Belgrade, January 19, 2012
KOSOVO AND METOHIJA
STEFANOVIC: COOPER TO VISIT BELGRADE NEXT WEEK
BELGRADE, Jan. 17 (Tanjug) - EU mediator in the Belgrade-Pristina talks Robert Cooper should visit Serbia next week, and meet with representatives of the Belgrade negotiating team on the solution to Pristina's regional representation, Head of the Belgrade negotiating team Borislav Stefanovic has told Tanjug.The two parties are not even close to the final solution for regional representation, which is one of the preconditions for Serbia's EU candidate status in March, Stefanovic said, but added that the issue is constantly being worked on."We are working on it. I invited Cooper to come to Belgrade, and in the coming days we are to confer with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Philip Reeker. At the moment, it is clear that the talks are very dynamic even though we do not hold formal meetings in Brussels," said Stefanovic, who expects that the talks will continue in late January or early February.The continuation of the talks is conditioned by an agreement on Pristina's regional representation, which should be in line with Resolution 1244, he added. Stefanovic discussed the topic with Cooper through a video link on Tuesday, when they presented different proposals."We discussed the issue of Pristina's regional representation, presented different proposals, but reiterated full commitment to Resolution 1244. Moreover, we spoke about the problem of implementation of the agreements reached in Brussels, the dynamics of the implementation, and particularly about the abolishment of insurance taxes at the administrative crossings," Stefanovic said.
BILDT: PROGRESS NEEDED IN BELGRADE-PRISTINA TALKS
ZAGREB, Jan. 17 (Tanjug) - Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt stated in Zagreb that he would like to see progress in the Belgrade-Pristina talks.We will monitor the dialogue with Pristina and the situation in northern Kosovo, Bildt stated at a joint news conference with Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic.He thus answered the question regarding Serbia's chances of obtaining the EU candidate status.Bildt added that Belgrade has met internal criteria.Pointing out that the result of the Sunday referendum in Croatia on EU membership will be a message for both the region and Europe, Pusic stressed that the Croatian government advocates the solving of open issues with neighbors through bilateral talks.She added that all countries need to show maturity and take responsibility for the situation in Southeast Europe. Pusic expressed her satisfaction with the fact that direct negotiations with Ljubljana resulted in the resolving of the Croatia-Slovenia border dispute through an arbitration agreement, adding that Croatia is in the same way ready to resolve numerous open issues with Serbia if the two countries prove to be capable of resolving issues on a bilateral level.
DRAMATIC FACTS SURFACE ORGAN TRAFFICKING CASE
BELGRADE, Jan. 17 (Tanjug) - Serbia's Deputy Prosecutor for War Crimes Bruno Vekaric said Thursday that new dramatic facts have surfaced in the investigation into human organ trafficking in Kosovo, in which former Kosovo Liberation Army commander and Kosovo's Prime Minister Hasim Taci is one of the suspects.Vekaric said there is a struggle inside the UN to change the investigative team so that it includes one UN facilitator, and to arrive at a solution as to who will head the investigation, which is currently entrusted to John Clint Williamson and his team.Appearing on Pink television, Vekaric added there are new details and cooperation with Russia will help.At a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavor spoke about the Medicus case, an investigation into illegal trade in human organs in Kosovo, stressing that Russia would make sure the case is investigated thoroughly.According to Russian daily Komersant, Russian investigative bodies have officially confirmed that the victims of illegal organ transplantations which took place at the Medicus clinic in Kosovo include Russian citizens, and ascertained the involvement of high-level Kosovo officials.
DISTRIBUTION OF RUSSIAN AID STARTS IN KOSOVO'S NORTH
KOSOVO'S NORTH, Jan. 18 (Beta) - Distribution of Russian humanitarian aid, which had been deployed to the province recently, and aid secured by the Serbian government several months ago, started in Kosovo's north. Some 400 tons of aid secured by Russia and the Serbian government is intended for the citizens in Kosovo's north. Kosovo Red Cross chief Dragisa Murganic said as the aid contains large quantities of food, additional categories had been established and a list of 8,000 users composed. Murganic explained that the aid would go to socially endangered households, persons displaced in 1999 and 2004, the families of the kidnapped and missing, collective centers and pensioners whose income is up to RSD15,000. He added that the distribution would last around a month due to bad weather conditions, poor roads and remote villages. Some 2,500 most endangered people will get 25 kilograms of flour, while the others will receive five kilograms of sugar, three liters of cooking oil, two kilograms of rice, 30 cans and two blankets.
