Daily Survey

Belgrade, July 30, 2012



BELGRADE, July 29 (Tanjug) - Serbia's new Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkic said Sunday there would be no change of course in the country's foreign policy.
Mrkic explained that preservation of territorial integrity and sovereignty would remain the basis of Serbia's foreign policy, and fullfledged EU membership its priority. "The essence of our foreign policy is known to all, as are its foundations the interests of our country. Territorial integrity, sovereignty these are the foundations. We know what the pillars and the priorities are, and among these we single out, much like our predecessors, our path toward full EU accession, and we will continue in this manner," Mrkic said in an interview for Tanjug, his first since taking over the office.
According to Mrkic, major changes in foreign policy are not customary in stable democracies such as Serbia. "For the most part, we will continue with the same foreign policy. It is also clear from the statements of President Tomislav Nikolic and Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, when they spoke about foreign policy, that there is no change in course," he said.
"There will certainly be some minor modifications due to the fact we have a new president, a new parliament and a new government," Mrkic said.
Asked about his view of the current relations with Moscow and Washington and what he would insist on in the future, Mrkic said Serbia had "extremely good relations" with Russia, and wanted to further and deepen its existing solid partnership with Washington. "We are in a strategic partnership and Russia is an important partner and ally to Serbia, which helps us preserve our territorial integrity," said Mrkic.
At the same time, Belgrade will endeavor to make its relationship with the United States "as wellthought out, diverse and fruitful as possible for both sides." "We will have a better idea of ways to further our relations after we meet with U.S. officials, and we will know more specifics in the coming days and weeks," said Mrkic.
Talking about future contacts with EU officials aimed at accelerating Serbia's EU integration, Mrkic recalled that "there is intensive communication with all representatives and allies from Europe." "There will be meetings with senior officials in Brussels, the arrangements are being made and we will have communication as intensive as our predecessors did, if not more so," he added, unwilling to reveal when his first meeting with a Brussels official could take place.


BELGRADE, July 27 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic has recalled several ambassadors, including those in Vatican and Spain, it was published in the Official Gazette.
With a decree dated July 20, the president recalled Serbia's Ambassador to the Holy See Vladeta Jankovic and Ambassador to Spain Jela Bacovic. He also recalled Ambassador to Angola Danilo Milic.
Ambassador to Indonesia Zoran Kazazovic, who also served as a nonresident ambassador to Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore and the Philippines, was also recalled.
He has been replaced by Jovan Jovanovic, according to the Official Gazette.
Dragan Bisenic has been appointed the new nonresident ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, with a seat in Cairo.
The new nonresident ambassador to the Kingdom of Bhutan, with a seat in New Delhi, is Jovan Mirilovic.


LONDON, July 29 (Tanjug) - Serbia's Ambassador in London Dejan Popovic hosted a reception Saturday night for the country's Olympic athletes and members of the diaspora and the diplomatic corps, who were greeted by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and President of the Olympic Committee of Serbia Vlade Divac.
Serbia's first medalist in London, Andrija Zlatic, who took the bronze in the 10m Air Rifle on Saturday, got a huge applause, while Nikolic was especially encouraging of the women's volleyball team, which lost its opening match to China. "It is a great pleasure and honor to wave the Serbian flag in the stands. There are no whistles for our country, our athletes are feared, they are a target and a goal. We will have to invest a lot more in these young people and all those who compete in knowledge, skills and sport, because we owe that to our children, especially the best ones," said the president.
He urged the volleyball team not to give up. "Keep your heads up. Some won and some lost today. When Serbia wins, all our defeats will seem insignificant. I wish you all the best and long live Serbia!"


BANJA LUKA, July 29 (Tanjug) - Serbia's Deputy Prime Minister Rasim Ljajic said Sunday the new government would continue pursuing normalization of relations with the countries in the region and furthering economic cooperation, while respecting the territorial integrity of all countries created after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
He added the new government would continue the job former president Boris Tadic had been doing until now. "It is in Serbia's interest to support in every way the preservation of Bosnia Herzegovina’s integrity, because in doing this it also protects its own integrity, which is now threatened because of Kosovo. Only a principled policy can produce results," Ljajic told the press in Sarajevo.
Ljajic said the priorities of the new government were fighting the economic crisis and solving the country's two biggest problems unemployment and cash flow insolvency of the domestic economy.
"We are extremely dedicated to getting a starting date for accession talks with the EU by the end of the year. In order for this to happen, we need to implement all agreements reached in the technical dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina," said Ljajic, who is also the minister of foreign and domestic trade and telecommunications.



