Belgrade, June 20, 2012
BILDT: GOVERNMENT KEY TO SERBIA
BELGRADE, June 20 (Tanjug) –Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is of the opinion that the formation of a new government will be a key step for Serbia, in which everything will be more complex following the unexpected results of the presidential election.According to Bildt, the formation of a new Serbian government may not happen so fast.After that, it would be necessary that the president, prime minister and other competent authorities create a system that would run smoothly, and act in concert to resolve key national issues, including the relations with the EU, and the issue of Kosovo. And there is a clear connection between these two issues, Bildt said for weekly Novi Magazin.Bildt underlines the importance of the implementation of the agreements which were reached during the EU-facilitated talks between Belgrade and Pristina, adding what the risk facing the region right now is not an explosion, but stagnation.The antidote to stagnation is integration. The reason why it is slower that it may have been expected is the nature of the reform process in the region - it is simply slower than we would like it to be, Bildt added.He called on all regional countries to focus on economic and social challenges, and talk about economy, instead of politics.Economic challenges must dominate the regional political agenda, Bildt stressed, adding that a rise in the unemployment in Serbia clearly illustrates the depth of economic problems.
DENIAU: NO ONE INFLUENCES GOVERNMENT FORMATION
BELGRADE, June 19 (Tanjug) –French Ambassador to Serbia Francois-Xavier Deniau said on Tuesday that foreign ambassadors were not pressuring Serbian parties regarding the composition of the next government.Deniau told the participants of a conference by non-governmental organization Confrontation Europe it was sad that him and his colleagues were constantly asked by reporters about influencing the creation of the government.He stated he did not think they trusted him even though he denied there being any pressure or influence from him and his colleagues. The people of Serbia and the parties are the ones who should decide about the next government, he noted. It is wrong to think that someone else is making that decision, Deniau added.Commenting on EU integration, the ambassador stressed that the question of whether Serbia could enter Europe could not be posed, explaining that Serbia was already part of Europe.Serbia is a country with an ongoing debate on EU membership, and it is a very positive fact that a large majority of its people voted for pro-European forces in the last election, he pointed out.It is a fundamental change compared to earlier years, Deniau added.European enthusiasm is not letting up, even with the long and difficult process of EU integration, he stated.The ideas by some individuals that Serbia could live outside the EU, like Norway does, are fiction, because Serbia has a lot less fish and oil, said Deniau.Even with the enlargement fatigue present in the EU, Brussels will not be deciding on Serbia's accession, but the Serbian people above all, who are the ones who have to choose that path, he remarked.France has a positive opinion about Serbia joining the EU, he said, adding that Paris was supporting the option politically and practically, in accordance with the Maastricht criteria.The main investments in Serbia come from the EU, and not from Russia or China, he pointed out.Too much significance is placed on the painful issue of Kosovo, instead of focusing on the EU foundations, which are the common market, rule of law and a functioning economy, Deniau stated.There is plenty left to do in all those areas, he said.Corruption is an issue, and the role of the EU is to keep pointing to the foundations on which it rests, Deniau noted, adding that the expression Euro-Atlantic integration should be avoided, as the EU was not the same as NATO.
SERBIA – EU
EU: NO NEW CONDITIONS FOR SERBIA
BRUSSELS, June 19 (Tanjug) –The European Union has not set any new conditions for Serbia to join, Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, told Tanjug Tuesday.The main condition for opening negotiations with the EU set by the European Council is visible and sustainable improvement of relations with Kosovo, Kocijancic said, not wanting to go into details.According to Belgrade-based daily Politika citing unofficial sources in Belgrade, the European Union has laid down three new conditions for the start of accession talks before Serbia.In addition to demanding the abolition of the institutions in the north of Kosovo (excluding schools, health-care centers and hospitals), the EU seeks Belgrade's and Pristina's mutual opening of offices in the two cities, and a top level Belgrade-Pristina summit, said the newspaper, adding that the EU has even sought from Serbia to abolish the court in Kosovska Mitrovica and to introduce a special telephone number for Kosovo.In addition to Kocijancic, this was previously denied by Belgrade team chief negotiator Borislav Stefanovic and Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic.
