Belgrade, February 23, 2012
SERBIA - K&M – DIALOG
TADIC NOT HOPEFUL, BUT DOES HIS BEST TO GET STATUS
BELGRADE, Feb. 22 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic stated Wednesday that he cannot express optimism regarding the granting of the EU candidacy, adding, however, that he will fight for it until the last moment, endeavoring to fulfill two strategic goals Kosovo and the EU.
Tadic said that, when it comes to the issue of regional representation of Kosovo, the two sides in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue are now "one step further away from the solution than they were last night," even though at one point they were close to an agreement.
He stressed that there has been a step back in the Belgrade-Pristina talks due to the way that Pristina proposed a solution for the issue of its regional representation, which is, as he said, far from reality. It is unthinkable that the issue of EU enlargement may depend on Pristina, which not only is not an EU member state, but is not a state at all in the standard international political sense, Tadic stressed.
"It is very hard to achieve candidate status, that is more than obvious, because there is a new temptation every hour, but we keep fighting," he told the journalists.
Tadic said that, regardless of everything, he will continue to fight for the achievement of two main goals, which are the preservation of territorial integrity in Kosovo and the EU integration, adding that in the next several days it will be more clear whether both goals are achievable.
According to Tadic, the problems the state is now facing on its EU pathway are the result of imperfection of the European political system, the complexity of international relations, and everything that a region has been through in the past twenty years.
When asked if the authorities in Belgrade have made a decision on whether they will hold local elections in Kosovo Metohija, Tadic said that "we will cross that bridge once we come to it," stressing that Serbia will never give up on its territorial integrity in Kosovo.
JEREMIC EXPECTS AGREEMENT ON REGIONAL PRESENTATION OF KOSOVO
BELGRADE, Feb. 22 (Beta) - Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said on Feb. 22 that he was expecting Belgrade and Pristina to find a solution to the problem of Kosovo's participation in regional cooperation.
In response to a journalist's question at the Media Center, Jeremic said that Belgrade did not wish for anybody's voice to remain unheard in regional debates, but that in the case of Kosovo, there are political, constitutional and international law limitations, including the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244.
"We did not want to keep anyone from participating in regional cooperation. I think this is currently being discussed in a civilized and rather orderly way in Brussels as part of the dialog. I expect this to be the case in the future and that we will find a solution," said Jeremic.
Asked about the negative public representation of Serbs in the Kosovo government, Jeremic said it was his belief that, "those who are participating in Thaci's government have no greater credibility than Albanians who participated in the government of Slobodan Milosevic until 1999." 2/22/2012 7:30:00 PM
STEFANOVIC: WE WILL FIGHT TILL THE END
BRUSSELS, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - The dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina will continue in Brussels on Thursday around 10 a.m., and head of Belgrade's negotiating team Borislav Stefanovic has said that he is ready for another day of hard talks.
"We will fight till the end to find a solution in the framework of Resolution 1244, the Constitution and national interests," Stefanovic told journalists ahead of the talks. He complained about Pristina's very rigid and negative stance in Wednesday's talks.
Stefanovic said that Belgrade wants Pristina to be represented in an asymmetric manner, adding that the core of this asymmetry is UN SC Resolution 1244. "We are ready to accept another important international document apart from 1244 Resolution and that is the opinion of the International Court of Justice. It is now up to Pristina and representatives of the international community to prevent anyone from keeping the EU integration of the entire Western Balkans as hostage," he said.
Stefanovic underlined that Serbia's stance has broad support of the international community, referring to the letters of three ministers of the EU member states as a proof of this support. "It is ungrateful to speak about the candidacy. We have not even got close to the candidate status," he said.
The two sides failed to reach an agreement on regional representation of Kosovo during their nine hours of talks on Wednesday.
Even though no agreement was reached on day one, head of Belgrade's negotiating team Borislav Stefanovic said late Wednesday that progress was made on other issues, such as implementation of earlier agreements on integrated administration of crossings, civil registries and freedom of movement.