BELGRADE, July 27 (Tanjug) - Serbia's Prime Minister Ivica Dacic informed on Friday EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton that Serbia was steady on its European path and prepared to continue reforms in accordance with European values.
There is a broad support for it from the voters and parliament members, which is why getting the start date for the accession talks would be recognition of Serbia's efforts so far, Dacic told Ashton over the phone.
He said he had met with a large number of international and regional leaders and told them all Serbia would continue to be a reliable partner and a pillar of peace and stability in the region. "He also expressed a firm intention by the Serbian government to implement the agreements reached so far in the talks between Belgrade and Pristina and continue the dialogue on a political level in order to get to practical and sustainable solutions that lead to a normal life for the ordinary people in Kosovo, both Serbs and ethnic Albanians," the statement says.
Ashton welcomed the formation of the new government in Serbia, congratulated the new prime minister with wishes of continuing the existing good level of cooperation and stated her personal commitment towards a better European future for the people of Serbia.
The new government faces difficult tasks, and the EU is willing to support Serbia in tackling them, she noted, stressing the importance of regional cooperation and the necessity to continue the talks between Belgrade and Pristina as soon as possible, with support and involvement of the EU.
The two agreed to meet right after the summer holiday break in EU institutions in order to continue cooperation and agree on Serbia's future important steps towards the EU.


BRUSSELS, July 27 (Tanjug) - EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fuele Friday welcomed the formation of the new Serbian government and called for the continuation of reforms and the promotion of regional cooperation.
Ashton welcomes the formation of the government and congratulates the Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for the high representative, told Tanjug.
She pointed to the numerous challenges ahead of Serbia, which is why it is important to continue the necessary reforms.
The high representative expects Serbia to continue with reforms and with a wide agenda of European integration, Kocijancic said.
Moreover, the EU expects from Serbia further work to develop regional cooperation and continuation of the reconciliation process, which includes the continuation of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as the implementation of agreements reached so far, Ashton's spokeswoman said.
Ashton congratulated Dacic in person by telephone Friday after the parliament session at which the government was voted in.
Fuele joined Ashton's congratulations in a written statement.


WASHINGTON, July 27 (Tanjug) - Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said on Friday that the new Serbian government would have to prove its European credentials by its future actions.
"New government in Serbia today. It will have to prove its European credentials by its actions. Words are good but deeds are what counts," Bildt posted on his Twitter.



