Belgrade, February 24, 2012
SERBIA - EU
GERMANY FIRMLY SUPPORTS SERBIA'S EUROPEAN PERSPECT
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Guido Westerwelle said Thursday in Belgrade that Germany wants Serbia to be granted candidate status at the next meeting of the European Council, because Germany stands firmly behind Serbia's European perspective.
The goal is possible to achieve if we remain flexible, rational and committed, Westerwelle told reporters after meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic.
Westerwelle stressed that Serbia has moved far on its European path and that it has made great progress since December.
The German minister said that Belgrade should be awarded a special honor for the agreement on freedom of movement achieved in the dialogue with Pristina and expressed the expectation that the other outstanding issues will also be resolved.
The agreement on free movement is a major step that has to be given credit for, and if the other outstanding issues are approached in a spirit of collaboration, solutions are very close, Westerwelle said.
I think that it will happen. Germany is very determined to that end, he said.
Westerwelle said he came to Belgrade for two reasons to acknowledge and encourage. My visit is a sign of recognition for everything that you have done and also a gesture of encouragement for the last steps that remain to be taken, he said.
Jeremic said that Serbia has done everything within its power to meet the requests and recommendations set out by Brussels in December. He said that Germany and Serbia have a mutual goal, which includes the building of a European society and European processes for Serbia and the Western Balkans.
I believe that at this point we are in a position to say that the fulfillment of the goal is within reach, Jeremic noted. We can hope for a positive outcome, he said, but added that it is unacceptable that Serbia be attached any new conditions apart from the ones already presented in December.
I believe there is still a high level of understanding about that in most of the EU, he said, and added that there is a lot of work to be done in the next few days, but that success is possible.
Pointing out that Westerwelle's visit was a surprise in a way, Jeremic noted that Serbia and Germany did not understand each other well in the past, but added that he can now say that the two countries have far more understanding for the present situation and the path that should be followed in the next days.
Jeremic stated that the European process is the Serbian government's priority, and that the European future of the Western Balkans is very important for both Serbia and Europe. He also said that he does not want to speculate about the decision on the candidate status, since it is still unknown whether Serbia will acquire the status. We should try to maintain the positive momentum we have had, Jeremic underlined.
TADIC: SERBIA COMPLETELY OPEN FOR AGREEMENT
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - At Thursday's meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany Guido Westerwelle, Serbian President Boris Tadic said that Belgrade has a constructive approach to the dialogue with Pristina and that it is completely open for agreement.
I believe that we have fulfilled all the conditions for the EU candidate status, Tadic said at the meeting dedicated to Serbia's possible progress in the process of EU integration, technical dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and bilateral relations between Serbia and Germany.
The president said that Serbia wants the best possible political, economic and friendly relation with Germany, which is one of the key EU countries, Tadic's press service released in a statement.
Serbia advocates that all solutions in the dialogue are reached through compromise. We want further progress in the talks, and, when it comes to Pristina's regional presentation, UN Security Council Resolution 1244 is an essential factor for us, Tadic said.
He also said that no one has officially asked Belgrade to recognize the independence of Kosovo. Serbia will not recognize Kosovo's independence either explicitly or implicitly, Tadic said.
The meeting between Tadic and Westerwelle was held in a good and constructive atmosphere, the statement reads.
WESTERWELLE BOOSTS SERBIA'S CANDIDACY HOPES
BERLIN, Feb. 24 (Tanjug) - German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle boosted Serbia's hopes of soon becoming a candidate for membership of the European Union (EU), according to German media reports about the sudden visit of head of the German Foreign Office to Belgrade.
The goal is within reach, the German RTL Television quoted Westerwelle as saying, adding that the EU foreign ministers want to hold a meeting on Serbia's candidacy as early as Tuesday.
Reports by German electronic media said that the EU heads of states and governments could officially approve Serbia's candidate status in early March.
TADIC AND ASHTON DISCUSS STATUS, DIALOGUE
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic discussed Thursday over the phone with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton the possibility that Serbia be granted EU candidacy status, Tanjug learned from the president's press service.
President Tadic and Ashton also touched on the overcoming of problems in the ongoing technical dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels.
As far as Pristina's regional representation, President Tadic underlined that UN Resolution 1244 on Kosovo represents an unavoidable factor for Serbia.
SERBIAN PRESIDENT CONFERS WITH MEPS
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic conferred Thursday with Party of European Socialists (PES) President Sergei Stanishev and MPs of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (EP) led by Group Leader Hannes Swoboda.
Tadic and members of the EP delegation discussed the cooperation between Serbia and the EP, and the process of EU integration.
The MEPs also met with Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic earlier in the day, as well as with Serbian MPs.
CVETKOVIC: SERBIAN GOVT DOES EVERYTHING FOR CANDIDATE STATUS
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said that the EU remains strategic orientation for Serbia and that the government is doing everything in its power to get the candidate status for the country.
He was meeting with a joint delegation of the Party of European Socialists and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament
MEP Hannes Swoboda said that Serbia has in recent years made great efforts to implement reforms and that in this respect it deserves to become a candidate.
