Belgrade, January 23, 2012
SERBIA - EU
SERBIAN PRESIDENT CONGRATULATES CROATIAN CITIZENS
BELGRADE, Jan. 23 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic congratulated the citizens of Croatia who supported the referendum on their country's membership in the European Union (EU), stating that they made the right decision for their future generations, the Serbian press office said in a release late Sunday.
"Congratulations to all the citizens on the decision that Croatia should enter the EU. This is a decision of enormous importance for the future of Croatia, but also a positive signal for the whole of our region. Croatia's accession to the EU opens up more chances for integration of Serbia and other Western Balkan countries in the union of equal European nations," says the congratulatory message of President Tadic, addressed to Croatian President Ivo Josipovic and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic.
President Tadic added that he believed that the EU was a strategic goal and a natural habitat for all Western Balkan countries.
"The EU means respect and application of European standards and legislation, and it is a perspective for a better, safer and more peaceful life of all citizens of our region, who in the whole of their history have been hampered by wars, tensions and turbulence. This is the only way that we can leave all the conflicts behind and open a new page of peace, tolerance and cooperation," said the message of the Serbian president.
JEREMIC MEETS WITH WESTERWELLE IN BRUSSELS
BRUSSELS, Jan. 23 (Tanjug) - Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic conferred with his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle at the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.
Jeremic, who is on a two-day visit to Brussels, will also meet with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele.
The Council of Ministers is expected to discuss a new package of sanctions on Iran, as well as the Belgrade Pristina dialogue on technical issues.
SPINDELEGGER OPTIMISTIC ABOUT SERBIA'S CANDIDACY
BRUSSELS, Jan. 23 (Tanjug) - The Austrian and Italian foreign ministers, Michael Spindelegger and Giulio Terzi, expressed optimism Monday in Brussels regarding Serbia's chances of getting candidate status for EU membership in March.
I am optimistic Serbia will get candidate status for EU membership in March, the Austrian foreign minister told reporters before the start of the meeting of EU foreign ministers.
Spindelegger said a lot has been done in the talks between Belgrade and Pristina so far, but the reached agreements need to be implemented.
Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi was likewise optimistic, saying he expects the next two months will open a new perspective for Kosovo, as well as Serbia which is expecting candidate status.
The foreign ministers of the EU member countries have come together in Brussels to discuss, among other issue, the situation in northern Kosovo.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton will present a brief report on the situation in northern Kosovo and the results achieved to date in the Belgrade Pristina dialogue on technical issues.
Serbia's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, who arrives Monday on a two-day visit to Brussels, will meet with several European officials on the sidelines of the meeting, including the German and Swedish foreign ministers, Guido Westerwelle and Carl Bildt.
The Council of Ministers is expected to institute an embargo on the import of Iranian oil, the goal of which is to get Iran to drop its nuclear program, Ashton explained.
DEJANOVIC: ELECTIONS TO BE CALLED ON MARCH 11
BELGRADE, Jan. 23 (Tanjug) - Serbian Parliament Speaker Slavica Djukic Dejanovic stated that parliamentary and local elections will be called on March 11, which is the deadline for the beginning of the election processes.
For economic reasons, President Boris Tadic will call the parliamentary and I will call the local elections on the same day, Dejanovic told Monday's edition of the Belgrade daily Vecernje novosti.
According to her, it is almost certain that the elections will be held on May 6, so that the campaign will last less than two months.
Dejanovic also said that the ruling coalition's negotiations on the issue are almost finished, and that the agreement in principle is that everything be scheduled for the last day, in order for the current authorities to fully complete their 4year mandate and finish what they have started.
She announced another plenary session of the parliament by the end of the mandate, as well as several public hearings.
One of the most important hearings will be held late January, and the topic will be the European integration. All whips taking part in the discussion should present their arguments for or against the EU and their policy on the issue, she said, and added that she believes that a negative decision by the European Council on Serbia's candidacy in March could not significantly affect the ruling parties' results in the elections.
