DACIC, BOUFFIER: REFORMS, REGIONAL STABILITY VITAL FOR FRESH INVESTMENT
BELGRADE, 28 February 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, also the first deputy prime minister, met in Belgrade, on Feb. 28, with Minister-President of Germany's Hesse province, Volker Bouffier, who underlined the importance of national reforms and regional stability for new investors. The German official said that the opening of Chapters 20 and 26 in Serbia's accession talks with the European Union was "very good news," explaining that the EU integration of the Western Balkans was mutually beneficial, the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affars said in a press release. Minister Dacic said that Serbian-German relations had reached "a very high level," having developed considerably over the past few years, not only in terms of political ties, but also in economy. "Last year's foreign trade reached nearly four billion euros. Germany is one of the major investors, and German companies in Serbia employ over 35,000 workers," Dacic was quoted as saying by his ministry. Dacic said that Hesse was one of Germany's four federal states accounting for over 70 percent of Serbia's exports to Germany. Bouffier, on a three-day visit to Serbia, is heading a delegation including Hesse's speaker and MPs, and Dragoslav Stepanovic, a former coach of Germany's Eintracht Frankfurt football team.
COELA, EU COUNCIL TO STAY IN SERBIA UNTIL MARCH 3
BELGRADE, 28 February 2017 (Beta) - Representatives of the Working Party on Enlargement and Countries Negotiating Accession to the EU (COELA), the Council of the European Union and the European Commission will stay in Serbia until March 3, to learn more about Serbia's reforms in the context of the country's EU accession process. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that the COELA working group included representatives of all EU member states monitoring closely, and channeling, the Serbian accession process. At the proposal of Malta, which has taken on the EU presidency, the COELA and the EU Council's delegates started a visit to Serbia on Feb. 28. The purpose of the visit is for the COELA team to meet with Serbia's top-ranking officials and be briefed directly on the reforms Serbia has been carrying out to step up the EU integration process, and to discuss the latest developments in Serbia's membership negotiations with the EU, the Ministry said in a press release. Having in mind Serbia's goal to open new chapters during Malta's six-month presidency, the visit is very important for the accession process, based on a constructive dialogue with the organization meeting regularly, twice a week, to discuss the Serbian membership negotiations with the Union.
NIKOLIC, CHINESE OFFICIAL DISCUSS DEVELOPMENT OF COOPERATION
BELGRADE, 28 February 2017 (Beta) – Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and a deputy to the secretary-general of the government of China's Shaanxi province, Zhang Xiaoning, agreed in Belgrade, on Feb. 28, that a comprehensive strategic partnership linked the two states. President Nikolic said that Chinese President Xi Jinping's friendly attitude toward Serbia, and their personal friendship, opened a new chapter in the Serbian-Chinese relations, adding that he would continue to insist that all state agreements be implemented in full, the Presidency of Serbia reported. The Serbian president said that the upcoming exhibition in the Chinese city of Xian would be an excellent opportunity for Serbia to present itself in the best possible light. The president also gave his Chinese partner assurances that Serbia was a very good investment destination, offering numerous advantages for investments in production. "It is with pleasure that we expect investments from the Shaanxi province in Serbia's production, from food industry to the IT sector, arms production and tourism," Nikolic said. The Serbian president said that bilateral cooperation had been exceptional in all areas, illustrating the point with the Zelezara Smederevo steel mill, sold to a Chinese investor. The Chinese official noted that thanks to Nikolic's efforts Serbia had achieved extraordinary results.
VUCIC, BOUFFIER: SERBIA ON A GOOD ECONOMIC PATH
BELGRADE, 28 February 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Minister-President of the German federal state of Hesse Volker Bouffier agreed on Feb. 28 that Serbia had taken a good economic path, but a series of changes still lay ahead of the country. After a meeting with Bouffier in Belgrade, the Serbian prime minister said that Hesse was increasingly important for Serbia, because together with Baden-Wurttemberg, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia, it accounted for 75 percent of Serbian exports to Germany. "Serbia's exports to Hessen are larger than Croatian, Bosnian, Macedonian and Albanian put together. This is, perhaps, the best illustration of how important Wiesbaden and Frankfurt are to Serbia. Bouffier is a true friend of Serbia's, his roots lie here," Vucic explained. The Serbian prime minister said that Hesse's companies employ 8,000 people in Serbia, and that the German state "reported a GDP rate eight times higher than Serbia's," promising to make an effort to expand cooperation in the coming period. Prime Minister Vucic also said that he had shared his idea of a customs union with the German leader, pointing to its importance for the survival and stability of the Western Balkans.
LJAJIC, TURKISH PM DISCUSS ECONOMIC COOPERATION, INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
ANKARA, 28 February 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic traveled to Ankara on Feb. 28 to meet with Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, and discuss the development of bilateral relations and economic cooperation between the two states. The Turkish PM said that Turkey had supported the Serbian government's reforms, underscoring that economic cooperation deserved a special place in Serbian-Turkish relations, says a press release issued after the meeting. The prime minister explained that economic cooperation should grow year in, year out, covering more and more business areas, the Serbian Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications said in the press release. Minister Ljajic said he was pleased with negotiations to expand the list of goods and services to be included in a free trade regime between Serbia and Turkey. Ljajic added that he expected a free trade agreement to be signed no later than this coming June. The Serbian minister asked the government in Ankara to define a quota for Serbia's customs-free meat exports to Turkey, which would boost bilateral trade to over a billion euros.
EP FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTE: AGREEMENTS WITH BELGRADE TO BE IMPLEMENTED
BRUSSELS, 28 February 2017 (Beta) - The European Parliament (EP) Committee on Foreign Affairs passed on Feb. 28 a draft resolution on Kosovo, urging the authorities in Pristina to carry out arrangements made during the dialogue with Belgrade, and start setting up the Community of Serb-Majority Municipalities without delay. The draft resolution, passed with 40 votes in favor of the document, and 12 against it, which the EP will pass in a plenary session at a later date, repeated "concerns over delays in the struggle against corruption and organized crime," with a remark that it hadn't been "subjected to justice," especially in the north of Kosovo. The establishment of a Hague-based special court to try war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo has been described in the document as "a decisive step to guarantee justice and reconciliation." The resolution has also welcomed a decision to grant Kosovo the status of an observer in the Council of Europe, appealing to Serbia "not to interfere in Kosovo's entry into international and regional bodies." Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Ulrike Lunacek, who had prepared a report on the draft resolution, believed that a law delegating to Serbia regional authority over war crimes should be revoked. Her explanation was that "Serbia is using it to persecute persons who had fought against Milosevic's regime," mentioning specifically "the Ramush Haradinaj case." Lunacek criticized Belgrade for having failed to transfer ownership of the Gazivode power plant to Pristina, adding that because of it a large part of Kosovo had to use coal-fired power plants, polluting the environment and representing a serious health hazard for the local population.