Members of the joint delegation stressed during talks with Prime Minister Cvetkovic that all Western Balkan countries should become EU members, the government press office said in a release.
ŠUTANOVAC: CANDIDATE STATUS DECISION NOT VITAL FOR SERBIA
BELGRADE, Feb. 24 (B92) - The decision on the EU candidate status will not be vital for Serbia's fate, Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac has said. It will not be the end of the world if it is to be postponed once again, because that would not mean that reforms are not being carried out," he told daily Vecernje novosti.
Sutanovac said he was optimistic about the decision, and underlined that Serbia should put all its energy into boosting the economy and improving the standard of living.
"My impression is that there is a good will to come to a solution, to integrate the region and to stabilize it. Serbia's integration is not just important for the country itself, but also for the region as a whole and Europe in general," Šutanovac noted. He denied the claims by some that a negative decision would prove a failure of the policy "both the EU and Kosovo".
"This policy has not failed. Only those who measure Kosovo by its acres and not the people may consider it a failure," the minister noted. Šutanovac believes that the decision on the candidate status cannot affect the outcome of the elections.
"The citizens are to opt for the party which could improve the standard of living, boost economic perspectives and create new jobs. On the other hand, a negative decision may harm and discourage a large number of people who have been putting their efforts in the EU integration process in the last four years, and hearten Euroskeptics, who are the true impediment to Serbia's EU aspirations," he said.
BULGARIA IN FAVOUR OF GRANTING SERBIA EU CANDIDACY
SOFIA, Feb. 24 (Tanjug) - Bulgaria is in favor of granting Serbia the candidate status for EU membership, and calls on all EU partners to back Belgrade, the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) released.
Bulgaria supports Serbia in achieving the EU candidate status. That would mark the beginning of a new, key phase in Serbia's EU integration into European structures, which will be vital for the integration of the entire Western Balkans into the EU, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov said on Thursday.
Mladenov said that Serbia's progress would confirm the EU perspective of all aspirant countries from the region, reads the ministry's release, and Bulgarian news agency Novinite reported on.
He stressed that the Serbian government has carried out major reforms, and accomplished real progress in meeting EU membership criteria and in the stabilization and accession process, as well as significant progress in the dialogue with Kosovo.
At this important moment for Serbia, we all must assist in maintaining and even increasing the momentum of reforms, Mladenov said, adding that Bulgaria urges all EU partners to support Serbia in becoming the official candidate for EU entry.
BETTER REGIONAL COOPERATION, MORE INVESTORS
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - The economic integration of Southeast Europe, removal of customs barriers, a more efficient legal system and well developed infrastructure are necessary to improve the business environment in the region and attract investors, participants of the meeting dubbed South East Europe region with a favorable business environment said on Thursday.
Officials of Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Republika Srpska and Croatia signed Thursday a Memorandum of Cooperation on the regional municipal certification program, with the aim to enhance the business environment and attract investments in Southeast Europe.
Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said at the conference Serbia was the regional leader in the amount of direct foreign investments last year, which exceeded USD 2 billion, and that many of these investments will show effects this year in higher production, export and employment. The prime minister said the government had set aside considerable budget funds for subsidies to investors, with the goal of enabling unimpeded financing of ongoing projects and attracting new investments.
Serbian Minister of Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning Oliver Dulic said that in the process of regional and European integration it is necessary to build an administrative infrastructure, adding that all the countries of the region face inherited bad administration, the reform of which is necessary in the times of the global crisis.
German Ambassador to Serbia Wolfram Maas said the pace of Serbia's EU integration does not depend solely on settling political issues, but on economic and social development as well.
Maas stated that investments were necessary for economic development and that local governments played the key part in that, while the national government participated by creating a good legal framework, predictable legal system and suitable infrastructure.
Chairman of the Managing Board of the National Alliance for Local Development Vladimir Cupic thinks stronger economic cooperation in the region, bigger markets and the implementation of free trade agreements, like the Central European Free Trade Agreement, are the way to faster development in the global economic crisis.
Other participants agree that bad administration is an obstacle to creating a more attractive business climate in the countries of the former Yugoslavia and believe regional cooperation should be improved.
Bosnia Herzegovina’s Minister of Development, Entrepreneurship and Crafts Sanjin Halimovic thinks the obstacles to the region's development are still political and that dialogue is lacking, while meetings like the one on Thursday are a good way for the countries of the region to open to each other.
Republika Srpska Minister of Finance Zoran Tegeltija said the countries of the region had been creating needless nontariff barriers between each other, which obstructed cooperation, and added they were unable to agree on joint projects.
Macedonia's State Secretary for Economy Ance Trifunov said the region's economies were compatible and should strive together to integrate into the European and global markets. He thinks removing technical barriers is one of the ways to that goal.
The oneday conference is attended by government officials, other officials and mayors from Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia, as well as ambassadors appointed to Belgrade.
SERBIA - K&M – DIALOG
AGREEMENT ON REGIONAL REPRESENTATION REACHED
BELGRADE, BRUSSELS, Feb. 24 (Tanjug) - The negotiating teams of Belgrade and Pristina agreed in Brussels that Kosovo is to be represented at regional forums under the title Kosovo accompanied by the footnote citing UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and the opinion of the International Court of Justice on Kosovo's declaration.
