Belgrade, February 21, 2012
TADIC, WAMMEN DISCUSS RELATIONS, EU INTEGRATION
BELGRADE, Feb. 20 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic conferred with Danish Minister for Europe Nicolai Wammen on the two countries' bilateral relations and Serbia's European integration, the president's press service released.
Denmark currently holds EU chairmanship.
Wammen previously conferred with Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic and head of Belgrade's negotiating team in the dialogue with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic.
DEGERT: CLEAR PROGRESS IN DIALOGUE IS NECESSARY
BELGRADE, Feb. 20 (Tanjug) - Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Vincent Degert pointed out Monday that clear progress and results need to be achieved in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in the following several days, so as to positively respond to the criteria and conditions defined by the European Council while considering Serbia's EU candidacy.
In an interview for Tanjug, Degert said that conditions and criteria are completely clear and they include progress and results regarding regional representation of Kosovo, progress in integrated border management, and enabling EULEX and KFOR to fully implement their mandate in entire Kosovo.
The days ahead are very important because there must be clear progress and results regarding these three issues, he pointed out.
I believe there should be no blackmail in a dialogue process. When we want dialogue, that means we want the participants to behave in a constructive manner and make progress. We cannot prevent any side from sending information to EU representative Robert Cooper, but eventually, it is he and Mrs Catherine Ashton who will assess how constructive and progressive the dialogue really was, and inform the EU Ministers about it, Degert said, commenting the letter Pristina sent to the EU member states requesting that Serbia's EU integration process be blocked.
When asked how much time Belgrade and Pristina have to achieve progress in the dialogue so as to receive a positive response regarding Serbia's EU candidacy at the EU Council of Ministers on February 28, Degert stated that one should not wait for the last minute.
That is a lesson learned in December, we cannot accomplish results in the last minute or be selective in meeting the requirements, so it is important to start resolving issues. We have a resolved issue of the freedom of movement, as well as the solution regarding the recognition of university diplomas, but there are three crucial issues which have not yet been resolved. Things must be accelerated if possible, and tomorrow will hopefully be a good chance to reach solutions, Degert underlined.
The EU is aware that positions of both sides regarding the Kosovo status differ, but it is necessary to reach the formula for regional representation of Kosovo which would enable things to move forward, because that is what solutions to many regional issues of common interest depend on, including the ones of energy and transport, Degert said.
We are not dealing with responsibility for potential success or failure. The two sides are here to hold talks, and the EU has made a framework so as to enable them to talk. We will see if the criteria and conditions defined by the European Council will be met, he stressed.
I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist, I know that difficult challenges await us until February 28 and that there is less and less time, but I believe that Serbia's future is in the EU and that all of our efforts should be directed towards that goal, Degert stated.
JUPPE:SERBIA SHOULD BE GRANTED EU CANDIDATE STATUS
BELGRADE, Feb. 21 (Tanjug) - French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe has stated that Serbia deserves to be granted the EU candidate status, because it showed determination to make progress in the dialogue with Pristina.
The EU has clearly stated its expectations. Progress in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina should focus on border management and Kosovo's participation in regional forums. Your country showed determination to make progress on these issues, Juppe said in an interview for the Belgradebased daily Vecernje Novosti.
It is of immense importance that the EU Council of Ministers scheduled for February 28 sends a signal in relation to the establishment of the integrated management of crossings. It is also vital that EULEX is able to freely fulfill its mandate in northern Kosovo, Juppe added. According to the French foreign minister, the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina represents a political necessity.
That will contribute to the stability in the region and European perspectives of both countries. Each side has to prove its commitment to its European perspective and determination to put in necessary efforts. Honestly speaking, there is no alternative, Juppe said.
Underlining the traditionally friendly relations between Serbia and France, the French foreign minister noted that from France's point of view, it is evident that Serbia's future lies in the EU, and that he really hopes that Serbia will be granted the EU candidate status during the EU Council of Ministers on February 28.
Your country has achieved great progress in domains of political reforms, the cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, dialogue with Kosovo...Serbia has deserved to enter a new phase in its EU integration, Juppe said.
COOPERATION IN FIGHT AGAINST FALSE ASYLUM SEEKERS
BERN, Feb. 20 (Tanjug) - Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Ivica Dacic and Swiss Minister of Justice and Police Simonetta Sommaruga reached agreement in Bern Monday about intensifying activities and strengthening cooperation in order to prevent illegal migrations and false asylumseekers.
Following the meeting, Dacic said that activities will be intensified in order to clearly explain to citizens, primarily the Roma as they are the most numerous category arriving in Switzerland, that the chances of them being granted asylum in Switzerland are very small, that asylumseekers do not get significant financial means and that they can easily be forbidden from entering Switzerland and EU countries.
The number of Serbian false asylumseekers in Switzerland increased by 15 percent in 2011 compared to 2010, which was not the case in other countries, Dacic observed.
He reiterated that the chances of being granted asylum in Switzerland are very small and that only six applications out of 1,200 have been approved.
Bearing in mind that Switzerland is not part of the EU, but of the Schengen area, it is important to prevent the suspension of visa liberalisation which applies to Switzerland as well, Dacic said.
The number of falseasylum seekers in EU countries dropped from 17,000 in 2010 to 10,000 in 2011.
Dacic noted that police cooperation between Serbia and Switzerland is very good and is based on several bilateral documents that were signed in the past few years.
He recalled that the Serbian and Swiss police had several successful joint operations and added that the collaboration between the ministries and police forces of the two countries will be continued in other areas too.
