NIKOLIC WRITES TO HOLLANDE: POLITICS HAS ONCE MORE WON OVER JUSTICE
Belgrade, 27 April 2017 (Beta) – Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic wrote on April 27 a letter to French President Francois Hollande, in which he said that a French court's decision not to extradite former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj to Serbia "has entrenched the conviction that there is no justice for Serb victims" and that "politics has once more won over justice." Nikolic said that Serbia had sent documents "undeniably proving Haradinaj's guilt" according to valid procedures and that "the Colmar Appellate Court's decision has freed a criminal who will go unpunished through this act." He said that the government would, in accordance with its authorities, decide how to demonstrate Serbia's dissatisfaction. "As a man to whom I have proved my friendship on several occasions, I am pointing out the repercussions of this obviously political decision by the French court, which has inflicted a grave injustice on Serbia, a big friend of France, to which we are at this time unfortunately only connected by the glorious past of our grandfathers and fathers," Nikolic said in his letter.
On April 27, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that "this shameful decision" by the French court to not extradite the former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army to Serbia would have repercussions for ties between the two countries and that the French generals of World War I would have been ashamed of France's decision. "The decision by the French court on Haradinaj poses an example of how politics affects justice and how there are double standards even when it's about victims," Dacic said in a statement published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia.
SERBIA SENDS PROTEST NOTE TO FRANCE
Belgrade, 27 April 2017 (Beta) - Secretary General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Veljko Odalovic sent on April 27 a protest note to French Ambassador in Belgrade Christine Moro, over what he described as a "scandalous" decision by a court of appeals in Colmar which had denied Serbia's request for the extradition of former Kosovo Liberation Army commander Ramush Haradinaj, the Ministry said. "The note voices Serbia's stance that it was a politically motivated decision which is not founded in law and in the explanation of which material evidence provided by Serbia, including statements by surviving witnesses, was not accepted as valid," a statement said. The protest note said that the Colmar Court of Appeals had not listed a single fact proving that the preconditions for the European Convention on Extradition, made in Paris in 1957 and ratified by Serbia and France, had not been met. "It stresses that this decision has violated the universal principle of international law on stopping unaccountability for war crimes, and that the statement that Ramush Haradinaj's extradition to Serbia would have been exceptionally difficult for him, which voices a lack of trust in the Serbian legal system," the statement added. The note describes the court's decision as "insulting" and concludes that it "is a major blow to bilateral relations" between Serbia and France.
SERBIA WITHDRAWING AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE FOR CONSULTATIONS BECAUSE OF DECISION ON HARADINAJ
Belgrade, 27 April 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on April 27 that a strict protest note would be delivered to France, whose court has released former KLA commander Ramush Haradinaj, and that the Serbian ambassador to Paris would be withdrawn for urgent consultations in Belgrade. Speaking at a news conference after the government's session, Vucic pointed out that he would not allow anybody, not even the great France, to humiliate Serbia, because that was not an issue of politics, but one of the highest moral standards. "It is about whether someone is protecting criminals. Whether someone is following the rules," Vucic said. He said that the decision of the French court was political in nature. "The Serbian government views the decision as disgraceful, scandalous, illegal, unjust and, above all, political in nature," Vucic said. He went on to say that he would meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and that he expected to have meetings with some ambassadors over the course of April 27. He said Serbia would never give up on the work of its prosecution bodies because it owed it to the victims, and that this was not a great victory for the Albanians, but a great victory for criminals, with the modern world showing that it was possible to commit crimes and not be held to account. Vucic said Serbia would continue to work towards peace and stability in the region. He added that, within three days at the latest, Serbia would send a letter to all the U.N. members, about how much it had invested in the preservation of stability, and that it would continue to prosecute all those who had committed war crimes. Asked whether Serbia would break diplomatic relations with France, he said it would not and that he did not wish to jeopardize the country's stability with hasty decisions. Serbia had requested that France extradite Haradinaj, the former leader of the KLA, whom it holds responsible for war crimes in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999.
VUCIC TALKS WITH RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV
Belgrade, 27 April 2017 (Beta) - On April 27, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic talked with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov over the phone and acquainted him with the actions of the French authorities in the Haradinaj case, the Serbian government has said. The Russian foreign minister voiced his honest understanding of the stances and position of the Serbian government on that question, a brief statement said. The Appellate Court in the French city of Colmar on April 27 rejected Serbia's request for the extradition of Alliance for the Future of Kosovo leader Ramush Haradinaj.
VULIN DISCUSSES MIGRANTS WITH AUSTRIAN MINISTER IN VIENNA
VIENNA, 27 April 2017 (Beta) - The Serbian minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy, Aleksandar Vulin, and Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka met in Vienna to discuss the challenges and consequences Serbia is facing in the migrant crisis, Vulin's ministry said in a statement on April 27. The statement reads that Minister Sobotka and the state of Austria support Serbia, particularly through the possibility for it to be "part of the agreement according to which the people who have no right to asylum, primarily those from Afghanistan, will be returned to their country of origin." Since Serbia is not an EU member, "it would probably never have been able to make such a bilateral agreement with Afghanistan alone, but with support from Austria and other EU countries, that is possible," Vulin said. He added that Serbia would defend its borders, stop illegal migrants, but also treat them "in an organized and humane fashion." Sobotka stressed that Serbia was a very important partner of Austria's and recalled that Austrian policemen were helping their Serbian colleagues in controlling the borders. "Our countries concur that those who have no basis for asylum have to be sent back to their countries of origin," the Austrian minister said, adding that it was important that Serbia be included in all programs, since it was not an EU member.
