Daily Survey

Belgrade, June 25, 2012

SERBIA

NIKOLIC: REGIONAL COOPERATION KEY TO REACHING SUMMIT GOALS

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 23 (Tanjug) –President Tomislav Nikolic said at the UN conference Rio +20 on Friday regional cooperation was the key to achieving internationally agreed goals, including the results of that meeting."Serbia believes that strengthening regional cooperation, using regional organizations and entities, is a key for achieving internationally agreed goals, including outcomes of this Conference," Nikolic stated in his speech at the UN summit in Rio de Janeiro, dedicated to green economy and development."The fact that by 2050 our Planet will be the home fore more than 9 billion people indicates that resource-intensive growth of the 20th century can not be continued nor afforded," he noted."We need to renew our political commitment on sustainable development - as our ultimate goal and green economy as a tool for its achievement. It is upon us, the political leaders of the World to deliver focused and clear agenda for the future,"Nikolic remarked.Serbia sees Rio+20 as a shifting point towards a global transition to a green economy, the president pointed out.According to Nikolic, this transition should generate growth, create jobs, eradicate poverty and secure economic valorization of natural capital."Achieving this will require a Global Roadmap towards a Green Economy, with measurable deliverables and agreed timeframes," he added."Following harmonization efforts with advanced standards of EU economy, the Republic of Serbia, with support of UNDP and UNEP, prepared a Study on green economy perspectives and institutional reforms for sustainable development," he stated, adding that policies of efficient use of resources and energy had been identified as the main areas that would have the greatest impact on the transition towards a green economy.He thinks that this kind of pioneering studies, pointing out a need for resource and energy efficient society, can set the course for coherent development of all future policies for sustainable growth."In order to be able to respond to sustainability challenges, we will require reformed, strengthened, better coordinated and more coherent institutional framework at all levels of governance. Advanced institutional framework has to be based on political leadership and must seek ways to avoid duplication, eliminate overlaps, maximize effective use of financial resources and promote synergies," the president said.According to Nikolic, innovative ideas, like the sustainability ombudsman, as well as the sustainable development council (at the UN level), could help improve the institutional framework globally."Serbia remains committed to strengthening the environmental dimension of the IFSD which should result in the establishment of a specialized UN agency for the environment," he stated."We must put in place operational targets and concrete actions within agreed timelines to cope with critical pressures in the coming years," said Nikolic.A good example represents "Sustainable Energy for All Initiative" of the UN SG with its ambitious and yet urgently needed 2030 targets, he continued."We need to make radical green and sustainable shift in the way we produce and consume. To that end, it is important to develop a set of visionary, post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals that can increase the potential for a true change towards sustainable development," Nikolic noted."We believe that "Once-in-a-decade" commitments we are making here today will be achievable only if appropriately supported and put into practice by all actors. This also includes ensuring adequate financial support to those in need," he stated."Rio + 20 is not just about renewing commitments. It is also about changing habits and taking over responsibilities for actions that we are about to take in order to secure better world for future generations," he believes."Serbia is proud to be among the countries to have youth delegates to this Conference. After all, the change we are making here today is meant for our children," Nikolic pointed out.

NIKOLIC WITH ERDOGAN ON INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT

BELGRADE, RIO DE JANEIRO , June 23 (Tanjug) –Turkey intends to help Serbia's economic recovery, primarily through making investments in infrastructure projects, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday during a meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic.Nikolic and Erdogan met on the sidelines of the UN summit dedicated to sustainable development and the focus of the conversation was economic cooperation, the Serbian president's press office released in a statement.Erdogan pointed out that Serbia is a very important country in the Balkans, which implies great responsibility, and added that Turkey expects Serbia to be an example and foundation of peace and stability in this part of Europe.President Nikolic said that good relations between the two countries should be further improved, especially in the field of economy, the statement reads.According to him, Serbia sees its EU accession as the strategic goal and it will not give up on that.Our country has great potential in natural and human resources, which are its comparative advantage, and it will keep building the bridges of good neighborly cooperation and strive to become an economically strong and prosperous country, Nikolic stressed.

