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DAILY SURVEY 02.04.2018.
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SERBIA

DACIC, KENYA'S AMBASSADOR DISCUSS COOPERATION, TOP-RANKING OFFICIAL VISITS

BELGRADE, 30 March 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met on March 30 with Kenyan Ambassador Tom Amolo to discuss the development of traditionally good bilateral relations dating back to over 50 years ago, along with preparations for an exchange of visits by top-ranking government officials. Minister Dacic thanked the ambassador for Kenya's support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia, as well as for his country's position on the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo. Ambassador Amolo described Serbia and Kenya as very close states, adding that all of the conditions had been met for top-ranking officials to exchange visits, and for the two states to cooperate successfully in the economy, culture, education and other areas. The minister and the ambassador agreed that the traditionally friendly relationship between the two states which shared a long and rich history going back to the time of Kenya gaining independence, provided an excellent basis for cooperation in all areas, as well as mutual support in international organizations.

VUCIC: SERBIA TRAPPED BETWEEN HAMMER AND ANVIL

BELGRADE, 31 March 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on March 31 that in regard to Kosovo and Metohija, Serbia was trapped between the hammer and the anvil, and that the future of the country depended on what it would do in the next six months to two years. "We are trapped between the hammer and the anvil, and whatever we do, we will regret it. The future of the entire country will depend on what we are going to do in the next half a year, year to two. I hope the western part of the international community can understand that the Serbs cannot agree about everything with those who recognized Kosovo right away. The Serbs want to be respected, and not humiliated," Vucic said at a debate in the Palace of Serbia, held as part of an internal dialogue on Kosovo and Metohija. President Vucic added that it was alright with him if anyone thought there might be someone else in Serbia to carry out a different policy, or that it might be easy to carry out. Speaking on a recent Kosovo police raid in Kosovska Mitrovica, and the arrest of Director of Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric, Vucic said it involved brutal violence, clearly planned beforehand, but that the Serbian side restrained from violence, because it does not want a conflict, even though he "does not have to say" how many weapons and people ready to use them there were in the north of KiM. "We did not move the army or the police an inch...And what I may use as an argument to get someone out of jail should not concern anyone," he said. In a comment on the economic position of the Serbs in KiM, Vucic said that Serbia's yearly allocations for KiM amounted to between EUR520 million and EUR530 million, which was why the development of the private sector in KiM was key to their economic survival. Vucic said that when the Serbian communities south of the Ibar River were concerned, Serbia's allocations were some 30 times higher than Pristina's and the European Union's put together. "In some public companies we pay salaries for thousands of people who are not in KiM. We cannot clear the lists, because every time you try, you face a revolution of a varying degree, supported by everyone here, in Serbia. Therefore we need to curry favor with part of the public, even when they are wrong," Vucic said. Commenting on the internal dialogue, the president said he was not overly optimistic about a consensus, as it seemed to him there were at least two publics which were not listening to each other.

VUCIC CONGRATULATES El-SISI ON PRESIDENTIAL VOTE WIN IN EGYPT

BELGRADE, 31 March 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic congratulated Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on his election as president. "Please receive my sincere congratulations on your victory in the presidential election. The trust of such a great number of votes will provide momentum and a guiding light for the responsible duty of president in your new term too, and to the benefit of your country's progress and its citizens," the Serbian president's note reads. Vucic voiced the conviction that Serbia will remain a reliable and constructive partner in further developing relations between the two countries, stating that they were rooted in historical friendly ties, but also in great opportunities for strengthening economic and every other form of cooperation. "I am happy that in the coming period we will continue to work together on advancing cooperation between our two countries, which we discussed at a meeting during the session of the U.N. General Assembly last September in New York," he said. Vucic voiced the hope that he would soon have the chance to welcome the Egyptian president to Serbia.