Head of Pristina's delegation Edita Tahiri avoided any communication with the media Wednesday, in sharp contrast to her usual practice. The gesture has been tied with the growing tensions in Pristina, where Hasim Taci's government is under strong pressure from the opposition for its supposed flexibility in the dialogue with Belgrade.
BOGDANOVIC CALLS ON EULEX TO STICK TO MANDATE
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - Serbia's Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic said on Thursday during a meeting with Head of EULEX Xavier Bout de Marnhac that the mission would have a reliable and predictable partner in Belgrade as long as it adheres to its mandate and status neutrality.
"In an open and friendly discussion, Bogdanovic stressed that Serbia's interest was for EULEX to be as successful as possible and help maintain peace and stability in Kosovo, with addition that as long as EULEX holds true to its mandate and status neutrality, it will have a reliable and predictable partner in Belgrade," the Ministry for Kosovo released.
Belgrade is doing everything within its power to provide EULEX with freedom of movement throughout Kosovo, so that the mission could complete its mandate, Bogdanovic undescored.
Bogdanovic and de Marnhac agreed that more intensive communication and cooperation were necessary to be more efficient in solving problems in the field and to enable normal life in Kosovo.
DOLGOV: MINORITY RIGHTS IN KOSOVO NOT RESPECTED
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - Konstantin Dolgov, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, has said that 12 years following the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the establishment of the interim administration in Kosovo, the human rights situation in the province is still extremely difficult.
He also said Russia supports Serbia's initiative for a UNled investigation into human organ trafficking in Kosovo.
There are still major problems, starting from insufficient safety and security of national minorities, above all Serbs, but also Roma and others. We still have over 200,000 internally displaced people from Kosovo in Serbia, which is a great humanitarian challenge. And all this is happening in the 21st century in the heart of Europe, Dolgov told Tanjug at the end of his three-day visit to Serbia.
The Russian official came to Serbia to get firsthand information on the human rights situation in Serbia, Kosovo in particular. In Belgrade, he met with Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, representatives of the Ministry for Kosovo and the Ministry for Regional Development, Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Patriarch Irinej, representatives of the SPC and the associations of families of missing and kidnapped persons in Kosovo, as well as the head of the OSCE Mission.
In Kosovo, Dolgov met with the leaders of UNMIK, EULEX, KFOR and OSCE, and representatives of Kosovo Serbs, and visited the Gracanica monastery.
In these meetings, there was discussion of safety of minorities, property stolen from Kosovo Serbs who fled from violence, and the protection of religious structures, he said. I again told the international representatives that in line with the mandate given to them by the UN Security Council, they need to work for the benefit of all peoples in Kosovo, not just Kosovo Albanians, but Serbs, Roma and others too, pointed out the Russian official.
With Serb and international officials in Kosovo, Dolgov also talked about the problem of organ trafficking, pointed out by Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty.
We believe the investigation must be conducted in the most professional, thorough and impartial manner, because Dick Marty's report contains shocking information, he said.
According to him, EULEX has started an investigation, set aside certain funds, investigators and prosecutors, but this is not enough.
The process is slow, and an additional problem is that there is no witness protection in Kosovo, a fact confirmed to me by representatives of the international community, Dolgov said. Moreover, EULEX only has jurisdiction inside Kosovo, but the investigation must encompass some other countries, he explained.
This is why Russia supports Serbia's initiative to pass a Security Council resolution calling for an investigation and establishing mechanisms under the auspices of the UN, he said.
SERBIA – EU
JEREMIC: CRISIS AFFECTS WESTERN BALKANS' EU FUTURE
BELGRADE, Feb. 22 (Tanjug) - Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said on Wednesday the economic crisis did not have a positive effect on the EU future of the Western Balkans, but he added he believed EU integration would remain a priority for the current and all other governments in Serbia.
"Serbia's relations with the region today are probably the best since the start of the Yugoslav tragedy," Jeremic stated at the promotion of the book entitled Regionalne inicijative i multilateralna saradnja na Balkanu (Regional Initiatives and Multilateral Cooperation in the Balkans) by Assistant Foreign Minister Dusko Lopandic and Jasminka Kronja from the European Movement in Serbia.
