Belgrade, February 28, 2012
EU'S GENERAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL / SERBIA'S CANDIDATE MEMBER STATUS
TADIC EXPECTS AFFIRMATION SERBIA IS ON RIGHT TRACK
BRUSSELS, Feb. 28 (Beta) - President Boris Tadic voiced expectation, during a break of the EU ministerial meeting, that European institutions will confirm that Serbia is on the right track.I do not want to indulge in speculations, but I expect the European institutions will affirm that Serbia is on the right track, Tadic told journalists. We expected obstacles, it is not over yet, we are working on a positive decision, the president added.
Tadic qualified as unjustified the remarks put forward by Romania. Serbia and Romania have a long tradition of friendly relations, but the remarks that were presented today are unjustified, he underlined. According to him, Serbia has fulfilled all conditions for obtaining the date for the start of accession talks as well, the only obstacle being the Kosovo issue.
ROMANIA STILL CONDITIONING
BRUSSELS, Feb. 28 (Beta) - Despite expectations that the debate on Serbia's candidacy for EU membership would be a short one, three hours have already elapsed because of Romania's strong position, sources from the European Commission said a little before 1 p.m..The debate, which began around 10.30 a.m., has been prolonged due to Romania's insisting that the item referring to the status of Vlach minority in Serbia be included in the conclusions.
Although this condition has been met, the Romanians are still dissatisfied with the formulation.It is not clear what they really want, said an unnamed EC official, who is attending the meeting. However, he expects that accord will be reached soon, and the meeting will be concluded by lunch-time. Serbian President Boris Tadic, who is visiting Brussels, is expected to shortly address the press.
TADIC & ASHTON EXPECT CANDIDATE STATUS FOR SERBIA ON FEB. 28.
BRUSSELS, Feb. 27 (Beta) - President Tadic and European Union High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton voiced high hopes that the EU Council of Ministers will approve Serbia's candidate member status on Feb. 28.
Tadic underscored that he felt Serbia had deserved it, stressing that it was "my country's strategic goal to become a member state of the EU" and that "we share the values and positions of EU countries and are keeping Serbia on that course."
Ashton said she had long believed that Serbia belonged in the EU, adding that she sincerely hoped that the council would take the next step on Feb. 28 toward making that decision. She told Tadic that this would be a reflection of his leadership role, his courage and dedication to his own people.
"I want to give you credit, President Tadic, on your leadership role and your work and the work of your colleagues to advance and support the future of your country," Ashton said.
She pointed out that an important agreement was made between Belgrade and Pristina only two days ago, and described it as a turning point.
Tadic said he was "very happy" that the deal on Kosovo's regional representation and the integrated crossing management had been reached.
TADIC, DACIC & DELEVIC, WILL MEET ROMPUY & BARROSO
BRUSSELS, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –Foreign ministers of EU member countries will decide Tuesday about Serbia's readiness for EU candidate status.Serbian President Boris Tadic, who is in Brussels as the head of a delegation which includes Interior Minister Ivica Dacic and Director of the European Integration Office of the Government of Serbia Milica Delevic, will meet Tuesday with European Council President Herman van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Tadic is expected to address the public after the ministers announce the decision on Serbia's candidacy. The decision will become final once it is confirmed by EU heads of state and government, who will meet on Thursday and Friday.
WESTERWELLE: GREEN LIGHT FOR SERBIA
BRUSSELS, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle announced early on Tuesday, ahead of a European Council meeting, that Germany will give Serbia the green light for EU candidate status.The German government will back the green light for candidacy," Westerwelle told journalists when entering the European Council building.
We think that Serbia has fulfilled all that it was required to, and now it is for Europe to do its part of the job, he said.EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton was also optimistic about today's meeting. When asked whether Serbia would be granted candidate status today, she said she hoped that would be the case. A few more ministers, including Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal and his Finnish counterpart Alexander Stubb, also stated they would support Serbia.
NETHERLANDS RATIFIES SAA BETWEEN EU AND SERBIA
BELGRADE, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –The Netherlands has ratified the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between the EU and Serbia, the Dutch embassy in Belgrade has stated.The Netherlands ratified the SAA between the EU, its members and the Republic of Serbia on February 27, says the statement posted on the embassy website.
The embassy points out that the EU and Serbia signed the SAA in Luxembourg on April 29, 2008, and that it has to be ratified by all 27 members in order to enter into force.The SAA still needs to be ratified by Belgium, Romania and Lithuania.
