Daily Survey  
Daily Survey

Belgrade, February 29, 2012



BRUSSELS, Feb. 28 (Beta) –All members of the European Union, including Romania, at the meeting in Brussels on Feb. 28, recommended to the EU leaders to grant Serbia EU member candidate status, but this issue will be debated further at the EU summit on March 1 and 2, the EU Presidency stated.
The Danish minister for European affairs, Nicolai Wammen, declared at the end of the session of EU foreign ministers that consensus had been reached over the conclusion that Serbia had fulfilled the criteria and added that, from his point of view, Serbia is now at the point of returning into the European family.
Naturally, there will be more debate in the forthcoming days, but the important thing is that we all EU member countries have managed to recommend granting membership candidate status to Serbia, Wammen added.
At the Feb. 28 session, Romania expressed reserve about granting candidate status to Serbia and requested additional guarantees that Belgrade will implement the laws on national minorities. Romanian representatives did not explicitly state that the issue is the Wallachian minority in Serbia, although it has been explained unofficially that this represented a problem for Bucharest.
However, according to Romanian sources in Brussels, one should expect the Romanian president, Traian Basescu, to support granting candidate status to Serbia at the EU summit. Asked about speculation that the real reason for Bucharest's dissatisfaction is the refusal of Union members to allow Romania to enter the Schengen zone, Wammen said that the reasons for Romania's hesitation is something that Romania should be asked about.
He pointed out that a new chapter has opened in relations between the EU and Serbia, and that this is proof that the policy of admitting new members to the EU continues.


BRUSSELS, Feb. 29 (Tanjug) –European Union leaders will decide about Serbia's candidate status on Thursday night, during a working dinner on the first day of the Council of the EU's session in Brussels, it is said in Council President Herman van Rompuy's invitation to participants of the summit.In the letter, Rompuy presents the agenda of the summit, which puts the decision on Serbia during the dinner, between a discussion of the situation in the eurozone and a debate on the extension of the Schengen agreement.


BRUSSELS, Feb. 28 (Beta) –President Tadic has said that the EU's Council of Ministers "has only recommended" making Serbia a candidate for membership in the EU and that "there is still the possibility that even this recommendation might be revoked."
Tadic also said that, pending a final decision on the candidacy on March 12, he intended to refrain from making any predictions or pronouncements, optimistic or otherwise.
He undescored that membership in the EU "is Serbia's strategic goal," and that the status of a candidate was important because it led to the start of negotiations and was necessary for indepth changes in Serbian society and also as "a clear guarantee for any prospective investor, in the absense of which no new jobs can open, that Serbia is on the right road."


BRUSSELS, Feb. 28 (Beta) –European Commissioner Stefan Fuele "warmly welcomed" in Brussels the EU Council of Minister's recommendations that Serbia be handed the status of a candidate for membership, adding that he was confident that the leaders of the EU would approve Serbia's candidacy request at a summit on March 12.
He attributed this to results in talks between Belgrade and Pristina and Serbia's fulfillment of political and economic criteria for the candidacy. Fuele recalled that to start negotiations on membership it is necessary "to achieve a visible and enduring improvement in relations with Kosovo, which is part of the conditions in the process of stabilization and association."
"This means fully honoring the measures for including all sides in regional cooperation, fully honoring the provisions of the regional contract on energy, finding solutions for telecommunications, as well as the continued, earnest application of all existing agreements and active cooperation with EULEX," Fuele said.
He recalled that the "EU Council of Ministers has charged the European Commission with composing a report on whether or not Serbia is fulfilling its priorities, as soon as sufficient progress is achieved."


