Daily Survey

Belgrade, May 31, 2012

SERBIA

SERBIAN PARLIAMENT CONVENED

BELGRADE, May 31 (Tanjug) – The Serbian parliament was convened Thursday with the verification of the mandates of all 250 MPs chosen in the May 6 election.After the mandate confirmation, the MPs took the following oath:"I vow to perform my duty as member of parliament in a dedicated, honest and conscientious manner and, in accordance with the Constitution, defend human and minority rights and civil liberties, and serve the Serbian people, truth and justice the best way I know how."

MERKEL CONGRATULATES NIKOLIC ON HIS VICTORY

BELGRADE, May 30 (Tanjug) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday congratulated Tomislav Nikolic on his victory in the presidential elections in Serbia.Merkel expressed hope that Nikolic will strongly advocate the continuation of Serbia's integration into the European Union.Germany will be a reliable partner to Serbia and its president in the implementation of necessary reforms, she said in her message.Nikolic conferred Wednesday in Belgrade with the political director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany Hans - Dieter Lucas.Nikolic expressed desire for the best and closest cooperation between Serbia and Germany, both economic and political, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) stated in a statement.Lucas agreed that the European integration process will provide future economic progress in Serbia and that the cooperation between the two countries could be raised to a higher level.Nikolic also thanked Lucas for the congratulations addressed to him by Merkel.

NIKOLIC CONFERS WITH ALGERIAN AMBASSADOR

BELGRADE, May 30 (Tanjug) –President-elect Tomislav Nikolic conferred with Algerian Ambassador in Belgrade Abdelkader Mesdoua, who relayed President Abdelaziz Buteflika's congratulations for Nikolic's victory in the presidential election.Ambassador Mesdoua conveyed the readiness of President Buteflika to work together with Serbia's elected president on strengthening the ties of friendship and cooperation that traditionally link the two countries, all for the mutual benefit of the peoples of Algeria and Serbia.Nikolic praised the level of bilateral cooperation so far, and expressed readiness for further enhancement, says a statement issued for Tanjug.The Serbian President-elect and the Algerian Ambassador also discussed ways for boosting bilateral relations in all fields.Ambassador Mesdoua conveyed the greetings of the Algerian people and government, who wished Nikolic success in performing the noble duties to the service of Serbia.

SERBIA – EU

NIKOLIC: SERBIA MORE IMPORTANT THAN EU

BELGRADE, May 30 (Tanjug) – Tomislav Nikolic, newly-elected president of Serbia, has stated that in spite of the importance of the EU integration process he finds Serbia more important, and announced that he will launch investigations into dubious privatizations once he assumes the presidential duties.Speaking about the EU integration process, Nikolic said that he wants to see Serbia within the EU, but that this pathway is a lengthy one primarily due to the mistakes of the previous government, corruption, particracy of the justice system, but not because of him or anyone else in particular."For me, the EU is very important, but Serbia is always a priority," Nikolic said in an interview for Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti when asked whether his policy towards the EU will be more reserved than the previous one that claimed that the EU has no alternative.Asked whether he would propose a halt in the EU accession process if Brussels demanded from Serbia to establish some kind of diplomatic relations with Kosovo, Nikolic said that "the EU is a road that represents future, and we have a constitutional duty to preserve Kosovo-Metohija (KiM) within Serbia.""In this rather narrow room for manouvre, we will try to find a secure road for our Serbia," he added.Nikolic announced that he will have the investigations into dubious privatizations launched, adding "that must mark the start of the fight against corruption and organized crime.""I will not rest until we complete that big and important job," he said.Asked whether EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak delivered to Belgrade a request for the abolition of institutions in northern KiM and the opening of the Serbian office in Pristina, Nikolic answered: "That problem has been a challenge to Serbia for decades. In the last ten years, due to the bad policy pursued by the Democratic Party (DS) regime, the problem has grown bigger and reached such dimensions that it has become the problem of the EU and UN.""First, I will tell the people everything the regime has been hiding from them. I think it is very important to reach a consensus among all relevant political parties in Serbia and to work together in the future to solve this problem," he said, adding that he is ready to prepare a plan for Kosovo with the Serbian government and all relevant political subjects in the country.Asked how he would react as the commander of the Serbian Armed Forces if Albanians tried to integrate northern Kosovo by force, Nikolic expressed expectation this would not happen."War is not an option that is close to me and I will do my utmost to prevent any kind of conflict or dragging Serbia into an armed resolution of this issue. I am sure international institutions will not sit idly by, because that situation would generate a whole series of problems that would be difficult to resolve in the long term," he said.Nikolic said a solution would be found and the interests and security of the Serbs in Kosovo would be protected in a peaceful manner.

