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DAILY SURVEY 11.12.2017.
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SERBIA

VUCIC, BORISOV, TSIPRAS, TUDOSE: SERBIA'S EU ACCESSION IMPORTANT FOR REGIONAL STABILITY

BELGRADE, 9 December 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, and Bulgarian, Romanian and Greek prime ministers, Bojko Borisov, Mihai Tudose and Alexis Tsipras, said during a Dec. 9 visit to Belgrade that political meetings created "a better climate" for investment and economic cooperation, but that they were equally important for peace and stability in the region. The four regional leaders also discussed infrastructure projects to improve the region's gas supply, railway and highway network, as well as a new rail line connecting the Aegean Sea with the Danube river. President Vucic said at a press conference that different strategies were discussed for Serbia to join the European Union (EU) at a faster pace. The president also said that the three visiting officials had brought a friendly European spirit with them and thanked them for supporting Serbia on its path to the Union. "That is very important for the future of Serbia, but also for stability, peace and predictability in the Western Balkans," Vucic said, adding that the meeting were a demonstration of enduring cooperation between the four states, and that an increase in trade was the result that he expected. "These three states are good trading partners to Serbia. We expect combined trade results to exceed EUR3 billion next year," Vucic said.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Bojko Borisov sent a message to EU officials that with Serbia, Romania, Greece and his country they could rely on a safe and predictable Balkan, without trouble. Borisov said to reporters that the four states wished to respect the requirements of Europe's democracy and the rule of law, but that they also wished to strengthen their own ties, and make it possible for their citizens to earn more. The Bulgarian prime minister said that now was the time to connect the Balkans, because the regional leaders had chosen to focus on infrastructure projects. "Our friendship is not against anyone, we just want to attract investors," Borisov explained.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said that it is impossible to leave Serbia outside the European family, and that the EU should correct "this big mistake." "The EU should quickly correct the big mistake it has made based on the history of Europe's treatment of the Balkans, once known as a risky area. Serbia can no longer stay outside the European family, provided that most Serbs wish to join the EU," Tsipras said at the press conference. The Greek prime minister said that Bulgaria's EU presidency was an opportunity for the four states to promote joint ideas. "I do welcome Bojko Borisov's suggestion that a conference of the EU and Western Balkans leaders should be organized to send the message that Bulgaria's EU presidency is in fact the Balkans' chairmanship," the Greek head of government said. Tsipras explained that peace, stability and economic growth in the Balkans were only possible if international law was respected, and that The Treaty of Lausanne was "a cornerstone" for the region. The Greek leader said that all four leaders wanted to send the message that it is necessary to learn from the past and create a future under the sign of cooperation, joint growth and development.
Romania's Prime Minister Mihai Tudose said that the Serbian president and the Greek and Bulgarian prime ministers, Alexis Tsipras and Bojko Borisov, had agreed that their respective interior ministries should meet on handling the migrant crisis, and to have the first meeting held early in March in Bucharest. "I hope that such meetings will take place on a regular basis," Tudose said at a news conference in Belgrade. The Romanian prime minister said that "Serbia's accession to the EU" was a major theme, and that the three states were prepared to support the country, and facilitate the process.

VUCIC, BORISOV, TSIPRAS, TUDOSE ABOUT GAS LINES, ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE

BELGRADE, 9 December 2017 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Bulgarian, Romanian and Greek prime ministers, Bojko Borisov, Mihai Tudose and Alexis Tsipras, respectively, discussed at a Dec. 9 meeting in Belgrade gas, road and railway infrastructure projects. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said that one of the projects was a rail line connecting the Aegean Sea with the Danube River. The Greek prime minister said that Greece and Bulgaria had already signed a memorandum of cooperation to make it possible, and that Romania could join the agreement. The memorandum covers connections between the Greek ports of Thessaloniki and Alexandropolis and Bulgaria's Varna, which could now include Bucharest. "There is yet another joint project - a rail line between Thessaloniki and Belgrade, en route to Sofia," Tsipras said at a press conference in Belgrade. "We wish to build a vertical axis to connect the Trans-Adriatic gas line, so that natural gas could flow directly to Bulgaria," the prime minister explained. Serbian President Vucic said that Serbia and Bulgaria had discussed a gas inter-connection, and that EUR85 million had been provided for the section to be built by Serbia, of which EUR49.1 million had come from EU grants. The president said that equally important to Serbia was Bulgaria's decision to build multiple gas connections on the Black Sea coast, allowing Serbia to use gas from the Turkish Stream and Alexandropolis, as well as from Romania and other places. Bulgarian Prime Minister Bojko Borisov said that over the next year or two, the Belgrade-Sofia-Thessaloniki, Belgrade-Sofia-Burgas and Belgrade-Sofia-Istanbul railways would be completed, and that he wished Bucharest and Sofia to be linked by better roads.

SERBIA, BULGARIA SIGN MEMORANDUM OF COOPERATION TO REDUCE ROAMING CHARGES

BELGRADE, 9 December 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic and his Bulgarian counterpart, Ivailo Moskovski, signed in Belgrade, on Dec. 9, a memorandum of cooperation to cut roaming tariffs for both states. The signing ceremony took place after Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's meeting with Bulgarian, Greek and Romanian prime ministers Bojko Borisov, Alexis Tsipras and Mihai Tudose. In a comment for the Beta agency, Minister Ljajic said that Bulgaria was the first EU state with which Serbia had signed an agreement to reduce roaming charges, recalling that a similar agreement had been signed with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia, allowing for a 35% cut in roaming charges for outgoing calls. The minister clarified that the memorandum signed with Bulgaria would not automatically reduce roaming tariffs, because that, "Bulgaria, as an EU state, possesses no authority nor mechanisms to make such a decision," but that it would "encourage the two states' operators to start the process of tariff reductions."

MIHAJLOVIC, CIOLACU TALK INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT

BELGRADE, 8 December 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic met in Belgrade, on Dec. 8 with Romanian Deputy Prime Minister Ion-Marcel Ciolacu and discussed cooperation between the two countries in infrastructure and transport, including a project to build a Pancevo-Timisoara highway. Mihajlovic, also a deputy prime minister in the Serbian government, said Serbia had been interested in this project before, and that it was important that Romania had a firm stand on wanting the project executed and a deal reached on the design and technical documentation, her cabinet said in a press release. She said there were many opportunities for cooperation and joint projects in the region, especially as Belgrade was elected seat of the Western Balkan Transit Community last week, the press release said further. Ciolacu said the Pancevo-Timisoara highway project had the political support of the Romanian government and that the project documentation should be drawn up as soon as possible. He added that cooperation between Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia on the level of country leader provided additional opportunities for common initiatives and projects, the press release read. Other topics at the meeting, which included Romanian Minister Marius Nica, in charge of EU funds, were an agreement on railway transport to regulate border procedures and further liberalization in road transport. The officials also discussed projects in transportation by water, including a project to revitalize a lock on the Danube, at the Djerdap 1 hydroelectric power plant, and a project to improve navigation infrastructure in the Begej Channel.

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