"I believe that after the efforts by the current government in the past four years, which prioritized regional cooperation, reconciliation and closure for some pretty painful chapters of history, we have reason to look to the future with confidence," Jeremic stressed.
Regional cooperation is gaining importance in international relations in this part of the world, he noted. Because of the complicated age we live in, we are going to have to rely on each other increasingly, and the need for deeper and more innovative cooperation will also grow, he pointed out.
Jeremic underlined that Serbia had reason to be happy with its contribution to cooperation in the region in the past years, especially with last year, adding that Serbia had been successfully represented in practically all the regional organizations that play a serious role in this area.
Serbia has received the exceptional honor and trust from the members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to preside over the organization in 2015, which will be the 40th anniversary of that institution, said Jeremic. "That anniversary could be marked by new initiatives, perhaps a declaration that reflects the way forward, and maybe there will be an opportunity for a summit in Belgrade," he emphasized.
DELEVIC: CANDIDACY DEPENDS ON DIALOGUE RESULTS, DELEVIC
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - Head of the Serbian government's European Integration Office Milica Delevic said Thursday that Serbia's candidate status for EU membership depends on the results of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.
"We need to wait for the end of the talks which are important for the final outcome of our candidacy, and then we will know where we stand," Delevic said at a conference dubbed Serbia and the EU.
She said there must be understanding from both Belgrade and Pristina, because all EU member countries agree that progress must be made in the dialogue. According to her, a recent survey conducted by the European Integration Office showed that people in Serbia see EU accession as a way to improve living conditions and standards. "If we get candidate status, it does not mean the situation in Serbia is ideal, it is an investment for continuing our work, which is solving open issues and continuing reforms," she stressed.
Delevic reminded that 85 percent of the people polled said reforms should be carried out regardless of the EU, while 75 percent said that the issue of Kosovo should be solved and that it is not crucial in Serbia's EU integration. "This means the people are aware that reforms should be carried out and open issues resolved," she said.
FRANCE, ITALY, AUSTRIA: GIVE CANDIDACY TO SERBIA
BELGRADE, BRUSSELS, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - The foreign ministers of France, Italy and Austria sent a letter to the EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, urging that the Council of the EU give Serbia candidate status for EU membership at its upcoming session.
In the letter dated Wednesday, which Tanjug has seen, ministers Alain Juppe, Michael Spindelegger and Giulio Terzi di Sant'Agata said that Serbia has fulfilled all the conditions that the European Council set out in its conclusions on December 9.
The ministers noted there has been significant progress in the implementation of agreements reached between Belgrade and Pristina, the latest of them related to the recognition of university degrees.
Belgrade has given very constructive proposals regarding Kosovo's participation in regional cooperation, respecting the position of both sides on the issue, and has cooperated actively to enable KFOR and EULEX to execute their mandates, said the ministers.
When it comes to integrated administration of crossings in Kosovo, a technical protocol will pave the way for its full implementation, adds the letter.
For all the reasons stated, we need to fulfill the promises given in December and acknowledge the efforts and increased engagement of Serbia and grant the country candidate status for EU membership, reads the letter signed by the foreign ministers of France, Italy and Austria.
We expect that this decision will also encourage Serbia to continue on the path towards full normalization of relations with Kosovo, in line with the terms of the Stabilisation and Association Process, the ministers conclude.
ASSELBORN: EU SHOULD INSTANTLY GRANT SERBIA CANDIDATE STATUS
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn is of the opinion that Serbia despite the eurozone debt crisis should be immediately granted the EU candidate status, if one wants stability and prosperity in the region.
Speaking about Serbia's EU integration, Asselborn said in an interview for the Thursday edition of the Belgrade based daily Vecernje Novosti that the country, which has a central position and importance in the Balkans, should be enabled to achieve the candidate status.
Luxembourg's foreign minister and deputy prime minister stressed that it is vital that in relation to that, ministers deliver a positive decision in February.
