Daily Survey

Belgrade, March 26, 2012



LISBON, March 26 (Tanjug) - President Boris Tadic met with Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva in Lisbon, at the beginning of his two-day visit to Portugal.After the reception in the Palace of Belem, intonation of the national anthem and the line-up of the guard of honour, the two presidents started a closed meeting after which they should address the media.Prior to the meeting with his Portuguese counterpart, Tadic laid a wreath at the tomb of Portuguese poet Luis Vaz de Camoes as the symbol of preservation of the Portuguese national identity.During the day, Tadic will confer with Portuguese Parliament Speaker Assuncao Esteves and caucus whips.Tadic will also meet with representatives of Portuguese companies Grupo Amorim, Espirito Santo Bank, Portuguese Confederation of Tourism, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Vieira de Castro Group and the Portuguese Chamber of Commerce for the Western Balkans.Tadic should also visit the building of the former embassy of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.The Portuguese president will deliver the Council of Europe North-South Prize 2011 to Tadic on Tuesday.The Serbian president will confer with Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho on Tuesday.


BRUSSELS, March 23 (Tanjug) - Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic stated in Brussels after a number of bilateral meetings with his EU colleagues that Serbia stands good chances of getting the date for the beginning of the EU accession talks in 2012, and that it should take the advantage of the current EU integration momentum.Brussels is in a kind of festive mood over Serbia's EU integration process, Jeremic said after meeting foreign ministers of Malta, Italy, Slovenia and the Great Britain, adding that everybody is satisfied that Serbia has achieved the status of an EU candidate.The continuation of the process will bring about new obligations, primarily in terms of the date for the EU accession talks, Jeremic noted, stressing that Serbia should take the advantage of the current momentum. I am certain that the new government will proceed with the European path, Jeremic said.The head of the Serbian diplomacy attended on Thursday evening a working dinner with foreign ministers of EU member states and candidate countries - Montenegro, Macedonia, Turkey, Island and Croatia, which this year has the status of an associate member.This was the first time Serbia attended a meeting of the kind, Jeremic said, adding that the ministers addressed world issues. We discussed the situation in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Arab Spring, the foreign minister said, adding that Serbia has been presented with an opportunity to contribute to the talks.Throughout its history in the Non-Aligned Movement, Serbia has established closer and different relationships with many world countries when compared to the majority of the EU countries, Jeremic underlined, adding that Serbia's contribution is reflected in transmission of messages, which is a quality that others do not possess.We are not a country of large resources, and we cannot offer much in terms of money, Jeremic said, pointing to Serbia's contribution to close relationships with Arab countries. Everybody is aware that the geopolitical developments following the Arab Spring will leave political, security and economic consequences on our part of the world, Jeremic said.On Friday, Jeremic is to confer with former Managing Director for Russia, Eastern Neighborhood and the Western Balkans in the EU's External Action Service and Slovenia's future minister of foreign affairs Miroslav Lajcak, and Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic.