This is, above all, human trafficking, since Serbia, together with the UN, participates in a joint project funded by Switzerland, Dacic recalled.
He also expressed gratitude to Switzerland for the support this country offers to the Serbian Ministry of the Interior and the Serbian police, and pointed out that many projects were implemented with the assistance and cooperation with this country.
SERBIA - K&M - DIALOG
STEFANOVIC: BELGRADE WANTS DIALOGUE TO SUCCEED
BELGRADE, Feb. 20 (Tanjug) - Head of the Belgrade team in the dialogue with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic stated Monday that the Belgrade negotiating team is leaving for Brussels hoping to find a solution for regional representation of Kosovo.
He pointed out that Belgrade has put forward five or six concrete proposals for regional representation, all of which refer to the Resolution 1244.
"We are ready to discuss all proposals and make them better. If there is the slightest possible room for that we will use it only because the Republic of Serbia wants to reach an agreement and achieve results," Stefanovic stated at a news conference after the meeting with Danish Minister for European Affairs Nicolai Wammen.
"We are leaving with the intention of finding a solution for regional representation which will be mutually acceptable and which will honor both the Constitution of Serbia and the Resolution 1244," Stefanovic underlined.
"We want this for Serbia and the region, not because this is a significant step on the EU pathway, but rather because it is important for all citizens of Kosovo and the rest of Serbia," he said. "I believe there is a chance to reach an agreement, and we will do our best for that to happen," he pointed out.
Tuesday's round of talks will also include a discussion on the problems of implementing the reached agreements, he added.
Stefanovic said that at this point the positions of the two parties are still very different, adding that the views of the international community and the EU are now more positive when it comes to Belgrade's stances.
Difficult talks are ahead of us, and we hope they will lead to a mutually acceptable result, which will be asymmetric and in keeping with Resolution 1244, he pointed out, and added that it is clear that Pristina's representation cannot be made in the form of an independent state.
Pristina can be represented in the same way as an independent state, and this inequality reflects in the reference to Resolution 1244, Stefanovic said.
The reference to Resolution 1244 and advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice have to be a basis for the agreement, rather than the declaration of the independent of Kosovo's parliament, he said.
Stefanovic said that Pristina's letter to EU countries which states that Serbia should not acquire the status of an EU candidate has not contributed to a positive atmosphere in the dialogue. He stressed that all the agreements reached in the talks have been implemented so far, save for the one on the administrative crossings, since a technical protocol has to be made first.
COOPER: REGIONAL COOPERATION OF CRUCIAL IMPORTANCE
BRUSSELS, Feb. 20 (Tanjug) - EU facilitator in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Robert Cooper has stated in Brussels that the agenda of Tuesday's round of talks will include regional representation of Pristina and implementation of the reached agreements, and once again stressed that the issue of regional cooperation is of crucial importance.
Cooper told the journalists that, apart from Pristina's regional representation, the main topic will be the implementation of the agreement on integrated border management.
If we succeed in reaching the agreement on Tuesday, that will be good both for Kosovo and the region, Cooper underlined.
As for integrated border management, he said that it makes no sense to have an agreement if it is not being implemented.
What remains to be done is to turn a political agreement into something functional and operational, Cooper pointed out.
He stressed that the issue of regional cooperation is of crucial importance because the EU itself is based on it. The EU is now working on europeanization of the Western Balkan region, Cooper said.
REFERENDUM RESULTS 99.74 % VOTE AGAINST
ZVECAN, Feb. 20 (Tanjug) - A total of 99.74 percent of the citizens in four municipalities in northern Kosovo voted against accepting Kosovo institutions at last week's referendum, the referendum committee released in a statement on Monday.
According to official data presented in Zvecan, 69 citizens from the four municipalities voted for the Kosovo institutions, while133 ballots were declared invalid.
Out of 35,500 registered citizens, 26,727 or 75,29 percent took to polls.
Member of the referendum committee Ljubomir Radovic told a press conference that the organizers of the referendum have not been in conflict with the Serbian government or against Serbia's EU integration.
Official Belgrade was against the referendum in northern Kosovo, but the local authorities did not comply with the request by top state officials.
The referendum on accepting the institutions of the socalled Republic of Kosovo was held on February 14 and 15 and both the international community and Pristina's authorities were against it.
Mayor of Zvecan Dobrosav Dobric told a press conference that no one can annul or not take into account the referendum results.
According to him, municipal assemblies will adopt the reports of the referendum committee, after which they will draw conclusions and adopt stances.
EULEX SAYS IT DOES NOT HAVE FULL ACCESS TO NORTHERN KOSOVO
PRISTINA, Feb. 20 (Beta) - The EULEX mission in Kosovo said on Feb. 20 that it did not have uninterrupted and unconditional access to northern Kosovo, and that no agreement had been achieved with the representatives of municipalities there on unhindered movement.
"Contrary to reports in the press and despite our longstanding position, EULEX still does not have permanent and unconditional access in the north. While some of our convoys have been able to reach the gates, the situation in Mitrovica North in particular remains unchanged with limited and/or random access only. Of particular concern to the mission is the obstruction to the Mitrovica District Court, which deprives all people of the rule of law," read a news release from European Union's mission.
EULEX, together with KFOR, insists on free and unconditional access without delay, in order for EULEX to resume its regular and critical rule of law operations, the announcement stated further.
Some media in Pristina recently reported that international missions in Kosovo had struck a deal on Jan. 24 with representatives of Serbs in northern Kosovo to allow EULEX to move freely there, on condition that it not transport Kosovo police or customs officers.