DACIC: AGREEMENT IS VALID EVEN IF IT IS ON A NAPKIN
BELGRADE, 19 January 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic stated in Belgrade on Jan. 19 that "the armed forces and security forces cannot be deployed in the north of Kosovo" and that agreements reached at high levels were honored, regardless of whether they were verbal or not. "When presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers talk, it goes without saying that they have sufficient capacity to close a deal," Dacic said in response to a reporter's question about the significance of verbal agreements in international law. He added that it was "absolutely irrelevant if an agreement is verbal, written, with a stamp or without it, on a napkin or on paper." NATO officials in Brussels told BETA on Jan. 18 that "the Brussels agreement from 2013, which Serbia refers to, does not cover the police forces" of Kosovo and that "the institutions of Kosovo are not required to ask for KFOR authorization to move their police forces across the Kosovo territory." They said this in response to claims that the written act, which is part of the Brussels Agreement, envisaged that the Kosovo authorities had to seek approval from KFOR to deploy the police, and not just the security forces, to the north of Kosovo.
DACIC DISCUSSES BILATERAL ISSUES WITH AMBASSADOR OF KAZAKHSTAN
BELGRADE, 19 January 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met on Jan. 19 with the non-residential ambassador of Kazakhstan in Belgrade, who resides in Budapest, Nurbah Rustemov, and discussed the current bilateral relations and possibilities for their development, primarily in the economy, stated the Serbian Foreign Ministry. Dacic underscored the significance of the visit of the president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to Serbia and the visit of Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic to Kazakhstan, because they were indicators of the good relations and cooperation between the two countries, the statement reads. President Nazarbayev visited Serbia in August 2016, while Prime Minister Vucic visited Kazakhstan in November, as the head of a state and business delegation. Dacic also said that relations between Serbia and Kazakhstan were good and without unsettled issues.
IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS BELGRADE
BELGRADE, 19 January 2017 (Beta) - Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari visited Serbia on Jan. 19 where he met with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic. During a meeting with Nikolic, Al-Jaafari said that Iraq would not change its stance on not acknowledging Kosovo's independence, regardless of the foreign pressure it faced, a statement from the Serbian presidential office said. Nikolic said that Serbia supported Iraq in its struggle against the Islamic State and proposed intensifying intelligence exchanges, to facilitate the detection and removal of dangers stemming from terrorism.
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and the Iraqi foreign minister signed two memorandums for the purpose of advancing traditionally good relations between the two states and agreed to hold bilateral meetings once a year. The foreign ministers signed a memorandum of understanding on establishing political consultations on questions of mutual interest between the two foreign ministries and an agreement by the governments of the two states on canceling visas for diplomatic and official passports.
Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic met with Al-Jaafari with whom he discussed the struggle against terrorism, the migrant crisis and improving bilateral police cooperation, the Minister of Interior Affairs said. The statement said that Al-Jaafari, during his talks in Belgrade, had praised Serbia's humane approach to the issue of migrants, especially those from Iraq, while Stefanovic said that to solve the ongoing migrant crisis a unified EU stance was necessary.
VUCIC: BRUSSELS AGREEMENT IS NOT THE PROBLEM, ITS IMPLEMENTATION IS
DAVOS, 19 January 2017 (Beta) - Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic stated on Jan. 19, commenting on the deployment of armed forces of Kosovo in the north of Kosovo, that the Brussels agreement was not the problem, but its implementation. He told reporters in the Swiss town of Davos that he had explained that latest events in Kosovo to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and to other officials, at meetings during the World Economic Forum. "We have stated our position that, in keeping with the Brussels Agreement - let me explain once again - the region North should have been defined in the police sense and the ROSU special units should have been composed of the local population, i.e. in proportion with the number of the Serbs and Albanians, which means 99 Serbs and one Albanian. That, however, was not carried out. Therefore, the problem is not in the Brussels Agreement - the agreement enables us to do that. It is they who did not want to carry out the Brussels agreement, but brought in ROSU from Pristina, and not the regional ROSU which would consist of the Serbs - that is the crucial point," Vucic explained. Vucic said that he was prepared to talk and that he would go to Brussels for talks next week. He added that the Serbs had to be wise and responsible as a nation, in order to overcome the difficult situation. He said that he had had a 30-minute telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about a series of issues - the region, Bosnia and Herzegovina, bilateral relations, relations between Belgrade and Pristina, the migrant crisis. He added that Serbia had received Merkel's support for solving the migrant problem. Vucic also said that, during the conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, he had declared Serbia's stands regarding the Brussels Agreement, adding that the most important thing was to win peace, but that he could "in no way understand what the Albanians' wishes and intentions are."
