Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press service
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DAILY SURVEY 09.06.2017.
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MADRID, 8 June 2017 (Beta) – The excellent political ties between Spain and Serbia provide an incentive for the quicker development of economic, educational and cultural cooperation between the two countries, it was stated in Madrid on June 8 during the talks of Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic with Spanish officials. Dacic, who is the acting prime minister of Serbia, had separate talks with the speaker of the House of Representatives of the Congress, Ana Pastor, and Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis, the Serbian Foreign Ministry has said in a press release. During the meeting "they concurred that interstate bilateral cooperation is at an exceptionally high level, that there is full accord regarding the honoring of principles of international law and territorial integrity of countries." They also concurred that "excellent political relations provide an incentive for the quicker development of economic, educational and cultural cooperation", read the press release. During the meetings, the officials also concurred that "Spain's support to Serbia's European integration is crucial for its success on that path."


BELGRADE, 8 June 2017 (Beta) – The European commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policy, Johannes Hahn, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic concurred in Belgrade on June 8 that the forming of a joint market in the Western Balkans would bring benefits to all the countries and that a market of 20 million people would make the region more attractive for the European Union. Vucic and Hahn said at the news conference after the meeting that the creation of a unified economic zone in the region would bring benefits such as quicker and easier transportation of goods, lower expenses and more investment. The European commissioner said that cooperation between the countries in the region, peace and security were important for the economic and political prosperity of the countries, and stressed Serbia's key role in that. Serbia has the key role in the region, whether somebody likes it or not, it is the biggest country in the region and bears a particular type of responsibility, which it takes seriously, Hahn said. The European official said European prospects had no alternative and that he was pleased to see Serbia making good progress on the path of European integration. I hope we will open two new chapters at the next meeting in Brussels in a few days, and continue with the opening of new chapters during this year, Hahn added. The Serbian president said economic prosperity depended on peace and stability in the region, which was the most important goal for Serbia, and that Belgrade would continue the dialogue with Pristina. Vucic also said that some of Serbia's tasks were to continue the path to Europe, internal dialogue about constitutional changes and the issue of Kosovo and Metohija.


BELGRADE, 8 June 2017 (Beta) – Serbian Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic met on June 8 with the Lebanese nominee for the position of general director of UNESCO, Vera El Khoury Lacoeuilhe, who presented the program and priorities within her campaign For Our Children. Gojkovic advocated the strengthening of the fundamental values of UNESCO and, in that context, inquired about the Lebanese candidate's priorities, with emphasis on the field of education, read a statement issued by the Office of the Serbian Parliament Speaker. In connection with Ms Lacoeuilhe's advocating the removing of politics from the work of UNESCO, Gojkovic inquired about her stand regarding the possible future attempts of the authorities in Pristina and of those who supported putting Kosovo's admission to UNESCO on the agenda. Gojkovic stressed the importance Serbia attributed to the work of UNESCO in the context of protection of Serbian cultural heritage, especially in Kosovo and Metohija.


BELGRADE, 8 June 2017 (Beta) – The European enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, said in Belgrade on June 8 that the countries of the region needed greater investments in order to become prosperous and that he expected support for the concept of the Western Balkan economic zone at the next summit of the EU and regional leaders in Trieste. The EU is determined to enlarge and it is the common wish to be a part of the European family. All countries have the need for greater investments in order to become prosperous EU members. That is the best way to stimulate the economy and accelerate growth, Hahn said at the opening of the EU-Western Balkan forum on investment climate. The key matters for the improvement of investment climate are the rule of law, strong and independent institutions and modernized public governance, Hahn said. When there is gray economy, which lowers state revenue, crates unfair competition and lower job quality, then the investors will not come, Hahn said. Hahn said the EU had designated EUR1.3 billion in grants with the aim of physically connecting the region with the rest of Europe, and that the goal was to increase investments to 13.5 billion by 2020, in key sectors like energy and transportation, and added that private investments were still too low in the Western Balkans. The European commissioner said trade between the EU and the Western Balkans had more than doubled in the past ten years, to EUR44 billion, and that the region's exports had grown from seven to 18 billion. Foreign direct investments from the EU in the region accounted for 50 percent of all investments in 2015, with more than 60 percent having been placed in Serbia, Hahn said, adding that the creation of a regional economic zone would contribute to greater investment possibilities.


BELGRADE, 8 June 2017 (Beta) – The EU enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, said on June 8 that Germany's new plan for the Western Balkans, the so-called Berlin Plus, was not a replacement for membership in the EU. This is not a replacement. It only demonstrates the resolve of the member states, and especially Germany, to invest in the region, Hahn said at a news conference in Belgrade after a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. He said he would like that not to remain just an idea, but for the funds needed to finance this plan to actually be found. It is important to direct the investments in the right way, so that they do not dissipate in different directions, Hahn said. At the start of June, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel presented a new plan for the Western Balkans - Berlin Plus, as an additional incentive for the Berlin Process, with the aim of making the region an attractive economic space and bringing visible improvements to the local population.


