Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press service
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DAILY SURVEY 12.05.2017.
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BELGRADE, 11 May 2017 (Beta) – Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said on May 11 in a discussion with a delegation from Foton Motor from China and Inesa Europe from Hungary that the doors to foreign companies interested in investing in the economy were "wide open," as well as that the country was ready to support all business projects in which it recognized a mutual interest. A statement from the president's office quoted Nikolic as saying that a much more favorable business environment was present in Serbia compared with five years ago, adding that foreign companies would have the full cooperation of all state organs at any time. Nikolic told representatives of the Foton Motor company that it was impressive how fast Chinese companies adopted new technologies and were beginning to dictate the pace of technological development around the globe. Foton Motor corporation director Gary Gao presented the corporation's activities to Nikolic, which among other areas includes the manufacture of vehicles, researching new energy sources and the production of agricultural machinery. Gao voiced his interest in discussing with Belgrade officials the purchase of electric buses for public transportation in the capital. Gao stressed that the corporation he represented was interested in carrying out numerous economic projects in partnership with Serbia.


BELGRADE, 11 May 2017 (Beta) – Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic met on May 11 with the European commissioner for the internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises, Elzbieta Bienkowska, and discussed Serbia's European path, problems in the dialogue with Pristina and the EU's support to Serbia through loan programs for SMEs. According to the Serbian government's statement, Vucic told the European commissioner that Serbia's top foreign policy priorities were EU membership, regional cooperation, development of relations with the neighbors and the continued policy of reconciliation, and pointed out that Serbia was a credible partner to the EU. He said he feared that the recent messages and ideas about the creation of a Greater Albania, which were coming from Pristina, would slow the dialogue down and jeopardize regional stability, the statement reads. Commissioner Bienkowska pointed out that Serbia was the pillar of stability in the region and that it was necessary to work on the preservation of peace and good neighborly relations. Bienkowska also welcomed the reforms the Serbian government had carried out and stressed that it was necessary to work on the privatization of large public enterprises. She congratulated Prime Minister Vucic for winning the Serbian presidential election. Vucic said he believed the Western Balkan region was ready for a deeper form of economic integration through the establishing of a common market, which would improve the competitiveness of the region as a whole.


NEW YORK, 11 May 2017 (Beta) – U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has voiced his concern over obstacles blocking the continuation of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and carrying out agreements reached through dialogue, as well as the rise of nationalism. In the latest UNMIK quarterly report which the U.N. Security Council will review on May 16, Guterres said that the EU-mediated Belgrade-Pristina dialogue "is the best available instrument for a peaceful resolution of differences to each side's benefit." He said that practical execution of agreements reached in the dialogue had been "extremely slow" in the observed period from Jan. 16 to April 15. Not one concrete step was taken toward establishing the Community of Serb Municipalities, while steps being taken to end the integration of the judiciary in Kosovo's north have been postponed, the report states. Guterres said that the rise of ethnic and nationalistic sentiments was cause for serious concern, adding that measures that encouraged ethnic divisions did not contribute to the better life of people and stability in the region. The report points to the first event that marked the previous period as Kosovo President Hashim Thaci's attempt to transform Kosovo's security forces into an armed force by changing the law, not the Constitution, which had stirred up a controversy and elicited strong opposition from Kosovo Serbs, Belgrade and the international community, especially the U.S. and NATO. The report also states that Daut Haradinaj, an MP of the opposition Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, threatened war and "an ethnically clean Kosovo," if his brother Ramush, who was in custody at the time in France, was extradited to Serbia, which encountered the strong condemnation of the international community and president of Kosovo. Serbian Minister of Justice Nela Kuburovic will represent Serbia at the Security Council session and is expected to speak on a statement by former OSCE verification commission chief in Kosovo William Walker that he was working on a project for unifying all Albanians, in Kosovo, Albania and the diaspora.


