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DAILY SURVEY 09.02.2018.
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SERBIA

DACIC MEETS WITH CONGRESSMEN ADERHOLT, BILIRAKIS IN WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON, 8. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic is participating in the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia has announced. The statement said that Serbia's foreign minister had met with U.S. officials, including Alabama Congressman Robert Aderholt, a representative of the Republican Party and one of the founders of the National Prayer Breakfast. The two officials confirmed good bilateral ties and agreed on further improving cooperation in areas of mutual interest, the statement added. Dacic held a separate meeting with Republican Congressman Gus Bilirakis from Florida, with whom he exchanged opinions on current bilateral subjects. The Serbian foreign minister voiced his gratitude to Bilirakis for his active contribution to the work of the Serbian Caucus in Congress, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. During his stay in Washington, where he was invited by the organizing committee, Dacic will hold separate meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell. This year's Prayer Breakfast was organized for the 66th time at the Washington Hilton and is being attended by numerous guests from the U.S. and around the world.

TRUMP WISHES VUCIC HAPPY STATEHOOD DAY

BELGRADE, 8. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with U.S. Ambassador Kyle Scott on Feb. 8 to discuss bilateral cooperation, the situation in the region and Serbia's European path and Scott gave him a congratulatory note from U.S. President Donald Trump on Serbian Statehood Day. Serbia has long been an important partner to the U.S. This year, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the hoisting of the Serbian flag on the White House by president Woodrow Wilson, which is a good time to remember our long and fruitful bilateral relations, Trump said in the note. The U.S. president told Vucic that joint efforts to improve regional stability and deepening bilateral relations between the U.S. and Serbia needed to continue, the Presidency said. The subject of Vucic's meeting with the U.S. ambassador was his upcoming visit to Zagreb. The Serbian president voiced the hope that relations in the Western Balkans would be developed in the direction of peace, stability and cooperation but that all the countries in the region needed to contribute to that. Scott said that the EU's new Enlargement Strategy unveiled in Strasbourg two days ago, was an important signal for Serbia's European future. The two officials agreed on the importance of continuing the EU-brokered dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and the application of the Brussels agreement. The U.S. ambassador hailed President Vucic's calls for an internal dialogue on Kosovo and Metohija and conveyed to him that the U.S. encouraged all the sides to think meaningfully and work on a comprehensive solution to relations between Belgrade and Pristina. Vucic and Ambassador Scott discussed U.S. support for reform efforts and the further strengthening of economic and military cooperation of the two countries.

MACRON SENDS LETTER TO VUCIC: DETERMINED TO STRENGTHEN FRENCH-SERBIAN RELATIONS

BELGRADE, 8. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met on Feb. 8 with French Ambassador Frederic Mondolini to talk about deepening cooperation between the two countries, while Mondolini handed him a letter from France's President Emmanuel Macron. In the letter, among other things, Macron stresses his determination to strengthen French-Serbian relations in the spirit of friendship and efficiency and that he hopes that this year will be fruitful in terms of France's and Serbia's friendship, the Presidency said. Vucic voiced gratitude for the letter and added that during several meetings with the French president he had established a good relationship and had been convinced of the power of his ideas and leadership. The Serbian president said that he expected President Macron to visit Serbia this year on the anniversary of the end of World War I and remember the strong Serbian-French alliance and friendship, the statement said. Vucic said that political and economic relations between the two countries were becoming visible and stronger, pointing to the example of the Vinci company which will run the Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. Ambassador Mondolini said that France strongly supported Serbia on its European road and that, having said that, it hailed the adoption of a new EU Strategy for enlargement in the Western Balkans, adding that enlargement, after several years, was back on the EU's agenda. He said that France truly wanted to assist Serbia in meeting its obligations for membership in the EU and that its responsible policy had already yielded significant reform results, which brought economic progress, while the conduct of a responsible regional policy had placed it at the forefront as a factor of peace and stability in the Western Balkans, the statement said.

VUCIC, BRITISH MI6 DIRECTOR ON INTELLIGENCE COOPERATION BETWEEN BRITAIN, SERBIA

BELGRADE, 8. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met in Belgrade on Feb. 8 with British MI6 Director Alex Younger to discuss cooperation between the two countries' intelligence services. The officials agreed that the meeting represented "close cooperation and friendship between the two states," the Serbian presidency released. The MI6 director is paying Serbia an official visit.

SERBIAN, CROATIAN COORDINATORS HOLD MEETING IN ZAGREB

ZAGREB, 8. February 2018 (Beta) - The second meeting of coordinators of Croatia and Serbia for solving open issues was held in Zagreb on Feb. 8 and both sides agreed that a certain amount of progress had been achieved in the past two months, which they found encouraging, the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has said. At the meeting, the ministry said, the participants analyzed the activities of interstate mixed commissions in charge of solving open issues in the areas of the position of minorities, the border, jailed and missing persons, the return of cultural goods, economic cooperation, judicial cooperation and succession, after the first meeting held in Belgrade at the end of November last year. Croatia was represented by assistant Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Boris Grigic, while Serbia was represented by Ministry of Foreign Affairs State Secretary Nemanja Stevanovic. To further speed up the solving of these open issues, the coordinators harmonized a series of recommendations with the goal of expediting the operations of the mixed commissions, while the next meeting will be held in Belgrade in the second half of May.