There are red lines that state officials do not have the right to change or shift without the citizens' consent. This refers to UN Security Council's Resolution 1244 (on Kosovo). I do think this could be negative for those who are the most responsible in the country, Dejanovic said, adding that the parliament will take part in diplomatic activities in the following weeks, in order to improve Serbia's positions ahead of the March decision.
The parliament speaker noted that there is no dilemma whether Leader of Socialist Party of Serbia Ivica Dacic will be the party's candidate for Prime Minister.
EXPORT TO RUSSIA UP 57 PERCENT, DEFICIT STILL HIGH
BELGRADE, Jan. 23 (Tanjug) - Serbia's export to Russia grew 57 percent last year and reached USD 754.2 million in 11 months, but the deficit remained high close to USD 1.5 billion, said the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS).
The trade between Serbia and the Russian Federation totaled just over USD 3 billion, which is 25 percent more than the first eleven months of 2010, PKS expert Dejan Delic told Tanjug. He added that import from Russia rose by around 17 percent and had a nominal value of USD 2.25 billion.
Russia is Serbia's sixth biggest export partner with a 6.9 percent share in Serbia's total exports, and its top import partner with a share of 12.6 percent. The export import coverage ratio is around 33 percent, Delic said. Serbia's export to the Russian market is dominated by floor coverings and wallpaper, apples, cranes, leadacid batteries, copper pipes, tires and medicine.
Energy in the form of crude oil and natural gas makes up 80 percent of Serbia's import from Russia, followed by aluminum, propane, oils and cigarettes.
Delic stressed that 99 percent of the goods are traded custom free.
The PKS expert reminded that a protocol signed in July 2011 further liberalized the Free Trade Agreement made between Serbia and Russia in 2000.
Russia is a member of the G20, a group of the world's most powerful economies, and together with Brazil, India, China and South Africa, it is one of the BRICS big economies with a high growth rate.
SERBIA - K&M
TADIC AND CLINTON DISCUSS KOSOVO
BELGRADE, WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic spoke over the phone with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton late Saturday about the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, the Serbian president's office told Tanjug.
During the conversation, which took place at the initiative of the U.S. secretary of state, Clinton urged Serbia to continue with its efforts toward a normalization of relations with Kosovo.
Clinton added that the U.S. is ready to help both sides.
The U.S. Department of State also issued a release about the conversation between the two officials, noting that the reason was the proximity of the date when Brussels should decide on Serbia's EU membership candidate status.
STEFANOVIC: U.S. BACKS SWIFT CONTINUATION OF DIALOG
BELGRADE, , Jan. 20 (Beta) - The U.S. supports continuing the Belgrade Pristina dialog soon, so that a solution can be found for Kosovo's regional representation, Belgrade chief negotiator Borislav Stefanovic said after meeting with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker on Jan. 20.
Stefanovic told BETA that Reeker had not brought any concrete solutions to Belgrade for Pristina's regional representation, adding that a solution would have to be negotiated with Pristina.
"It was stressed and jointly confirmed that the negotiations process, the next round, needs to happen as soon as possible and for this to happen, it is necessary to have a clear situation on Pristina's regional representation," Stefanovic said, adding that Reeker had conveyed Washington's support for Serbia's further integration with the EU.
Stefanovic also said that, Robert Cooper, the EU's facilitator in the dialog would visit Serbia this week. He added that Cooper's visit was expected to lead to an agreement on continuing the dialog and a solution for Kosovo's regional representation.
REEKER: U.S. DO NOT HAVE SPECIFIC STAND ON TADIC'S PLAN
BELGRADE, Jan. 22 (Tanjug) - U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker has said that the United States did not have a specific position on Serbian President Boris Tadic's fourpoint plan for Kosovo and the U.S. believed it was now necessary to continue the Belgrade Pristina dialogue.