BRUSSELS, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –European Council President Herman Van Rompuy confirmed Tuesday, after meeting with Serbian President Boris Tadic in Brussels, his support to the European perspective of Serbia.President Tadic has steered Serbia closer to the European Union with vision, courage and determination.
His country has addressed the three requirements set out by the European Council on 9 December 2011, which relate to regional cooperation, the integrated management for crossing points (IBM) and cooperation with EULEX/KFOR, he said.The General Affairs Council today has examined and confirmed Serbia's progress and recommended to grant Serbia candidate status, Van Rompuy said.It is my intention to bring this issue to the European Council on 1-2 March 2012 with the purpose of confirming Serbia's candidate status, he said.Today's meeting provided the opportunity once again to reaffirm our shared commitment to Serbia's European perspective, he said.
In this context, I congratulated President Tadic on the successful outcome of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue meeting, which was held in Brussels on 22-24 February 2012, Van Rompuy said.I should like to pay tribute to both sides for reaching two important agreements, which will bring long term political and practical benefits for Serbia, Kosovo and all the people in theregion, he said.It is my hope that Serbia will continue to support regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations in the Western Balkans.
The implementation of the agreements achieved so far remains key, Van Rompuy said.Tadic met Monday and Tuesday in Brussels with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.


BRUSSELS, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –European Parliament rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin said Tuesday that Serbia deserves to get candidate status for EU membership and urged Belgrade to soon secure the start of accession talks as well.Serbia has been fighting persistently for candidate status and it fully deserves it, Kacin said in a release after EU foreign ministers recommended to the European Council to give Serbia the candidacy.
He noted that Serbia can and should be more ambitious and secure accession talks in the near future.This especially refers to chapters 23 and 24 on the judiciary and fundamental rights, so that the European perspective would become more visible and tangible to the Serbian people.European reforms will bring a better life for the people, growth for the Serbian economy, and progress for the entire Western Balkans.
Serbia has the capacity to make significant progress, Kacin said.It is time for Belgrade to speed up reforms, primarily by ensuring the rule of law and systematically fighting corruption, he said.


BRUSSELS, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –Head of the European Parliament's delegation for South East Europe Eduard Kukan welcome the decision of EU ministers to recommend that Serbia be given candidate status for EU membership and expressed hope the decision will be confirmed by the European Council.I also wish to congratulate representatives of Serbia on their efforts to secure status. This will be a significant step forward in the process of Serbia's European integration, which will hopefully encourage further reforms and the country's pro-European orientation, Kukan said in a release.
According to him, candidate status will cement the mutual obligations and responsibilities between the EU and Serbia.At the same time, it is a signal that progress in European integration is possible when the criteria are met, Kukan added.He also welcomed the proposal of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele to start work on a feasibility study for a stabilization and association agreement between Kosovo and the EU.


BELGRADE, Feb. 28 (Beta) –Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic stated that obtaining candidate status is a kind of crown on what the government has accomplished during its mandate, that it speaks of the reputation of the country and that it represents a launching pad for further reforms and activities.
The chief of the negotiating team, Borislav Stefanovic estimated that, by obtaining candidacy, Serbia had finished a very important stage and confirmed that it is a prosperous country that has a future. He said that this means confirmation of the credit rating and security for investors.
MD Dragan Sutanovac, estimated that granting EU candidate status was "the final and official confirmation" that Serbia "is well on the way and has successfully taken the necessary steps to truly become a developed, democratic, progressive European country."


BELGRADE, Feb. 29 (Tanjug) –Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Vincent Degert said Wednesday that Serbia's future is in the EU and that a recommendation was given to grant Serbia candidate status for EU membership.Degert told Pink television that 27 ministers of EU member countries agreed that Serbia has fulfilled everything that was expected of it in order to get candidate status.He said Serbia was expected to cooperate in the sense of joint border management, inclusive representation of Kosovo, which means both Serbia and Kosovo can take part together at regional meetings and sign agreements which are important for the region, and the possibility for EULEX and KFOR to operate efficiently.
Degert said there was a debate on the always sensitive issue of minorities, and commented on the position of the Romanian minority in Serbia, expressing satisfaction with the situation in the northern province of Vojvodina.According to him, representatives of Romania expressed concerns about the right to religion and language of the Romanian minority in eastern Serbia and want to see it improve.
Asked if Serbia's EU path will resemble that of Croatia or of Macedonia, which has been a candidate for membership for seven years without starting accession talks, Degert said he came to Serbia with the task to speed things up as much as possible, adding that Montenegro will start moving fast toward the EU this year and it is important that no time is wasted with Serbia.As far as the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Degert said a lot of progress has been made in the last two years and agreements reached which improve the daily life of people in Kosovo and that problems need to be solved together.
We want to see that both Serbia and Kosovo have a European future, a European perspective, said Degert. Asked whether as two independent countries, Degert said this is part of the problem which needs to be solved and that it is a process.Asked when Serbia will join the EU, Degert said accession talks last between three to seven years, depending on Serbia's efficiency.


WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 (Tanjug) –The U.S. backs Serbia's aspirations for EU entry, and the U.S. will in the future support the Serbian people in achieving their EU objectives, Tanjug learned at the U.S. Department of State in view of the recommendation by the General Affairs Council that the EU should grant Serbia the candidate status at the forthcoming summit on March 1-2.
Tanjug's source underlined that the U.S. would encourage Serbia to continue demonstrating commitment to the implementation of the agreements reached in the dialogue with Pristina.The latest agreements between Serbia and Kosovo are good, they strengthen the potentials of both countries for getting closer to their EU future, the same source said.Chairman of the EU General Affairs Council and Danish Foreign Minister Nicolai Wammen said late on Tuesday afternoon that after several hours of debate, EU ministers recommended that the EU Council should grant Serbia the candidate status at the coming two-day summit which is to be held on March 1-2.



BELGRADE, Feb. 28 (Beta) –Activists in eastern Serbia are divided regarding the identity and origins of Vlachs and their community in Serbia, several of whom claim that they are not surprised by Romania's stance that approving Serbia's EU candidacy should hinge on whether or not the state provides additional guarantees to Serbia's Vlach community.
According to a census taken in Timocka Krajina in 2002, a total of 40,000 people registered as ethnic Vlachs, while 4,500 registered as Romanians. The results of last year's census have not been fully processed.
The debate on whether or not this ethnic group should be called "Vlachs" or "Romanians" has crossed beyond linguistic lines and established two distinct schools of thought. One camp feels that Vlachs are ethnically Serbs, while the other claims that they are in fact Romanians.
The Vlach question was actually instigated by the Romanian media, at the end of 2001 that when it claimed that a year after the fall of the Milosevic regime, the democratic changes in the country had yet to benefit Timocka Krajina's Vlach community.
According to the Romanian media, there are several hundred thousand Vlachs, or ethnic Romanians living in Timocka Krajina. Much higher figures were listed earlier by the media. Ethnologists believe that Vlachs and Romanians share the same ancestry, use the same language and have the same culture, yet desite this and living in basically the same area they lack a clear national identity. Those who call themselves Romanians claim that the language spoken by Vlachs is dialectal or archaic Romanian, intermixed with Serbian.


BELGRADE, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –President Tadic said that accession to the EU is a complex process, during which every EU member state could impose its own condition, but stressed that Serbia will not agree to impossible conditions, and will not give up on its principles.If we do not define red lines, no one will take us seriously, Tadic told RTS, adding that it also applies to the issue of Vlach minority.
"If Serbia showed weakness and agreed to blackmails, there would be no end to them. It is important that we stick firmly to our principles," the Serbian president said.The core of the issue of Vlach minority lies in the fact that Romania expects Vlachs residing in Serbia to declare themselves as members of the Romanian national minority, but some Vlachs oppose that, he explained."We understand Romania.
However, we cannot give up on our principles," Tadic said, underlining that one of these principles is the respect for international conventions on human rights, according to which each and every citizen of Serbia has the right to declare themselves freely.When asked what Serbia's next step would be, if the EU heads of states and governments approved the recommendation about Serbia's candidate status at the forthcoming summit on March 1-2, Tadic said that Serbia deserved to receive the date for commencement of accession talks and that the Kosovo issue is the only obstacle.
"I expect that we will get the date for commencement of accession talks in the foreseeable future. If the EU Council confirms the recommendation, we should instantly work on receiving the date for start of accession talks and that is an achievable goal," Tadic said.He once again said that he did not want to give forecasts as to the outcome of the meeting scheduled for March 1-2."My job is to work on that, and not to make forecasts. I will be in contact with the EU senior officials in the coming days. There would be a chance to celebrate the candidate status, but after it is all over," Tadic concluded.


