ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO MEET WITH VUCIC, DACIC
BELGRADE, 13 March 2017 (Beta) - Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano will meet with Serbian officials in Belgrade on March 14 to discuss Serbia's and the Western Balkan's EU integration process and ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation. According to a release from the Italian Embassy, Alfano will on March 14 meet with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic to discuss "common challenges and goals, with special emphasis on enhancing bilateral cooperation, Rome's backing to Serbia's EU integration within regional cooperation, and the migrant issues." While in Belgrade, Alfano is also scheduled to meet with a number of Italian businesspeople operating in Serbia. Currently, some 600 Italian companies operate in Serbia. He will also visit the Giovanni Falcone courtroom and talk with judges and Italian experts working in the fields judiciary and security in Serbia, according to the release. Alfano will arrive in Belgrade as part of preparations for the upcoming Western Balkan Summit, which Italy will organize in Trieste on July 12. After Belgrade, Alfono will travel to Tirana. Prior to his Belgrade visit, Alfano said "the process of the Western Balkan EU integration is necessary for the completion of the European project," and that Italy decisively and wholeheartedly supported that idea, among other things, because of its direct interest in stability of the region, which bordered on Italy, and also for the promotion of Italy's system in the world.
VUCIC: BELGRADE IS READY TO CONTINUE DIALOGUE WITH PRISTINA
BELGRADE, 13 March 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that Belgrade was ready to continue the dialogue with Pristina. "We are ready for the dialogue, today, tomorrow, on any day. It seems to me that some international actors haven't realised how serious Pristina was when it decided to reject the talks, and I'm afraid, not of their strength or what they might do against us, but rather because any instability is extremely detrimental to us," Vucic said in Belgrade. This was the Serbian PM's answer to a reporter's question about when he expected the dialogue to continue, as the Kosovo parliament had passed a resolution, demanding that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue be suspended until Ramush Haradinay is released.
VUCIC TO MEET MERKEL IN BERLIN
BELGRADE, 13 March 2017 (Beta) - Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on March 14. The meeting would focus on the situation in the region and new German investors in Serbia, Vucic told Belgrade's Happy TV. The two officials will also discuss all important regional issues.
ETIHAD AVIATION GROUP OPENS SHARED SERVICES CENTER IN BELGRADE
BELGRADE, 13 March 2017 (Beta) - The Etihad Aviation Group opened in Belgrade, a Shared Services Center, which will perform shared operations for air companies included in the Etihad Airways Partners, including a contact center and a loyalty program.
Initially, the new center will employ 200 people, and the plan is to employ a total of 685 by 2020. The center is equipped to receive 4.4 million calls by 2020. The center's staff will offer booking services, including sales, itinerary changes and special requests. Serbian Prime Ministers Aleksandar Vucic said at the opening of the center that he was happy that a decision had been made to open the center in Serbia, making it clear that Serbia could do what the best nations in the world can, and that "we can join those nations." The Serbian PM said that Serbia could say that it had a very decent air company, and that in three and a half years, the number of passengers using the Belgrade airport had doubled, while the number of Air Serbia's passengers had increased 2.6 times over. The center will be a contact center and run a loyalty program for Etihad Airways, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles and Etihad Regional. The plan is to include Alitalia and Air Berlin in the foreseeable future.
MIHAJLOVIC: WORKS ON BELGRADE BYPASS TO RESUME SOON
BELGRADE, 13 March 2017 (Beta) - In a meeting with Azerbaijani Ambassador to Serbia Eldar Hasanov on March 13, Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Zorana Mihajlovic said that works on the Ostruznica-Bubanj Potok section of the Belgrade bypass would resume soon. The meeting focused on the section, where the main contractor will be the Azerbaijani company AzVirt and China's Sinohydro, according to a statement from the ministry. Mihajlovic recalled that together with public road management company Putevi Srbije, the client, she had signed a commercial contract with China for that section, worth EUR207 million. Under the contract, domestic companies should perform 49 percent of works. AzVirt was the main contractor for the Ljig-Preljina section of the Corridor 11 highway, which opened for traffic in November 2016.
MISCEVIC: NO NEW TERMS RELATED TO ETHNIC MINORITY RIGHTS
BELGRADE, 13 March 2017 (Beta) - Serbia's chief negotiator in the talks with the European Union (EU), Tanja Miscevic, said that there were no terms related to the rights of ethnic minorities, and that European laws were very clear in that department, allowing for open issues to be resolved in a dialogue. In a debate on the Action Plan on the exercise of ethnic minority rights, organized by the Center of Modern Politics and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Miscevic said that the issue of ethnic minorities might be used to attach additional conditions, but that it was "Serbia's blessing and curse," to have "as many neighbors that have joined the EU already." "We don't want Serbia's treatment of ethnic minorities and its own citizens to be involved in the negotiating process, because those issues can be solved in an open dialogue," Tanja Miscevic said. Miscevic underlined that it was in the best interest of Croatia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, as well as the countries outside the direct neighborhood, like Slovenia and Greece, that Serbia made progress in the EU integration. The Serbian chief negotiator explained that the EU "does not create the standards, rights and rules," and that there were no EU-specific documents to govern the rights of ethnic minorities, aside from the Convention of Basic Rights, but that the Union "borrows" them from the Council of Europe, referring to the European Convention on the Protection of Rights of Ethnic Minorities. Miscevic said that the implementation of the Council's document implied reports issued every other year, and that the organization had found that the protection of ethnic minority rights in Serbia was at a very high level.