Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press service
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DAILY SURVEY 03.10.2017.
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BELGRADE, 2 October 2017 (Beta) - Ivica Dacic, first deputy prime minister and foreign minister, in Geneva on Oct. 2, met with U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi to discuss the migration issues from both the national and international aspects, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Dacic informed Grandi about the position and problems of refugees from Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and about the more than 200,000 internally displaced persons from Kosovo and Metohija. Dacic expressed Serbia's readiness to continue strengthening cooperation with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Earlier on Oct. 2, Dacic attended the 68th session of the UNHCR Executive Committee.


BELGRADE, 2 October 2017 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Oct. 2 that a decision by the European Commission to declare the referendum on Catalan independence invalid was "the best example of double standards and the hypocrisy of global politics," explaining that the situation was now very serious, as "the chickens have come home to roost." The Serbian president said that Serbia supported the territorial integrity of Spain, just like Madrid had always stood firmly by Belgrade's side, but he asked how the referendum on Catalonia's independence was invalid, whereas an independent Kosovo was proclaimed without any referendum whatsoever. "Every Serb asks the very simple question - How can you proclaim Kosovo's secession legal, without there having been a referendum, in violatation of international law and the fundamentals of the European policy the EU has been built on?," the Serbian president declared at a press conference, after meeting with his Greek counterpart. Vucic said the Serbs can simply forget about equal treatment and standards, because what applies to everyone else, does not apply to Serbia. "When they thought they could change the borders in the Balkans only because the region was outside the EU, the world's powers were playing with the fate of countries. They don't want to play anymore, because the chickens have come home to roost," Vucic said.


BELGRADE, 2 October 2017 (Beta) - Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on Oct. 2 said that President Aleksandar Vucic and her cabinet were preparing a letter to the European Commission, which would contain a number of questions concerning the Commission's stand that the cases of Catalonia and Kosovo could not be compared. After consultations at the Presidency, Brnabic told reporters that she would hand in the letter during her earlier scheduled visit to Brussels, on Oct. 10 and 11. She said that Belgrade was amazed with the Commission's stand and everything said by its spokesperson. Brnabic further said that as a person strongly committed to Serbia's EU integration, she would insist on obtaining an answer as to why the case of Kosovo was different from that of Catalonia. She also said that Serbia and its people deserved either an apology or a statement from the European Commission that international law did not apply to Serbia. "Or shall we put it another way - to speak about whether Kosovo's independence stands. In line with everything they said, if that is their view, then let's talk about withdrawing Kosovo independence. We absolutely agree with the European Commission, then let us agree that it is a universal right," Brnabic said. Earlier on Oct. 2, Vucic summoned Brnabic for urgent consultations, following the European Commission's statement, saying that the cases of Catalonia and Kosovo could not be compared. The meeting was also attended by Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic and the head of the government's Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric. European Commission's spokesman Margaritis Schinas said on Oct. 2, that Catalonia and Kosovo were not comparable. At a news conference in Brussels, when asked about the independence referendum in Catalonia, Schinas replied that Spain was a EU member state. "As for the recognition of Kosovo, it is a very specific context. It is something more... a resolution of the U.N. and the international community. A very specific context, for specific reasons," Schinas said, adding that for the European Commission, Catalonia and Kosovo were not comparable.


BELGRADE, 2 October 2017 (Beta) - As host of the 2018 Western Balkan Summit in London, Great Britain confirmed its commitment to the region's prosperity and cooperation, said John Whittingdale, MP in the House of Commons, during a meeting with Serbian Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic on Oct. 2. Whittingdale said that despite Brexit, Great Britain understood why the EU integration process was important to Serbia, it said in a statement from the Serbian parliament. Gojkovic and the British parliament's delegation discussed ways to promote bilateral relations, Serbia's EU integration path and cooperation in the Western Balkans. The meeting's participants said that the two countries had a long tradition of ties and cooperation, and that this year they were marking 180 years since establishing diplomatic ties. Gojkovic said that Belgrade was committed to EU integration and the required reforms and that in that context it was important that after Brexit, the EU was not abandoning its enlargement policy. She also said that Serbia was committed to regional cooperation and preserving regional stability, noting that in that process, the Serbian parliament had a very important role through participation in all regional initiatives and also in developing bilateral relations with the countries in the region at the level of parliament speakers, working bodies and women's parliamentary networks. Whittingdale said that as an MP, he recognised the importance of parliaments and their cooperation and, therefore, stressed the importance of the Week of Parliamentarism at the Serbian parliament. The delegation, comprising MPs in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, David Drew, Baroness D'Souza, Baroness Northover and Baroness Barker, expressed interest in regional cooperation, the role of parliaments and women's parliamentary networks in that process, as well as in the participation of youth in parliamentary life, according to the statement.


