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DAILY SURVEY 12.02.2018.
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SERBIA-HUNGARY

BRNABIC, ORBAN: EXCELLENT RELATIONS, SUPPORT FOR SERBIA'S EU BID

BUDAPEST, 9. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said in Budapest, on Feb. 9 that relations between Hungary and Serbia were at "a historic high" and pledged that Serbia remained dedicated to its friendship and developing relations with Hungary. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told at joint news conference held after the two cabinets' co-session that Hungary and the countries of the Visegrad Four supported quicker EU integration for Serbia. Orban said Serbia had produced great economic results in the past few years, results that certain European countries would be proud to call their own. Orban also said that Hungary considered Serbia a key country in the Western Balkans, adding that regional security could not be spoken of without Serbia. According to Brnabic, one of the key areas of cooperation is energy -- connecting gas grids and electric systems. After the fourth joint session of the two governments, Brnabic and Orban presided over the signing of ten cooperation deals. The previous sessions of the two cabinets took place in Belgrade in 2014, in Budapest in 2015 and in Nis in 2016. Brnabic and Orban took part in the Hungary-Serbia Business Forum on Feb. 9, organized by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and the Hungarian state commercial outfit NTKM.

BRNABIC, ADER: GOOD SERBIAN-HUNGARIAN RELATIONSHIP IMPORTANT FOR REGIONAL COOPERATION

BELGRADE, 9. February 2018 (Bet) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Hungarian President Janos Ader agreed at a Feb. 9 meeting in Budapest that bilateral relations, which had reached a historic peak, were based on a strategic partnership, adding that successful cooperation would continue in the future as well, it being very important for overall regional stability and cooperation. Brnabic and Ader also discussed political themes in the Western Balkans, as well as the development of bilateral ties, the Office of the Serbian prime minister said. One of the themes was Hungary's investment in spa tourism, while a special emphasis was placed on joint infrastructure projects. "After the release of teh European Commission's Strategy for the Western Balkans, Hungary's continued support is very important for Serbia," Brnabic said at the meeting. President Ader said that Hungary was pleased with the results of previous summits between China and Central and Eastern European countries, particularly with the signing of a memorandum of understanding and cooperation for the Belgrade-Budapest railways and the launch of the project.

BRNABIC TELLS BUSINESS FORUM: BIG BENEFITS FROM SERBIA-HUNGARY TIES

BUDAPEST, 9. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said in Budapest, on Feb. 9 that Serbia and Hungary had excellent cooperation in the areas of European integration, infrastructure and energy, while energy efficiency held particularly great potential for cooperation. Brnabic told the Hungarian-Serbian Business Forum that Hungary "absolutely supports Serbia in Brussels, often with brave and loud lobbying on Serbia's behalf and in defense of Serbia's interests." She said Serbia's European integration was the main strategic direction in cooperation between the two countries, adding that Hungary had provided a lot of technical assistance and support to the Serbian team in preparing the negotiating chapters themselves, in negotiations and in the implementation of action plans. Another direction in strategic cooperation was, she said, connecting infrastructure, stressing that the project of modernizing the Belgrade-Budapest railway topped the list of priorities. "This is a project that the two countries are implementing together with China, through the 16+1 Summit and the Belt and Road global initiative. Despite some "dilemmas" that exist in the EU on cooperation with China, we think that this project can show the EU all of the benefits of cooperating with China, Brnabic said. The Serbian prime minister said the two cabinets concluded at their Feb. 9 joint session that a new border crossing would open on April 1, followed by another one in 2019. She added that this event had symbolic significance, but was also important for better economic cooperation and transit between the two neighboring states. She urged the representatives of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce to expand regional cooperation and networking to Hungary, stating that Serbia and the Western Balkans could benefit greatly from quicker and better connections to Hungary.

JOKSIMOVIC, SZIJJARTO SIGN SUPPORT PLAN FOR CONTINUED SERBIAN EU INTEGRATION

BELGRADE, 9. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister for EU Integration Jadranka Joksimovic and Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto signed a 2018 annual work plan in Budapest, on Feb. 9 to ensure expert Hungarian support to Belgrade in its EU integration. The EU Integration Ministry said in a press release that Hungarian experts would continue to share their experience with their colleagues in Serbia. Szijjarto said Hungary would continue to support Serbia's European path in every way, the press release states further. As part of a visit by the Serbian government to Hungary, the Serbian justice minister spoke with Deputy Hungarian Justice Minister Pal Volner about the country's further support to Serbia's bid to join the EU, while Serbian Environmental Protection Minister Goran Trivan spoke with Hungarian Agriculture Minister Sandor Fazekas. Trivan and Fazekas agreed on signing a new Memorandum of Cooperation in Environmental Protection, and on a visit by professional delegations to exchange experiences and expand cooperation in ecology, the Environmental Protection Ministry said the press release.