BELGRADE, March 23 (Tanjug) -President Tadic stated that Serbia can acquire a date for the beginning of the EU accession talks by the end of the year, and that this primarily depends on further steps in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue."This depends on Serbia's ability to take a step forward in the dialogue with Pristina. The criteria are known and they refer to telecommunications, energy and the issue of legal system. We have a clear framework for participation in the dialogue. We have proposed a four-point plan, which is clear and can resolve all the issues, as well as the future ones in the dialogue on technical issues," Tadic told a joint press conference after a meeting with Austrian President Heinz Fischer.He underlined that it is of special importance that Serbia has a clear plan when it comes to Kosovo-Metohija, and that the plan was presented to the international community, which had no negative reactions."I believe that new possibilities for a comprehensive dialogue on how to resolve the problem in Kosovo will be opened after the elections. The problem has to be solved in good faith that it is possible to establish a well-functioning system and protection of European interests, because Serbia and Kosovo are on Europe's territory and any instability has repercussions on the continent," Tadic said.The Serbian president pointed out that Kosovo is the only issue on which Austria and Serbia have different stances.He said that Serbia does not recognize the independence of Kosovo, adding that the country remains committed to the dialogue on technical aspects."Serbia has every right to defend its territorial integrity by peaceful and diplomatic means, which are based on the principles of international law," Tadic stressed."I hope that the issue of Pristina's regional representation will be resolved in keeping with the agreement which implies representation with a footnote that does not prejudice the status," he said.Fischer said he knows how sensitive an issue the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is, but believes that the position is better today than six months or a year ago.I can only ask and encourage both sides to have a fair negotiating process, and to respect what is agreed, he underlined.Fischer said that Austria would certainly help to eliminate and overcome barriers and to encourage the process.For these tasks, we want to cooperate and work. But to specify the date for the beginning of negotiations, which might not be honored for some reason, would be a bad thing, Fischer said.There are negative experiences from previous negotiations, he said.Fischer said that Vienna believes that the talks should start as soon as possible.The Austrian president said that he came to Belgrade to congratulate President Tadic and the whole country for a great step accomplished towards Europe.He also pointed to the numerous Serbian diaspora in Austria, which constitutes a bridge of cooperation.Tadic said that he and Fischer discussed bilateral relations, the economic issues all EU-countries and countries on the European continent are faced with, Serbia's achievements which led to the obtaining of the EU candidate status as well as the country's future prospects.Tadic thanked Fischer for Austria's strong support and qualified Vienna as a friend of Serbia's.


BELGRADE, March 23 (Tanjug) -Austrian President Heinz Fischer said in a statement to Tanjug that Vienna will continue to support Serbia and that negotiations between Serbia and the EU on membership need to proceed as soon as possible after fulfilling the prerequisites. Before his meeting with Tadic, Fisher stressed that Austria has a clear policy when dealing with the Western Balkan states, of which Serbia is the biggest, and that is that Vienna wants the EU perspective to open up for them. That is why Austria especially wanted to take part in March in the adoption of decisions that led to the granting of candidate status to Serbia, he said. Austria's policy that the negotiations must be conducted successfully remains unchanged, Fischer said. Austria has no reason to be interested in delaying the negotiations, he said. Asked about the relations between the two countries, Fischer said that they are very good. Our Foreign Ministries are closely cooperating. Personally, I have an excellent relationship with President Tadic, Fischer said. Austria has been the largest investor in Serbia for many years. Our bilateral trade will soon reach 900 million euros, Fisher said.


BELGRADE, March 24 (Tanjug) - Head of EU delegation in Serbia Vincent Degert said that the future of Serbia is in the EU and that Belgrade should continue its dialogue with Pristina. In the eyes of the European Commission, Serbia definitely deserved candidate status, but we expect it to continue the negotiations with Pristina, he said at the pan-European conference dubbed 'Serbia's candidacy for the EU membership - in light of 17 centuries since the signing of the Edict of Milan,' which opened under the auspices of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) on Friday in Belgrade.He said it is a difficult and tedious road, but the only way to achieve the reconciliation that is needed in the region. Degert said that Serbia, in addition to continuing the dialogue with Pristina, must finish the reform of the judiciary and economy and continue the fight against corruption.He said that Serbia is a credible and reliable partner for the EU, stating that the candidate status for membership in the EU, which Serbia won, is a clear signal that the Serbian government and the majority of political parties in the country see Serbia in Europe. The two-day International Paneuropean Union conference is attended by representatives of the Catholic Church, Islamic Community, Jewish Community, as well as the members of the International Pan-European Union, representatives of ten states of the European Union, several members of the European Parliament, the diplomatic corps.They agreed that Serbia is Europe, not only geographically but also culturally.