BELGRADE, 2 October 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said at an Oct. 2 meeting with the Spanish ambassador to Serbia, Miguel Fuertes Suarez, that Serbia strongly supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Spain, hoping that the situation that had flared up during the referendum on Catalan independence would soon calm down. The Ministry of Defense reported that Vulin had expressed his concern over the events in Catalonia, and that sadly Serbia knew from experience what kind of consequences that situation might produce, which is exactly why it is offering support to Spain. "Reciprocal support in protecting sovereignty and respecting the principles of international law is the confirmation of true friendship between two states and two nations," the Serbian defense minister said, underlining that Serbia believed it was the duty of the European Union (EU) to protect the constitutional system and sovereignty of its members. Vulin underlined that Serbia appreciated Spain's firm position as to Kosovo's unilaterally proclaimed independence. The minister and the ambassador also discussed bilateral cooperation in the defense sector, along with the prospects for its development, and Minister Vulin said to the Spanish diplomat that Serbia was a reliable friend to Spain, fully committed to the development of bilateral cooperation in all spheres of mutual interest. "Exceptionally friendly bilateral relations, with no open issues to burden the relationship, provide a solid basis for the development of cooperation in the defense sector," Vulin was quoted as saying by his ministry. Ambassador Suarez underlined Spain's commitment to fostering and building close ties in all fields of mutual interest.


BELGRADE, 2 October 2017 (Beta) - The Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) had provided EUR9.16 million in grants to the Serbian government for housing refugees, it was in Belgrade on Oct. 2. On behalf of Serbia, a donation agreement for a seventh subproject under the Regional Housing Program was signed by EU Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimovic. The agreement envisages EUR9,166,861 in grants for the purchase of housing units and construction material and material required for the reconstruction of rural households owned by exiled persons, according to a statement. The funds would also go to developing designs for housing units that would be financed from future grants, the statement added.



BELGRADE, 2 October 2017 (Beta) - Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on Oct. 2 met with Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Amanatidis to discuss bilateral relations, according to a statement from the Serbian Foreign Ministry. Amanatidis confirmed Greece's support to Serbia's territorial integrity and sovereignty, the statement said, adding that they had also discussed global trends and the current situation in the region. The meeting was held as part of the official visit to Serbia by Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.


BELGRADE, 2 October 2017 (Beta) - The Serbian and Greek presidents, Aleksandar Vucic and Prokopis Pavlopoulos, respectively, said on Oct. 2 that the two states had developed a relationship without open issues, that Athens supported Serbia's EU accession and territorial integrity, suggesting that the second session of the High Council for Cooperation between Serbia and Greece should take place as soon as possible. Vucic said after the meeting with the Greek president that the first session, which had taken place recently in Thessaloniki, had already produced results, and asked Greece if it would agree to holding the next session be in Belgrade, early next year. Until then, he said, a document should be passed on strategic integration and partnership between the two states. President Vucic said that Serbia and Greece had developed a truly brotherly relationship, and thanked Greece for having supported the integrity of Serbia and the country's EU accession. The Serbian president explained that the European framework had "probably made relations more important than ever." Greece has always supported the opening of chapters in Serbia's negotiations with the EU, Vucic said, confident that this support would continue in the future, in the same measure or even stronger. The Serbian president said that with his Greek counterpart he had discussed bilateral economic and political cooperation and the situation in the region, and that "a high level of accord" had been reached on all regional issues. Trade between Serbia and Greece should reach EUR450 million this year, Vucic said, adding that he hoped the figure would be 50 percent higher next year. The Greek president described bilateral ties as exceptional, suggesting that the High Council should meet again as soon as possible, as the first session had been extremely productive. Pavlopoulos expressed the hope that when the next presidential visit to Serbia takes place, the country will already have joined the EU. Serbia's road to Europe is open, Pavlopoulos said, expressing his country's readiness to assist Serbia in every possible way in the EU integration process.


BELGRADE, 2 October 2017 (Beta) - Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who is visiting Serbia, on Oct. 2 agreed that traditionally good bilateral ties could be further enhanced, particularly in the economy. In a tete-a-tete meeting with Pavlopoulos, Brnabic recalled that Greece was among the biggest investors in Serbia, with some EUR2.2 billion, according to a statement from the Serbian government. She thanked the Greek president for his country's active approach to regional initiatives and strong support for Serbia's EU integration.
On Oct. 2, the Greek president also met with Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic to discuss the development of cooperation between the two countries, who have cultivated friendly ties for 150 years. Pavlopoulos stressed that Athens backed Serbia's EU path, not only because of friendly bilateral ties, but because Serbia had met all the standards and could serve as a role model, according to a statement from the parliament. The Greek president also underlined the importance of honoring international law, particularly in the context of the most recent challenges Europe is facing, following the Oct. 1 independence referendum in the Spanish community of Catalonia, it said in the release.


BELGRADE, 2 October 2017 (Beta) - Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos said during his visit to Belgrade, on Oct. 2, that Greece was committed to a united European Union (EU), built on the principles of solidarity, democracy and human rights, and that all the states of the region should have their place within the Union. "All the states on the Balkan Peninsula have their place within the EU so long as they fulfill the preconditions, respect for international law, and European culture and civlization above all," the Greek president said, adding that Athens wishes the states of the region to join the Union to create "the EU's southeastern arm." "We, the Greeks, will not accept that the Balkans that will join the EU should create a problematic area within the Union, with all their specificities. That is absolutely unacceptable. It is the duty of every nation to respect democratic legitimacy, international law, European heritage, and the principles of the EU, and they cannot join Europe with problems that still to be resolved within the EU," the Greek president was explicit. President Pavlopoulos said that regarding the accession of Turkey, Macedonia and Albania, Athens will insist on respect for international law and European heritage. "We say to Turkey, 'The road is open to you, but you need to respect the Treaty of Lausanne, that is what we will not give up. Respect the territorial integrity and borders of our state, because these signify the territorial integrity and borders of the EU," the president said. As for Macedonia, the Greek president said that his country supports Macedonia's EU accession, and expect it to respect European principles in the process.


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