SERBIA

DACIC: MEETING WITH TILLERSON VERY GOOD, GIVES HOPE OF SUCCESSFUL COOPERATION

BELGRADE/WASHINGTON, 10 February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has stated that his meeting in Washington with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Feb. 9 was exceptionally good and focused on the future and Serbian-U.S. relations, and noted that the new U.S. administration had more understanding for Serbia than its predecessors. "I wrote in the guest book before the meeting that I dedicate this meeting to the centennial of the alliance between the U.S. and Serbia in WWI. A very important date for us this year is July 28, when we will mark 100 years of Serbian Day in the U.S., the day when Woodrow Wilson ordered the Serbian flag hoisted from the White House to honor Serbian losses in WWI," Dacic said. He added that 100 years had gone by since then, and that the two countries' relations needed to be "rebooted," that they should seek common ground and a way for the U.S. to help Serbia achieve its key goal: stability and peace in the region and the resolution of open issues. "What I mean primarily is an attempt at a lasting solution for the Kosovo and Metohija issue... In this context, I believe they listened to all of our arguments very carefully. This meeting confirms that the new U.S. administration has more understanding for what Serbia is saying than earlier ones, especially those that were pulled into the armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia," the Foreign Ministry quoted Dacic as saying in a Feb. 10 press release. Dacic also said it was time that U.S. President Donald Trump visited Serbia, as the last U.S. president to visit then Yugoslavia, was Jimmy Carter.

DACIC: IMPORTANT VISIT TO SURINAME

BELGRADE, 11. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met with Suriname's top-ranking government officials to discuss the development of bilateral cooperation and current international issues. During a Feb. 10 visit to Paramaribo, Minister Dacic met with Suriname's President Desire Delano Bouterse, Speaker Jennifer Geerling-Simmons and Foreign Minister Yldiz Deborah Pollack-Beighle, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported on Feb. 11. Priorities in Serbian-Surinamese cooperation were discussed by the officials, who agreed that despite the geographical distance, there were areas in which cooperation could be successfully developed. "We are prepared to develop a strategic partnership with Suriname, and I am pleased to say that today we are signing several agreements and a road map, because it is very important to expand bilateral cooperation in all segments," the Serbian foreign minister said. Dacic specified that an agreement to lift visas had been signed, together with a Memorandum of Cooperation and Political Consultations between the two foreign ministries, a friendship agreement and a road map laying out specific steps in cooperation until 2021. "We expect the Surinamese president and foreign minister to visit Serbia by the end of the year and we have agreed to set up a mixed cooperation committee to be chaired by Minister Yldiz Deborah Pollack-Beighle and I," Dacic explained.

BRNABIC CONDOLES WITH MEDVEDEV OVER PLANE CRASH

BELGRADE, 11. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic sent a letter of condolences to her Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on Feb. 11 after a plane crash near Moscow. "We were very shaken by news of the tragedy in which a great number of passengers and crew perished. It is difficult to find words of comfort for the families and friends of those lost, but I am certain you will find the strength to provide support to the people who lost their loved ones," the Serbian government quoted Brnabic's letter as saying in a press release. On behalf of the government and the people of Serbia, and herself personally, Brnabic sent her deepest condolences to the families of the victims, the Russian prime minister and the entire Russian leadership. A passenger plane belonging to the Russian Saratov Airlines with 71 passengers and crew members on board, crashed outside Moscow on Feb. 11, soon after taking off from Domodedovo Airport.

LJAJIC, SAROVIC DISCUSS WAYS TO STRENGTHEN ECONOMIC, TRADE TIES

BELGRADE, 11. February 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic met in Belgrade, on Feb. 11, with Vice Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Bosnia's Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Mirko Sarovic, to discuss the development of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. The two ministers noted that in 2017 record trade of EUR1.726 billion was achieved, of which Serbia's exports to Bosnia totalled EUR1.21 billion, while the value of Bosnian exports to Serbia reached EUR516 million. Ljajic and Sarovic also agreed that the common goal was to reach a commodity exchange target of close to two billion euros by the end of the year, for which non-customs barriers between the two states had to be eliminated first. The two officials specified that there were four of them left, and that a mixed committee would meet quarterly until they were removed. The first session is scheduled to take place at the end of this month. Ljajic and Sarovic also discussed cooperation in the tourism sector, describing the Chinese market as a priority for both countries, bearing in mind that Serbia and Bosnia were the only two countries in this part of Europe that had lifted visa requirements for the Chinese people. "The ministers agreed that Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina would offer a joint tourist product to China in the future, in order to attract as many Chinese tourists as possible," according to a press release.

NORWEGIAN AMBASSADOR: SERBIA MIGHT JOIN EU IN 2025

BELGRADE, 10. February 2018 (Beta) - Norway's ambassador to Serbia, Arne Sannes Bjornstad, said that 2025 was a realistic date for Serbia to join the European Union, if the country continued to implement reforms with undiminished enthusiasm, maintained good relations with its neighbors and fell into step with the Union on all important matters. "The EU sets no deadlines for accession into the Union. The date is rather an objective. The true question is how quickly Serbia can meet the membership requirements," the ambassador said in a Feb. 11 interview with the Vecernje Novosti newspaper, where he commented on the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans, released last week. When asked if the normalization of relations with "Kosovo" implied recognizing its independence, the Norwegian diplomat said that the EU was using the term "normalization" and that the EU members "will think very carefully before they let a country embroiled in conflict, or with unresolved issues into the community." "That means creating a stable relationship free of conflict where Serbia and Kosovo could establish trade and work together to resolve shared challenges, instead of dealing with disagreements," the ambassador explained. He also said that it was very unlikely that the EU would change its voting system and give up on asking for the consent of all states for a new member.

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