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DAILY SURVEY 20.07.2017.
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SERBIA

DACIC, SCAPARROTTI DISCUSS STEPPING UP SERBIA-NATO COOPERATION

BELGRADE, 19 July 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met in Belgrade, on July 19 with Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, U.S. European Command commanding officer and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and discussed the political circumstances in the region, security challenges and possibilities for stepping up cooperation between Serbia and NATO. Dacic and Scaparrotti noted the high level of political dialog and practical cooperation between Serbia and NATO through the Partnership for Peace program, which contributes to better mutual understanding and the advancement of relations, the Foreign Ministry announced. The Serbian minister stressed that Serbia had a policy of military neutrality, that it did not aspire to membership in NATO or in any other military alliance. He emphasized that, at the same time, Serbia wanted to advance cooperation with NATO as a partner in practical areas and in political dialog, with a view to contributing jointly to the preservation of peace and stability in the region, the announcement reads. On the topic of the political situation in the region, Dacic recalled that Serbia has endeavored to contribute to the preservation of regional stability and the advancement of neighborly relations with its approach, adding that this was a prerequisite for economic progress and prosperity for all citizens in these parts. The press release also notes that Dacic underscored the importance of KFOR as the key guarantor of the safety of the Serb community in Kosovo and Metohija, and its important role in the implementation of the Brussels agreement.

DACIC, STEFANOVIC WITH PACE MONITORING COMMITTEE RAPPORTEURS

BELGRADE, 19 July 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said at a July 19 meeting in Belgrade with Maria Guzenina and Samad Seyidov, rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, that Serbia was committed to regional peace and stability, and to continued dialog between Belgrade and Pristina. Topics in the meeting included the results of the recent West Balkans summit in Trieste, the geopolitical situation in the region, while particular attention was paid to EU integration and the Brussels dialog, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release. The PACE rapporteurs, Finn Guzenina of the Social Democratic Party and Azerbaijani Seyidov of the ruling New Azerbaijan party, visited Serbia in order to monitor the implemention of PACE Resolution 1858 of 2012 on the observance of Serbia's duties and obligations, the press release reads. Interior Minister of Serbia Nebojsa Stefanovic also spoke with Guzenina and Seyidov, while the talk included mention of the implementation of reforms in line with CoE standards. "Special attention was paid to subjects related to the fight against organized crime and drug trafficking, but also to ethnic minorities working in the police force," reads the Interior Ministry statement.

VUCIC: GOOD SERBIA-NATO COOPERATION WHILE RESPECTING OUR MILITARY NEUTRALITY

BELGRADE, 19 July 2017 (Beta) - At a meeting with Commander of the Allied Operations Command General Curtis Scaparrotti, the Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic said he was pleased with the good cooperation with NATO, which was developing, as he said, with respect for Serbia's military neutrality. An announcement from the President's Office said that during talks in Belgrade on July 19, Vucic said he hoped the Army of Serbia's cooperation with NATO would develop within the Partnership for Peace Program in order to further build capacities contributing to international peace. Vucic added that the international peace forces in Kosovo and Metohija under NATO leadership had a key role in protecting the Serbian people there, as the guarantor of their security, as well as in preserving stability in the region. The Commander of the Allied Operations Command said he was pleased that the dialog between Serbia and NATO had intensified at the highest level, while respecting Serbia's position on military neutrality. Adding that there were many opportunities for promoting NATO cooperation with the Army of Serbia, General Scaparotti confirmed that the international forces of KFOR would in future responsibly fulfill their obligations in Kosovo and Metohija.

BRNABIC: GOVERNMENT DETERMINED TO CREATE A MODERN SERBIA

BELGRADE, 19 July 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated during talks in Belgrade on July 19 with the rapporteurs of the Committee for Monitoring the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Maria Guzenina and Samad Seyidov, that by implementing thorough reforms and introducing European standards, the Serbian government was determined to create a modern Serbia. The Council of Europe representatives commended Serbia's progress in the Eurointegrations, especially its efforts in the implementation of Chapter 23, referring to the rule of law, but they underlined that the state had to invest greater efforts so as to promote freedom of the media, the struggle against corruption and the rule of law, it said in a Serbian government statement. Brnabic mentioned that the Serbian government's aim was to revive the economy and reduce unemployment, where fundamental efforts were already being made for three years now. She added that only an economically strong and stable Serbia could be a member of the European Union and share European values. It was also stressed at the meeting that one of the more important tasks of this government was the reform of the educational system and decentralization, for which Serbia has great support from this organization.

BRNABIC TALKS ABOUT NEW INVESTMENTS WITH INDIAN AMBASSADOR

BELGRADE, 19 July 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic had talks in Belgrade on July 19 with Ambassador of India Narinder Chauhan about their two countries' relations, economic cooperation and opportunities for new investments and projects. In a year when Serba and India are marking 70 years since the establishment diplomatic relations, Prime Minister Brnabic stressed the importance of the two countries' traditional and friendly relations, and expressed particular thanks to India's supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignity of Serbia, a statement from the Serbian government said. Ambassador Chauhan presented the "Digital India" project that her country was conducting, and offered assistance and cooperation between Indian and Serbian companies in the domain of digitization and the IT sector, and these are prioroties in the work of the Serbian government, it said in the announcement. The Indian ambassador singled out the technological park in Indjija as one of India's most important investments in Serbia. Madame Chauhan, who conveyed the Indian Prime Minister's congratulations to Ana Brnabic on her appointment as prime minister, underlined that India opposed the membership of Kosovo in international organizations.

