash which killed 28 people, including 22 children."Any death is painful... but the death of children is the greatest sorrow. Accept my sincerest condolences," wrote Djukic Dejanovic.

SERBIA – REGION

TADIC & SERBS FROM REGION: EU CANDIDACY OPENS NEW OPPORTUNITIES

BELGRADE, March 15(Tanjug) –Representatives of Serbs from the region welcomed Thursday's decision of the Serbian government to abolish fees for citizenship applications and expressed their expectation that Serbia would sign agreements on dual citizenship with countries with which it has not yet been done.After meeting with Serbian President Boris Tadic today, the Serb representatives from the region, President of Republika Srpska (RS) Milorad Dodik, Vojislav Stanimirovic, who is the leader of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS), a parliamentary party in Croatia, Leader of the Socialist People's Party of Montenegro (SNP) Srdjan Milic, all said that the candidate status has opened new possibilities for cooperation between the Serbs in the Balkans and called for strengthening it in order to improve the position of the Serbs.The RS president and leader of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) said in a statement for Tanjug that the decision to abolish the citizenship application fees is an excellent move, but they should be liberalized over the next few months and procedures for obtaining citizenship simplified.Dodik called for doing everything that should be done to ensure that Serbia signs agreements on dual citizenship with countries of the region with which such an agreement has not yet been concluded.The fact that Serbia was granted the candidate status is a qualitative shift in the position of Serbia in regional terms, said Dodik, who also cautioned about "hidden and overt intentions to have the Serb community in the region marginalized.""We need to carry out an analysis of these attempts and make it public as a sum of all activities directed against the status or individual position of the Serbs in the region," said Dodik.He added that it was necessary to continue giving support to the Serbs in the region, their associations, as well as to their cultural and educational institutions, but also to open opportunities for schooling of the Serb children from the region.Vojislav Stanimirovic, the president of the Independent Democratic Serb Party, which has MPs in the Croatian parliament, also welcomed the decision to abolish fees for citizenship applications. As he told Tanjug, he and President Tadic discussed the position of the Serb community in Croatia and their rights, which are still threatened.There is still much to do, and this refers to the issues of property rights and return of tenancy rights, above all. We pointed to the possibility of resolving the issues of regional refugees at a donor conference which will practically ensure EUR 580 million, he said.According to him, the issue will certainly be dealt with for several years, but it is also certain that the refugees will be able to decide where they would like to live - whether they want to stay in Serbia or return to another country.He underlined that in talks with Tadic he also pointed to an extremely high number of war crimes proceedings, and in that sense welcomed the initiative of Tadic and Croatian President Ivo Josipovic to institute the proceedings according to a suspect's place of residence, and not the crime scene.President of the Socialist People's Party of Montenegro Srdjan Milic told Tanjug that he sees the decision on the abolishment of the fees as a stimulus for resolving the remaining issues, such as the issue of the agreements on dual citizenship, as soon as possible.The agreements would make it possible for people in the region to exercise their rights, Milic said, and added that the meeting was a step forward in ensuring the free flow of people, goods, capital and services in the region. All regional governments, especially the Government of Serbia should be presented with certain initiatives which would enable people to exercise all the rights they should have in the region, Milic pointed out.When it comes to Serbia and Montenegro, the best possible close cooperation between the state bodies should exist, he said. The next meeting between the Serbian president and representatives of Serbs from the region should be held in the next six months.

TADIC: SERBIA WILL SUPPORT PRESERVATION OF SERB IDENTITY

BELGRADE, March 15 (Beta) –President Tadic had talks with representatives of Serbs from the region, about cooperation, the protection of interests and the improvement of the position of Serb communities in the countries of the region, and about the further development of good neighborly relations. Tadic pointed out that Serbs should be loyal citizens of the states in which they live, and that Serbia will continue to support and encourage all activities and projects for the preservation of the national identity of the Serbs in the region. Representatives of the Serbs in the region said they were pleased with Serbia gaining EU candidate status, stressing that Serbia's progress in the process of European integration is of great significance for all the countries and people in the region, it said in the statement from the president's office. The meeting was attended by Serb representatives from Republika Srpska, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Romania and Hungary.

DODIK: CANDIDATE STATUS TO IMPROVE POSITION OF ALL SERBS

BELGRADE, March 15 (Tanjug) – President of Republika Srpska (RS) Milorad Dodik said Thursday that Serbia's EU candidate status would significantly improve the position of the Serb national minority in the region.The relations between Serbia and RS are rich and characterized by close economic, social, educational and health-care cooperation, Dodik said at a press conference he held together with Leader of the Christian Democratic Party of Serbia (DHSS) Olgica Batic.Recalling the important role of Serbia as a signatory of the Dayton Accord, Dodik said that the role was "until very recently fully pushed aside" and that "fresh open issues have constantly been imposed on Serbia with the aim of it dealing almost exclusively with its internal matters.""I believe that the time has come for a complete rehabilitation and for the beginning of an important path of regional strengthening of Serbia as the most important country in the region. Serbia already is that, but this should be clearly manifested when it comes to all issues, not only economic and political ones but also those concerning security," he said.Answering a question about the results of a recent meeting between Serbian President Boris Tadic and representatives of Serbs in the region, Dodik said that the Serbian government had made an important decision to abolish taxes on applications for Serbian citizenship."What we seek is liberalization of procedures for obtaining dual citizenships through signing agreements on dual citizenships between the Republic of Serbia and other countries in the region," Dodik said, recalling the fact that Serbia already has such an agreement with Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH).He also cautioned about "hidden intentions" to minimize the Serb national community in some countries and pointed to Slovenia as an example of a country where the Serb community did not have the minority status."We agreed today to make public within several months a 'white book' where we plan to point to all subtle ways to resolve the interests of the Serb national community. I believe that this is a legitimate right and that it is not directed against anyone," said the RS president.

