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DAILY SURVEY 06.02.2018.
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SERBIA

DACIC TO REPRESENT SERBIA AT U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL

BELGRADE, 5. February 2018 (Beta) - Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic will represent Serbia at the Feb. 7 session of the U.N. Security Council on "Kosovo". After New York, Dacic will attend a Prayer Breakfast organized by the U.S. president in Washington, Ministry officials told BETA. On Feb. 7 the U.N. Security Council will review a new quarterly report by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres on "Kosovo", in which he said that the authorities in Pristina had regressed in key areas and expressed dissatisfaction over attempts in the "Kosovo Assembly" at annulling the Law on Special Trial Chambers and the Special Prosecutor's Office for the crimes of the former Kosovo Liberation Army. The National Prayer Breakfast, which usually takes place in Washington, on the first Thursday in February, assembles in prayer the president of the U.S., members of Congress, U.S. politicians and military leaders, and guests from around 100 countries. Events related to the Prayer Breakfast unfold for several days, with about 3,500 guests, and comprise a number of meetings, lunches and dinners, but the main event is on Thursday, with a speech given by the U.S. president and one guest, whose identity is kept secret to the very last minute.

AMBASSADOR: NORWAY TO DOUBLE ASSISTANCE TO SERBIA TO BACK REFORMS

BELGRADE, 5. February 2018 (Beta) - The Norwegian government will allocate EUR6.3 million for assistance to Serbia this year as a sign of its support to reforms, Norwegian Ambassador to Serbia Arne Sannes Bjornstad said in a meeting with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on Feb. 5. "The Norwegian government has decided to set aside EUR6.3 million from its budget for assistance to Serbia, instead of EUR3.1 million disbursed to Serbia in 2017," the ambassador said, according to a news release from the Serbian government. According to the ambassador, half of the funds will go for economic development in Serbia's poorest regions. "Aside from these direct funds, Norway will continue to provide assistance to Serbia also through regional programs," the ambassador said. He confirmed that Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg would pay an official visit to Serbia in early July. Solberg's visit comes as one of the effects of Brnabic's visit to Oslo last year, where she talked with her Norwegian counterpart, Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide and Norwegian Employers' Confederation Director General Kristin Skogen Lund. Brnabic and Bjornstad assessed bilateral relations as very good and friendly, noting that there was room to strengthen economic cooperation. Brnabic thanked Norway for its great assistance to Serbia's reforms and its EU path, and also thanked Norwegian companies which have arrived in Serbia and improved the business environment. Brnabic visited Oslo in November 2017.

STEFANOVIC, FABRIZI ON FURTHER ACTIVITIES UNDER CHAPTER 24

BELGRADE, 3. February 2018 (Beta) - Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic on Feb. 3 met with Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi to discuss further steps toward the more efficient implementation of activities under Action Plan for Chapter 24, dealing with justice, freedom and security. Fabrizi commended the progress achieved in carrying out the activities in Serbia's EU integration process, according to a statement from the ministry. Fabrizi said he was ready to provide support for the realization of the remaining activities.

VULIN, FRENCH AMBASSADOR ON ADVANCING DEFENSE COOPERATION

BELGRADE, 5. February 2018 (Beta) - Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin and the newly appointed French ambassador to Serbia, Frederic Mondoloni, talked on Feb. 5 about bilateral cooperation and ways of enhancing it in the field of defense. According to a Ministry press release, Vulin and Mondoloni said during the meeting in Belgrade that the traditionally good and friendly relations between Serbia and France helped to improve the political dialogue. "Within the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two states, there is room for further improving cooperation in the field of defense and peace-keeping in the U.N. and EU missions. Serbia remains dedicated to military neutrality, while developing relations with all interested parties and in accordance with its national interests and foreign policy priorities," said Vulin. Commenting on the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, Vulin said that Serbia was aiming to secure a peaceful life for the Serb community in that region, by peaceful means, and added that Belgrade recognized only KFOR as a partner and force of stability. "We are doing everything to prevent the announced transformation of the Kosovo Security Forces into the so-called Kosovo army, which we consider a violation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244 and the Kumanovo Military Technical Agreement," said the Minister.

DJORDJEVIC WITH IRANIAN AMBASSADOR: SERBIA OPEN FOR ALL FOREIGN INVESTORS

BELGRADE, 5. February 2018 (Beta) - Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans' and Social Policy Zoran Djordjevic said on Feb. 5, at a meeting with Iranian Ambassador to Belgrade Hossein Abdollahi, that Serbia was open for investments by all foreign investors. "We want to have friendly relations with all countries, to attract more investors and thereby enable the creation of new jobs for Serbian citizens," the Ministry quoted Djordjevic as saying. He also said that he would continue the efforts in establishing relations and strengthening cooperation with Iran in the areas under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labor. Ambassador Abdollahi said that Serbia was a safe and stable country with room for investment and he agreed with the need to improve bilateral relations.