The teams also reached an agreement on integrated management of administrative crossings.
BY LATE EVENING ON FEB. 23, NO AGREEMENT IN BRUSSELS
BRUSSELS, Feb. 23 (Beta) - The Belgrade and Pristina delegations had not reached an agreement by the late evening of Feb. 23 in the talks in Brussels.
Some sections of the Belgrade media reported that the talks might be continued on Feb. 24.
The new round of talks, at which the regional representation of Kosovo and the implementation of earlier agreements, began on Feb. 22, and were continued on Feb. 23 at around 10 A.M.
Borislav Stefanovic, the head of the Belgrade negotiating team, said prior to the start of the talks on Feb. 23 that Belgrade would "fight to the end" to find a solution to the regional representation of Kosovo issue, despite, he underscored, the rigid and firm stance of the Pristina delegation.
According to Stefanovic, in regard to the representation of Kosovo, the Belgrade delegation is ready, alongside the referencing of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, for the citation of another important international document the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.
Stefanovic said: "now it is up to Pristina and the representatives of the international community to not allow anybody to hold hostage the European integration of the entire Western Balkans."
Edita Tahiri, the head of the Pristina delegation, did not give a statement.
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 underscored.
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.
DE MARNHAC: FAR FROM ABSOLUTE FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - EULEX chief Xavier de Marnhac stated on Thursday that, despite certain signs of improvement, there are still areas in Kosovo where freedom of movement is not absolute.
In an interview he gave Tanjug at the national news agency's Head Office, De Marnhac said that the mission's main shortterm objective is that full and unconditional freedom of movement be established on the entire territory of Kosovo, which, as he put it, was also the topic of his meetings in Belgrade on Wednesday and Thursday.
"Freedom of movement should be permanent and unconditional. This is my position and I am not going to change it in any way. There are signs that things are improving," he said, and added that EULEX convoys have been able to reach the crossings, but that there are still areas where freedom of movement is not unconditional.
We are far from permanent and unconditional freedom of movement, the EULEX chief said.
When it comes to the integrated border management an agreement discussed in Brussels by the dialogue teams of Belgrade and Pristina De Marnhac said that EULEX is waiting for the results of the latest round of talks and that the mission is ready to implement the agreements.
"We are present at the crossings at the time being, and we are ready to operate the gates. In this period of the year, where conditions are very difficult on the ground because of the snow and the cold, the best way to move is to go through the "normal" roads and gates. What we need to try to achieve is to return to a normal functioning of the gates, first of all for the sake of the people," he said.
Reminding that one of EULEX main tasks is to establish the rule of law, De Marnhac said that freedom of movement is of key importance for investigations which are the mission's top priorities, among which the investigations on incidents on the barricades and alleged human organ trafficking.
Pointing out that the progress of the investigation into organ trafficking, based on the findings of the Council of Europe Dick Marty, is an issue of great interest to him as head of the EU Mission, De Marnhac said that the a lot of energy and resources have been invested to create the special investigation task forces and that highly specialized and qualified people have been recruited for that matter.
As he said, he personally is absolutely confident in the ability of the lead prosecutor, Clint Williamson, to conduct this investigation.
When asked about the cooperation with colleagues in Belgrade regarding the issue, De Marnhac said that, in general, EULEX has had a good level of cooperation with prosecutors in Serbia, whether it is related to war crimes or organized crime. De Marnhac said that he expects more joint investigations into organized crime which crosses borders.
Commenting on the malfunctioning of the court in northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica since March 2008, he said that he and his collocutors in Belgrade discussed this topic as well and that it remains to be seen what will happen in the next days and weeks.
According to him, the overall security situation in Kosovo is peaceful and he hopes it will stay like that. When it comes to Serbs living south to the Ibar River, he expressed hope that development projects will improve their situation as well.
Two days ago, EULEX asked Belgrade to investigate whether there is a mass grave in the quarry Rudnica near Raska, since the mission's annual report suspects that there are remains of 300 human bodies there.
The EULEX chief said that the mission sent the request to Belgrade in order for the case to be finally resolved.
MARNHAC REQUESTS RESTORATION OF FREE MOVEMENT
BELGRADE, Feb. 23 (Tanjug) - EULEX Head of Mission Xavier de Marnhac finished Thursday a two day visit to Belgrade, where he met with President of Serbia Boris Tadic, and of all the issues discussed the most pressing one was the permanent and unconditional restoration of the free movement in northern Kosovo, EULEX released in a statement.
"EULEX needs to resume its regular and critical rule of law operations in the north without any further delay. The mission must continue with its work for the benefit of all people. Only the criminal structures benefit from the current situation," said de Marnhac in a statement delivered to Tanjug.
During his visit, the Head of Mission also met with the EU delegation in Belgrade, ambassadors, as well as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs Ivica Dacic, and Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic.
"The meetings were frank and fruitful, and covered the freedom of movement, the fight against organised crime, and the ongoing Dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. Head of Mission reiterated his full support to implementing the dialogue, emphasizing that EULEX stands ready to support any possible agreement reached," the mission's statement reads.