VIENNA, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt Tuesday criticized Romania for lacking the European spirit due to its negative attitude regarding Serbia's EU candidate status.It is not very respectable to have states raise issues that are not a topic of the discussion, at the moment when we are trying to encourage Serbia. That shows a lack of a European spirit, Bildt wrote on twitter, without specifically mentioning Romania but obviously referring to that country.
At today's General Affairs Council at which Serbia's EU candidacy was discussed, Romania insisted that the Council's conclusions include an article on the position of the Vlach minority in Serbia.Even though this request was fulfilled, Romanians are still unsatisfied with the formulation of the text of the conclusion.It is not clear to us what they actually want, a European Commission official who attended the meeting stated.According to APA, Bildt earlier wrote on twitter that he is hoping for a green light on Serbia's EU candidacy.He also expects a step forward for Kosovo.


BRUSSELS, Feb. 29 (Tanjug) –The Romanian inclination to attach conditions to the consensus on Serbia's EU candidate status is a gratuitous act contrary to the EU spirit, Romanian MEP Corina Cretu stated, stressing that Bucharest should not use the Vlachs in Serbia to indirectly deliver a blow to the Netherlands.That would not change the Netherlands' veto against Bucharest's entry into the European Union's Schengen passport-free area, nor would do any good to the Vlachs in Serbia.
Moreover, it would not improve the position of Romania in the EU, said Cretu, who is Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Development at the European Parliament.It is only natural that Romania would like Romanians outside its borders to enjoy best possible standards in relation to freedoms, rights and preservation of national identity. But, that would not be resolved by moves bordering on blackmail, she said in a release, and Romanian national news agency Agerpres reported on.
She underlined that remaining objections to Serbia could be resolved during the stabilization and association process.We need not take extreme steps, while at the same time passively accepting the EU decisions that will have an adverse effect on our economic and social development in the long run, such as the financial stability treaty, Cretu said.



GENEVA, Feb. 29 (Tanjug) –Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said at the nineteenth regular session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council that an investigation into organ trafficking is conducted under the mandate of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and cautioned about serious violations of human rights in Kosovo and Metohija.Addressing the Council, Jeremic said that a credible and transparent investigation can only be conducted under the auspices of the UNSC.
"Those who are tasked with following the trail of evidence must not be impeded in their work in any way - whether on temporal or territorial jurisdiction pretexts, or on the scope or legitimacy of their mandate to do so. In our view, this cannot be achieved without the explicit support of the Security Council," Jeremic pointed out.As he put it, Serbia calls on EU Special Rapporteurs to devote particular attention to this case, and urges the member States to support Serbia's initiative to draw up a convention on organ trafficking in the scope of the United Nations.Saying that the Council of Europe has made tentative efforts to draft an appropriate convention, Jeremic added that Serbia is ready to initiate a process of negotiations leading to the adoption of legally-binding instrument against harvesting and trafficking in human organs, tissues and cells under the auspices of the United Nations."It is imperative for the full truth to come out," he stressed.
We have to uncover the destiny of hundreds of missing Kosovo Serbs we believe to have been the victims of these unspeakable acts. We must determine who gave the orders, and who carried them out. The covenant of silence must be broken, the head of the Serbian diplomacy stated.He recalled that more than a year has passed since the Council of Europe released a deeply disturbing report entitled "Inhuman Treatment of People and Illicit Trafficking in Human Organs in Kosovo", which contains detailed allegations of harvesting and smuggling of human organs before, during and after the 1999 conflict, and called on the UN member states to support Serbia's initiative.In our view, provisions ought to ensure that such atrocities are designated as crimes against humanity; when committed during an armed conflict, a war crime as well.
We respectfully urge the member states to join us, Jeremic said.He warned the UN Human Rights Council about violation of human rights of Serbs in the southern province of Kosovo and Metohija, recalling that with the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1244 in 1999, administrative authority was transferred to the United Nations Mission in Kosovo, which assumed responsibility for human and minority rights.On February 17th, 2008, the local ethnic-Albanian leadership unilaterally declared secession of the territory, and assumed UNMIK prerogatives without the consent of the Security Council, Jeremic noted.Multiple reports by successive UN Secretary-Generals have indicated widespread and persistent violations of the Kosovo Serb community's basic human rights. These include numerous ethnically-motivated murders, assaults, home invasions, burglaries, vehicle stoning, arson, private property usurpation, desecration of holy sites and cemeteries, and attacks on pilgrims and returning internally displaced persons, Jeremic underlined.
He pointed out that the situation was confirmed in reports and papers issued over the past years by UNESCO, UNDP, OSCE, Council of Europe, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, and Transparency International-and many others.Jeremic underlined that the Serbian Government is fully committed to overcoming the few remaining challenges in the field of human and minority rights."The Republic of Serbia has taken many concrete steps to further these goals in Southeast Europe-with our President, Boris Tadic, leading the way in closing some painful chapters of the recent history," the minister noted.According to Jeremic, a Donors Conference will be held in Sarajevo on April 24th that would help secure the funds for the assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons in the region and called on the international community to support the efforts.
"I hope the international community will continue to support our efforts, thus greatly contributing to the process of regional reconciliation," Jeremic said.The Serbian foreign minister is taking part in the 19th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, during which he will have a series of bilateral meetings with the foreign ministers of Denmark, the Netherlands, the Irish minister of European affairs, and colleagues from Estonia, Malaysia, Uruguay, Vietnam, Congo...