U.S. AMBASSADOR FILLS FOREIGN MINISTRY IN ON KOREAN CRISIS
Belgrade, 27 April 2017 (Beta) – The Serbian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement saying that U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott met on April 27 with Ivica Toncev, a state secretary in the ministry, and informed him on the U.S.' stances regarding current events on the Korean peninsula. "He stressed that Serbia was aware that the crisis rocking the Korean peninsula posed a serious security crisis at the global level," the Ministry said. The state secretary stressed that, "Serbia favors a peaceful solution of the crisis on the Korean peninsula and believes that this is one of the most important questions in modern-day international relations," and added that the Serbian state leadership would be informed about the U.S. position, the statement said.
DJURIC MEETS WITH INDIAN AMBASSADOR
Belgrade, 27 April 2017 (Beta) – The director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric, on April 27 informed the Indian ambassador to Serbia, Narinder Chauhan, about the political and security situation in Kosovo and Metohija, and warned about the dangers of the "revival of the fascist idea of a Greater Albania." During the meeting with the ambassador, Djuric said that Serbia would continue to invest maximum efforts into preserving peace and stability in the Balkans and to promote dialogue as the only reasonable means for resolving disputes, the Office has stated. He thanked the Indian government and people for its principled support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia and the fundamental principles of international law, and for India's opposing the admission of the unilaterally proclaimed Kosovo to international organizations. According to the statement, they stressed the importance of nurturing and developing the friendship between Serbia and India, which was confirmed by the recent visit of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
JAPANESE GOV'T DONATES 14 VEHICLES, COMPUTERS TO SERBIAN BORDER POLICE
Belgrade, 27 April 2017 (Beta) – The Japanese government has donated 14 vehicles and PCs to members of the Serbian border police who will soon be deployed in the border area with Macedonia and Bulgaria, said the participants of a donation ceremony in Belgrade on April 27. The donation is worth over EUR450,000 and was secured within a project called, "Supporting border police in responding to heightened migration trends along the Western Balkan route." The donation was symbolically handed over to Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic by Japanese Ambassador Juichi Takahara, who stressed that the government of Japan highly appreciated the responsible and humane behavior of the Serbian cabinet, in dealing with the migrant problem.
BELGRADE MAYOR SIGNS AGREEMENT ON COOPERATION WITH MAYOR OF SHANGHAI
Belgrade, 27 April 2017 (Beta) – Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali signed an agreement on understanding, cooperation and exchange with the mayor of Shanghai, Ying Yong, in China on April 27, and the document envisages cooperation in the fields of commerce, education, culture, sports, environmental protection and tourism. According to a statement of the city authorities, the agreement is important for Serbia because the introduction of a direct air line between Belgrade and Beijing is expected, which will bring a large number of Chinese tourists. Mali said this was a confirmation of good relations between Serbia and China, and that the agreement was very important for Belgrade, also because it was much smaller than Shanghai in terms of surface area and number of inhabitants. "We are continuing cooperation with major cities in the world, and Shanghai is certainly one of the largest and fastest growing cities in the world. It is very important that Belgrade learns from large cities. In the sense of urban development, environmental protection and traffic, Shanghai is already in the 22nd century," Mali stated.
SERBIA - EU
DACIC: WESTERN BALKANS' ADMISSION TO EU IS IN THE INTEREST OF REGION, EUROPE
Oslo, 27 April 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said in Oslo on April 27 that the admission of Serbia and countries of the Western Balkans to the EU was "equally a strategically important goal of countries of the region, but also of the whole of Europe." During the lecture titled Serbia's Place in a Rapidly Changing Europe, Dacic particularly pointed out that the project for the unification of Europe, despite all the current turbulence, would be successfully rounded off only after the Western Balkan region was fully integrated, stated the Serbian Foreign Ministry. Dacic, who is paying a visit to Norway, also met with the members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Policy and Defense of the Norwegian Parliament and with a delegation of Norwegian parliamentarians, headed by Marit Nybakk. Dacic also visited the head office of Telenor Group, where he declared the government's readiness to nurture partner relations with the company, which still represents the largest individual foreign investment in Serbia. Special attention was paid during the meeting to the plans for Telenor's development in Serbia, and to the ethical and overall social values, which the company is promoting in Serbia. In the Technical Museum in Oslo, Dacic visited the exhibition dedicated to the forced labor of prisoners in SS camps in occupied Norway during World War II, a significant part of which is dedicated to Yugoslav prisoners.
EU-SERBIA SAA COMMITTEE: REGIONAL COOPERATION IS IMPORTANT
Belgrade, 27 April 2017 (Beta) – The Stabilization and Association (SAA) committee between the EU and Serbia on April 27 incited Serbia to continue successfully reforming state governance, and "stressed the importance of strengthening regional cooperation and the progressive harmonization of Serbia's foreign policy with that of the EU." At the session in Belgrade, the Serbian and European Commission representatives discussed the fulfilment of the Copenhagen accession criteria and the implementation of the SAA, read a statement issued after the meeting. Members of the committee welcomed Serbia's progress in the past year within the accession negotiations, reads the joint statement of the European Commision and the Serbian government's European Integration Office. The EU's determination regarding Serbia's European prospects was once again emphasized during the meeting. The meeting was co-chaired by the chief of the unit for Serbia of the Directorate General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Catherine Wendt, and the director of the Serbian government's European Integration Office, Ksenija Milenkovic.