SERBIA - EU
JOKSIMOVIC: BRING EU VALUES CLOSER, RAISE BENEFIT AWARENESS AMONG CITIZENS
BELGRADE, 1 March 2017 (Beta) - The Serbian minister in charge of European integration, Jadranka Joksimovic, had talks on March 1 with the members of the EU Council's Working Party on Enlargement and Countries Negotiating Accession to the Union (COELA) about the current and further process of Serbia's European integration. Joksimovic recollected that Serbia had so far opened eight chapters - two of which have been temporarily closed, and stressed that Serbia would be technically prepared during the next year for opening several more, the government's office for cooperation with the media stated. Almost 50 percent of the population are pro-European, the minister said, adding that European integration was the best mechanism for the country's internal development and that the government's pro-European goals were not contested. She said Serbia was open for cooperation with the aim of strengthening regional stability, which was the precondition for development and progress, adding that a constructive approach by everyone in the region was needed for that. Joksimovic also stressed the importance of the next Western Balkan Summit in Trieste, as the continuation of the Berlin Process. A representative of Malta, Alan Bugeja, stated the enlargement of the EU was an important issue for Malta's six-month presidency of the EU Council.
KUBUROVIC: EFFICIENT JUDICIARY, COMBATTING ORGANIZED CRIME ARE PRIORITIES
BELGRADE, 1 March 2017 (Beta) - Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic stated during the March 1 meeting with the members of the EU Council's Working Party on Enlargement and Countries Negotiating Accession to the Union (COELA) and representatives of the EU Council and the European Commission that her ministry continued to carry out reform activities, and that it would focus in the forthcoming period on the improvement of efficiency of the judiciary and on combatting organized crime. Kuburovic informed the COELA members about the Justice Ministry's results within Chapter 23 in the negotiations, adding that more than 70 percent of activities from that chapter had been completed, which were planned for completion by the end of 2016, the Ministry stated. She stressed that the fight against organized crime and corruption was one of the priorities, not just of the Justice Ministry, but also of the Serbian government. Kuburovic lauded the successful implementation of the Law on the protection of whistle-blowers, and the fact that the Law on the organization and jurisdiction of state bodies in the suppression of organized crime, terrorism and corruption was adopted in November 2016, the biggest effects of which should be seen in the fight against organized and financial crime and corruption. She said that the new draft law on the Anti-Corruption Agency had been completed and that it would be in parliamentary procedure in the second quarter of this year.
DJURIC, EU OFFICIALS DISCUSS BELGRADE-PRISTINA DIALOGUE
BELGRADE, 1 March 2017 (Beta) - The director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric, met on March 1 with the members of the EU Council's Working Party on Enlargement and Countries Negotiating Accession to the Union (COELA), and discussed the course of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and the problems of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija. Djuric stated during the meeting that Belgrade was interested in continuing the dialogue with the EU's mediation, but also raised concern over the fact that there had been no meetings of expert teams in Brussels since November, the Office for Kosovo and Metohija stated. "In that period, Pristina has actively avoided fulfilling the agreements reached in Brussels, which has jeopardized achieving the basic goal of the dialogue - a better life for the citizens in the province," Djuric said. Commenting on the Serbian people's problems in Kosovo and Metohija, Djuric said that Belgrade was steadfast in insisting on forming the Association of Serbian Municipalities, in keeping with the agreements reached in Brussels, and that the EU had to secure the implementation of the agreements as the mediator in the dialogue. "Belgrade is also insisting on the dialogue including all the topics of interest for the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, but we have so far not seen any understanding for that from the other participants in the process," said the director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija.
DACIC, DJOKIC, ANTIC ON ADVANCING COOPERATION, EXECUTING ENERGY PROJECTS
BELGRADE, 1 March 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Republika Srpska Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining Petar Djokic met in Belgrade, on March 1 and discussed advancing cooperation. The meeting included Serbian Mining and Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic. The three ministers discussed further cooperation and its elevation on the principles of mutual understanding, but also the implementation of joint energy projects by the two governments, the Foreign Ministry of Serbia said in a March 1 press release. There is a great deal of room for more meaningful cooperation, the officials said, and this area will receive special attention in the coming period. The three also considered the state of affairs in the region and agreed that open issues must be resolved through dialog to ensure the political stability of the region.
START OF WORKS ON SURCIN-OBRENOVAC MOTORWAY
BELGRADE, 1 March 2017 (Beta) - The construction of a 17.6-kilometer segment of the Corridor 11 motorway from Surcin to Obrenovac began on March 1, and the value of works is 208 million euros. Works on this part of Corridor 11 are to be completed by the middle or end of 2019. The domestic companies' share in the project is 49 percent, while the bearer of the project is the Chinese company CCCC (China Communication Construction Company). The start of works was attended by Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, the minister for construction, transportation and infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlovic, and the ambassador of China to Serbia, Li Manchang. "This route will connect Obrenovac and Cacak, and will mean a great deal not just for Obrenovac, Ub, Cacak, but also for the whole of Serbia," Vucic said, adding that China was also interested in constructing the motorway towards Montenegro. Zorana Mihajlovic announced that works on two segments, also performed by Chinese contractors, would be completed by the end of 2017 - from Obrenovac to Ub and from Lajkovac to Ljig. "By the end of the year, we will have 103 kilometers of new motorway through Sumadija and, when we finish the Surcin-Obrenovac segment in two and a half years, we will shorten the trip from Belgrade to Cacak to one hour," Mihajlovic stated.
BOUFFIER MEETS WITH VULIN, NEDIMOVIC
BELGRADE, 1 March 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans' Affairs and Welfare Aleksandar Vulin met on March 1 with Minister President Volker Bouffier of Hesse, Germany to discuss the migrant crisis and the consequences that both states are facing. Bouffier stressed that he was impressed with the results Serbia had achieved in past years in employment, and that Germany supported Serbia's European path, the Ministry of Labor said in a press release. Bouffier also spoke with Serbian Agriculture and Environmental Protection Minister Branislav Nedimovic, about stepping up cooperation in agriculture and water management, the ministry announced. According to the press release, the two officials also discussed waste water, processing solid waste and the use of biomass. Nedimovic and Bouffier agreed to boost cooperation with a view to a deal between Serbia and Hesse on land consolidation and flood protection.
TWO TURKISH COMPANIES ANNOUNCE INVESTMENTS IN SERBIA
ISTANBUL, 1 March 2017 (Beta) - The Serbian minister for trade, tourism and telecommunications, Rasim Ljajic, met in Istanbul on March 1 with the leading Turkish textiles producers, rallied in the Department for Trade Cooperation of Turkey (DEIK), and two companies from that field announced the start of their investments in Serbia for March. According to the ministry, Ljajic informed the Turkish investors about the benefits of investing in Serbia, and about the incentives they would be entitled to. He stressed that Serbia had the best business environment in the region and the most favorable conditions for foreign investors, and an experienced and qualified workforce in the textile sector. Ljajic added that 136 commercial subjects of Turkish owners were registered in Serbia in the past year and that this was a clear indicator that the two countries' economic relations were constantly on the rise.