BELGRADE, March 22 (Beta) -Hungarian Ambassador to Serbia Oszkar Nikowitz said that Serbia should completely set its course towards the EU and commit to this not having an alternative. "Belgrade should turn 100 percent to Europe and decide that there is no other alternative so was Hungary's case. Geographic position is another decisive element," Nikowitz said. He stressed that EU funds for economic revival and developing national infrastructure were crucial to a country's EU accession. At a conference held at the headquarters of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians Belgrade chapter, Nikowitz stressed that Serbia should also turn to its neighbors, primarily Hungary. The ambassador noted that "Serbia has forgotten how important a neighbor Hungary is."


BELGRADE, March 26 (Tanjug) -European Parliament (EP) rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin said the rehabilitation process of General Dragoljub Draza Mihailovic is a very specific case and it is important that the EU monitor the proceedings carefully.It is a very specific case, very politically and emotionally charged. As the EP rapporteur, I am primarily concerned with the evident attempt to change the system of values. Post-war Europe was built on values of anti-fascism, while rehabilitation of Draza Mihajlovic is a step in the opposite direction, Kacin said for the Monday edition of Danas.According to him, it is in Serbia's best interest to build bridges with its neighbors, and moves like this prevent true reconciliation and bring into question the commitment of Serbia's leaders to the deeper rooting of European values in the country.The rehabilitation law is being abused. The essence of the law is lifting collective responsibility from certain national groups, as well as the victims of the communist government. Draza Mihajlovic, as the symbol of chauvinism and war crimes committed in the name of creating a Greater Serbia, has no business in such efforts, said Kacin."The fact is that the Chetniks were collaborationists in all parts of Yugoslavia and that they committed crimes against non-Serbs in Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia. At the end of World War II, a part of the Chetnik movement did not respond to the king's order to cooperate in the National Liberation War," he noted."The attempts to locate the place of Mihailovic's shooting and burial is fully legitimate, but rehabilitation attempts bring about changes in the domain of policy and its relationship with the past and divide Serbia, Serbs, and all countries in far and near neighborhood," Kacin said.The proceedings for the rehabilitation of Chetnik commander Draza Mihailovic are under way before the Belgrade District Court.



ALEKSINAC, March 24 (Tanjug) -President Tadic said that the NATO attack on Yugoslavia was a crime against a country and people.Preserving the memory of the innocent victims, everything must be done to make sure that Serbia will never again be drawn into a war, he said.Our country has been too immersed in wars in the entire 20th century and everything we will do in the future should be based on preventing any involvement in any kind of war ever again and on protecting, above all, human lives and the country, Tadic told reporters after laying a wreath at the monument to victims killed in the NATO attack on Aleksinac.Serbia will always commemorate the anniversary of the beginning of NATO air strikes by remembering the victims, but also by expressing confidence that the state can stand on its own feet, he pointed out.Tadic laid a wreath at the monument at a ceremony of mourning the victims of the 1999 NATO bombing of Aleksinac, a town in southeast Serbia which suffered one of the most brutal NATO attacks during the 11-week air campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia 13 years ago.The wreaths were also laid by Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac and Chief-of-staff of the Serbian Armed Forces Ljubisa Dikovic.Aleksinac, a town with 17,000 population located in the valley of the Juzna Morava River, was targeted by six powerful missiles striking a residential area on April 5, 1999 at 21.35 CET.The attack claimed 11 lives and 50 injured.The 13th night of air strikes left Aleksinac downtown ruined, with severe damages on 35 family homes, 125 flats, a number of businesses, health care center, bus station, etc.NATO representatives in Brussels claimed that the missiles have gone off course due to a technical error, adding that the real target was a barrack located near the town.In the spring of 1999, Aleksinac was bombed on a number of occasions, with the total death toll of 24.The 78-day air campaign on FRY, which started on March 24, 1999, resulted in the death of 2,500 civilians, 89 of whom were children.


