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DAILY SURVEY 12.01.2018.
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SERBIA

DACIC, MACEDONIAN AMBASSADOR: THIRD JOINT SESSION OF TWO GOVERNMENTS TO BE HELD SOON

BELGRADE, 11 January 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on Jan. 11 received the outgoing ambassador of Macedonia, Vera Jovanovska-Tipko, on a farewell visit, and thanked her for the close and successful cooperation during her mandate in Belgrade. During the talks, they said they believed that the forthcoming third joint session of the governments of Serbia and Macedonia, to be held in Belgrade in the first quarter of this year, would further contribute to the deepening of very good bilateral relations and cooperation, the Serbian Foreign Ministry has stated. They also pointed out the importance of "strengthening the true and intensive political dialogue" and economic cooperation.

BRNABIC, SCOTT: 2018 KEY TO SERBIA'S PROGRESS TOWARD EU

BELGRADE, 11 January 2018 (Beta) - Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott agreed on Jan. 11 that 2018 was a key year for Serbia's progress on route to the EU, as well as that regional cooperation needed to be improved and stability and peace kept in the Western Balkans. Brnabic and Scott said that economic reforms were being successfully carried out and that the reduction of Serbia's public debt had gained the attention of the international public and stressed the importance of continuing economic reforms in 2018 for the development of the Serbian economy and creation of new jobs, the Serbian government said in a statement. Scott said that U.S. aid programs and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had played an important role, especially in areas which involved improving the business and regulatory climate and added that U.S. investment so far had reached USD4 billion and that there were 100 U.S. companies employing 17,000 people in Serbia. Brnabic and Scott agreed that 2018 could be key to Serbia's progress toward the EU and enhancing international and regional trade relations, the statement said adding that as for relations in the region, improving regional cooperation and preserving peace and stability in the region was important. Scott conveyed U.S. President Donald Trump's holiday wishes, while Brnabic thanked the U.S. ambassador for the U.S.' support for Serbia's accession to the EU and voiced the hope that good bilateral relations would continue to be developed.

DEFENSE MINISTER: DECISION TO DENY ARMY TOP MAN U.S. VISA BAD FOR MILITARY RELATIONS

BELGRADE, 11 January 2018 (Beta) - On Jan. 11 Serbian Minister of Defense Aleksandar Vulin said that a decision to deny Serbian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Ljubisa Dikovic a U.S. visa left a "bad trace" and had badly affected military relations between the two countries. "Nothing in Gen. Dikovic's biography, nothing in his wartime engagement, nothing in his life can be or is a reason for him not to receive a visa to travel to the U.S.," the minister said. "We have not received an official explanation of why this has happened, we looked for one, are asking for one, again, and will ask again and it is with great impatience that I await to be told how it is possible that Gen. Dikovic was denied a visa for a trip that was requested by the U.S. hosts, and not by him [personally] or by the Serbian Armed Forces," Vulin was quoted as saying by the Ministry of Defense. Vulin described Dikovic as "a courageous and honorable officer whom the army is truly proud of." "We are proud of our general and we cannot understand this attitude, and I must say that such a decision has poorly reflected upon our military relations, this kind of decision does not help our cooperation, this kind of decision leaves a bad mark," the minister said. "We hope that the U.S. will review its decision, not because Gen. Dikovic wants to or does not want to go on a trip, but because this is our attitude toward the army's number one man and because that is our attitude toward the army as a whole. Until that is solved, I am afraid that this decision will continue to provoke bad and negative consequences," Vulin said.

GEN. DIKOVIC: I HAVE NEITHER COMMITTED, NOR ORDERED ANY CRIMES IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

BELGRADE, 11 January 2018 (Beta) - The chief of staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, Gen. Ljubisa Dikovic, said on Jan. 11 that he had neither committed, nor ordered any crimes against Albanian civilians during the conflict in Kosovo and Metohija, and that all commanding officers of the Armed Forces of Yugoslavia had done everything to prevent crimes during the war in 1999. Dikovic told reporters in Belgrade that, during the conflict in KiM, he had not received any orders that would lead to the inhumane treatment of civilians, and that every order implied that the members of the then Armed Forces of Yugoslavia had to act in accordance with the rules and customs of war. "As a participant of the heroic battle for the defense of Kosovo and Metohija, I am nowadays referred to as a criminal, while those who had committed crimes walk freely. I have not committed a single crime, nor have I ordered or made anyone do it," Dikovic told reporters at the Association of Families of the Kidnapped and Killed in KiM. After the visit to the "Kosmet Victims" memorial room, he recalled that 75 percent of the abducted civilians, soldiers and policemen in Kosovo and Metohija were abducted after the deployment of the KFOR mission. "This is a room of mourning for our heroes and also of pride, because we had such good men in the defense of our Kosovo and Metohija. They must not be forgotten, their sacrifice must not have been in vain," said the chief of general staff, to whom Slobodanka Krstic, mother of two fallen fighters, handed a note of gratitude from the Association. Dikovic did not wish to answer reporters' questions about the decision of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade to deny him a visa to travel to the U.S., to a conference of chiefs of staff on the fight against violent extremist organizations, which was held in Washington on Oct. 23 and 24, 2017.