SERBIA – EU
BRITAIN WELCOMES SERBIA'S PROGRESS
BELGRADE, Jan. 18 (Beta) - Britain is welcoming the progress of Serbia and Kosovo in the implementation of the agreement on the freedom of movement, but reiterates that, by February, Serbia must completely fulfill the demands of the European Council, especially regarding the issue of representation of Kosovo at regional assemblies, the Foreign Office posted on its website. While announcing the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Jan. 23, the British minister for Europe, David Lidington, welcomed the progress accomplished during Christmas in the implementation of the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina on free movement. "But we believe there is still more for Serbia to do to fully meet the European Council's requirements before the ministerial meeting in February, particularly on Kosovo's representation in regional fora," the British minister added. The EU high representative, Catherine Ashton, is expected to brief the European foreign ministers in Brussels on Jan. 19 on progress in the dialog between Belgrade and Pristina.
EU: ALBANIA, CHINA, TURKEY TAKE SHARE OF MARKET IN KOSOVO
BELGRADE, Jan. 18 (Beta) - Kosovo is importing more and more goods from Albania, China and Turkey, according to the latest economic analysis of the European Commission. The analysis shows that imports to Kosovo grew by 15 percent in the 11 months of last year. Imports from Albania grew by 36 percent, from Turkey by 23 percent from China by 29, and from Serbia by five percent. In the second half of last year, according to the European Commission, exports of the Kosovo economy were lower, because of which the trade deficit increased by 16 percent, to EUR1.94 billion. The analysis indicated that the assembly in Pristina had adopted the 2012 budget, which envisages a deficit of 3.4 percent of GDP. The budget revenue includes the EUR300 million expected from the planned sale of the Post and Telecom of Kosovo. The analysis also said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) gave a favorable assessment of the supervised program for Kosovo, and that progress has been made in the dialog between Belgrade and Pristina.
SERBIA – REGION
ALL WESTERN BALKAN COUNTRIES TO JOIN EU AND NATO
WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (Tanjug) - All Western Balkan countries should become members of the European Union and NATO, and the U.S.A. should continue to offer support to this process, it was stated Wednesday at a hearing of the U.S. Helsinki Commission in Washington.Congressmen Christopher Smith and Eliot Engel pointed to the importance of the Euro-Atlantic integration, stressing that the NATO can have an important role in the region's transition.At the hearing entitled "The Western Balkans and the 2012 NATO Summit", Congressman Smith said that problems in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina prove that the North Atlantic Alliance should remain present in the region.Congressman Engel said that the U.S. troops should not retreat from Kosovo and close Camp Bondsteel military base, but rather step up their presence after finishing the mission in Iraq.He stated that all regional countries should join the EU and NATO, but that Serbia's accession must not be approved before Kosovo's as it might block the latter's entry.The sooner Belgrade realizes that the division of Kosovo is not possible, the better it will be for peace in the region, Engel said. The hearing was attended by Executive Director of the Balkan Trust for Democracy Ivan Vejvoda, who said that back in 2006 the Serbian parliament was neutral about the NATO membership, but that today it votes against it.He underlined that the entire region has made great progress since 2000, and that it would be wrong now to hinder the countries' EU integration progress.Speaking about Kosovo, Vejvoda said that the situation has calmed down and that all the parties have taken more moderate positions, adding that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue will be renewed soon.He also said that the number of KFOR soldiers in Kosovo should not be reduced, since the July conflicts showed that the situation could change at any moment. Daniel Serwer from The Johns Hopkins University said that Macedonia and Montenegro should enter NATO at the summit in Chicago in May, adding that the injustice done to Skopje at the NATO's last summit would thus be corrected.According to him, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo are not ready to join NATO.It is up to Belgrade to decide, but in order to become a NATO member Serbia should respect territorial integrity and sovereignty of its neighbors, Serwer concluded. Nida Gelazis from Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars said that the Kosovo police will not be an adequate substitute for KFOR for a long time to come.Last weekend's events show that it will take long for the Kosovo police to live up to the challenges, she noted.Unlike Serwer, Gelazis noted that Macedonia's NATO accession should be preconditioned by an agreement between Skopje and Athens.
