WORKING GROUP MEETS TO NORMALIZE AIR TRAFFIC ABOVE KiM
BELGRADE, 6 March 2017 (Beta) - Minister of Defense Zoran Djordjevic headed the March 6 session of a working group, dealing with the normalization of air traffic above the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, the Ministry of Defense reported in a press release. The ministry explained that the working group had discussed the details of a negotiating platform to be presented to the Serbian government, while the pressing issues arising from the group's authority would be discussed in Serbia and in Brussels. The Serbian government set up the working group headed by the defense minister to deal with the normalization of civilian air traffic above KiM, including the re-establishment of a Belgrade-Pristina air service. Aside from experts of the defense ministry and the Serbian army, the working group includes experts from the the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure, the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, the Office for the Coordination of the Negotiating Process with the Interim Authorities in Pristina, the Civil Aviation Directorate and the Flight Control Agency of Serbia and Montenegro.
WORKING GROUP TO UNCOVER CRIMES IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA MEETS
BELGRADE, 6 March 2017 (Beta) - A working group collecting the facts and evidence to shed light on crimes against Serbs and other ethnic communities in Kosovo and Metohija met for a third session on March 6. The Ministry of Defense reported that at the session in the old army headquarters building the working group analyzed the work of the group, and defined intense activities for the coming period. The session was attended by the defense minister, Zoran Djordjevic, the state secretaries at the interior and justice ministries, Biljana Popovic Ivkovic and Radomir Ilic, as well representatives of the state agencies involved in the working group of the Serbian parliament's Committee on Kosovo and Metohija.
MOGHERINI: SITUATION IN WESTERN BALKANS TENSE, EU'S STRONG SUPPORT REQUIRED
BRUSSELS, 6 March 2017 (Beta) - The situation in the Western Balkans is tense and susceptible to internal, regional and global challenges, which is why the EU's strong and convincing support is required to the region's integration, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said in Brussels on March 6. Prior to a meeting of the EU member states foreign and defense ministers, Mogherini told reporters that in her report to EU foreign ministers and later heads of state about her recent tour of the Western Balkans, she would inform them that "the situation there is susceptible to internal, regional and global challenges." She said that it was a region with the capability and strength to abide by the fact that the EU's credibility should be present there. After the meeting, Mogherini said that the ministers had underlined their strong support to the EU's commitment to "a convincing EU future of the entire Western Balkans."
IMF: SERBIA CONTINUES TO DELIVER STRONG RESULTS, STRUCTURAL CHALLENGES PERSIST
BELGRADE, 6 March 2017 (Beta) - "The near-term macroeconomic outlook is positive, however risks remain and structural challenges persist," the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on March 6, winding up a visit by its mission to Serbia, headed by James Roaf. In the statement, Roaf said that "Serbia's economic program continues to deliver strong results. Growth picked up to 2.8 percent in 2016, with rising investment, exports and employment." The statement further said that "fiscal performance continues to out-perform program targets. The general government deficit narrowed to 1.4 percent of GDP, the lowest level since 2005, and general government debt fell to 74 percent of GDP in 2016. Importantly, unemployment is on a firm declining trend, as are nonperforming loans in the banking sector." "The near-term macroeconomic outlook is positive, with growth projected at 3 percent in 2017 and inflation expected to remain within the target band," Roaf said in the statement. "However, risks remain and structural economic challenges persist. In this context, the mission stressed the need to fully implement the authorities' reform agenda to cement hard-won macroeconomic gains, reduce fiscal risks from state-owned enterprises, further strengthen financial stability, and boost Serbia's medium-term growth and employment," according to the statement. A full mission for the seventh review under the new semi-annual review schedule is planned for May.
VERHEIJEN: WORLD BANK TO APPROVE USD 640 MIL TO SERBIA IN 2017
NIS, 6 March 2017 (Beta) - World Bank Country Manager for Serbia Tony Verheijen said on March 6 that the bank would approve USD 640 million in loans to Serbia in 2017. In the village of Medosevac, near the southern Serbian city of Nis, Verheijen said that a USD 50 million loan had already been approved for early childhood development. "Another loan in the amount of USD 400 million will serve to support the budget for the railway reform and public companies - public utility EPS and state natural gas company Srbijagas," he said. Verheijen further said that. This year, the bank would also approve a USD 70 million loan for setting up an insurance fund for potential disasters. "Funds will also be ensured to support the financial sector, primarily to state-owned Banka Postanska Stedionica and state-owned insurer Dunav Osiguranje," he said. One of the last loans to be disbursed to Serbia in 2017, according to Verheijen, will be for improving energy efficiency of public buildings, such as schools and hospitals. Verheijen went on to say that the World Bank was happy with the progress achieved in the reform of EPS. "Last week, we met with the line minister and saw that the measures proposed by the bank have been implemented. In July, we will again review the trends concerning EPS," he noted.
EUR 28 MIL WORTH OF PROJECTS FOR SERBIA-HUNGARY CROSS-BORDER COOP APPROVED
NOVI SAD, 6 March 2017 (Beta) - All five projects for Hungary-Serbian cross-border cooperation, submitted under the Interreg-IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Program Hungary-Serbia, with a total value of EUR 28 million, have been approved, it was said at a news conference at the Vojvodina government on March 6. The projects have three priorities: improve cross-border waterways management and risk management systems, reduction of cross-border traffic bottlenecks and encouraging cooperation in the fields of tourism and cultural heritage, according to Ognjen Bjelic, the provincial secretary for regional development, inter-regional cooperation and local governments. "Grants provided by the EU's Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) for both countries total more than EUR 24 million, which along with 15 percent financed nationally amounts to more than EUR 28.4 million," Bjelic said. He specified that out of IPA's funds, some EUR 14 million would go to Hungary and more than EUR 10 million to Serbia. From IPA's funds, a total of some EUR 5.9 million will be used for a project for water supply systems and development of water supply infrastructure, more than EUR 7 million for improving the areas along the Baja–Bezdan canal, while more than EUR 3 million will be directed for the Subotica-Baja railway section. Further, more than EUR 4.5 million under IPA's funds will go toward developing the cross-border road Kibekhaza (HU) – Rabe (SRB) and more than EUR 3 million for enhancing cooperation in the fields of tourism and cultural heritage.