TORINO, 11 May 2017 (Beta) – EU High Representative Federica Mogherini has said that "the EU is strong despite Brexit and attacks of populism" and that it is now looking to incorporate the Balkan states "despite that being a long and winding road." Mogherini told the Italian La Stampa newspaper that the EU was an example of stability and that the future of the EU was in further expansion and the incorporation of Western Balkan countries, which she referred to as the reunification of Europe. The EU official said that after an exposition in the U.N. in New York, and when asked by La Stampa "will Great Britain's cancellation of its membership weaken the EU," she replied: "I am fully confident that the future of the EU will not be to stop at 27 states, but that we will have new members."By that I mean the Balkan countries that we are negotiating membership with," Mogherini said.She added that many people called the process "expansion," but that she preferred to refer to it as "the reuniting of Europe." "Not only is the EU not going back, rather it is going forward with new momentum, especially bearing the membership of the Balkan countries in mind," she said. Asked how far efforts to bring Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo closer to the EU had come, thereby overcoming their differences, the EU official replied that owing to relations between each country individually with the EU "we have succeeded to a great extent in healing the wounds of conflict which occurred just 20 years ago." "The road is still long and arduous and does not always go in a straight line, but I am convinced that it will continue, owing also to the fact that each of these countries has a chance to become a part of the EU," Mogherini said.


BELGRADE, 11 May 2017 (Beta) – During a visit to China, a Serbian delegation will sign two agreements and a contract on the modernization of the Belgrade-Budapest railway, worth 3.2 billion euros in total, the Serbian deputy prime minister and minister of construction, transportation and infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlovic, said on May 11. These are the segment from Novi Sad to Subotica, worth USD700 million, and two agreements on Corridor XI: the extension from Preljina to Pozega and from Pozega to Boljare, the minister told the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation. The reconstruction of the Belgrade-Budapest railway section to Stara Pazova, which is financed from the Russian credit, is to start this year, and the contract, which is to be signed in China, is "the sign that financing has been secured in full" and that the start of works on this part of the railway could be expected this year, Mihajlovic added. "That is the first high-speed railway - 200 kilometers per hour. That is the biggest project in this region... We can expect to have the completed modernization within the next two or two and a half years," she said, adding that the total value of all projects between Serbia and China, including the completed Zemun-Borca bridge on the Danube, was 5.6 billion euros. In her words, the reason why all this is being done is to create room for the domestic companies to participate in construction works in Serbia. She stressed the importance of the visit to China, because Prime Minister Vucic will talk with Chinese officials about the opening of direct flights between Belgrade and Beijing, the RTB Bor mining and smelting complex and other issues that are important for the economy.


BELGRADE, 11 May 2017 (Beta) – The interior ministers of Serbia and Belarus, Nebojsa Stefanovic and Igor Shunevich, met on May 11 to discuss the improvement of cooperation between the two countries in fighting terrorism and all forms of crime. At the meeting in Belgrade's Palace of Serbia, the interlocutors also announced the exchange of experts and students between the two states. Stefanovic said that Serbia could learn from Belarus, primarily in the area of fighting high-tech crime, and that the cooperation of the two countries was important to stopping illegal migrations. He said that cooperation between the two states and police forces was good and that the fact that there were 242 "information exchanges" between Belarus and Serbia last year or "nearly daily," proved that. "Cooperation is good, but it could be better," Igor Shunevich, Stefanovic's Belarusian counterpart said. Shunevich said that Belarus regarded cooperation with Serbia as important, as both countries shared similar problems and security challenges. "Cooperation will be continued and improved," Shunevich said.


BELGRADE, 11 May 2017 (Beta) –  Two new contracts of guarantees were signed in the Serbian government building on May 11, within the European COSME program for competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises, which will secure direct guarantees to banks for supporting 4,600 SMEs in Serbia with loans totaling EUR200 million. The contracts were signed by the executive director of the European Investment Fund (EIF), Pier Luigi Gilibert, the president of the Executive Board of Banca Intesa, Draginja Djuric, and the president of the Executive Board of UniCredit Bank Serbia, Csilla Ihasz. Minister of Trade Goran Knezevic, who attended the signing of the contracts, said that Serbia, like Europe, drew its biggest potential and strength from SMEs, which accounted for 98 percent of commercial subjects in Serbia and contributed more than 50 percent of Serbia's GDP. He stressed that the COSME program was very important for Serbia because that instrument secured even more new cheap loans for SMEs. The European commissioner for the internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elzbieta Bienkowska, whom Minister Knezevic invited to visit Serbia, said she was pleased with the signing of these contracts. The COSME agreement between the European Union and Serbia, which enabled Serbia's participation in the program, was signed in Brussels on Nov. 10, 2015. By signing the agreement, Serbia became the seventh country outside the European Union entitled to funding from the COSME program, after Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Moldova, Armenia and Turkey.