BELGRADE, 8 June 2017 (Beta) – The German ambassador to Serbia, Axel Dittmann, said on June 8 that Germany wanted the Berlin Process to be absolutely successful, because regional cooperation was important for the countries' progress and their quicker path to the EU. In a statement to reporters in the Serbian government building, after the signing of contracts on loans of the German Development Bank (KfW) for water supply projects, Dittmann indicated the importance of investing in the development of regional infrastructure. "We want the Berlin Process to be absolutely successful and this is why German Minister of Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel made a series of proposals for making the Berlin Process even more efficient," Dittmann said, adding that the purpose of the plan was to provide better access to funds and further work on the development of dual education. At the start of June, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel presented a new plan for the Western Balkans - the "Berlin Plus" agenda, as an additional incentive for the Berlin Process, with the aim of making the region an attractive economic space and bringing visible improvements to the local population. Dittmann said these were concrete proposals which would be considered at the summit in Trieste in July. "The important thing is for regional cooperation to be incited at this summit, to help the region on its path to the EU, make it more prepared and help the countries individually on their paths to the EU," Dittmann said. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Zorana Mihajlovic told reporters at the government headquarters that Berlin Plus did not represent compensation for the slowing down of Serbia's accession to the EU and added that each additional investment fund for Serbia was welcome.


BELGRADE, 8 June 2017 (Beta) – Members of the Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs met in Belgrade on June 8 with a delegation from the Czech Senate while the main subjects of their talks were Serbia's European integration, events in Kosovo and Metohija and the migrant crisis, the Serbian Parliament has said in a statement. Committee chair Marija Obradovic stressed in the meeting that joining the EU was the priority of Serbia's foreign policy and that it was confirmed by the vast majority of MPs in Parliament who supported European integrations. She said that Serbia expected to open two more negotiating chapters and said that European integration was primarily important from the aspect of the standards that it introduced in a country, enabling its better functioning and advancing the rule of law. During the conversation, Czech delegation head Frantisek Bublan stressed support for Serbia's European integration and the importance of regional cooperation, and added that it was important that the states in the region solved problems on their own. On the other side, chair of Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs voiced her concern over the rise of Albanian political power in Macedonia and the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, as well as the lack of an adequate reaction from the international community with regard to these tendencies. She pointed to the jeopardizing of the human rights of the Serb population in Kosovo and Metohija the problems that they faced in education and health and limited movement. Speaking about the migrant crisis, Marija Obradovic said that so far around a million migrants had passed through Serbia, which exceeded Serbia's capacities, but that nonetheless there were no major problems in organizing and receiving the migrants, or reactions from the local population.


BELGRADE, 8 June 2017 (Beta) – Chairman of the Serbian Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs Zarko Obradovic has said in a discussion with a visiting Czech Senate delegation that the main objective of Serbia's foreign policy was membership in the EU, but also continuing good cooperation with Russia and China, a statement released from Parliament has said. Obradovic stressed that Serbia had over the past several years been a major factor in promoting peace, stability and cooperation in the region and criticized the lack of reaction from the EU to the increasing propagation of the idea of a Greater Albania by Kosovo and Albanian officials. He pointed out that Pristina was not honoring the Brussels Agreement and added that there was evidence of the presence of Islamic extremists in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, which, he said, was not just a threat to Serbia and the region but to all of Europe, too. The only open question between the Czech Republic and Serbia, as he put it, is the question of Kosovo's status, as the Czech Republic has recognized Kosovo and Metohija's unilateral declaration of independence, which is unacceptable to Serbia. President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security of the Czech Senate Frantisek Bublan pointed out the importance of resolving the open issues that Belgrade and Pristina had, as well as the normalization of relations and establishing cooperation. He said that it was a process that required time. The Czech Senate delegation met with members of the Committee on European Integration to discuss Serbia's road to membership in the EU and the role of the national parliament in the process of European integration.


BELGRADE, 8 June 2017 (Beta) – The contracts on loans of the German Development Bank (KfW) for water supply projects in Kikinda, Vrbas, Knjazevac and Paracin, worth a total of EUR17 million, were signed at the Serbian government headquarters on June 8. The loans will be paid off by the local water supply utilities, and the state is the guarantor. The loans are due for payback in 15 years, with a five-year grace period and annual interest of 1.1 percent. The plan is to build a new water factory in Kikinda, expand the existing one in Vrbas, and build new pipelines and refurbish the existing water supply networks in Knjazevac and Paracin. The contracts were signed in the presence of the German ambassador to Serbia, Axel Dittmann, by the Serbian minister of construction, transportation and infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlovic, Finance Minister Dusan Vujovic, the KfW director for utility infrastructure in South East Europe and Turkey, Kirk Milner, and the mayors, municipal chiefs and directors of local utilities which participate in the program. Mihajlovic said the project would solve the issue of water supply for 125,000 people within the program "Helping waterworks and sewers in medium-sized municipalities in Serbia." Dittmann said the loans represented a part of Germany's development aid to Serbia and recollected that EUR1.6 billion had been designated for these purposes since 2000, of which 230 million for the water supply and wastewater treatment systems.


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