WORLD CLOSES CHAPTER OF REFUGEES IN BALKANS

BELGRADE, March 16 (Tanjug) – Personal Envoy to the Western Balkans of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Anne Willem Bijleveld says that the regional programme aimed at providing adequate housing is the last joint effort of the international community to address remaining needs of refugees in the Western Balkans from the period 1991-1995.In an interview for daily Politika, Bijleveld added that the focus of the programme would be provision of housing for the most vulnerable refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the region.The scheme envisages building of 10,000 flats, purchase of country households and construction material for the needs of 17,000 refugee families.Bijleveld said that the programme was drafted by four countries-Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia- and stressed that it is of immense importance that, after serious conflicts during the 1990s, these countries managed to offer solutions which would help close the delicate chapter of refugees, turn over a new leaf and move on.The envoy underlined that it is vital to finally close the collective refugee centers, where the most affected of refugees were living in rather harsh conditions for very long.Bijleveld noted that housing projects which were realized in four countries should, among other things, serve as a catalyst for stronger social integration of victims of the conflicts that took place in the period 1991-1995.Besides finding, hopefully, a permanent housing for the poorest, four governments appointed working groups which addressed many vital issues such as personal documents, pensions, the exchange of statistical data and other relevant issues and thus obtained information needed for resolution of the remaining problems of refugees and IDPs.As regards the international donors' conference that is due to raise funds for these programmes, Bijleveld is an optimist and expects that the conference scheduled for late April in Sarajevo will be successful.

KOSOVO & METOHIJA – KOSOVO * – DIALOGUE

STEFANOVIC: AGREEMENT ON REPRESENTATION MUST BE HONORED

BELGRADE, March 15 (Beta) –The agreement from Brussels on the regional representation of Kosovo must be honored, the chief of the Serbian negotiating team, Borislav Stefanovic, stated after the members of the Pristina and Belgrade delegations left the gatherings in Belgrade and Sarajevo. I expect the government very quickly to bring a decision on how the representatives of Serbia are to behave at regional gatherings, Stefanovic told BETA. He added that talks are under way about how problems should be solved. On March 15, the delegation of Kosovo walked out of the First Regional Conference "Partnership for Change: Civil Society and Government Institutions of the Western Balkans and Turkey" in Belgrade, because of the footnote that was written next to the name of their delegation.

SERBIA – ECONOMY

IKEA INFORMED TADIC THEY PLAN TO OPEN FIVE STORES

BELGRADE, March 15 (Beta) –Representatives of Swedish home products company IKEA informed President Tadic that they were planning to open the first of five stores in Serbia in late 2013. IKEA will open two stores in Belgrade and one in Novi Sad, Nis and central Serbia. After meeting IKEA CEO Mikael Ohlsson, Tadic told the press that "the arrival of a company like IKEA in Serbia and its decision to start construction with a firm deadline by the end of 2013 shows the concrete benefits of EU candidacy." Tadic also said the arrival of IKEA would be a great incentive for the furniture industry and creating jobs, stressing that IKEA stores would open between 300 and 400 jobs for salespeople, warehouse clerks and logistics workers. Ohlsson said he saw great potential in expanding cooperation with local suppliers. "Aside from the Vranjebased furniture maker Simpo, with whom we have cooperated for more than 20 years, and factory JasenLukic from Paracin, IKEA is looking for other suppliers in Serbia," Ohlsson said.

GOV'T EXPECTS TO SIGN PROTOCOL ON RUSSIAN CREDIT SOON

BELGRADE, March 15 (Beta) –A protocol on a US$800 million Russian credit for the Serbian railways will be signed by the incumbent cabinet, while the agreement on the loan should be signed in September, Finance Ministry State Secretary Goran Radosavljevic. "We are waiting for a protocol on the loan, which will outline the repayment terms, but it will certainly be more favorable than those Serbia raises on the international financial market," Radosavljevic told BETA. He denied information that Russia would not sign the protocol before the formation of a new cabinet, which would provide guarantees for the credit. "We are not wasting time while waiting for the agreement to be signed as we are preparing projects for which credit will be individually allocated," Radosavljevic explained. The agreement on the Russian loan, altogether worth US$1 billion, was reached by the presidents of Serbia and Russia, Boris Tadic and Dmitry Medvedev. The talks commenced in late October 2009.

AFRICAN AND ARAB AMBASSADORS VISITING SANDZAK

BELGRADE, March 15 (Beta) –The ambassadors of 14 Arab and African countries will pay a threeday visit to Sandzak and tour the most important businesses in Novi Pazar, Tutin, Sjenica and Nova Varos. The working visit of the diplomats is being organized by the Bureau of the Office for Sustainable Development of underdeveloped regions from Novi Pazar, which is headed by minister without portfolio in the Serbian government, Sulejman Ugljanin. The ambassadors and consuls of 14 countries of the Arab and African group (Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea, Iraq, Congo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lybia, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia) will visit the most important businesses in this region dairies, wood processing plants and footwear factories. "The purpose of the visit by representatives of the diplomatic corps is also the promotion of the tourism potential of the municipalities of Tutin, Sjenica, Prijepolje, Nova Varos, Priboj and the City of Novi Pazar," said in a statement.