NIKOLAIDIS' VIEWS DO NOT REFLECT MONTENEGRO'S
PODGORICA, Jan. 17 (Tanjug) - The Montenegrin Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that the statement made by Andrej Nikolaidis in one of his texts did not reflect in any way Montenegro's official stance.Ministry's official Ramiz Basic said the ministry had responded to Serbia's protest delivered by the embassy in Podgorica and related to Nikolaidis' text, in which he wrote it would have been a civilizational step forward had Bozidar Stanisavljevic activated the explosives in the Borik sports arena in Banja Luka during the ceremony that marked the 20th anniversary of Republika Srpska."The Montenegrin Foreign Ministry has concluded that the views of Nikolaidis, winner of the 2010 European literary award, expressed in the text posted on the Belgrade portal e-novine on January 11 do not reflect in any way the official views of Montenegro or any of its institutions and officials," Basic said in a statement for the media."Based on that, the Montenegrin Foreign Ministry does not share the view contained in the letter from the Serbian embassy that says the Montenegrin institutions have left open the possibility 'for a review of their earlier stated principles directed towards developing appropriate international public communication and good bilateral relations with Serbia,' nor can such descriptions and qualifications be expressed simply because of the fact Nikolaidis is an adviser to the speaker of the Montenegrin parliament," he remarked.The Montenegrin Foreign Ministry also expresses regret over such a misunderstanding and the need to overcome it in the spirit of understanding and good coperation between neighbours, confirming once again that Montenegro is fully committed to developing friendly and neighbourly relations with Serbia in the spirit of common strategic European goals, Basic noted.Nikolaidis, adviser to Speaker of the Montenegrin Parliament Ranko Krivokapic, wrote it would have been a civilizational step forward had Bozidar Stanisavljevic activated the explosives in the Borik sports arena in Banja Luka during the ceremony that marked the 20th anniversary of Republika Srpska.At the time, the leaders of Serbia, Republika Srpska and the Serbian Orthodox Church were inside Borik.
ADVISER TO MONTENEGRIN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER COMPARES SERBIA TO IRAN
PODGORICA, Jan. 18 (Tanjug) - Adviser to the Montenegrin parliament speaker Andrej Nikolaidis drew a comparison between Serbia and Iran which delivered a fatwa against Indian writer Salman Rushdie, responding to the demarche Belgrade delivered to Podgorica in reaction to his recent text.Noting that the Republic of Serbia did not send its demarche only because of the text in which he said that explosives should have been used at the celebration of the 20 anniversary of Republika Srpska constitution in Banja Luka's sports hall Borik, in an interview for the Podgorica-based daily Vijesti Nikolaidis said that according to the information he received, Serbia also protested because of his novel 'Mimesis' published back in 2003, which is more than shocking. He posed a question as to who dared protest over a novel in the entire history of civilisation, and added that this is what Iran did when it delivered a fatwa against Salman Rushdie.He said that even after the turbulent reactions in the Serbian and Montenegrin public and requests for his dismissal, he would not change anything in his text entitled 'What remained of a greater Serbia'.