BELGRADE, March 24 (Tanjug) - Interior Minister Ivica Dacic stated that it is now clear that the aim of the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 was the creation of an independent state of Kosovo.At the marking of the anniversary of the bombing at the Special Anti-terrorist Unit (SAJ) base, Dacic stated that 2,500 people were killed during the intervention, including over 1,000 members of the police and military."Had there not been for the 'Merciful Angel', Serbia would be richer by 2,500 citizens. This location, as well as many others, were constantly bombed. A total of 162 families lost their dearest ones who died as police officers, 38 police officers were killed in the bombing, and 131 of them in terrorist attacks of Albanian separatists," Dacic underlined.Dacic laid a wreath as tribute to the fallen members of SAJ.He pointed out that the state's obligation is to determine as soon as possible the exact number of victims during the three-month attack.He added that 484 police members were severely or slightly injured in terrorist operations, and another 171 in the NATO bombing.


BELGRADE, March 23 (Beta) -Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Konuzin said that the 1999 NATO bombing was not a war waged by the West against Slobodan Milosevic, but a war against the Serbian people, which had paved the way to Kosovo's secession. "Today, it is obvious that Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence was part of the Euratlantic plan to partition Serbia," Konuzin told a conference called "To Remember: Kosovo and Metohija 13 years after the NATO aggression,"in Sava Center. The ambassador also said that "mass bombardment was an act of aggression against a sovereign state and the U.N. Charter and a demonstration of force aimed at empowering aspirations towards establishing a hegemony in a unipolar world."


BELGRADE, March 26 (Tanjug) - Serbia and Azerbaijan adhere to the position of respecting international law and territorial integrity when it comes to cases of Nagorno Karabakh and Kosovo, the ambassador of Azerbaijan Eldar Hassanov in Belgrade said, and expressed hope that justice will ultimately prevail.Regarding the Kosovo policy of the Serbian leadership, Hassanov said that despite all the pressures and difficulties, they are implementing proper policies - whose success is testified by obtaining candidacy for the EU.We have the same situation, it is not so easy to bear all those pressures. It is easy to speak, but to harmonize the international pressures and the norms and principles of international law within the framework of national interests and to find a consensus for all those isues - that is not so easy, Hassanov said in an interview to Tanjug.Serbia's candidate status for he EU represents a new page of peace, cooperation, harmony and constitutes an important political success, he said.When it comes to Nagorno Karabakh, which is de jure part of Azerbaijan, but de facto since the nineties under the rule of neighboring Armenia, and still is a a topic of discussion of international institutions - Hassanov noted that Baku wants to amicably resolve the Karabakh issue.He, however, pointed out that to his regret, all attempts of solving this problem have so far failed to produce any positive results.



BANJALUKA, March 24 (Tanjug) - Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic conferred in Banja Luka with Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik on relations between Serbia and Republika Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina, saying that there was positive change in the region.Jeremic told reporters after the talks that these changes came about especially after Serbia was granted candidate status for membership in the EU.Jeremic said that the talk was devoted mainly to European integration.He said Serbia has good cooperation with the countries in the region, that cooperation is now more stable and harmonious and that joint efforts are needed to keep it that way.Jeremic said that after positive changes in BiH, there is agreement in the stands of Belgrade and Banja Luka that it is difficult to justify the existence of the Office of the High Representative (OHR).Artificial maintaining of an institution that is hindering progress not only at home but also in the region, as it supports an external management system is inconsistent with democratic principles, the EU conditions and EU rules ... I think it should be closed, Jeremic said.As regards Serbia's candidacy for the chair of the UN General Assembly, Jeremic said that Serbia's policy is to support the countries of the region when they run for high office and reminded that this was the case when voting in the UN on membership of BiH in the Security Council.He added, however, that every country makes its decisions independently, in accordance with its interests.Dodik said that Serbia's position regarding the Dayton Agreement and the interests of Republika Srpska is right.He said that BiH should be what it is, a service of policies and interests of the two entities.Srpska expects Sarajevo to support the activities at the international level in future, especially regarding the candidacy of Minister Jeremic for the UN GAssembly, Dodik said.It is of utmost importance for RSrpska, a supremely important political issue for the region, he said.