BELGRADE, 11 May 2017 (Beta) – The European commissioner for the internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elzbieta Bienkowska, said on May 11 that Serbia's economic growth in 2016 was the result of ambitious reforms that were showing results. At a panel discussion on industrial policy and the development of small and medium enterprises, held at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Bienkowska said that Serbia had so far improved the business environment for SMEs and simplified procedures. Bienkowska said that growth and new jobs were needed in Serbia and the EU alike, recollecting that the EU was Serbia's biggest trade partner as it accounted for 50 percent of Serbia's overall trade.Trade between Serbia and the EU is growing and it increased by nine percent last year, she pointed out, adding that the EU's investments in Serbia between 2005 and 2015 amounted to EUR13 billion, 15 times bigger than investments by other partners. Bienkowska said that Serbia was on a good path and that she was pleased with the progress in her field of work. Minister of Economy Goran Knezevic said that SMEs accounted for the bulk of Serbia's economy, contributed 50 percent to GDP growth and employed two thirds of people in the non-financial sector.


BELGRADE, 11 May 2017 (Beta) – German Ambassador to Serbia Axel Dittmann has said that all statements with the purpose of changing borders in the Balkans are dangerous and useless, as well as that Germany does not accept that, the May 11 edition of Vecernje Novosti reported. "Germany does not accept that, we are saying so publicly and that is the position of the EU as well," Dittmann said in response to the newspaper's question of how he saw statements by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Bujanovac Mayor Jonuz Musliu on a project for a "Greater Albania." "It is important that all sides verbally deescalate. Now is the time to move on and lower tensions," Dittman said, adding that he strongly supported Serbia's strategic decision to become a member of the EU. He voiced his hope that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina would continue soon, as well as that open questions including the creation of the Community of Serb Municipalities would be discussed. "I am overjoyed that the Serbian side has very clearly stated that it is committed to continuing the dialogue on the normalization of ties as soon as possible," he said. Dittmann said that reconciliation remained an important and significant challenge in the region, adding that Serbia had in that respect launched important initiatives and that Germany saw it as a pivotal state and factor of stability.


NIS, 11 May 2017 (Beta) – The Danish ambassador to Serbia, Morten Skovgaard Hansen, said in Nis on May 11 that Serbia and Denmark this year marked 100 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, and that cooperation between the two countries was nowadays best visible in reforms and European integration. We hope the reforms in the judiciary will improve, as will the fight against corruption, and that will contribute to the development of the economy in Serbia, Hansen said at a round table discussion organized within the Serbian Cluster Day. He said there had been many improvements in the Serbian economy in recent years, with an increase in gross national product, among other things. Hansen said the south of Serbia was very important for Denmark, because Danish development programs LEDIB and Fruits and Berries had been carried out there, and that the positive effects of the two programs on the development of southern Serbia were ongoing. The former director of the LEDIB development program, Karsten Lund, said it was realized in the south of Serbia from 2007 to 2012, with the aim to improve the development of SMEs and create new jobs.


BELGRADE, 11 May 2017 (Beta) – The ambassador of Finland to Serbia, Pertti Ikonen, said in Belgrade on May 11 that Finland was a country of innovation, where education was the key to success. He said that young people in Finland learned economics and entrepreneurship from high school and that Finland helped startup companies, which contributed greatly to the culture of innovation. Ikonen also said that Finland was second in Europe and fifth in the world according to the population happiness index. He said that, for Finland, the European Union meant prosperity and peace, stability and more trade, and that a strong EU was necessary because of globalization and competition from other countries. Asked to comment on Serbia's aim to become an EU member, Ikonen said that standards for admission were very high and called for years of work, but that this process also strengthened the candidate country and provided many benefits. The Embassy's economic adviser, Igor Madzarevic, said that Finland was a very demanding market, but that it had room for Serbian products, especially food. The Embassy of Finland played host to the students of the Faculty of Economy, the Faculty for Economy, Finance and Administration and to members of the Youth Economic Forum NGO, on the occasion of Europe Day and the 60th birthday of the European Economic Community.


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