Belgrade, March 27, 2012
SERBIA – PORTUGAL
TADIC: SERBIAN PEOPLE DESERVE CHANCE
LISBON, March 27 (Tanjug) - President Boris Tadic stated that the Council of Europe (CoE) North-South Prize he was awarded in Lisbon is an honor he shares with the entire Serbian nation and that he received the award on behalf of all the citizens of Serbia."The citizens of Serbia are those who should be primarily credited for the country's official candidate status. They are the ones who have had to bear the burden of the demanding reforms we have been implementing," Tadic said at the ceremony at which President of Portugal Anibal Cavaco Silva presented him with the award, which was bestowed on an active head of state for the first time.Tadic said that the Serbian nation deserves a new chance and a new opportunity to secure its stability and prosperity, because it clearly chose the path of democracy and European values.He recalled that it has been more than a decade since the citizens chose democracy, and that they reached some difficult decisions in the meantime, which defined them as a nation."As nations and citizens of the world, we are all defined by the choices we make. These choices open doors and close others. These choices require sacrifice by those who may see little benefit for themselves but whose choices and actions alter the futures of those yet unborn," Tadic said."Becoming an official EU candidate is a very important moment for Serbia - a visible milestone on the road our citizens chose to take in October 2000," and the choice was supported at the ballot box and as part of an on-going national dialogue."Serbia has chosen stability and dignity and we have chosen to accept and embrace the responsibility that comes with our place in the international community. A place that continues to strengthen and grow and which was recently recognized with EU Candidate Status and our future integration into Europe", the president said.We will continue our efforts so that Serbia is able to receive, by the end of the year, a date for the opening of negotiations for full membership in the EU, he noted."This is something we deserve, in fulfillment of existing, established criteria. Opening of accession negotiations will represent the moment in which the process of European integration of Serbia will have truly moved past the point of no return," the president said."Serbia will stay the course on reforms and remain a partner to all in the region," Tadic stressed."Our activities are centered on the consolidation of peace in the region, and on modernizing our society. This is rooted not only in European values we share, but in knowing how to defend our identity and in making sure our business community is able to be as competitive as possible in the international marketplace," he said.A full commitment to fight organized crime is one of the most important priorities of the current Government of Serbia and we will stay the course - come what may, Tadic noted.The inherited network of criminal organizations posed a grave threat to the foundation of the democratic society, but together with our EU and American partners, Serbia has fought a systematic war against organized crime and actively participated in a number of operations which produced very encouraging results, Tadic underlined.Referring to Kosovo, which he qualified as an issue of great importance not only for Serbia but also for the stability of the entire region, Tadic reiterated that Serbia will never recognize the unilateral declaration of independence of its southern province, while at the same time it does not want a frozen conflict.We are dedicated to finding a peaceful and just compromise - a sustainable and comprehensive settlement to the problem of Kosovo, the president explained."Only such a solution can contribute to the genuine reconciliation and lasting peace between the peoples of the Balkans," Tadic said presenting his four-point plan as the basis of the solution.Tadic also pointed to another difficult task inherited from the 1990s i.e. the prosecution of war criminals, and recalled that by the arrest of the ICTY indictees and the parliament's adoption of the Declaration on Srebrenica, Serbia has proved its commitment to regional reconciliation.The Serbian president recalled his personal initiatives such as the visits to Srebrenica, Bratunac (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Vukovar (Croatia) and other places where the innocent became victims, which have greatly contributed to rising the level of trust and stability in the region.The North-South Prize for 2011 was bestowed to the Serbian president "in recognition of his political action for the reconciliation of the Balkans and the integration of his country in the process of European construction," the CoE released. Apart from Tadic, President of the International Federation of the Human Rights league (FIDH) Souhayr Belhassen of Tunisia was also awarded in recognition of her long-time commitment in favor of human rights in the world, as well as for her fight for the rights of women in developing countries.The prize has been awarded every year since 1995 to two candidates who have stood out for their exceptional commitment to promoting human rights and intercultural dialogue.