LONDON, July 29 (Tanjug) - President Tomislav Nikolic has told a British newspaper in an interview that Serbs in Kosovo are living under the threat of genocide. Any attempt to impose the Priština government's authority could lead to their exodus, he noted.
"What if the Serbs move out. Who will accept the results of such genocide? That is one of the definitions of genocide: when you expel 40,000 people, regardless of whether they are women, men, (civilians or) soldiers, and when you change the ethnic composition of the territory. That is genocide."
Nikolic, who is currently in London, also told the Guardian newspaper in an interview that "there is a danger that Priština would be prepared to go that far", and added: The only armed force there, apart from the international community, is (ethnic) Albanian. I am convinced they wouldn't mind doing that immediately."
According to Nikolic, "the only thing preventing such action was the presence of NATO troops".
He was speaking about the northern, majority Serb part of Kosovo that does not recognize the authority of the Kosovo Albanian government in Priština, and rejects the ethnic Albanian unilateral declaration of independence made in early 2008.
According to the report, he also "signaled that he would take a tougher stance" in the ongoing Belgrade Priština talks, saying that so far, concessions were required to be made only by Belgrade, and that now similar requirements should be put before Priština:
"What compromise has been done by Priština up to now? None. All the talks have been on things Serbia will accept. Serbia hasn't set any conditions," he said. "It's not a compromise if Serbia is always backtracking step by step. It's not a compromise if Priština says its independence is recognized and that it will realize its independence on our territory."
Nikolic "underlined an earlier declaration that he would never exercise power in Priština", writes the daily. He also called on Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga to admit she would never govern in northern Kosovska Mitrovica.
Asked whether that implied the partition of Kosovo, he replied: "I don't know, because if you told me 20 years ago there would be no Yugoslavia, I wouldn't have believed you. If you told me Serbia and Montenegro would split, I would have also told you that was impossible. I would also have said that Germany would never reunite, but life brings us surprises. I can't run policy by imagining things."
The Guardian also stressed that Nikolic used to be a prominent member of the Serb Radicals (SRS), a party led by Vojislav Šešelj, who is on trial in The Hague.
"I have committed no crime. And I am not ashamed of anything I have done since 1990 to today... These socalled paramilitary units were in line with the then Constitution of Yugoslavia. In that time, I was aware that everybody must do everything he can to defend his people and country... All peoples from the former Yugoslav took part in the war. Some of them to gain states; the Serbs to save a state. But the Serbs did not manage to accomplish their task."
According to the interview, the president "claimed the fact that the Serbs lost the war explained why there were more Serbs than other ethnicities facing charges at the war crimes tribunal, and not that it was Serbs under Slobodan Miloševic who committed the majority of atrocities."
He refused to confirm whether he would have handed over Bosnian Serb was crimes suspects Radovan Karadžic or Ratko Mladic as his predecessor Boris Tadic had done.
Nikolic also "repeated his denial", writes the daily, "that the mass killings of Muslims from the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995 constituted genocide".
"I cannot go further than the Serbian parliament," he said, in reference to the parliament resolution adopted in 2010, which condemned the war crime.
Nikolic was also quoted as saying that "his greatest challenge was to fill the estimated USD 3bn hole in the budget". He asked for international assistance and claimed his country's needs were small in comparison with the scale of the eurozone crisis, but warned creditors against making their help conditional on Serbia making concessions over Kosovo:
"Maybe someone thought we were ready to make various concessions if we were poor. But we expect the international community and our friends to help us to recover the economy in line with their duties and obligations. We don't want be treated like country cousins."


SMEDEREVSKA PALANKA, July 29 (Tanjug) - Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic warned Sunday that the statement of former UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari that Serbia should not be allowed into the EU before it recognizes Kosovo was counterproductive and that Brussels needed to react to it.
"There is no need for any harsh reactions. I expect the EU to react before anyone else, because Ahtisaari is certainly not speaking on their behalf," Dacic told reporters while visiting the village of Ratari in the central Serbian municipality of Smederevska Palanka.
Ahtisaari's statement is especially counterproductive in light of the fact Belgrade and Pristina are trying to resolve their issues through talks, said Dacic.
"He should advocate the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which he was involved in writing, and he should be aware that the Security Council did not accept his plan for Kosovo," said Dacic.
Ahtisaari, a Finnish diplomat and former UN envoy in the talks on the status of Kosovo, believes that Serbia should not be allowed to join the EU before it recognizes Kosovo.
Serbia has long since lost its right to Kosovo. It has treated Kosovars badly for years, Ahtisaari told the Zagrebbased Vecernji List.

BELGRADE, July 28 (Tanjug) - Aleksandar Vulin, the head of the Serbian government Office for Kosovo, said Sunday that the statement of former UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari that Serbia should not be allowed into the EU before it recognizes Kosovo was him paying off a debt to Albanian lobbyists, but that Serbia did not owe him anything and would abide by its Constitution.


PRISTINA, July 27 (Tanjug) - German Ambassador to Pristina Ernst Reichel said on Friday that the model of the two Germanys could be a solution for the Belgrade Pristina relations, underlining that Germany did not demand from Serbia to recognize Kosovo.
Germany, as one of the leaders of the EU, is not demanding from Serbia to recognize Kosovo, but only to establish bilateral relations that could be realized without the full international recognition of Kosovo, Reichel said in an interview for the Pristinabased daily Koha Ditore.
The German ambassador said that the talks should start immediately after the formation of the new Serbian government, and voiced opinion that the dialogue should not address only the issue of northern Kosovo, but rather a wide range of topics.
We should go beyond that, and talk about all open issues between Pristina and Belgrade, so as to find solutions for all disagreements, at the technical, but also political level, Reichel said.