BELGRADE, Feb. 28 (Beta) –CE Parliamentary Assembly rapporteur Jean Charles Gardetto said on Feb. 28 that there were no legislative issues in Serbia in the area of gender equality. The difficulties lie in applying existing laws, while the causes are economic in nature and also rooted in low social awareness, Gadetto, who is due to hand in a report on "Gender Equality in South East Europe," said.
A statement said that Gardetto and DjukicDejanovic agreed that they were making efforts to overcome the situation and that the media played an important role in education and prevention.


MOSCOW, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –The participants of today's international conference on desintegration of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia held in Moscow agreed that it is very hard to compare the two historic events that marked the end of the 20th century, adding that it is important to understand them for the building of the future.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin assessed that these events were not only a starting point for the forming of new states, but also a cause of many political, economic, social and military problems that affected Europe and the world.Global challenges of the modern age dictate the need for integration and joint approach in solving problems, by using both national and international instruments, Karasin stated.
Former president of SFRJ and Croatia Stjepan Mesic, former prime minister of FRY Milan Panic, President of URS Mladjan Dinkic, and several diplomatic representatives of former Yugoslav states believe there is no doubt that the region's future is in the EU.


BELGRADE, Feb. 28 (Beta) –Since 2000, Japan has donated EUR460 million in aid to Serbia, the Japanese ambassador in Belgrade, Toshio Tsunozaki, stated on Feb. 28.
Speaking at a conference entitled "Japanese Development Cooperation with Serbia An Analysis of 10 Years of Experience," he said that the aid of the Japanese government was directed into various fields that are important for the life of the population, and added that Japan will continue to provide aid for Serbia.
Tsunozaki stressed that Serbia has potential for developing and for catching up with Japan in the economic sense, although it had lost ten years of progress during the 1990s. "What you should do is to be more accurate and precise where actual work is in question," Tsunozaki said.
Ognjen Maric, the deputy director of the Office for European Integration, pointed out that the importance of cooperation between Serbia and Japan is also evident by the fact that the regional head office of the Japanese Development Cooperation Agency (JICA) is situated in Belgrade. According to the statement, this Agency has an annual budget of EUR10 million and 96 offices throughout the world.


SUBOTICA, Feb. 29 (Tanjug) –Hungarian Consul General in Subotica Tamas Korsos has stated that more than 20,000 citizens from the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina have applied for the Hungarian citizenship so far.According to him, 10,000 of them have passed oaths of allegiance in Subotica's Consulate General of Hungary, while more than 2,000 Hungarian passports have already been issued.In a statement for the Hungarian Magyar Szo, Korsos stated that those who seek appointment for submitting the application for the citizenship will now wait less than a month, since the procedure has been simplified.