TADIC & SILVA: SERBIA PART OF EU FAMILY, TALKS ASAP
LISBON, March 26 (Tanjug) - Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva stated that Serbia is a part of the European family and that he hopes the talks on the country's EU accession will begin as soon as possible.We believe Serbia is a part of the European family and that its future EU membership will strengthen not only the stability in the Balkans, but also the EU project itself. Serbia can count on Portugal's support in the process of talks with the EU, so that it could soon become an EU member, Silva stated after the official meeting with President Boris Tadic. At a joint news conference, Tadic expressed hope that, despite numerous challenges, the EU's enlargement process will not be blocked.When asked when Serbia might obtain the date for the start of accession talks, Silva recalled that this decision needs to be made by the 27 member states, noting, however, that he expects negotiations will begin soon.The Copenhagen Criteria need to be fulfilled. Talks are difficult, as everyone knows. For example, Portugal's negoatiations took seven years. I hope that in Serbia's case the process will be shorter, Silva stressed.However, he pointed out that further progress towards the EU also depends on the Serbian people themselves.Stressing that Serbia obtained the candidate status despite all challenges and difficulties, Tadic said that this step, as well as all following ones, is important for the stabilization of the South East European region and Europe as a whole.I sincerely believe that reforms and political processes ahead of us will secure permanent peace and stability in South East Europe, a region which has a tradition of instability, Tadic said.The Serbian president also said that the process of EU enlargement, despite the economic crisis and other difficulties, must not be blocked.Portugal has always backed Serbia on its path towards the EU, Tadic said, expressing his gratitude.According to the two presidents, Serbia and Portugal have excellent political and diplomatic relations, which should be used for fostering cooperation in other areas, primarily economic.Portuguese companies want to strengthen ties with the WesBalkans, and Serbia has a strategic significance in that respect, Silva said.We want a strong partnership with Serbia because we believe we can achieve a lot together in the fields of infrastructure, energy, telecommunications and others, he said.Tadic said that Serbia and Serbian companies can be reliable partners to Portugal and also stressed the importance of greater economic cooperation and cooperation in the field of new technologies.Every day we are facing new challenges and crises, but we must be brave and optimistic, Tadic said.Referring to the Council of Europe North-South Prize 2011 to be awarded to Tadic, Silva recalled the contribution of the president of Serbia to the stabilization of the situation in the Balkans, and to encouraging dialogue among the states of the region.Silva said he was very pleased that Tadic is the laureate to whom he will present the award at tomorrow's ceremony.Tadic's visit to Lisbon has aroused great interest of the media.The press conference in Belem Palace was attended by a large number of journalists, and while in Lisbon, Tadic will give interviews to the news agency Lusa, TV station SIC and Diario de Noticias and Publico dailies.
TADIC MEETS PORTUGUESE PARLIAMENT SPEAKER
LISBON, March 26 (Tanjug) - President Tadic met with Portuguese Parliament Speaker Maria da Assuncao Esteves.He also conferred with Portuguese party whips.Tadic met earlier in the day with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva at the Belem Palace.Later in the day, he will also meet with representatives of the Portuguese companies and visit the building of the former Embassy of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
TADIC CONFERS WITH PORTUGUESE BUSINESSMEN
LISBON, March 26 (Tanjug) - President Tadic met with a group of Portuguese businessmen and stated that Serbian and Portuguese companies could be good partners, adding that optimism should be maintained despite the economic crisis and challenges.The meeting with the Serbian president was attended by representatives of Portuguese bank Espirito Santo, company Amorim, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Vieira de Castro Group and Portuguese Chamber of Commerce in charge of the WesBalkans. Earlier today, Tadic, who is paying a two-day visit to Lisbon, conferred with Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva about fostering the economic cooperation between the two countries. Tadic also laid a wreath at the grave of poet Luis Vaz de Camoes. The Portuguese president will present his Serbian counterpart with the Council of Europe (CoE) North-South Prize for 2011, and at the end of his visit, Tadic will meet with Portugal's Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.
