Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press service
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DAILY SURVEY 08.02.2018.
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NEW YORK, 7. February 2018 (Beta) - At the Feb. 7 session in New York, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic appealed on all members of the Security Council to focus on finding a compromise and sustainable solution to the decades-long problem of "Kosovo" and, until then, provide full support to the U.N. Mission (UNMIK). At the U.N. session where the quarterly report about the work of UNMIK was presented, Dacic said that the presence of UNMIK was "crucially important for building a lasting peace, stability and security, and for the building of trust among the communities and solving the problems faced by members of the Serb and other non-Albanian communities." Dacic said the problems in "Kosovo" were numerous and the security situation fragile, adding that dedication, patience and hard work were needed for that to change. He said that Serbia would continue "to perform activities on protecting its national and state interests, while honoring the main postulates of international law, and primarily the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity as universal values that confirm the freedom and equality among states and nations." Dacic thanked the countries that have not recognized the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo for their principled support and honoring of the U.N. Charter and Resolution 1244 of the Security Council, and called on all those which have recognized "Kosovo" to reconsider their decisions and thus provide an incentive to the two sides to find a mutually acceptable solution through dialogue. Commenting on the situation in "Kosovo", Dacic said that, although the first agreement about the principles that regulate the normalization of relations, which envisaged the forming of the Community of Serb Municipalities, was signed in August 2013, that has not yet been implemented. He said that Serbia had "participated in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue in a constructive, dedicated and responsible way, and had implemented the assumed obligations consistently and in good faith." He stressed that Serbia was prepared to continue the dialogue, but that the question arises as to whether any new agreement would have a point if there was still no mention of the implementation of the part about the Community of Serb Municipalities, four and a half years after the signing of the Brussels agreement. Dacic recalled the recent murder of the leader of the Freedom, Democracy, Justice, Civic initiative Oliver Ivanovic, stating that this incident had "dramatically undermined security in Kosovo and Metohija and confirmed the need for the international community's presence." He added that there was still no information, three weeks after the murder, except for statements by some representatives of Pristina that this was a case of "settling of criminal accounts" and that the murder was certainly not ethnically motivated which, he said, was "an attempt to hide the lack of competence or readiness of Pristina to conduct an investigation into that heinous crime." Dacic recollected that the "Kosovo" authorities had attempted to bring a decision that would abolish the law on forming the Special Court for KLA war crimes, which has caused an outcry in the international community. While stressing the moral responsibility towards the victims and their families, Dacic pointed out that "the establishing of criminal liability and punishment of the perpetrators will have immeasurable value in the fight against impunity and show that justice is attainable for all victims" and reiterated Serbia's readiness to give all the evidence it had. He added that the positions which "individuals occupy in the temporary institutions in Kosovo and Metohija cannot and must not be an obstacle to the serving of justice, and certainly does not absolve them of responsibility for the perpetrated crimes." In that context, Dacic expressed concern over the recent decision by Interpol to abolish international arrest warrants for a certain number of persons from Kosovo, including Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj. He also said that "Serbia unequivocally opposes Pristina's attempts to form the Army of Kosovo" and warned that this and similar attempts were very risky and could potentially jeopardize not just the security of "Kosovo" and the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, but also the stability of the entire region.


NEW YORK, 7. February 2018 (Beta) - The chief of UNMIK, Zahir Tanin, welcomed the adoption of the EU strategy for enlargement in the Western Balkans, at the U.N. Security Council session in New York, saying that this enabled the way to reconciliation and that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina could be positively concluded. Tanin said the EU strategy for the Western Balkans had caused different reactions in Pristina, but stressed the importance of the European prospects of "Kosovo", and said that it enabled the political path for social reforms, reconciliation and solution of disputes. The chief of the U.N. mission in "Kosovo" said during the presentation of the new quarterly report about "Kosovo" by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres that the dialogue and normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations were important, and that small progress was accomplished in the past year, in formal and informal contacts between the two sides. 2018 can provide a new impulse to the dialogue. The dialogue can be positively concluded, Tanin said, stressing the importance of carrying out of agreements, including that on forming the Community of Serb Municipalities. He said the murder of the leader of the Civic Initiative, Oliver Ivanovic, had caused concern for stability in both "Kosovo" and the entire region, and that all representatives of the international community were united in the condemnation of that act. It is important that Belgrade and Pristina have reacted responsibly and that they share information concerning the murder, said the UNMIK chief. Tanin urged the politicians to overcome differences and work for the benefit of the people, saying that many challenges in the rule of law remained, and that it was necessary to improve everyday life, solve the problems of unemployment, corruption and organized crime.