KOSOVO & METOHIJA

NIKOLIC & CLINTON: BELGRADE IS READY TO CONTINUE DIALOGUE

BELGRADE, June 23 (Tanjug) –U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told President Nikolic in Rio de Janeiro that Washington's interest is that Serbia should contribute to peace and stability in southeastern Europe, continue to develop good-neighborly relations and solve all outstanding issues through talks. Nikolic said that Serbia, in order to stabilize the situation in the region, is ready to continue dialogue with Pristina, the press service of the president of Serbia announced. Tanjug's correspondent reports that Nikolic-Clinton conversation lasted little more than 20 minutes, and was also attended by Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic. Nikolic said during the talk that the strategic goal of Serbia's foreign policy remains the accession to the European Union, as well as developing better relations with all countries which see this as a common interest, the statement says. Serbia today, more than ever, needs new foreign investments, Nikolic said, adding that he is willing to help personally to create a favorable business climate to attract new investors. Nikolic urged U.S. companies to invest in Serbia because, he said, the country has huge potential, the statement says.

STEFANOVIC & DJURIC: TALKS TO SHIFT FROM TECHNICAL TO POLITICAL ISSUES

BELGRADE, June 23 (Tanjug) –Head of Belgrade's negotiating team in the dialogue with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic and advisor to the Serbian president Marko Djuric agreed late on Friday that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue needs to shift its focus from technical to political issues.We know what we agreed in Brussels, but this is being abused now, Stefanovic said and noted that there are two major problems in the implementation of the agreements, the first being freedom of movement and the second that of regional presentation.Noting that the new government of Serbia needs to urgently adopt a new decree on licence plates which would prevent Pristina from taking plates away, Stefanovic noted in an interview for Tanjug that Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic will get the support to demonstrate his care for Kosovo in action.Djuric said that competent bodies should pay close attention so as to avoid any gesture that could contribute to either implicit or explicit recognition of Kosovo.Responding to the question as to why certain matters are seen differently in Belgrade, Pristina and Brussels, Djuric noted that the agreements reached so far cover too many flexible paragraphs which give ground to different interpretations.

ASHTON TO FACILITATE BELGRADE-PRISTINA TALKS?

BELGRADE, June 25 (Tanjug) –The EU is not yet certain what course the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina will take, that is whether it will be resumed at the technical or political level, the Belgrade-based daily Vecernje Novosti says, adding that in the latter case, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton might replace Robert Cooper as the EU facilitator for the talks.For the talks to resume, a new Serbian government is needed. As soon as Serbia gets a new government, we will hold consultations with Belgrade and Pristina on the way in which the dialogue will be resumed, Ashton's spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a statement to the daily.It is clear that the dialogue has to be continued, and that the previously reached agreements have to be implemented as soon as possible, she underlined.Our goal remains the same, and boils down to 3 points - the improvement in the situation on the ground to the benefit of all citizens, the progress of Belgrade and Pristina towards the EU, and better relations between Belgrade and Pristina, Kocijancic added.

STEFANOVIC: IMPLEMENT AGREEMENTS AND RESUME TALKS

BELGRADE, June 23 (Tanjug) –Head of the Belgrade team for the talks with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic said Serbia's next government should implement all the agreements reached in the talks with Pristina and resume the dialogue."Serbia's next government, whoever forms it, will have to implement all the agreements and continue the dialogue with Pristina," he stressed, adding that he believed it would indeed happen."Those are two things I think are in no doubt," he stated during the presentation of the results of a project concerning the freedom of movement for people and merchandise between Kosovo and Serbia in the context of regional cooperation, which was conducted by the Centre for Regionalism.

