CONSTRUCTION OF APARTMENTS FOR REFUGEES STARTS IN PARACIN
PARACIN, 6 April 2017 (Beta) - The construction of 20 apartments for the most endangered refugee families from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina began in Paracin with the laying of a cornerstone on April 6. The apartments are being built as part of the Regional Housing Program (Project 2) and so far the construction of 20 apartments each has begun in Prokuplje, Krusevac, and Sremska Mitrovica. Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said while laying the cornerstone that the program was a watershed moment in relations in the region and that he hoped that the participating countries would implement it above all through addressing the civic status of refugees and social issues. "The past period was not easy for us, a lot of effort, patience and above all endurance were needed before we began taking concrete steps toward realization with our partner states in the region. Experience teaches us that there is no simple, administrative solution to the refugee problem," said Dacic, who is president of the Commission for Coordinating the Process of Permanent Integration of Refugees and president of the management of the Regional Housing program. Project 2 envisages the construction of 200 apartments in nine cities in Serbia. In addition to Paracin, apartments will be built in Sremska Mitrovica, Krusevac, Prokuplje, Vrsac, Bajina Basta, Sabac, Kikinda and Sid. The overall purpose of the program is to solve the housing problems of 27,000 of the most endangered refugee families in the region, of whom 16,870 reside in Serbia.
CHINESE AMBASSADOR CONVEYS XI JINPING'S CONGRATULATIONS TO VUCIC
BELGRADE, 6 April 2017 (Beta) - The Chinese ambassador to Serbia, Li Manchang, on April 6 congratulated Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on the election victory and conveyed the congratulations of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who reiterated the readiness for developing the strategic partnership between Serbia and China. "I attribute great attention to Chinese-Serbian relations and I hold in high regard your significant contribution to the development of friendly cooperation... I am prepared to invest efforts, with you, towards the constant improvement of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Serbia to a higher level, for the greater benefit of the two peoples," Xi Jinping wrote in the congratulatory message. A statement issued by the Serbian government reads that Vucic has accepted the invitation to participate in the Belt and Road Forum for international cooperation in Beijing in May, which is "an opportunity to arrange new joint projects with our Chinese friends and strengthen the economic and all other forms of cooperation, to which the establishing of direct flights between Serbia and China would contribute the most." Vucic stressed that the Serbian citizens understood more and more the importance of cooperation with China and supported the close and friendly relations between the two countries, the development of which would be one of his priorities as president, the statement reads.
The presidents of Poland and Switzerland, Andrzej Duda and Doris Leuthard, also congratulated Vucic on his election as president, the Serbian government stated on April 6.
STEFANOVIC, EU REPRESENTATIVE DISCUSS SERBIA'S EUROPEAN INTEGRATION
BELGRADE, 6 April 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic and the director for the Western Balkans at the Directorate-General for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, Genoveva Ruiz Cavalera, talked in Belgrade about Serbia's progress in European integration, with special emphasis on Chapters 23 and 24. A statement released by the Interior Ministry reads that Stefanovic and Cavalera concurred that it was necessary to invest all the required effort into the realization of activities within Chapters 23 and 24, primarily in the harmonization of the domestic legal framework with the EU acquis. Minister Stefanovic expressed gratitude for the EU's recent donation and stressed that the donated vehicles were already significantly contributing to the more efficient control of our border. The recent sending of Serbia's liaison officers to the headquarters of Europol, Stefanovic said, was one more step toward more efficient cooperation in the joint preservation of security and European values, the statement reads.
KUBUROVIC, EC DIRECTOR: CHAPTERS 23 AND 24 BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN SERBIA'S EU INTEGRATION
BELGRADE, 6 April 2017 (Beta) - Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic and the director for the Western Balkans at the Directorate-General for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, concurred on April 6 that Chapters 23 and 24 were "the biggest challenges" in Serbia's further progress toward full EU membership. According to the statement of the Justice Ministry, Kuburovic and Calavera said during their meeting in Belgrade that the implementation of action plans for these chapters envisaged "the biggest work and dedication." Stating that the Justice Ministry was the main coordinator for the implementation of the Action Plan for Chapter 23, Kuburovic said the fulfilling of activities envisaged in that action plan depended on the 49 institutions included in it. She added that the Action Plan clearly defined which measure and in what deadline each of these institutions had to implement.
EC'S REGIONAL DIRECTOR: SERBIA ON GOOD PATH TO EU
BELGRADE, 6 April 2017 (Beta) - The director for the Western Balkans at the Directorate-General for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of the European Commission, Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, said on April 6 that Serbia was on a good path toward full membership in the European Union. The Serbian government has stated that, during her meeting with the minister in charge of European integration Jadranka Joksimovic, Calavera welcomed Serbia's constructive approach to the issues that were crucial for the EU and praised the activities of the state and everybody in the EU integration sector. The two officials concurred that challenges existed regarding the use of 80 million euros envisaged in the agreement on the sector-specific budget assistance for the reform of public governance, and that better coordination and political decision-making regarding priorities were necessary. Minister Joksimovic stressed that Serbia was clearly determined to continue the process of association with the EU, because membership was in its strategic interest. Joksimovic said that eight chapters had been opened in Serbia's negotiations with the EU, of which two had been temporarily closed. She added that Belgrade would be "technically prepared" by the end of this year for the opening of several other chapters.
DNA OF SERBIAN CULTURE ALMOST DESTROYED IN BOMBING OF LIBRARY, SAYS CULTURE MINISTER
BELGRADE, 6 April 2017 (Beta) - On April 6, the National Library of Serbia marked 76 years since its bombing in the April War of 1941, in which more than 300,000 books and other valuable manuscripts burned, while Minister of Culture Vladan Vukosavljevic said that it was "a tragedy with many expressions and faces." "They tried and almost destroyed the DNA of Serbian culture, with the aim for one people, its memory, spirit and identity to be surrendered to oblivion," Vukosavljevic said on the occasion of the Day of Remembrance of the perishing of the National Library, and recollected that the fire, which had not been extinguished because of the shock of the population, "for three days devoured the most valuable things we possessed." In his words, the enemy knew very well what he was doing on that April 6, and that the destruction of books was not a chance event. The minister said this flame, in the metaphysical sense, merged with the flame that destroyed the relics of St. Sava in the Vracar quarter. The manager of the National Library, Laslo Blaskovic, recalled that the Nazi bombing of Belgrade destroyed the building of the National Library and almost everything that had been kept there since its founding. "There were 1,300 Cyrillic manuscripts, of which 100 handwritten books on parchment, 200 old printed books and incunables, charters, a collection of more recent manuscripts, an unstudied collection of Turkish documents on Serbia and Belgrade, a collection of letters that were important for politics, culture and literary history, a collection of old maps and paintings and around 300,000 copies of magazines and books," Blaskovic said. In his words, complete sets of all Serbian magazines, almanacs and calendars and an exceptional collection of Serbian and foreign newspapers, also perished in that bombing.