Reeker said that the four points presented by President Tadic were issues that needed to be considered, but added that there were also issues in northern Kosovo, as well as issues that Pristina wanted to be addressed.
We have not discussed the proposals in detail, and we do not have any specific U.S. stand on that, Reeker said. Our position is that Serbia should now focus on the immediate goal, which is to secure the candidate status for EU membership, Reeker told Politika, a Belgradebased daily.
The talks within the framework of the Belgrade Pristina dialogue are the current goal and a necessity, he said, adding that there were different views on both sides and important issues that should be discussed in the future. It is good that everybody have ideas and that they feel free to present them openly, but I think that the focus should be on the dialogue right now, Reeker explained.
Reeker noted that the goal was to implement the agreements reached so far and to get to new ones, such as may regard Kosovo's participation in regional meetings, adding that the EU wanted to see efforts being made toward reaching new agreements.
The U.S. official pointed out that Pristina had implemented all the agreements without any exceptions. He said that nobody was asking Serbia to give up on the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and that both sides had been called to show flexibility and creativity in order to ensure that both Serbia and Kosovo could take part and have their voice heard in regional forums.
Asked why partition of Kosovo was such a taboo topic for Washington and Brussels, Reeker replied that it was not a matter of taboo but a matter of strong disagreement with the idea.
The situation in Bosnia Herzegovina is just one of many reasons why we strongly oppose the idea, and we think that the partition of Kosovo or change of the boundaries is a bad idea, said Reeker. Once you go down that road, you will put every state into question, the U.S. official added.
STEFANOVIC: STATE INTERESTS SHOULD GO FIRST
BELGRADE, Jan. 23 (Tanjug) - Belgrade's lead negotiator in the dialog with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic has said that arguments to give up on the referendum idea had also been offered to northern Kosovo Serbs earlier, adding that heads of the local municipalities should place state interests before the interests of their political parties.
Reacting to allegations from northern Kosovo about giving up on the referendum on trust in Pristina's institutions, Stefanovic said for the Monday edition of Blic, a Belgradebased daily, that "the government will be at everyone's disposal," adding that he was confident there would be ample opportunities to clear out any issue and add new arguments if a decision that would be in line with the policy of the state called for that.
"Minister Goran Bogdanovic, Oliver Ivanovic or I will find a solution through further discussion," Stefanovic said. He added that "it seems that we are already well aware of the need to act together and willing to do so" and that there was an understanding that "there is no point in calling a referendum on an issue everyone agrees on."
NORTH KOSOVO REFERENDUM TO TAKE PLACE AFTER ALL
KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Jan. 23 (Tanjug) - Northern Kosovo referendum will be held on February 1415, just as it was planned, President of the Kosovska Mitrovica municipality Krstimir Pantic has told journalists.
During a press conference following a meeting of heads of municipalities and whips of local assemblies, Pantic said that, Minister for Kosovo and Metohija Goran Bogdanovic had expressed the opinion of the Serbian government the week before that a referendum was not necessary at the moment, but did not challenge the right of the local Serbs to hold it.
Pantic pointed out that the representatives of local selfgovernments had expressed readiness to meet with a government's representative who would explain to them why the referendum was considered to be detrimental to the state and national interests.
No senior official of the state has yet contacted them regarding the matter, and so the whips of the local assemblies decided there was no reason to postpone the referendum.
Following a Council of Europe Rapporteur Jelko Kacin's statement that the referendum would in no way put Serbia's bid for EU candidate status, the municipal councilors decided during the Monday morning consultations that there was no reason for a delay in holding the referendum, said Pantic.
Pantic claims that all of the four Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo are in favor of holding the referendum, singling only minor disagreements in the municipality of Leposavic, which were eventually overcome. "All municipal representatives told Minister Bogdanovic last week that if anybody managed to prove to us that the referendum is detrimental to state and national interests, we are ready to postpone it. Since nobody offered us such explanations, the referendum will be held as planned," Pantic said.