BELGRADE – PRISTINA AGREEMENT / REACTIONS
STEFANOVIC: NO INFORMATION ABOUT BREAK IN DIALOGUE
BELGRADE, Feb. 27 (Tanjug) –- Head of Belgrade's negotiating team in the dialogue with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic stated that Belgrade has no information about a potential break in the dialogue until the parliamentary elections in Serbia are over.
Commenting on the statement of the EU mediator Robert Cooper for the Pristina-based daily Zeri, who said that the dialogue would continue after the elections in Serbia, Stefanovic told Tanjug that there was no mention of this in the talks with Cooper and that Belgrade is willing to return to the negotiating table.We believe that we are prepared to continue the dialogue at any point because there are still some topics that have not been resolved, but which are rather important, Stefanovic told.
He noted that Belgrade is interested in tabling the issues of missing persons, return of Serbs to Kosovo and restitution of property.These topics are very important for us but they still have not been resolved, Stefanovic said and recalled that the issues of telecommunications and electricity have been opened in the dialogue so far, as the matters on which the stands of the two sides are most remote.In the talks with the EU mediator, officials will specify the topics that would be tabled, Stefanovic said.
BELGRADE WOULD AGREE TO RESUME TALKS AFTER ELECTION
BELGRADE, Feb. 27 (Tanjug) –If EU facilitator in the talks between Belgrade and Pristina Robert Cooper proposes to resume the talks after the election in Serbia, Belgrade will accept that, head of the Belgrade team for the negotiations Borislav Stefanovic said."We will definitely consult with Cooper and if that is his suggestion, we are going to accept it,"
Stefanovic told reporters at the Serbian National Library, where he attended the ceremony for the 180th anniversary of that institution.It is a good thing for the talks to continue after the election, because it will allow the new government to resume its dialogue with Pristina with renewed capacity and legitimacy, he added.Belgrade waited several months for Pristina to complete its elections, he pointed out.
STEFANOVIC: NO TRAP IN LAST ITEM IN AGREEMENT
BELGRADE, Feb. 27 (Tanjug) –The last item in the Agreement Regarding Regional Representation of Pristina, which says that the "arrangements are adopted on an interim basis," does not hold any traps, but on the contrary protects Serbian state interests, said head of Belgrade's team in the dialogue with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic."
This formulation further highlights the fact this is not a true interstate agreement, but a simple agreement between two sides on a particular issue. Also, it opens up room to possibly find a better solution in the future, naturally with the consent of both sides," Stefanovic said for daily Vecernje Novosti. He believes any unilateral attempts on the part of Pristina to eliminate the footnote referencing Resolution 1244 and the opinion of the International Court of Justice would be unsuccessful, because Brussels will notify all regional organizations that representatives of Kosovo can appear only under the agreed formula."
In any case, the government will ratify the agreement at one of its upcoming sessions and probably pass an instruction for how our delegations are to act in case of any incidents from Pristina," said Stefanovic.In a statement for the daily Politika, the head of Belgrade's negotiating team pointed out that Pristina cannot be represented in the UN Security Council, OSCE, the Council of Europe, or other international organizations."This agreement refers to regional organizations, of which there are about 30 and Pristina is already a member of over 90 percent of them," Stefanovic said.
ASHTON: LONG WAY AHEAD OF KOSOVO
BRUSSELS, Feb. 27 (Tanjug) –EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton expressed some reserve as regards Kosovo's ambitions to start the process of European integration in the foreseeable future.A long path lies ahead of Kosovo, and a number of steps need to be taken in the time to come, Ashton said responding to the question as to whether Kosovo can establish a contractual relationship with the EU and be granted a feasibility study just like other countries in the region.
After the agreement on regional cooperation was reached, Ashton said that it is of key importance that Kosovo can now speak on its own behalf. She recalled that the European Commission made public its intention to grant a feasibility study to Kosovo, but this does mean that this will automatically come true.Ashton made the statement after the first meeting day of the Ministerial Council in Brussels, where the issue of Kosovo-Metohija was discussed, among other matters. Ministers should state their opinion on the feasibility study for Kosovo.
MIHAJLOVIC: MOST VLACHS DO NOT CONSIDER ROMANIA MOTHERLAND
BELGRADE, Feb. 27 (Beta) - Miletic Mihajlovic, Serbian MP and vice chairman of the Vlach National Council, said that most Vlachs in Serbia do not see Romania as their motherland, nor do they consider themselves part of the Romanian nation.