DJURIC: FIRST CONSENSUS, THEN MEETING WITH JAHJAGA

BELGRADE, June 25 (Tanjug) –Marko Djuric, advisor to the President, stated that at this moment he cannot say whether President Nikolic will meet with his Kosovo counterpart Atifete Jahjaga, because Nikolic first wants Serbia to reac a consensus and define tactics for the Kosovo issue.Prior to concrete talks with Pristina, the topic and tactics have to be defined, so as not to directly or indirectly recognize Kosovo's independence, Djuric told TV Prva on Sunday.Part of the Serbian public believes that if the president or the future prime minister ran the talks with Pristina, it would mean de facto recognition of Kosovo. However, Djuric commented that Nikolic would certainly not do anything that would lead to either implicit or explicit recognition of independence, and added that the president will do everything to find a solution in keeping with Serbia's interests.Head of Belgrade's team in talks with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic, who had pointed to the possibility of de facto recognition, pointed out that political talks with Pristina are something about whic there is already a consensus. However, as he put it, consensus in Serbia is acieved in principle, but differences appear when it comes to realization.Therefore, he believes that it would be best if Nikolic formed his own team made up of functionaries. Stefanovic added that reacing a consensus with the future government and deciding what to do with key issues in the dialogue, suc as energy and telecommunications, is far more important then whether Nikolic will see Jahjaga.

SERBIA – REGION

PUSIC: RELATIONS CANNOT DEPEND ON PERSONAL TIES

BELGRADE, June 23 (Tanjug) –Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusic stated that the appointment of Tomislav Nikolic as the Serbian president does not prevent Croatia from helping Serbia make faster progress on its EU path.In an interview for the Belgrade-based daily Politika, Pusic said that Croatia wishes to cooperate with its neighbours in European reforms and transfer of experience and Nikolic's appointment as the Serbian president would not change Croatia's stand.Our experience shows that this is a path of construction of institutions which brings political maturity, Pusic noted. We believe that this helped us and we think the stability of Croatia and any other country in the region largely depends on the environment, she said.Pusic believes that Belgrade and Zagreb could use less of ideology and more of practicality, and that it would be convenient if the presidents of the two countries were friends, but she noted that this cannot be a criterion for such important ties between the two countries.She expressed belief that the ties between Croatia and Serbia do not and should not depend on additional personal friendships, because although this is a convenient additional point, but it does not constitute inter-state relations. This certainly cannot be a criterion for such important relations between the two countries, she noted.She believes some progress can be made in the ties which cover the search for a solution to open issues, joint solutions for some problems within the region and multilateral meetings in the region, as well as cooperation on certain European topics.Pusic said that Serbia could make most use of a government that would be willing to cooperate with the country.

PUSIC: CROATIA WILL NOT BLOCK SERBIA'S EU PATH

ZAGREB, June 23 (Tanjug) –Croatia will not block Serbia's EU path because it is in the interest of Serbia's neighbours for the country to make progress toward the EU, but this is not the issue of support or opposition but rather that of reason, Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Vesna Pusic stated.In an interview for Novi List, Pusic said that Croatia's top interest should be embodied in ensuring that it borders with functional stable countries instead of unreliable countries because this is dangerous.Speaking about the announcement by Serbian President that Serbia would get the date of initiation of talks with the EU, Pusic said that the decision on this matter would be adopted on grounds of a series of formal criteria on institutional willingness and political criteria which are particularly important in the region.The criteria are not precise and are measured according to the circumstances considered as important, she said and added that the EU has lost the enlargement enthusiasm.Responding to the question by reporters, she said that during the NATO summit in Chicago, she never stated that Nikolic's appointment as the Serbian president introduced changes in the strategic situation in the region and that the elections in Serbia changed the situation in the region, primarily because Nikolic and his party did not hold govnt seats earlier.