BELGRADE, Feb. 28 (Beta) –Serbian chief negotiator Borislav Stefanovic said that Belgrade would agree to take a break in the dialog with Kosovo until elections were over in Serbia if this was proposed by EU facilitator Robert Cooper.
Stefanovic recalled that there had previously been a severalmonthlong delay to ensure that Pristina had enough time to wrap up the electoral process in Kosovo. "That is a good thing because it makes it possible for the new Serbian government to continue in a renewed capacity and with fresh legitimacy from the citizens," Stefanovic said.
He said that there was not much time until the election in Serbia and that nothing would essentially be lost if the talks were rescheduled till after elections in Serbia.
The media in Pristina reported that Cooper had said that the dialog would continue after elections in Serbia and that the talks between Pristina and Belgrade had not commenced before the vote in Kosovo in 2010 and so politicians in Serbia would be extended the same time.


BRUSSELS, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –Kosovo appeared represented with an asterisk and footnote in an official document of the European Union (EU) Tuesday for the first time since Belgrade and Pristina reached the agreement on regional representation of Kosovo.
In the conclusions from today's EU General Affairs Council meeting, in which the Council of the European Union recommends that Serbia should be granted the EU membership candidate status, the word Kosovo is followed by an asterisk, and the footnote reads:"This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence."


PRISTINA, Feb. 28 (Tanjug) –Head of EULEX Xavier de Marnhac visited Tuesday the crossings of Brnjak and Jarinje (Gates 1 and 31) in order to assess the conditions on the ground, EULEX released in a statement, adding that despite the fact that the situation has improved recently, the Mission still lacks permanent and unconditional freedom of access in the north.De Marnhac conferred with EULEX, KFOR, and Kosovo personnel present at the Gates to hear their views as the traffic returns to the crossings.
EULEX continues to implement its mandate and support agreements reached in the EU-facilitated Dialogue, the statement reads." However, while the situation has improved recently, the Mission still lacks permanent and unconditional freedom of access in the north. This is a pre-condition for the successful implementation of the EULEX mandate," the statement concludes.



BELGRADE, Feb. 28 (Beta) –Nine Serbian companies, organized by the Serbian Investment and Exports Promotion Agency (SIEPA), will participate at the international fair of the building industry and interior design, Yugbuild, which will take place from Feb. 29 to March 3 in Krasnodar.
According to SIEPA, presented on the Serbian stand will be the companies Aling Conel, ElMet System, Masterplast, Maxima, Metalika Majur, the Spajic company, Tivi Abrazivi and Yum Commerce.
It was pointed out that the Yugbuild fair (www.yugbuild.com) in Krasnodar, at which SIEPA is organizing the appearance of Serbian companies for the first time, represents one of the largest and most significant building fairs.


BELGRADE, Feb. 29 (Tanjug) –Deputy Director and Coordinator for EU Funds of the Serbian Office for European Integration Ognjen Miric stated that once it gets the EU candidate status, Serbia can count on around EUR 200 million from the funds, adding that an increase may be expected as part of the next EU budget.
Miric explained that the EU budget has already been distributed, so the candidate status can not bring Serbia more than EUR 200 million.He said for Tanjug that the EU budget will be in effect by 2013, and that a new one will be drafted for the period from 2014 to 2020, adding that it is still early to speak about the amounts that each country will get.
"The very fact that Serbia will achieve the EU candidate status implies that it will get more funds this and the next year. This year, the EU member states are discussing a new budget, which will be larger than the previous one by EUR 2.6 billion, and that is good both for Serbia and all other western Balkan states," Miric said.
Miric said that the EU has envisaged nearly EUR 2.6 billion more for the western Balkan countries, and proposed EUR 14.1 billion for the new financial period, bearing in mind that Croatia as the future EU member will not use these funds."In the manner, the western Balkan countries and Turkey will get more funds," Miric noted.