JOKSIMOVIC: EU STRATEGY IS POLITICAL MOMENT THAT SERBIA MUST NOT MISS

BELGRADE, 8. February 2018 (Beta) - Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic said on Feb. 8 that the European Union's Strategy for the Western Balkans represented a political moment which Serbia must not miss. "In this strategy, where Serbia and Montenegro are recognized as leaders, the EU assumed the obligation to strengthen by 2025, to show more solidarity, be stronger, more united, and more institutionally capable of receiving new members," Joksimovic said in an interview with the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS). She said that European integration only accelerated reforms and the political decisions Serbia would have to make even if it gave up on EU membership. Joksimovic said the legally binding agreement between Belgrade and Pristina was marked as urgent, but that this envisaged that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue continued as soon as possible and that all the reached agreements were implemented. "When everyone fulfills their part of the agreements and obligations, both us and Pristina, then the process of looking for a compromise will continue, in which we do not recognize an independent Kosovo - how to find a sustainable solution for normalizing relations, how to protect our interests, and yet make some concessions," Joksimovic said. She said the Strategy expected "those who progressed the most to harmonize more and more with the EU foreign and security policy." Joksimovic added that the Serbian government and President Aleksandar Vucic were always demonstrating good will for talks with the region.

HAHN: EU STRATEGY IS NOT A BLANK CHECK

BLEGRADE, 8. February 2018 (Beta) - The European commissioner for enlargement, Johannes Hahn, said in Belgrade on Feb. 8 that the new strategy of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans was not a "blank check" and that all conditions had to be fulfilled for membership in the Union, especially those concerning the rule of law and normalization of relations with Pristina. Speaking at the conference titled The Western Balkans Strategy – Clearing the Path toward EU Accession, Hahn said that 2025 was an indicative time, not a date set in stone, and that the country, if it fulfills the conditions, would potentially be ready by that date. He said that did not mean Serbia should wait for that moment, that it was not a blank check and that many reforms were needed, and that credible prospects envisaged credible reforms. The Strategy, he said, clearly defines what has to be done for conditions to be fulfilled. The Strategy is not an invitation or a possibility for a discount, but provides guidelines for EU integration, Hahn said, adding that the process of association would depend on Serbia's strength to realize reforms, primarily in the rule of law. It is not just the mere passing of laws. The rule of law represents transformation processes, strengthening of an independent and unbiased judiciary, better fight against organized crime and corruption, creation of an environment that would guarantee the freedom of speech and expression. All that will have a tangible effect on the citizens' life, Hahn said. The European commissioner also said that the EU would not consent to importing unsolved bilateral issues and that was why Serbia had to solve its bilateral disputes and issues regarding borders. The Srategy clearly states that Serbia must irrevocably solve and sign a legally binding agreement (with "Kosovo") before it joins the EU, Hahn said. Hahn said that dialogue should be made possible in the next few months in order for the two partners to reach a solution. There are many possibilities for a legally binding agreement, but it is too early to speak about a concrete solution, Hahn said. He added that all conditions had to be fulfilled and that solving of bilateral issues or normalization of relations with "Kosovo" could not be a compensation for the non-fulfilling of other criteria. Commenting on the absence of dates other than the year 2025 in the Strategy, Hahn said one should not be bound by dates, because when deadlines were not met that caused frustration and disappointment. The EU should help the Western Balkan countries in moving forward, so we should not speak about concrete dates, it is important that results are produced and tasks completed, Hahn stated. The EU will engage more in the region, Hahn said, adding that the EU was a project of peace, stability and prosperity, and that it can be complete when the Western Balkan region becomes its part. I am convinced that the unification of Europe, which began in 1989, can be complete with the admission of the Western Balkans to the EU. That is the joint path, but it is up to you to create the results, Hahn said. Asked by reporters about media freedom in Serbia, Hahn replied that the EU was working on that and that he believed in the rule of law which envisaged the freedom of expression and media. There are certain flaws or omissions, like in other states, which should be solved. Not everything is connected with the political situation, there is the economic situation, as well, Hahn said.

KEEFE: NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THE EU'S TASK FOR BELGRADE AND PRISTINA ENTAILS EXACTLY

BELGRADE, 8. February 2018 (Beta) - The British ambassador to Serbia, Denis Keefe, has stated that the task the European Union had set before Belgrade and Pristina within the Strategy for the Western Balkans, was difficult and that nobody knew what it entailed exactly. The legally binding agreement on normalization is difficult for both sides and nobody knows what its fulfilling entails exactly, but it will have to be fulfilled so that Serbia can be admitted to the EU, Keefe said in an interview with the Feb. 8 issue of the Vreme weekly. He said the Serbian delegation could not have stayed in Brussels and continued the dialogue with the Albanian side on the day when the leader of the Freedom, Democracy, Justice civic initiative, Oliver Ivanovic, was murdered in Kosovska Mitrovica, but that he believed both sides had the will for the dialogue to continue. Keefe said Belgrade and Pristina had assumed obligations during the Brussels dialogue, that some of them had been realized and that there were improvements, but that there were also issues where there had been no progress, like the establishing of the Community of Serb Municipalities.

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