SERBIA – EU
BELGIUM RATIFIES SAA WITH SERBIA
BELGRADE, March 27 (Tanjug) - Belgium has ratified the SAA between Serbia and the EU, the Belgian embassy in Belgrade.The ratification was formally completed on March 20, the embassy said.Belgium is the 25th member of the EU to ratify the SAA with Serbia. Romania and Lithuania are the only countries that have still not done it.The SAA will enter into force once the parliaments of all the member states have ratified it.Serbia signed the SAA in 2008, and the parliament ratified it the same year.The EU council of ministers, however, did not decide to unfreeze the ratification process until June 2011, when Chief Prosecutor of the ICTY informed the council he was pleased Serbia's cooperation.The SAA represents the framework for contractual relations between the EU and countries of the Western Balkans. It is a part of the stabilization and association process.Each SAA is adapted to the particular situation each country is in, while at the same time setting joint political and economic goals and stimulating regional cooperation.
SERBIA'S PRESENCE IN BRUSSELS IMPORTANT STEP
BRUSSELS, March 26 (Tanjug) - The members of Serbian delegation who attended the beginning of Montenegro and Macedonia's preparation phase of EU accession talks in Brussels on Monday, said that this is an important step on Serbia's EU path."This is a great opportunity to strengthen our administrative capacity and negotiating strategy we have already prepared," Serbian government's EU Integration Office Director Milica Delevic stated.She added that the insight into the process of screening will make it possible for Serbia to better prepare for the talks, when the time comes."Today's meeting is very important for the Republic of Serbia, because it represents the next step in the European integration after obtaining the candidate status," Secretary of State in Justice Ministry Slobodan Homen, who took part in the meeting, told the press.This is the so-called "explanatory screening," during which the candidate-countries, which should start the EU accession talks soon, harmonize technical details of talks with the European Commission.Serbia, which is yet to get a date for the beginning of talks, has been invited to the two-day meeting with delegations of Montenegro and Macedonia as an observer."The European Commission is counting on us very seriously," Homen said, and added that the harmonization of laws and bylaws with EU's legislation will be much easier than their implementation, which will be carefully monitored by the Commission.Dragan Markovic, a member of the Serbian delegation and the state secretary in the Ministry of Interior (MUP), said that this meeting is very important since it provides an insight into what should be done in terms of preparations for the talks, and added that MUP has an important role in issues pertaining to mentioned chapters.All members of the Serbian delegation expressed hope of a prompt beginning of EU accession talks, as well as expectation that Serbia will attend such meetings in the future as well.
DEGERT: CONDITIONS FOR SERBIA TO MOVE TOWARD EU KNOWN
BELGRADE, March 26 (Beta) - Vincent Degert, the head of the European Union Delegation in Serbia, said that the conditions for the start of Serbia's EU accession talks are already known, and that they are the continuation of dialog with Pristina and reform processes in the country. "We took a great step with candidacy, and the next thing is the start of accession talks, and as far as they are concerned, we already know that the talks with Pristina need to continue, and the topic of those talks needs to be energy and telecommunications," Degert told at the "Social Inclusion Challenges and Solutions" conference in Belgrade. He said that it was also necessary to respect the agreements already reached between Belgrade and Pristina, and the continuation of reform processes was also a necessity, primarily in the judiciary, which, as he put it, needs to become more efficient and reduce the duration of court proceedings. "I am aware that elections and the forming of a new government are ahead for Serbia and that the reforms will likely have to wait for the next two months," said Degert, adding that a European outlook has opened up for Serbia.
KOSOVO & METOHIJA
TADIC'S CABINET SAYS PRESIDENT WILL NOT MEET TACI
BELGRADE, March 26 (Tanjug) - The president's cabinet denied the information published by the Pristina daily Zeri that there is a possibility of meeting between Serbian President Boris Tadic and Kosovo Prime Minister Hasim Taci.Referring to the diplomatic sources in Brussels, Zeri published Monday, and certain media in the region reported, that there is a strong possibility that Tadic and Taci will meet, most likely in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, after the election in Serbia on May 6.Tadic's cabinet firmly denied those claims. Any possibility of Tadic's meeting with Taci is ruled out, Tanjug was told by Tadic's cabinet.