DEGERT: NO NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR SERBIA
BELGRADE, June 19 (Tanjug) –Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Vincent Degert said on Tuesday there were no new requirements for Serbia on its path to EU accession.Degert told a conference by the non-governmental organization Confrontation Europe held in Belgrade that the EU was not constantly coming up with new requirements.The agenda is clear, he asserted. The Copenhagen criteria have to be met, norms fulfilled and EU level reached, he stated.There are no new requirements, Degert stressed, adding that the path was set and made up of stages.The issue of Kosovo is still a problem for Serbia on its road to EU integration, he pointed out.The EU did not invent the Kosovo issue in order to slow down EU integration, he explained, adding that Brussels had suggested a method to regain momentum, and those were the talks between Belgrade and Pristina.The EU has chosen to support the dialogue and make its contribution that way, he noted.The talks need further progress, he remarked, adding that they were a way to build trust between the two sides.The Copenhagen criteria are clear, and they state the rule of law is the basic issue for all those who wish to join the EU, said Degert.Serbia, like all the countries of the region, is still far from fulfilling all the obligations in this field, the EU official stated.Degert pointed to problems in the court system, citing slow processes as one of the problems and adding that it affected other areas.The EU judiciary has plenty of criticism for Serbia, he noted, naming the reappointment system for judges as a problem because it is not in line with EU standards.When it comes to the economy, Degert said there was little structural reform, adding that the restitution law was implemented only recently and that it would take many years to grant all the restitution requests.Another problem is that large government companies, like the railways, have not been restructured, he said.There are 600 companies that should be privatized, Degert noted. Those are unrealized assets that only cost the tax payers, he added.Commenting on the liberalization of prices, he said he understood the needs for social amortization, but the parts of the society that could afford realistic prices were not paying them.The EU is willing to help Serbia implement reforms, but it requires willingness from the national authorities as well, otherwise there can be no success, he stated.He denied the EU suffered from enlargement fatigue, adding that the door remained open and that Brussels hoped Croatia's accession would mobilize the entire region.Serbia can progress further, according to Degert, who added that progress in the talks and normalization of relations with Pristina were a priority, along with all the others.
KOSOVO & METOHIJA
EULEX CONDEMNS ATTACK ON BRNJAK CROSSING
PRISTINA, June 19 (Tanjug) –EULEX condemned the Tuesday attack on the crossing Brnjak and noted that such activities are absolutely unacceptable.EULEX condemns the individuals who performed the attack on Checkpoint 31 between Kosovo and Serbia early on Tuesday, Two hand grenades were thrown, only one of which exploded. One KFOR soldier was wounded and certain material damages were inflicted, states a release submitted to Tanjug.The EULEX working group for Kosovska Mitrovica launched the investigation with a view to finding the individuals who committed the crime, and the incident constitutes an attack on the international community, the EU mission noted.
SERBIA IS NOT PRESSED TO OPEN OFFICE IN PRISTINA
BELGRADE, June 19 (Tanjug) –State Secretary at the Serbian Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija (KiM) Oliver Ivanovic said Wednesday than nobody had ever demanded or expected from Serbia to open a representative office in Pristina."I will not rule out the possibility that certain lower-ranked EU individuals or some representatives of Western Europe countries' foreign ministries have expressed their subjective opinions sometimes, and happen to mention something like that (conditions), but the EU has never been unanimous about it and such demands have not been put forward before Serbia," Ivanovic told Radio Television of Serbia (RTS).He stressed that to open a presidency office or to hold "top level meetings" would be an indirect recognition of the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo, which, he said, is "a red line we must not cross." "A meeting between two presidents would mean an official recognition and we will not fall for that," Ivanovic stressed, adding that holding informal meeting is the only possible option.He said that it was in Serbia's interest to keep the situation under control through dialogue, as the situation was tense and could burst into an incident at any moment, which would not be good for anyone. The Albanians should also realize that, he added.Ivanovic said that all the issues that had been dealt with in the dialogue and that would be further debated were sensitive and could not be called only technical.Commenting on the issue of telecommunications, he said that the Albanians and UNMIK had pressed a demand for Kosovo to get its own telephone country code, but had failed in accomplishing the goal thanks to the efforts against that by the Serbian authorities and by Serbia's friends abroad. "Kosovo is not a state, and definitely not an independent one, and therefore it cannot have a special country code," Ivanovic said.Ivanovic believes that we are in for a "hot summer" with sporadic incidents of lesser proportions in the Kosovo north.