DACIC INVITES TILLERSON TO VISIT SERBIA
WASHINGTON, 2 February 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, who attended the National Prayer Breakfast in the U.S. on Feb. 2, called on the new U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to visit Serbia. In Washington, Dacic met with officials in Congress and the U.S. administration. In a discussion with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Yee, bilateral relations between Serbia and the U.S. were positively assessed and it was concluded that it was important to raise trade and U.S. investments in Serbia, the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Yee, who is in charge of U.S. policy on Serbia and the Western Balkans, told Dacic at the meeting that the U.S. fully supported the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, calming tensions and direct communication. During a meeting between Dacic and Senator Ron Johnson, improving bilateral cooperation, Serbia's European integration and regional cooperation were discussed. According to the statement, Johnson was interested in the details of the migrant crisis, the situation in the Western Balkans and Serbia's contribution to the fight against terrorism. Dacic and Senator Roger Wicker talked about the situation in the region and the protection of Serbia's national, historical religious heritage in Kosovo and Metohija.
PRISTINA'S BEHAVIOR NOT HELPING DIALOGUE, NIKOLIC TELLS AMBASSADORS OF U.S., RUSSIA AND CHINA
BELGRADE, 2 February 2017 (Beta) - On Feb. 2, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic informed Russian Ambassador Alexander Chepurin, U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott and Chinese Ambassador Li Manchang that the behavior of the Pristina delegation in the latest round of top-level dialogue had not served the purpose of reaching an agreement. A statement from Nikolic's office said that the president had held separate meetings with the aforementioned officials and "informed the ambassadors on the state of the talks between Serbia's delegation and representatives of the temporary administration in Pristina" and the "behavior of the Pristina delegation, which was not gauged toward reaching an agreement." During the meetings, the participants concluded that in the coming days it was necessary to continue dialogue and preserve stability in the region, as well as that no threat to the security of citizens in Kosovo and Metohija could be allowed, the statement said.
NIKOLIC: SERBIA DETERMINED TO PRESERVE PEACE IN KOSOVO, PRISTINA MUST FULFILL OBLIGATIONS
BELGRADE, 2 February 2017 (Beta) - Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic stated on Feb. 2 that Serbia was determined to preserve stability in Kosovo and Metohija and not allow new conflicts, but that it was now up to Pristina to fulfill the obligations from the Brussels Agreement and enable the forming of the Community of Serb Municipalities. According to the statement, Nikolic said this during a meeting with the new U.N. resident coordinator in Serbia, Karla Robin Hershey, who handed him her credentials. Nikolic objected to the fact that the Pristina administration was being presented independently at gatherings organized by the United Nations, and not within the delegations of various U.N. agencies. The Serbian president stressed that Serbia was committed to cooperation with the United Nations and that the appointment of the new Secretary General of the world organization represented an additional incentive for work to all the agencies that operated within the U.N. He voiced thanks for the U.N.'s help to Serbia during the previous years, especially during the 2014 floods. Coordinator Hershey said she was determined to focus in her work on the fields that turned up as the most important in cooperating with Serbia.
VUCIC: NO MENTION OF COMMUNITY OF SERB MUNICIPALITIES IN BRUSSELS
BRUSSELS, 2 February 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic accused on Feb. 2 the representatives of Pristina of conducting the "dirtiest propaganda" and added that during a new round of dialogue in Brussels on Feb. 1, in which Serbian and Kosovo presidents and prime ministers met, there had been no mention of a Community of Serb Municipalities. During a break in talks with Serb representatives from Kosovo and Metohija in Raska, he told reporters that "peace is the most important interest of Serbia and Serbs" and called at the same time on the political representatives of the Serbs not to quit Kosovo's institutions, and the Serbs not to leave their homes. "We accepted what they had proposed. Then I realized that we had been brought to not accept something so as to be guilty, that we had been led to say 'no' to one thing so that we would be responsible for everything," Vucic said, adding that "representatives of the Serbian delegation could not even talk about the Community of Serb Municipalities." "For four years [the Pristina institutions] have not carried out the essence of the Brussels Agreement. But because they do not like the agreement of Dec. 8 they are acting as if we were going to destroy things that we were opting for force to make raids... And the whole time they have been saying that Serbia is threatening them with something, the Serbian army, the Serbian police... The Serbian police and army have not been in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija since 1999," Vucic said, explaining that on Dec. 8, in the presence of EU representatives, everything concerning a bridge in northern Kosovska Mitrovica had been arranged, after which Pristina launched propaganda calling for the wall's removal. The Serbian prime minister called on EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, who mediated the talks, to react to Pristina's behavior. Vucic and the ministers of defense and interior affairs, Zoran Djordjevic and Nebojsa Stefanovic, as well as Serbian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Ljubisa Dikovic met with army and police representatives in the Raska barracks. Earlier on Feb. 2, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci voiced concern with what he called "Serbia's campaign" in which the Serb community that lived in the north of Kosovo "is being scared" and made to hate on ethnic grounds.
MIHAJLOVIC, DANUBE COMMISSION DISCUSS COOPERATION
BELGRADE, 2 February 2017 (Beta) - The Serbian minister of construction, transportation and infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlovic, met on Feb. 2 with the representatives of the Danube Commission and discussed Serbia's further engagement in that organization. Mihajlovic and the chairman of the Danube Commission, Rade Drobac, considered the revision of the Belgrade Convention about the regime of navigation on the Danube. They also discussed joint projects on the Danube, which the Danube Commission is working on in cooperation with the European Commission and Serbia, stated the Ministry of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure.
SCOTT: U.S. WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT REFORMS IN SERBIA
BELGRADE, 2 February 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic said on Feb. 2 that she had received U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott's assurances that the U.S. would continue to support reforms in Serbia which he said had yielded good results in 2016. During a discussion with Zorana Mihajlovic on the resumption of reforms for enhancing the conditions for doing business and infrastructure projects, Scott stressed that reforms in the area of construction permits had been especially successful, the Ministry of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure said. The minister stressed that in 2017 the construction of highways would pick up, along with a program for modernizing the railway system. "In addition to finishing the construction of road Corridor X, for us the modernization of the Corridor X railway project is also very important. That includes not just the modernization of railways, but efficient procedures as well and shorter stopping times at the border, which we have been working on with our neighbors," Mihajlovic said. The two officials looked at the realization of the Nis-Merdare-Pristina highway project and a plan for building a Morava corridor. As priorities in 2017 Mihajlovic mentioned reforms of land books and Serbia's further progress on the World Bank's Doing Business list, which ranks countries according to the conditions for doing business.