ZAGREB, March 23 (Tanjug) -Serbia will return 1,065 items of cultural heritage that were evacuated from Croatia and stored in Serbia, the Serbian Ministry of Culture stated.The statement says Culture Minister Predrag Markovic and his Croatian counterpart Andrea Zlatar Violic singed at the Croatian State Arcive in Zagred a protocol on the return of Croatian cultural heritage from Serbia.Markovic later met with Croatian President Ivo Josipovic.The two sides adopted a draft protocol containing the total list of cultural heritage items at a meeting of the joint commišion for the return of cultural heritage items in Zagreb on November 25, 2011, Markovic noted.The items were evacuated from Croatia and stored in Serbia until Croatia could provide appropriate storage facilities, says the statement.The ministry prepared earlier (in June 2011) a list of all the items from Croatia (a total of 1,065) that are in various insitutions in Serbia.It also prepared a report on the state of those items, and the Croatian Ministry of Culture verified it on November 25, 2011, along with an additional list of items not listed before.The return proceš is in line with international regulations, the documentation on the items has been completed, the necešary permits acquired and the standards of transport and delivery met, acording to the statement.The Serbian Ministry of Culture provided RSD 14,353,896 for conservation and restoration work between 2008 and 2012.


ZAGREB, March 23 (Tanjug) - Ambassador to Croatia Stanimir Vukicevic spoke about the experience of Serbia in the process of accession to the European Union and the country's foreign policy priorities at the Faculty of Law in Zagreb."The priorities of Serbia's foreign policy are European integration, regional cooperation, economic relations and Kosovo, and these are mutually complementary and cannot be sorted out by relevance, even though the focus is now mainly on the relations with the EU," Vukicevic pointed out in a speech he gave as a participant in the 'Know Your Neighbors' project at the Faculty of Law in Zagreb.Vukicevic stressed that surveys had shown that about 80 percent of Serbia's citizens were "for" the EU accession, adding that Serbia would use Croatian experience in the pre-accession talks to make the process faster.Progress in the negotiations with the EU will depend on Kosovo, but the Union does not seek from Serbia to recognize Kosovo, it rather wants the issues important for ordinary people to be resolved through dialogue, he said, adding that it is essential to make sure that Kosovo is not a security problem for the region.As part of its cooperation with the ICTY, Serbia has extradited 45 people, it has provided legal assistance to The Hague Tribunal over 2,000 times and prosecuted a number of perpetrators of war crimes committed in Vukovar (eastern Croatia), Zvornik (Bosnia-Herzegovina), giving them heavy sentences, the ambassador said.Vukicevic talked about the expectations that Serbia, like other countries of the region, has from the donor conference to be held in April, which should help resolve the outstanding issues of return of refugees to their homes or ensure their integration in the countries they have taken their refuge in.


BELGRADE, March 23 (Tanjug) - Police Director Milorad Veljovic told that he is in constant contact with the Croatian police, who confirmed the arrest of several persons who are suspected of issuing forged personal documents.The documents were issued to criminals of the two most dangerous Serbian underground groups, the Zemun Clan and drug traffickers headed by Darko Saric. We are in constant contact and are waiting for the investigation in Croatia to be finished, which will then be continued in Serbia on its citizens suspected to have been involved in this case, Veljovic said on Saturday. Serbia has far given to Croatian colleagues some of the information that has been important for their investigation, Veljovic said. Croatian police have arrested six people and issued a warrant for a citizen of Serbia suspected of counterfeiting and trafficking in Croatian passports. Some of these documents have ended up among members of Serbian and Montenegrin underground.


BELGRADE, March 22 (Beta) -Croatian Ambassador to Serbia Zeljko Kupresak said that Serbia and Croatia had the potential to achieve two billion euros' worth of economic exchange, yet trade was currently stuck at roughly EUR600 million. During a meeting of entrepreneurs from Croatia with the business community of Sabac, Kupresak said that 2008 had seen record trade, to the tune of EUR800 million. He said that of 200 Croatian companies doing business in Serbia, only one was experiencing problems, but that the firm in question had similar issues elsewhere in the region. The ambassador went on to say that Croatian entrepreneurs had invested EUR500 million in Serbia to this day.