BELGRADE, 7. February 2018 (Beta) - Ambassadors of the members of the U.N. Security Council urged Belgrade and Pristina at a Feb. 7 session dedicated to "Kosovo" to continue talks, but came out with opposing stances on the situation in "Kosovo" ten years since the unilateral declaration of independence. At a session at the U.N. headquarters in New York, where the regular trimonthly report of General Secretary Antonio Guterres was presented, they unanimously denounced the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, leader of the SDP Civic Initiative and supported the importance of implementing hitherto reached agreements between Belgrade and Pristina for the sake of peace and stability in the region. Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzja said that, ten years since "Kosovo's" declaration, the sponsors of the project should think about the consequences, as "Kosovo" has no clear prospects today and "Kosovo's" requests for membership in several international organizations have been rejected. Russia's ambassador recalled that Pristina was not honoring the agreement on creating the Community of Serb Municipalities, stressing that EU officials were tolerant of this stagnation, that there was still no clear sign of when the Special Court for Kosovo Liberation Army crimes will open its doors, while Belgrade is at the same time demonstrating its readiness to continue the dialog and to compromise. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said the situation in "Kosovo" had improved over the past decade, that the multiethnic democracy in "Kosovo" was growing stronger, but that there was always room for improvement, adding that the U.S. wanted true peace. She also said the U.S. condemned the murder of Oliver Ivanovic and that it had offered its assistance to the institutions in "Kosovo", but that it believed "Kosovo" could solve the case. Chinese Ambassador Wu Haitao stressed that Resolution 1244 should be the legal base and that China respected Serbia's sovereignty.



BELGRADE, 7. Februry 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated on Feb. 7 that Serbia was faced with "a mountain of obstacles" on the path to the EU, about which the citizens will have to decide. After a meeting with the European commissioner for enlargement negotiations and neighborhood policy, Johannes Hahn, Vucic said the issue of relations between Belgrade and Pristina was one of the biggest problems, which he referred to as "a mountain range of obstacles to EU membership." "Are they easy obstacles for us? No, they are like the Himalayas, but we would not be the first to climb Mount Everest," he said. The Serbian president said the time had come to "make decisions, pay the price of the past and solve issues that have not been solved for decades." Vucic said these important issues would be decided on by the citizens and that the government would respect their decision. "The citizens will have to say how they see the future of our beautiful country. (To say) whether they see the future of Serbia in Europe, for which we have to pay a certain price, which is not small, or if we should continue like this and remain at the tail end of Europe," Vucic stated. Commenting on the normalization of relations with Pristina, Vucic said that the solution must not be such that one side loses everything and the other loses nothing.


BELGRADE, 7. February 2018 (Beta) - The European enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, stated in Belgrade on Feb. 7 that lasting stability called for reconciliation and good neighborly relations and that the European Union could not and would not important border disputes. Serbia must solve and implement the legally binding agreement with "Kosovo", and we are here to help, like we did in the solving of other border disputes, with other neighbors, Hahn said at a joint news conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. He added that this should be viewed as an opportunity, because unsolved border disputes are not good for any country and that is why it should be viewed as something positive. Hahn thanked Vucic for the courage to start the internal dialogue on "Kosovo", because that was not just the issue of Serbia's future, but also of security and peace in the entire region, where Serbia plays perhaps the most important role. Hahn said at the news conference that Serbia had realistic European prospects and that the country had to carry out difficult reforms, especially in the rule of law. He said Serbia, as one of the leaders in European integration in the Western Balkans, could help the entire region progress towards the European Union. Hahn came to Belgrade after the announcement of the EU's Strategy for the Western Balkans, which envisages that Serbia, on fulfilling all the conditions, could become an EU member in 2025.


BELGRADE, 7. February 2018 (Beta) - The European commissioner for neighborhood policy, Johannes Hahn, stated on Feb. 7 that it was too early to say at this moment how the legally binding agreement between Belgrade and Pristina will materialize. Speaking at a news conference after the meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, Hahn said that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina was difficult, adding that he did not wish to predict its result. Earlier, the European Commission's director for the Western Balkans Genoveva Ruiz Calavera and the Serbian ministers for labor and European integration, Zoran Djordjevic and Jadranka Joksimovic, signed two agreements, according to which the EU will support Serbia in the better management of borders and migrations with EUR44 million. Stating that EU membership remained Serbia's strategic goal, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said the signed agreements regarding support to budget sectors was "one more good indicator of our partnership with the EU." "After the announcement of the EU's strategy for enlargement in the Western Balkans, we understood where the focus was and what we should do to seize the opportunity that is placed before us," the prime minister said. Recollecting that the EU was Serbia's biggest donor, having donated more than two billion euros since 2007, European Commissioner Johannes Hahn said the agreements that were signed on Feb. 7 marked the continuity of Serbia's European prospects. The Sector budget support for Integrated Border Management is part of the IPA 2016 Action programme for Serbia. The programme amounts to €28 million (€24 million budget support + €4 million complementary measures). The sector budget support on integrated border management will strengthen Serbia's capacities to effectively control its borders, reducing organised crime and irregular migration, while allowing smoother transit of people, goods, and services, in line with EU standards. With this Programme, the European Union supports the implementation of the Integrated Border Management Strategy and Action Plan. The Sector reform contract is implemented by the Ministry of Interior (the Border Police Directorate and the Criminal Police Directorate), the Ministry of Finance (Customs Administration) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management (Phytosanitary and Veterinary Inspectorates). The direct grant to the Ministry of labour, employment, veterans and social affairs is part of the EU support to Migration management in Serbia (€16 million). The overall objective of this support is to respond to the resilience needs of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in Serbia, through support to the national authorities including enhancing shelter capacity and delivery of services. Thanks to the EU Trust Fund the capacities of national authorities to manage migration needs and perform their duties in asylum and reception/transit centres will be upgraded. In this way the EU supports Serbia's efforts to ensure adequate access to all types of necessary healthcare services for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, as well as to ensure access to quality formal and non-formal education for child migrants/refugees/asylum seekers.