BRNABIC: SERBIAN GOV'T NEITHER PRO-AMERICAN NOR PRO-RUSSIAN, BUT PRO-SERBIAN

BELGRADE, 19 July 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on July 19 that the strategic path of Serbia was membership in the European Union, but that its traditionally good ties to Russia were also important. Brnabic told CNN in an interview that Serbia was "deeply and strategically" committed to joining the EU, noting that her cabinet had two new ministries -- the Ministry of EU Integrations and the Ministry for Environmental Protection. She said the government in Belgrade was neither pro-American nor pro-Russian, but rather pro-Serbian, and that its job was to improve the lives of Serbian citizens. According to her, the Serbian government is open with all its citizens and partners, including Russia, about the strategic goal of EU membership, adding that Russia was a great economic partner to Serbia. "Russia is a big market for us and a big trading partner," the PM said, adding that the people were traditionally deeply tied to Russia. She stressed that Serbia needed new jobs and companies, noting that the cabinet had to be accountable to all citizens and to maintain ties with Russia, as this is an "important part" of Serbian economic growth. Brnabic added that the policy of her cabinet dovetailed with the previous one's and that she had taken over where Aleksandar Vucic had left off. "We have had great successes in the past three years. We had complete fiscal consolidation. We were three months away from bankruptcy according to World Bank analyses, and now we have full marcoeconomic stability," she said. Asked how the people in Serbia were accepting the first female and the first openly lesbian prime minister, Brnabic said Serbia was not a homophobic country, adding that she felt she had the support of people in Serbia.

PARLIAMENT SPEAKER MEETS SENATOR FROM BRAZIL

BELGRADE, 19 July 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic met on July 19, with the member of the Federal Senate of Brazil's National Congress, Helio Jose da Silva Lima, for talks on bilateral relations, which they described as good and friendly, and that mutual understanding and support exist regarding all important questions. Gojković thanked Brazil for not recognizing the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo and Metohija, and for respecting Serbia's sovereignity and territorial integrity, which it had given proof of by opposing the attempt of Kosovo and Metohija to be admitted to UNESCO, as well as other international organizations and bodies. A statement issued after their meeting said that Gojković and Lima advocated better cooperation between the two parliaments and developing inter-parliamentary relations, and they also expressed a mutual desire for an exchange of visits and meetings of the two parliaments' speakers, particularly bearing in mind that next year will mark the 80th anniversary of the two countries' establishing diplomatic relations with each other.

VULIN: COMMUNITY OF SERB MUNICIPALITIES SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED URGENTLY

BELGRADE, 19 July 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin announced on July 19 that the Community of Serb Municipalities should be urgently formed in the aim of maintaining political stability, the continuation of negotiations, economically strengthening the Serbs, and their return to Kosovo and Metohija. "Otherwise, our trust will be even more undermined towards the other side and the EU, as the mediator in the Brussels talks, because our extended hand is still not being truly accepted," Vulin said during talks with the Austrian ambassador Johannes Eigner, according to a Defense Ministry announcement. Vulin thanked the Austrian members of KFOR for their commitment in safeguarding peace in Serbia's southern province, and for the position ceded as a military observer in UNTSO, the UN peacekeeping operation in the Middle East, and confirmed Serbia's intention to retain the said position in the coming period, as well. It was reported that the two men exchanged views in an open dialogue, as well as ideas to deepen overall and special cooperation in the realm of defense. Vulin stated that as defense minister he would do his best to contribute to the further dvelopment of the two countries' relations, in which he also expected the wholehearted support of Ambassador Eigner. Also discussed at the meeting was the topic of the current security situation in the light of the migrant crisis and the increased danger of terrorism, and it was concluded that the commendations Serbia was receiving for its approach to the migrant crisis were truly deserved.

VULIN: NO MILITARY OTHER THAN KFOR IN KOSOVO AND METOHIJA

BELGRADE, 19 July 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin met on July 19 with Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO supreme allied commander Europe, and said KFOR was the only institution Serbia considered responsible for maintaining peace and security in Kosovo and Metohija. "There is no military in Kosovo and Metohija other than KFOR. This responsibility cannot be transferred to any other institution or organization, so we expect the Alliance to take the position too that a change to the mandate and the transformation of the Kosovo security forces into armed forces are unacceptable," a press release quoted Vulin as saying. Vulin and Scaparrotti also discussed boosting mutual trust and understanding, while the defense minister said maintaining regular top level contact between Serbia and NATO was essential to building peace and stability in the region. The minister added that Serbia's long term commitment was to keep the status of military neutrality but to have military cooperation with the relevant stakeholders in the domain of international relations and security, which he believes is being "successfully realized" with NATO "within the available mechanisms of the Partnership for Peace."

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