KRUSEVAC, March 23 (Tanjug) -U.S. company Cooper Tires opened a factory of car tyres in Krusevac, central Serbia, which represents an investment worth USD 50 million and a possibility to employ 700 people.At the opening ceremony, Serbian President Boris Tadic pointed out that only through responsible work of all, including the factory's employees, can every job, investment and the country's future be preserved. During the ceremony attended by the company's CEO Roy Armes and U.S. Ambassador in Serbia Mary Warlick, Tadic said that new investments are hard to find in the times of crisis everywhere in the world, especially in Serbia which did not have the reputation of a stable country for investments in the past few decades.When Armes first suggested to the Cooper Tires management board that the company should invest in Serbia, they asked him why invest in Serbia and not elsewhere, Tadic said, adding that when big companies suggest potential investment destinations, they are never asked about the reasons. However, Serbia needs to fight against the dark mood which prevailed against the country in the previous decades, Tadic noted.According to him, Serbia managed to change this image over the past few years, and the EU candidate status also points to the country's credibility. It is the people of Serbia that won both the candidate status and the investment, Tadic said addressing the factory's employees.He stated that the country must not renounce this path at any cost so that the coming generations could live in a better country than that which the current government was first faced with.Tadic called on employees to dedicate themselves to their jobs and leave a better country to the coming generations."Workers, I have one thing to ask from you: focus on your work, because only in that way you will be able to preserve it and prove that this investment of a major global tyre manufacturer is a safe one. Only that way will your families be safe as well. Keeping your job is the key," Tadic said.These times are very difficult for investments and some investors are leaving Serbia, like U.S. Steel. Therefore, a responsible attitude towards work is of key importance, Tadic remarked.Five extra minutes at work, a higher level of commitment towards work, that is what we need. By preserving your jobs, you are protecting Serbia's well-being. We are competing with the countries of the region and the world as well in order to get new jobs. That way we are defending the country's sovereignty, our rights, our culture, Tadic stressed."We are not giving up. We will save the 5,400 jobs in (the steel plant in) Smederevo too," Tadic stated, adding he is proud that the workers of former Trayal company will now work for the U.S. Cooper Tires and that this company will be a Serbian company too.The Serbian government and Cooper Tires signed a framework investment contract in December last year, which states that the U.S. company will invest more than EUR 50 million and hire 700 workers in the first stage of its investment in Krusevac.The contract was signed by Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojsa Ciric and Cooper Tires President of the International Tire Division Hal Miller. President Tadic, Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic and U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Mary Warlick were also present at the signing ceremony.Cooper Tires practically bought the tyre factory that was part of Trayal from Krusevac for EUR 13 million, while the rest of Trayal will be owned jointly by the government and the current owner, Brikel from Bulgaria. Cooper Tires is one of the world's largest tyre manufacturers for industrial and off-road vehicles and cars. The company owns 60 plants around the world and employs 13,000 people.It is the second largest tyre producer in the U.S., after Goodyear.


KRUSEVAC, March 23 (Tanjug) - Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojsa Ciric said that Serbia emerged as the winner in the race for foreign investments against the countries in the region and the EU.During the ceremony to mark the beginning of Cooper Tires company which was also attended by Serbian President Boris Tadic, Ciric pointed out that the arrival of investors is the best way for Serbia to tackle the global economic crisis. Addressing the factory's employees, the minister of economy said that they now have stable and safe jobs, adding that the workers of former car tyre factory Trayal are the main reason why Cooper Tires chose Krusevac as the site for the plant.The company's president Roy Armes announced that the company headed by him would employ several hundred more workers over the next two years which would produce three million tyres annually, adding that this would include Cooper Tires among ten major exporters in Serbia.Armes thanked the Serbian government, local self-government and the Embassies of the U.S. and Great Britain for helping the company choose the strategic site for further development. Cooper Tires employs 450 workers in Krusevac and is ranked as the second employer according to the number of workers in the city.