NO MEMBERSHIP WITH UNRESOLVED DISPUTES, ARBITRATION

BELGRADE, 5. February 2018 (Beta) - In the latest version of the Strategy for the Western Balkans, the European Commission has said that the countries in the region could not access the EU with outstanding territorial and similar disputes, including arbitration "which all disputing parties have to honor." "There are still major bilateral disputes... The EU will not import them, and lasting solutions must be found before the countries in the region access the EU," it is says in the document which the European Commission will publish on Feb. 6. If disputes cannot be resolved through bilateral efforts, then those countries have to accept a solution reached through international arbitration, according to the draft strategy. European Commission officials, who explained the main elements of the strategy on Feb. 5, told reporters "it is an extremely important issue," but added that everything would be explained thoroughly on Feb. 6, when the document is published. The EU's earlier position was that disputes had to be resolved bilaterally, without affecting reforms or accession to the EU of any country in the region. Asked about the European Commission's position on Spain's request for "Kosovo" to be excluded from the procedure leading to EU membership, officials replied that "Kosovo" was in that process through a special Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU. It was also stressed that it was extremely important that the Western Balkan countries harmonize their foreign and security policies with those of the EU. Sources in the European Commission in Brussels said that Russia had no major economic influence in the Western Balkans, but that China "plays a major role in investments," which had to be harmonized with EU regulations. The version of the strategy reviewed by BETA says that by the end of 2019, Serbia has to fulfill the criteria in the rule of law, curbing corruption, freedom of media and the agreements reached on the normalization of relations with "Kosovo" so it can obtain the final criteria from the EU, move on in the accession talks, and finalize them at the end of 2023 and become a member in late 2025. The same plan applies for Montenegro, which, along with Serbia, has made the greatest progress on its EU path.

NEW STRATEGY FOR WESTERN BALKANS SHOULD RENEW EU'S POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT REGARDING REGION

BELGRADE, 5. February 2018 (Beta) - President of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs David McAllister has said that a new strategy for the Western Balkans, which the European Commission will unveil on Feb. 6, aims to strengthen the will for reforms in the six states and renew the political engagement of EU member states where the Western Balkans are concerned. In an interview with the Funke Media Group, which includes some 10 German dailies, McAllister said that the accession of Serbia and other Western Balkan countries to the EU depended on the fulfillment of strict "legal, political and economic" criteria, and that those countries would join the EU only if they implemented comprehensive reforms in the coming years, Deutsche Welle reported. The German representative in the EP said that 2025, which the European Commission mentioned as a possible date of Serbia's and Montenegro's accession, was in fact an "indicative," loose term meant to substantiate accession prospects and give the accession process a new dynamic. The specific time of the accession of new EU members will hinge exclusively on when each individual country has met the strict legal, political and economic prerequisites, McAllister reiterated. He added that the rule of law and the fight against corruption and organized crime must be strengthened and media freedoms guaranteed in the six Balkan countries. Additionally, said McAllister, bilateral conflicts in the region must end as soon as possible. The Welt newspaper has presented parts of the EU enlargement strategy, remarking that now is "a historically favorable opportunity" to firmly and irrevocably tie the fate of the Western Balkan countries to the EU. Politicologist Vedran Dzihic wrote about the same topic for the Austrian Standard daily, starting with a description of the "nationalistic fog" being emitted from Belgrade after the assassination of Oliver Ivanovic. The whole time, says Dzihic, the government in Belgrade is presenting itself to the EU as reformist, but on the home front it is carrying out an increasingly authoritarian policy of power. In Serbia, President Vucic with his Serbian Progressive Party has accumulated more power than anyone else in Europe, and the situation is similar in Pristina, where Ramush Haradinaj's most noticeable acts have been to give himself a salary raise and criticize the new Special Court for UCK Crimes and Special Prosecutor's Office. "The EU has declared this to be a year of hope and increased engagement in the region. It would be fatal to bury those hopes even before they are backed at least a little by a clear political agenda. The assassination of Ivanovic and reactions to it show that the EU's Balkan policy is at an impasse at the beginning of the 'year of hope.' (...) In 2018 the EU must make sure it is the central actor in the Balkans and treat the inclusion of the Balkans as a priority project. Alternatives to a European Balkans would ultimately jeopardize the entire continent," said the politicologist, as reported by DW.

FABRIZI WITH MINISTRY REPS ON CARE FOR MIGRANTS

BELGRADE, 5. February 2018 (Beta) - Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi on Feb. 5 met with representatives of several ministries to discuss cooperation in providing care to migrants, particularly minors without parental care. The meeting was attended by Labor, Employment and Veterans' and Social Affairs Minister Zoran Djordjevic, Serbian Refugee Commissioner Vladimir Cucic, and representatives of the interior, health and education ministries. Fabrizi said he expected cooperation with Serbian institutions in sheltering migrants to remain at the highest level. He thanked Djordjevic for the successful completion of project MADAD 1 for assisting refugees from the Middle East, adding that he hoped the project MADAD 2 would also be successfully carried out. Djordjevic said that for this year, Serbia planned to cooperate with local authorities and develop a program for training field social workers, while preparations were in progress for he projects "Inclusion through sport" and "Education for integration." He also underlined the importance of support to the social, family and legal protection system, provided by the UNHCR , UNICEF, the Red Cross Organization, the International Migration Organization and civil society organizations in Serbia.

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