SERBIA – ECONOMY

DELAY IN REFORMS POSES THREAT TO NATIONAL TREASURY

BELGRADE, June 25 (Tanjug) –The World Bank's Country Manager for Serbia Loup Brefort said that a delay in reforms poses a threat to the national treasury.Breffort told RTS that a rise in Serbia's public debt is highly dangerous, and compared the state of the Serbian economy with a high cholesterol level in the human body.A high level of cholesterol is a serious condition that migh t eventually lead to death. In order to solve that, you need serious and painful measures and treatments. Serbia's public debt is far beyond the safe cholesterol levels, Brefort said.Serbia has had a high budget deficit for decades, and that is the reason for such a large public debt, the World Bank's Country Manager for Serbia said.The government's target for 2012 was the deficit of 4.25 percent (of GDP), but the Fiscal Council delivered an estimate that the deficit would reach 6 percent by the year's end, and even 7 percent unless the government did something about that, Brefort said.If you have a budget deficit of 4.25 percent, that means that you have to borrow nearly EUR 2 billion on an annual level to cover the deficit. If Serbia's deficit reaches 7 percent, which is highly likely, and if the new government does not introduce effective measures for tackling the deficit, Serbia will have to borrow EUR 3.5 billion for 2012, he warned.A delay in reforms could turn into serious problems for public finances, and Serbia could really find itself in a situation that it will have to pay a lot, much more than it is paying now to cover the budget deficit, Brefort underlined.

FINANCE MINISTRY: NO RISK OF BANKRUPTCY FOR GOVT

BELGRADE, June 23 (Tanjug) –The Serbian Finance Ministry released on Saturday that there is no ground for voicing stands about Serbia being threatened by bankruptcy or public debt crisis.Commenting on certain allegations in the media that the government is facing bankruptcy and that the payment of social benefits to citizens is brought into question, the Finance Ministry noted that the government is regularly meeting its dues such as salaries, pensions, social welfare, transfers to other government levels and other obligations, including the recent payment of the old foreign exchange savings worth over EUR 200 million, and it will continue doing so in the next period.The release notes that the economic situation in the country is serious and conditioned by the economic crisis in Europe, which is why the GDP growth has been reduced from 1.5 percent to 0.5 percent in 2012.Still, there is no ground to voice stands about Serbia being threatened by bankruptcy or public debt crisis since it is a well-known fact that Serbia is one of the European countries with lower debt and its credit rating was increased and confirmed in the times of crisis, the Finance Ministry stated.The new government needs to continue conducting a responsible economic policy, and it also has to carry out a budget deficit consolidation and continue cooperating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because this is the only way for Serbia to respond to economic challenges in the coming period and create conditions for an increase in the citizens' living standards, the release states.This is why it is important for the new government to be constituted as soon as possible since the existing government in its technical mandate is not capable of adopting decisions and conducting programmes important for the country's economic recovery, the Finance Ministry stated in a release.

UDOVICKI: REDUCTION OF BUDGET SPENDING PRIORITY

BELGRADE, June 23 (Tanjug) –Regional Director of the UN Development Programme Kori Udovicki believes that the first task of the Serbian government should be the embodied in the reduction of budget spending.First of all, budget spending needs to be reduced, because the exchange rate is sliding and interest rates increased, which makes it even more expensive for the economy to take out bank loans, since Serbia has started spending far more money than it has, Udovicki stated for Press Nedelje.She noted that Serbia cannot exit the crisis and debts with the help of savings alone and that production has to be strengthened as well because this is the only way to open new jobs.We do not have many prompt measures for this, and one way to improve the situation relatively fast would be for the government to stop posing obstacles to the economy in many areas, Udovicki said and added that the economy is under a great burden because the government has stopped making payments, and another obstacle is embodied in various permits, taxes, limitations, unfair competition and similar issues. The country can be managed better, so as to ensure that it operates positively since it is expensive, she stated.According to her, politicians should conduct talks with businessmen and experts and such negotiations should set joint priorities.Also, businessmen would like to get funds from some source, she said. There is no money, but there are a lot of things that could be done to organise the country in a better way, she noted.Udovicki believes that it is absolutely impossible for Serbia to continue spending more than it is producing and every new debt or the funds obtained through privatisation of companies such as Telekom have to be invested in strengthening economic capacities. Udovicki stated that the future government's task is to revive the Serbian economy by creating a package of support measures and clearly committing itself to take concrete steps to achieve that."The government spends a lot on the economy, but it does that irrationally," and significant funds "go to direct subsidies and those which flow from different ministries in an uncoordinated way," Udovicki added.According to her, the funds should be directed in keeping with a detailed plan and followed by a number of measures which require much stronger organization and coordination of the new government."Serbia, like other former Yugoslav countries, lacks a plan which the government would support," Udovicki pointed out.