VUCIC: EU IS STILL THE BEST PLACE TO LIVE
DAVOS, 19 January 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has stated that Serbia will attempt to become a member of the EU, because it wants to belong to that type of society, and that he hopes the EU countries will recognize its hard work and decide to accept Serbia as a full member in 2020, 2022 or 2025. "That is up to them, not us," Vucic said in an interview with Deutsche Welle (DW), adding that he believed that, "despite Brexit and some turbulence, the EU is still the best place to live." Commenting on the refugee crisis, Vucic said that Serbia, despite its being a transit country, "has more migrants than more than 60 percent of the European Union countries" and "the only country outside the EU to have accepted the quota system proposed by (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel, while many EU countries did not wish to participate in that." "We have 10,000 people in our country. We are taking care of them. But, one cannot take care of someone who only wants to find a smuggler in order to reach the EU. Such people avoid our refugee centers. That is the only problem and we are attempting to solve it. We are solving all other problems on a daily basis and I think we should show a humane face and solidarity with those people," said the Serbian prime minister. "How many are there in Slovenia? How many in Croatia? How many in some other EU country? None. That means that we are at least doing something, something better than some European Union countries," Vucic added. Asked whether he expected a little more support for Serbia, as the country at the center of the refugee crisis, he replied that "Serbia is not whining about it." "There are some EU countries which constantly ask for more money. We have received something from the EU, and they always asked us, especially Germany, if they should help us and how; this is something we can deal with, but we shall see what the future brings. If needed, we will ask for more assistance and support," he said.
VUCIC: TRADE WITH GEORGIA SHOULD BE INCREASED
DAVOS, 19 January 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic met in Davos on Jan. 19 with the prime minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, and stated that trade between the two countries was low and that it should be strengthened. "Vucic pointed out that the tourism potentials of Serbia and Georgia were very big and that the opening of a new air link between Belgrade and Tbilisi would contribute to the strengthening of tourism, adding that work on the introduction of the visa-free regime for Georgian citizens should be accelerated," reads a statement from Vucic's office. The Serbian prime minister invited his Georgian counterpart to visit Serbia with a business delegation, in order to consider possibilities for investments in both countries.
JOKSIMOVIC, U.S. AMBASSADOR DISCUSS EU INTEGRATION, REFORMS
BELGRADE, 19 January 2017 (Beta) - The Serbian minister in charge of European integration, Jadranka Joksimovic, talked on Jan. 19 with U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott about Serbia's European integration, the current situation and progress in reforms, the Serbian government has stated. According to the statement, Joksimovic pointed out that Serbia nurtured and developed good relations with all countries, and that membership in the European Union - which is a natural neighborhood of Serbia, was its strategic interest, and informed Scott about the course of the negotiation process and plans for this year. Ambassador Scott welcomed the overall reform process in Serbia and stressed that the U.S. strongly supported the European integration process, because it believed that membership in the EU, at the same time, contributed to the stability of both Serbia and the region, and that it was also in the interest of the European Union. Joksimovic said that the reforms being carried out primarily aimed at increasing the citizen's standard of living, adding that European integration was the best mechanism for the state's overall development. Jadranka Joksimovic and Kyle Scott concurred that reforms in the rule of law were very important, but that those in the segments of environmental protection and agriculture were a particular challenge. Those two fields call for long-term and systemic work on the implementation of standards, but also on raising the population's awareness of the importance of these fields for the overall progress of the economy and society, the statement reads.
MEETING OF INTERIOR MINISTERS OF SERBIA, CROATIA
BELGRADE, 19 January 2017 (Beta) - The Serbian deputy prime minister and interior minister, Nebojsa Stefanovic, met in Belgrade on Jan. 19 with the interior minister of Croatia, Vlaho Orepic. The topics of their meeting were the migrant crisis and the improvement of the fight against organized crime, the Serbian Interior Ministry stated. Ministers Stefanovic and Orepic concurred that "the issue of regional security is exceptionally important for the two countries," the brief statement reads.
SERBIA, BULGARIA SIGN MEMORANDUM ON CONSTRUCTION OF GAS INTERCONNECTOR
SOFIA, 19 January 2017 (Beta) - Serbian and Bulgarian ministers of energy Aleksandar Antic and Temenuzhka Petkova signed in Sofia on Jan. 19 a memorandum of understanding for the construction of a gas interconnector between the two countries. Antic said that the signing of the memorandum was the most important step in realizing the project of building a gas interconnector between Bulgaria and Serbia, the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation reported. "We defined the key elements of that project, shared technical elements, access points, capacities, all of the key questions that go with realizing the project itself," Antic said. He said that he expected the project to enter the IPA financial program for 2017 and that the interconnector would be operative by 2020. Petkova said that Bulgaria had received EUR45 million from the EU for the construction, the first stage of which had been completed, and announced the start of the second, key phase of building.
MINISTER MIHAJLOVIC DISCUSSES INVESTMENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE WITH FIVE AMBASSADORS
BELGRADE, 19 January 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic met on Jan. 19 with the ambassadors of five countries in Belgrade, and discussed investments in Serbia's infrastructure, European integration and bilateral relations with these countries, the Ministry stated on Jan. 19. The ambassador of the Republic of Korea, Yoo Dae Jong, stressed that Korean companies were very interested in investing in Serbia, and that his country had advanced technology, so the exchange of knowledge would also be useful. In talks with the Romanian ambassador, Oana Cristina Popa, Minister Mihajlovic stressed the importance of cooperation in the field of transportation. Popa and Mihajlovic also discussed the emergency situation on the Danube River caused by ice. A topic of her meeting with the Swiss ambassador, Philippe Guex, was Serbia's position on the Doing Business list and plans for improving it, and they also talked about the social component, the inclusion of the Roma and gender equality. Mihajlovic discussed bilateral cooperation with the ambassador of Greece, Elias Eliadis. Turkish Ambassador Tanju Bilgic and Mihajlovic discussed the road infrastructure projects the two countries were working on.