BOGDANOVIC SAYS VOTE IN KOSOVO NOT ABANDONED
BELGRADE, March 26 (Beta) - Minister for Kosovo and Metohija Goran Bogdanovic has stated that Belgrade has not given up on holding local and parliamentary elections in Kosovo despite a no from UNMIK. "We will continue talks with the U.N. Mission, the OSCE, with all relevant international forces to ensure unimpeded elections in Kosovo," Bogdanovic told Danas daily. UNMIK chief Farid Zarif sent a letter to the Serbian government stating that the mission could not organize a local vote in Kosovo under current circumstances. Bogdanovic said the safety of Serbs was the chief concern when making decisions about the election, and that thus all problems on the field had to be taken into account.
FUELE TO ATTEND INAUGURAL SESSION OF EU INTEGRATION COUNCIL
PRISTINA, March 26 (Beta) - European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele is to attend the first session of the European Integration Council, set up at the office of Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga. Before the council's inaugural session, Jahjaga is to meet with Fuele to discuss the European integration process, her office said. Fuele is also slated to have talks with Kosovo Premier Hashim Thaci, and is expected to notify him officially about the start of work on a feasibility study for Kosovo's process of stabilization and association with the European Union. After Pristina and Kosovo signed a deal on Kosovo's representation at regional assemblies, the European Commission announced that a feasibility study would be started. Ahead of his visit to Kosovo, Fuele wrote an opinion piece for Pristina's Koha ditore daily describing it as a visit to friends one does not go to "emptyhanded." He voiced conviction that he would leave Kosovo with guarantees from partners there that everything would be done to come closer to European standards.
SERBIA – ECONOMY
PETROVIC: GREAT AGROCOOPERATION OPPORTUNITIES WITH AUSTRIA
VIENNA, March 26 (Beta) - Agriculture, Trade, Forestry and Water Management Minister Dusan Petrovic said in Vienna on March 26 that there are great opportunities for Serbia and Austria to significantly improve cooperation in food production. While visiting Vienna, Petrovic met with his Austrian counterpart Nikolaus Berlakovich, and the main topic of discussion was Austria's involvement as partner country and Austrian companies at the large Agriculture Fair, which will be held in Novi Sad in May. According to a statement issued by his ministry, Petrovic recalled that trade between Serbia and Austria is growing and that Serbian exports increased by USD60 million last year. He also said that agriculture cooperation with Austria is a great chance for small and mediumsized enterprises in Serbia, which could achieve great progress in food processing.
U.S. INVESTS USD810 MILLION IN SERBIA IN LAST 10 YEARS
NOVI SAD, March 26 (Beta) - The United States government has invested USD810 million in Serbia over the last 10 years, said U.S. Ambassador Mary Warlick at a ceremony in Novi Sad marking the 10th anniversary of the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). She said that more than USD660 million of that sum have been directed through USAID. USAID in Serbia Mission Director Susan Fritz said the organization has helped issue the first municipal bond of the city of Novi Sad, the first bond of its kind in Serbia. The U.S. ambassador said that American companies have shown interest in investing in Serbia and announced that the company Johnson Controls should open an automobile seat factory in Serbia this year. In an interview with Radio Television Vojvodina, she said that the American companies interested in investing in Serbia understood the specific situation U.S. Steel which pulled out of Serbia found itself in, considering that the operating losses were also caused by the conditions on the global market. Speaking about the elections in Serbia on May 6, which have also been called in Kosovo, Warlick said that the U.S. agrees with UNMIK that the holding of local elections in Kosovo is neither feasible nor appropriate. She confirmed that she will not remain as U.S. ambassador to Belgrade until the end of her mandate, and that the future ambassador will most likely come sometime during summer.