Mihajlovic told reporters at the Serbian parliament that he had spent Feb. 21 to 23 in Bucharest with a Serbian parliamentary delegation, where topics of discussion included economic and crossborder cooperation, but that there was also mention of the socalled Vlach issue. He said Vlachs in Serbia insisted on their selfidentification because it was their right according to the constitution of Serbia, but also because the right to free selfdetermination was a recognized standard in Europe.
Mihajlovic said noone, including the neighboring state, had the right to pressure Vlachs with regard to how they would call themselves.
Media in Serbia said earlier that Romania might block the granting of the status of European Union candidate member to Serbia, demanding the improvement of the position of the Vlach minority in Serbia.
MACAU AND SERBIA ABOLISH VISAS
MACAU, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –Representatives of the Republic of Serbia and the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Macau signed Tuesday an agreement on mutual abolishment of travel visas, China Radio International has reported.The agreement was signed by Serbian Ambassador to China Miomir Udovicki and Macau's Secretary for Administration and Justice Florinda Chan.Both sides expressed expectation that the agreement will contribute to economic cooperation between Serbia and Macau, as well as boost tourism, China Radio International wrote on its website.
The agreement is a result of mutual respect and trust between the two sides and overall excellent relations between Serbia and China, which have a strategic partnership.The radio reminds that last November Serbia signed a similar agreement on visa abolishment with the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong.
SERBIA – ECONOMY
MINISTER ON COOPERATION WITH EUROPEAN COMMISSION
BRUSSELS, Feb. 27 (Beta) - Agriculture and Trade Minister Dusan Petrovic reached a cooperation agreement in Brussels at a meeting with European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier.
"We reached a technical agreement on cooperation because there are many more important things which need to be done in order to achieve European standards both in terms of passing laws and their implementation. We are boldly moving ahead on the path toward the European Union," said Petrovic after the meeting.
During his oneday working visit to Brussels, Petrovic also participated in the "Discover Serbia as an Investment Destination" forum, held under the auspices of the Friends of Europe research organization.
PAJTIC: CANDIDATE STATUS WILL BOOST COOPERATION WITH HUNGARY
NOVI SAD, Feb. 27 (Beta) - Vojvodina PM Bojan Pajtic said that the status of candidate member of the European Union would allow Serbia to further advance its economic ties to Hungary. "I hope the mutual economic cooperation and investments will be on par with our mutual relations in other areas," Pajtic told Imre Pozsgay, advisor to the prime minister of Hungary, according to the Vojvodina Information Bureau.
The Hungarian visitor voiced conviction that the planned cooperation in the interstate Mixed Commission for Economic Cooperation and the Business Council, made up of businesspeople from both countries, would give a new contribution to the quality of Hungarian-Serbian economic relations.
ARSIC: THERE IS ROOM FOR IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH BELGIUM
BELGRADE, Feb. 27 (Beta) - Newlyappointed Serbian Ambassador to Belgium Vesna Arsic said that there was enough room for Serbia and Belgium's business relations to improve, despite potential recession in the European Union.
At the Serbia-Belgium business forum, which was held at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, she underscored that she would work with the Belgian ambassador on getting a stimulation and investment protection agreement signed, as well as an agreement on avoiding double taxation.
Belgian Ambassador to Serbia Alain Kundycki said that Serbia had great potential to interest Belgian investors, but that this potential was not well known in Belgium.
He stressed that economic cooperation between the two countries was very important in order for Serbia to "remain heavily involved on its path toward the EU."
CIRIC NOT EXPECTING SERBIA'S CREDIT RATING TO BE LOWERED
BELGRADE, Feb. 27 (Beta) - Economy Minister Nebojsa Ciric said that he was not expecting Serbia's credit rating to be lowered because of the "freezing" of the arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"For the time being, there is no reason for our credit rating to be lowered. What was agreed with the IMF is being implemented and I really see no reason, nor do I expect the credit rating to be lowered," he told BETA.
Serbia's credit rating is, according to the agency Standard & Poor's, BB with a stable outlook, BB minus according to Fitch and DB4d with a moderate business risk according to Dun & Bradstreet.
The minister underscored that it was good that the IMF "did not negatively evaluate" the work Serbia has done so far and that the arrangement was not discontinued.