To my mind, things are clear. In December, we had a comprehensive discussion on Serbia and Kosovo, and the candidate status in particular. A great number of countries were in favor of granting Serbia the candidate status even then. Few of them, especially Germany, had some objections, which I respect. But, I think that now is the time to be clear, he said.
Asselborn underlined that the foreign ministers have certain influence on the General Affairs Council, since they represent their countries during the decisionmaking process.
In February, the Council should deliver a prompt and unequivocal decision to grant the candidate status to a country, which has a central position and importance in the Balkans. I keep repeating that the European Union is a peace project. If we want peace, if we demand stability and want to give hope to the Serbian people, the onus is on us, as ministers of foreign and European affairs, to grant Serbia the candidate status for EU membership, the minister noted.
Asselborn voiced belief that at the beginning of March, the EU Council will confirm the ministers' decision, and that the overall sentiment is now much more positive than it was in December, the daily writes.
FUELE: IMPORTANT PROGRESS IN DIALOGUE SINCE DECEMBER
BELGRADE, Feb. 22 (Tanjug) - EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Fuele said in an interview published by Novi Magazin that there has been some valuable progress in the dialogue with Pristina since December.
Last December, the European Council set out clear and achievable conditions for Serbia to be granted candidate status at the end of this month. Of course, it requires serious efforts to fulfill them, but it is not unrealistic to expect that Serbia is making those efforts, he said.
The entry into force of the agreement on freedom of movement on 26 December was a significant step forward, Fuele said.
Before that, work had started on civil registries and since September, the acceptance of customs stamps allows a regular although nascent flow of goods from Kosovo to enter Serbia, Fuele noted.
This is a good start and I encourage all parties concerned to invest further efforts in building up progress in implementation, he said.
The Council will examine at the end of February whether Serbia has continued to show credible commitment and has achieved further progress in moving forward with the implementation in good faith of agreements reached in the dialogue with Pristina, including the one on Integrated Border Management, Fuele said.
It will also consider whether Serbia has reached an agreement on inclusive regional cooperation, and has actively cooperated to enable EULEX and KFOR to execute their mandates, he said.
The next logical step after achievement of candidate status is indeed the opening of accession negotiations. But Serbia will have first to make sufficient progress in meeting the key priority outlined in the Commission's opinion on its membership application, and take further steps to improve its relations with Kosovo. The Commission stands ready to recommend opening of accession negotiations as soon as sufficient progress will have been achieved, Fuele said.
Asked what candidacy will mean for Serbia and its citizens, Fuele said that for the people of Serbia, it would be a strong signal that the EU wants to welcome them as fellow EUcitizens. It will also represent an important political signal that Serbia is moving to the next phase of its European integration process.
Together with the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, which should soon enter into force, candidate status will move the relations between the EU and Serbia to a higher and deeper level, he said.
From an economic perspective, candidate status is a significant milestone which will help to attract more foreign investments and create jobs in Serbia. As we said in our evaluation already last year Serbia has remarkably intensified its reforms and taken great strides in its European integration process and I hope the dynamics of the reform efforts will continue, Fuele said.
DEGERT:SERBIA SHOULD TAKE CARE OF LOANBASED DEBT
BELGRADE, Feb. 22 (Tanjug) - Head of the EU delegation in Serbia Vincent Degert stated on Wednesday that Serbia should be careful when taking out loans since it has overstepped the envisaged public debt limit of 45 per cent of the GDP.
Serbia should draw a very careful analysis of the loans it decides to take out and establish the benefits of loans taken out with the European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and World Bank and compare it to other sources for investment project funding, Degert said.
However, he did not specify what other investment project funding sources he was referring to. During a meeting on the importance of infrastructure and energy for Serbia's development, Degert said that Serbia needs macroeconomic and financial stability and good debt management, adding that certain loans were not in keeping with the basic European principles because they limit public procurement, equal treatment and transparency.
The EU official noted that Serbia should also adjust its priorities to its European strategy.