KOSOVO & METOHIJA

STEFANOVIC: PRISTINA MUST NOT ABUSE BRUSSELS AGREEMENT

BELGRADE, May 30 (Tanjug) – Head of the Belgrade team in dialogue with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic stated Wednesday that Belgrade is in constant contact with the international community and trying to prevent Pristina from abusing the Brussels agreement by seizing vehicles without plates issued by the Kosovo authorities as of June 1.Stefanovic told Tanjug that the Belgrade authorities are in constant contact with EULEX, UNMIK and embassies in Serbia."However, there is an inability or unwillingness to stop such unilateral moves by Pristina, so one of the first decisions of the new Serbian government will certainly be connected with the issue of license plates and how to enable the citizens in the province to continue using Serbian license plates," Stefanovic saidAuthorities in Belgrade will do everything "to protect our interests and the citizens in Kosovo-Metohija (KiM)," he said."Unfortunately, the outgoing government cannot reach such decisions and we need a government working at full capacity, which I hope will be formed soon, to take adequate measures. Solutions are already on the table," Stefanovic underlined.Only this way can such moves by Pristina be avoided, he said, and added that "in the meantime, the citizens with license plates bearing the names of our municipalities in KiM should avoid administrative crossings south to Ibar River."Stefanovic underlined that Pristina's unilateral moves have led to the threshold of another "legal, political and security abuse of agreements reached in Brussels."Nothing like this was agreed in Brussels, "neither publicly nor secretly," and this is a purely unilateral act of Pristina's, which should absolutely be condemned, he said."I underline that seizure of license plates is not part of any Brussels agreements," Stefanovic said, adding that the agreement itself stipulates that both sides will do everything possible that the people who live in Kosovo use KS and RKS tables.

CHIEF OF GEN. STAFF: SECURITY SITUATION IN KOSOVO DELICATE BUT STABLE

BELGRADE, May 30 (Tanjug) – Lt General Ljubisa Dikovic, Serbian Armed Forces (VS) Chief of General Staff, and KFOR Commander Major General Erhard Drews stated that the security situation in Kosovo-Metohija is delicate, but stable.The two generals discussed the current security situation in Kosovo and Metohija and the cooperation between the VS and KFOR."It was assessed that the security situation in Kosovo and Metohija is sensitive, but stable and that it is necessary to maintain the high level of cooperation between the security forces of the Republic of Serbia and international forces in Kosovo and Metohija," it was published on the VS' webpage.This was a high level meeting of the Joint Implementation Commission (JIC), the second one since the appointment of General Dikovic as the Chief of the General Staff.The JIC is composed of KFOR Commission and Commission of the representatives of the Republic of Serbia security forces.JIC meetings are held regularly on various levels since 1999, in order to implement the Military Technical Agreement.

SERBIA – ECONOMY

KRKOBABIC: PENSION FREEZE UNACCEPTABLE

BELGRADE, May 31 (Tanjug) – Vice PM, Jovan Krkobabic said on Thursday that the Fiscal Council does not determine the country's economic policy, referring to the proposal of that institution that Serbia should resort to the pension freeze as a temporary measure.During a break of the parliamentary session, Krkobabic told journalists that he deems that the pay and pension freeze is unacceptable.On Wednesday, the Fiscal Council delivered an assessment that Serbia could be hit by the public debt crisis in 2012, unless the government took adequate measures such as the pay and pension freeze, tax reform which includes the rise of the VAT to 22 percent, and additional cuts.

RUSSIA HAS DONE EVERYTHING TO REALIZE LOAN

SOCHI, May 30 (Tanjug) – General Manager of the Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin said, ahead of the opening of the 7th International Rail Business Forum in Sochi, that the Russian side had taken all the necessary steps to realize the loan for the modernization of the Serbian rail infrastructure.The Russian side has already sent all the necessary documents, and now it is up to the Serbian parliament to ratify the contracts, after which we can start realizing the projects together with our Serbian colleagues, Yakunin said.He underlined that is the priority for Serbia and Russia, which was also confirmed during the bilateral talks between Russian and Serbian presidents, Vladimir Putin and Tomislav Nikolic respectively, in Moscow a week ago.On that occasion, the Russian president said that Russia stands ready to grant Serbia a USD 800-million loan for the realization of infrastructure projects in the country.During the talks between the Serbian and Russian companies, it was agreed that the funds will be used for the construction of the second track running from Belgrade to Pancevo (15 km long) and its electrification, the construction of railway from Valjevo to Loznica (68 km), reconstruction of 200 km of the Belgrade-Bar railway, and the reconstruction of 111 km of the railway leading towards European Corridor 10.The loan agreement has been signed in Moscow earlier this year, and the deadlines and the terms of contractors from Serbia and Russia will be defined by special contracts.Russia has earlier granted a USD 210-million loan to Serbia for the realization of projects and new trains.

PUBLIC DEBT CRISIS COULD STRIKE THIS YEAR

BELGRADE, May 30 (Tanjug) – Serbia could be affected by a public debt crisis as early as this year if it does not take appropriate measures, as the debt keeps growing and will exceed 55 percent of the GDP at the end of the year, the Fiscal Council warned Wednesday.Council representatives said the budget deficit was also rising and would go north of six percent of the GDP by the end of 2012.Serbia needs to borrow another EUR 2.5 billion by the end of the year to finance its budget deficit and pay the principal on old loans.If it wants to avoid a public debt crisis, the new government will immediately have to implement severe measures to curb the budget deficit for this and next year.Short-term measures include freezing salaries and pensions, tax reform, including raising VAT to 22 percent, and further spending cuts.Serbia's unsustainable public finances are the main reason for the dinar's continuing slide against the euro, Chairman of the Fiscal Council Pavle Petrovic said on Wednesday.The exchange rate is just "a high fever" that is a result of unsustainable public finances like "an inflammation", Petrovic said at a press conference.In this situation, the National Bank of Serbia cannot do much, except the thing that it is already doing - intervening in the foreign exchange market and imposing pressure so as to ensure a speedier fiscal consolidation, Petrovic noted.