BELGRADE, 7. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbia's chief negotiator in EU accession talks Tanja Miscevic said on Feb. 7 that the new EU enlargement strategy showed that the West Balkans, as a region and each country individually and their importance, were again being noticed and that the policy of enlargement had again become a priority, and that this would benefit the region and the EU. Miscevic told the conference New EU Enlargement Strategy for the West Balkans, EU Neighbors -- Example of Romania that, for the first time, the strategy gave the West Balkans not just a simple promise, but an indicative time frame which was not "once riveted." "I want to believe that rediscovering the West Balkans, which, according to the strategy, is in the economic, political and security interest of the EU, is in fact rediscovering the value and significance of the region, in terms of what we can contribute and how we can help the Union itself. I would like to see this story that way, like a win-win strategy that always brings the greatest results," Miscevic said. The strategy indicates the Union's capacity to expand, Miscevic said, adding that the European Commission had delineated the key directions of its future development in the document and considered how the region can help. The strategy clearly states the need to solve bilateral disputes, Miscevic said, adding that their resolution depended on how the sides in each dispute approach it.


BELGRADE, 7. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic and the Moroccan ambassador in Belgrade, Mohammad Amine Belhaj, concurred in Feb. 7 that Serbia and Morocco have traditionally good and friendly relations, which needed to be additionally improved, especially in the sphere of the judiciary. They agreed for the two justice ministries to harmonize the texts of bilateral agreements in the forthcoming period, that would define cooperation in civil and criminal matters within international legal assistance, the statement reads. The Moroccan ambassador congratulated Serbia after the European Commission adopted strategies on EU enlargement in the Western Balkans, which is very important for the further progress of Serbia and its approaching the Union, which, as it was said, shows that Serbia is a leader in the region. He said Morocco respected the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia and that it did not recognize the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo, recollecting that Morocco had voted against "Kosovo's" membership in international organizations. Minister Kuburovic thanked Morocco for its principled stand regarding the independence of the self-proclaimed state of Kosovo, and said she hoped agreements between the two countries in the sphere of the judiciary would be signed soon.


BELGRADE, 7. February (Beta) - Romanian Ambassador to Serbia Oana Kristina Popa said on Feb. 7 that she hoped that, while chairing the European Union, Romania would be a voice for the region of the West Balkans and for Serbia, continuing the process of enlargement after Bulgaria and Austria. Romania will lend Serbia support, knowledge and experience on the path to the EU, Popa said, noting that experience could not be copied, but that it could be useful to learn about the process Romania went through. At the conference New EU Enlargement Strategy for the West Balkans, EU Neighbors -- Example of Romania, held by the Center for Foreign Policy, Popa said that the principles adopted in 2003 were still valid and that every country advanced according to merit. She went on to say that the basic rules had not changed, but that the geostrategic environment had. I hope we will manage to be a voice for the region and for Serbia during our presidency, said the ambassador of Romania, which will be chairing the EU in the first half of 2019. Bulgarian Ambassador to Serbia Radko Vlajkov said his country also had high approval rates for integration and that he believed the new strategy, with the clear European outlook for Serbia, would be reflected in public opinion. Center for Foreign Policy president Aleksandra Joksimovic told the congress at the Zira Hotel that the new EU strategy sent two messages: that the EU was bringing back its focus on the West Balkan region and that the enlargement process is no longer a moving target. "We have a time frame within which it is realistic for Serbia to become a member," Joksimovic said, adding that the outlines of the strategy changed quickly, and that the final version included no timeline for normalizing Belgrade-Pristina relations. Noora Hayrinen, head of the EU Delegation's political section, said the strategy should be good news and that the goal was sincere dedication from both the negotiating states and the EU. The enlargement process has become palpable, she said, adding that the approach had changed compared to the earlier wave of enlargement in that attention is being paid to fundamental issues, primarily Chapters 23 and 24, which deal with the rule of law. The general secretary of the European Movement in Serbia, Suzana Grubjesic, said the strategy was "watered down" and that all years except 2025 had been deleted. She said it was good that at least 2025 remained in the strategy, as all other years on the roadmap were left out, and that the strategy had succeeded in identifying three weaknesses in the region: the general decline in democratic values, bilateral disputes and the lack of a functional market economy.


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