KRUSEVAC, March 23 (Tanjug) -U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Mary Warlick said that the opening of Cooper Tires factory n Krusevac is a testimony to the many opportunities Serbia can offer to foreign investors and of all the advantages and potentials for a still better trade cooperation with the country.I know how much new investments and new jobs mean to Serbia. I am confident that this investment will contribute to a more prosperous future of the employees and their families, the people in Krusevac and Serbia, Warlick said at the opening ceremony.She congratulated Serbian President Boris Tadic and Minister of Economy and Regional Development Nebojsa Ciric and their expert teams for the success they have achieved in bringing the U.S. company and its investments to Serbia. The U.S. ambassador pointed in particular to the favourable geo-strategic position of Serbia, a country which, she said, has skilled and educated workers.Cooper Tires will manage to preserve the existing 450 workplaces in the company, but it also hopes to open new jobs, she underlined. Warlick recalled that a considerable amount of USAID funds granted to Serbia had been designated for improving the country's business climate and position on the global market.This is an exceptional day for all of us, the U.S ambassador concluded.



BELGRADE, March 23 (Tanjug) -State Secretary at the Serbian Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija (KiM) Oliver Ivanovic said that Serbian institutions would stay in Kosovo even if local elections were not held there at all.Ivanovic told Novi Magazin weekly and web portal that the institutions would be managed by officials or temporary bodies appointed by the new government, in line with the Law on Local Self-Government, rather than by elected officials.He added that it would be "a temporary solution until conditions are reached for the authorities to be chosen."According to Ivanovic, an attempt to hold local elections without the consent of UNMIK and with the international community's opposition would endanger the continuity of the holding of the Serbian parliamentary elections in the territory of Kosovo.He added that he was confident that the parliamentary and presidential elections would be organized without any interference, that there would be no confiscation of electoral material or police swoops on polling stations.The state secretary also said that the Serbian government was expecting an official response by UNMIK, instead of only the spokesperson's statement regarding issues related to the organization of the Serbian local elections in Kosovo.He added, though, that it was highly unlikely that the elections could be organized without the help and support of international institutions.UNMIK spokeswoman Tanya Castle told Radio Free Europe yesterday that the mission's chief Farid Zarif had replied to Belgrade's authorities that due to the circumstances on the ground UNMIK could not organize elections in Kosovo.Castle told Radio Free Europe it was also an answer to the request sent by Serbian Minister for Kosovo and Metohija Goran Bogdanovic to the mission on March 21, calling on UNMIK to organize local elections in Serbia in Kosovo.


PRISTINA, March 23 (Beta) -UNMIK chief Farid Zarif said organizing Serbian local elections in Kosovo on May 6 was in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244. In a statement to BETA on March 23, Zarif said that the vote would therefore not be "legally grounded" and hence have no effect. On March 22, Zarif sent a letter to the Serbian government stating that under the current conditions the U.N. mission was unable to organize local elections. Serbian Parliament's Committee on Kosovo and Metohija, which consists of members of the ruling coalition and opposition, said on March 23 that local elections would have to be held in Kosovo. They warned that the opposite was an implicit recognition of Kosovo's independence. Local officials in Kosovo have said that if the Serbian Electoral Commission fails to call the vote in the province, they will do so independently of Belgrade.


BELGRADE, March 26 (Tanjug) - Serbian institutions in Kosovo will survive and have full legitimacy even if local elections are not held, only in this case, local officials will be appointed by the government and provisional councils, State Secretary with the Ministry for Kosovo Oliver Ivanovic has said."Local elections were not held in Kosovo in 2000 or 2004 either, yet we did not shut down our institutions. Of course, it is always better to choose officials in an election," Ivanovic told Vecernje Novosti. Whether elections will be held is a political decision and not an easy one, he believes."I am afraid that if we keep insisting on holding local elections in the current conditions, we will jeopardize the parliamentary and presidential elections as well," Ivanovic warns.