JOKSIMOVIC: SERBIA EXPECTS EU TO "REACT ADEQUATELY" ON INCIDENT IN KOSOVSKA MITROVICA

BELGRADE, 30 March 2018 (Beta) - Serbia expects "the European Union (EU) to be able to call things by their name and react adequately," Serbia's minister in charge of the country's EU accession Jadranka Joksimovic said in a March 30 comment on an incident in Kosovska Mitrovica early last week, adding that the authorities in Pristina "demonstrated a stronger capacity for violence, than dialog." Minister Joksimovic shared her view at a Belgrade meeting with a delegation from the Bulgarian parliament's committee on European affairs and control of EU funds, according to a press release. The minister said that Serbia was in favor of peace and dialog, whereas "the pre-planned arrest of Marko Djuric" unveiled that Pristina possessed "a stronger capacity for violence than for dialog and consensus," the fundamental values of the EU which is being chaired by Bulgaria in the first half of the year. "We expect the EU to show that it is able to call things by their name and react adequately," Joksimovic said, pointing to the need for "a more active role by the EU, as a guarantor of the Brussels agreement." Kristian Vigenin, the chairman of the Bulgarian parliamentary committee, underlined Serbia's role in preserving regional security and stability, adding that Serbia "confirmed that it has been a reliable partner to the EU," as it did before, throughout the migrant crisis.

SWISS AMBASSADOR: BELGRADE, ZAGREB AND TIRANA MAKE UP KEY TRIANGLE FOR PEACE IN THE BALKANS

BELGRADE, 31 March 2018 (Beta) - Swiss Ambassador to Serbia Philippe Guex said on March 31 that Belgrade, Zagreb and Tirana constituted a triangle that was key to peace and stability in the Western Balkans. In an interview with the Vecernje Novosti newspaper, published in its weekend issue, the ambassador made clear that Serbia's accession to the European Union (EU) would depend on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. "Switzerland and Serbia agree to disagree over Kosovo, as we have recognized the independence of Kosovo. Switzerland is home to a large Serbian expatriate community, but Kosovo's is as large, which is why we help Kosovo, too. The normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina will be key to Serbia's EU accession," the Swiss diplomat explained. Ambassador Guex said that Switzerland had increased assistance to Serbia in a demonstration of solidarity, to contribute to the general development of Serbia and speed up its entry into the Union. "Europe cannot be Europe without the Western Balkans, which is why we are trying to offer Serbia all kinds of assistance in harmonizing national legislation with the rules and standards that are in force in the EU," the Swiss diplomat said.

ECONOMY

SERBIAN PRESIDENT AND HEAD OF RUSSIAN RAILWAYS DISCUSS PROJECT COOPERATION

BELGRADE, 30 March 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Russian Railways CEO and chairman of the board Oleg Belozyorov met in Belgrade, on March 30, where they discussed proposals for further cooperation in railway infrastructure projects in Serbia. The Serbian president's office said in a press release that Vucic was very happy with cooperation with Russian Railways and the projects executed to date, and voiced the hope that they would continue, while observing deadlines. According to Vucic, the Stara Pazova-Novi Sad railway is one of the priorities, as part of the "strategic railway route from Belgrade to Budapest." Belozyorov thanked Vucic for his involvement and support for Russian Railways' projects in Serbia. Belozyorov briefed Vucic on the training program provided for Railways of Serbia employees to boost their qualifications and exchange experience with their Russian colleagues.

MIHAJLOVIC, BELOZYOROV GREENLIGHT WORKS IN CORTANOVCI TUNNEL

BELGRADE, 30 March 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic and Russian Railways CEO Oleg Belozyorov on March 30 gave the greenlight for the start of work on a 2.2-kilometer long tunnel in Cortanovci via video-link. Russian Railways is doing the work along this stretch of the Belgrade-Budapest railroad, which connects Stara Pazova to Novi Sad. Mihajlovic and Belozyorov also signed a memorandum of understanding on developing strategic partnership relations and the joint execution of railway infrastructure projects in Serbia. Mihajlovic said Serbia had been working with Russian Railways for many years and that the cooperation was fruitful. "We will continue to work on the very important project of a dispatch center in Topcider. It's an important project, because we want railway transportation to be dominant, not just road transportation," she said. Mihajlovic announced continued cooperation, adding that there was interest in building a railroad from the Nikola Tesla Airport to Belgrade. Belozyorov thanked the Serbian government for entrusting his company with big projects. He stressed that Russian Railways had overhauled 200 kilometers of railroads in Serbia over the past four years and that each project was finished ahead of deadline. Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Chepurin said one of the directions to expand cooperation between the two countries was infrastructure. He said that high-technology cooperation between Serbia and Russia was important because it increased the competitiveness of both.

DAILY SURVEY

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