ROMANO DIMISSED DOBROVOLJACKA CASE ON HIS OWN
BANJA LUKA, Jan. 18 (Tanjug) - Prosecutor Jude Romano bears full responsibility for the decision in the Dobrovoljacka case, because he decided to suspend the investigation without consultations with the prosecutor's collegium, said Head of the Special Department for War Crimes of the Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) Vesna Budimir."Since January 5, when the changes to the internal organization rulebook of the BiH Prosecutor's Office came into effect, a prosecutor can make a decision regarding a case on his own... Before then, all decisions on suspending or conducting investigations were brought before the collegium. Romano bears full responsibility for the decision in this case," Budimir said, Radio Television of Republika Srpska reported.She confirmed that the decision to suspend the investigation is not final and will be re-examined, with a chance of reopening the inquiry into what occurred in May 1992.According to Banja Luka media, Philip Alcock of Britian, a former international prosecutor with the BiH Prosecutor's Office, who handled the Dobrovoljacka case up until October 2009 when he left BiH, met with Romano in Sarajevo two days before the decision was made.Alcock, who is now on the defense team of Dobrovoljacka war crimes suspect Ejup Ganic, came to Sarajevo specifically for the meeting with Romano and the decision to suspend the investigation, even through his mandate at the Prosecutor's Office has run out, media report citing unofficial sources.The media also report that after a three-year investigation against Ejup Ganic and 13 other suspects in the Dobrovoljacka case, Romano stated that the actions of Ganic, Jovan Divjak, Hasan Efendic, founder of the so-called Patriotic League Zaim Backovic and others cannot be defined as criminal deeds.
SERBIA – ECONOMY
RUSSIANS & AZERBAIJANIS OFFERED CORRIDOR 11 BUILDING DEALS
BELGRADE, Jan. 18 (Beta) - Minister for Infrastructure Milutin Mrkonjic stated on Jan. 18 that the building of two 25kilometer sections of the highway from Belgrade to Cacak has been offered to Russian companies, and one to Azerbaijan. Speaking at a news conference, Mrkonjic explained that the Russians have been offered sections along the socalled Corridor 11, from Obrenovac to Ub and from Lajkovac to Ljig, while the section from Ljig to Cacak has been offered to companies from Azerbaijan. "In this phase we are still talking. The agreement has not been signed. Several companies from these two countries are interested," he said, adding that Serbia will accept these deals only if the conditions offered are the same as those from Chinese credits and loans from the World Bank. Mrkonjic said he expected the agreements to be reached in the next two months and that the realization of projects will start on April 1. Currently underway is the construction of the 12.7kilometer segment between Ub and Lajkovac and, according to estimates of the Putevi Srbije road company, around EUR500 million will be needed for the construction of the remaining 90 kilometers of the highway from Belgrade to Cacak.
PROTOCOL ON MORE INTENSIVE SERBIA-BELARUSIA COOPERATION
BELGRADE, Jan. 18 (Beta) - At the Jan. 18 session in Belgrade of the intergovernmental Serbian-Belarusian commission for trade and economic cooperation, participants said that the two countries' friendly relations are a basis for more intensive cooperation in the fields of agriculture, energy, transportation and tourism. The protocol on the session of the commission at the Palace of Serbia was signed by the Serbian deputy prime minister in charge of economic and regional development, Verica Kalanovic, and the trade minister of Belarus, Valentin Chekanov. Kalanovic told reporters that, at the sixth session of the commission on Jan. 18, "it was acknowledged that relations between the two countries are friendly, with mutual respect, and an excellent framework for trade and economic cooperation." In her words, more intensive cooperation in the fields of agriculture, industry, energy, transportation and tourism was proposed, along with closer contacts between the regions of Belarus and the territorial segments of Serbia.
WB: FOCUS ON RESPONSIBLE FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
BELGRADE, Jan. 17 (Tanjug) - World Bank Country Director and Regional Coordinator for Southeast Europe Jane Armitage has stated that the current and future government of Serbia should focus on responsible fiscal management and reduction of the budget deficit, and stressed that Serbia should set up a new export-based model of economic growth.At the session of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) Board for International Economic Relations, Armitage recalled that the public debt of Serbia and some other regional countries like Albania, has significantly increased, and that this is a trend that should be closely monitored.Armitage underlined that Serbia should focus on the private sector, adding that Serbia's education system is still relatively bad, as well as the skills of the existing work force, and that reforms should be carried out in order to improve business environment.PKS President Milos Bugarin pointed out that PKS shares the World Bank's opinion that Serbia has insufficiently used potentials and that speedier growth can be achieved through an increase in agricultural and industrial production intended for export."According to the position of the World Bank, which is completely in line with our own, Serbia should use an export-based development model with the aim of promoting economic growth and improving the standard of living," Bugarin underlined.