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DAILY SURVEY 25.05.2018.
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SERBIA

DACIC IN CATANIA: SERBIA RANKS HIGH ON GLOBAL LISTS IN SAFETY OF INVESTMENT

BELGRADE, 24 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said in the Sicilian city of Catania on May 24 that Serbia had proven to be an equal and reliable partner to the EU over the years and stressed that the country was improving its ranking on global lists according to investments, competitiveness and simplicity of doing business. At a meeting of the Ministerial Council of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and the Ministerial Meeting of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region, Dacic favored harmonizing development policies and plans for the infrastructural and energy connecting of the Western Balkans and the EU. Speaking about the results that Serbia had achieved in the previous year, Dacic, among other things, underscored that Serbia had seen a budget surplus for the third year in a row and that the public debt had dropped below 58 percent, which was a condition envisaged by the Maastricht Treaty, while the unemployment rate had gone down from nearly 26 percent to 13 percent and youth unemployment had been lowered from 51 percent to 33 percent. "With EUR450 million in foreign direct investment in the first two months of 2018 alone, Serbia has been improving its position on different global lists in the area of investment safety, competitiveness and ease of doing business," Dacic was quoted as saying by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia. The Serbian minister said that Serbia was committed to the EU accession process in which it had opened 12 negotiating chapters so far. "Our goal is to open as many chapters that we are ready for as soon as possible, so that the entire state apparatus can focus on the key and single goal of full membership in the EU," Dacic said. The Serbian foreign minister said he was sure that the EU's enlargement policy was one of the Union's most important instruments, not just in stabilizing the Balkan region and assisting the achievement of economic prosperity, but in achieving the stability and safety of the Union as a whole. The foreign ministers of Italy, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Slovenia and Montenegro, as well as senior EU officials attended the meeting in Catania.

VUCIC, BRNABIC MEET WITH KERRY AND COLLINS, DISCUSS REGION AND INVESTMENTS

BELGRADE, 24 May 2018 (Beta) - The president and prime minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic and Ana Brnabic, the former U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, and one of the most important American businessmen, Tim Collins, met in Belgrade on May 24. The topics of the talks were the preservation of peace and stability in the region, and they said that the improvement of the business atmosphere was key for attracting U.S. investments to Serbia. Vucic and Brnabic said during the working lunch that Serbia would invest even more in the IT sector, which already accounted for 9.2 percent of Serbia's total exports. "The strengthening of the IT sector will accelerate Serbia's economic development and contribute to GDP growth," reads a statement released by the Serbian Presidency.

SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER DISCUSSES EUROPEAN INTEGRATION WITH MCALLISTER

BELGRADE, 24 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic underscored in a May 24 meeting with European Parliamentary Rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister that Serbia very much appreciated the support that the European Parliament was extending to Serbia in the process of European integration, the government has said in a statement. Serbia, according to Prime Minister Brnabic, has been recognized in the past period as an equal and reliable partner to the EU which was confirmed at a recent summit on the Western Balkans in Sofia. McAllister lauded the Serbian cabinet's efforts en route to full membership in the EU and pointed out the importance of continuing reforms, especially where chapters 23 and 24 were concerned, pertaining to the rule of law and judicial reforms.

BRNABIC, IPU PRESIDENT DISCUSS SERBIA'S COOPERATION WITH THAT INSTITUTION

BELGRADE, 24 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic met with Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) President Gabriela Cuevas Barron on May 24 to discuss cooperation between Serbia and that institution, which Serbia has been a member of for 127 years. Brnabic said that Serbia shared the values that the IPU represented where promoting peace and active international cooperation on issues of global importance, defense and promoting universal human rights, gender equality and children's rights were concerned. She said that Serbia was especially concerned with the questions of youth, gender equality and equal gender representation. Brnabic thanked Mexico once again for honoring the principle of international law and its support regarding Kosovo and Metohija. Cuevas Barron thanked Serbia for its active participation in the IPU and its efforts in the area of reforms of the judiciary, the rule of law and other areas of vital importance for its European road and the country's economic and political stability.

MCALLISTER: 2018 KEY YEAR FOR WESTERN BALKANS, OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE EUROPEAN PROSPECTS REAL

BELGRADE, 24 May 2018 (Beta) - European Parliamentary Rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister said on May 24 that 2018 was a key year for the Western Balkans as the region was again in the focus of the EU and had the opportunity to turn its European prospects into a reality. He told a joint news conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that he believed that Serbia would use this political momentum to conduct reforms in the rule of law, judiciary and human rights. McAllister said that lasting stability required a focus on cooperation and normalizing relations in the region. Serbia is advancing and its European goals are being achieved, McAllister said, adding that he knew that the country would follow its European agenda. He said that the Serbian economy was in good shape, but that the rule of law needed to be strengthened to attract foreign investors. McAllister said that a plenary session of the European Parliament would review his report on Serbia on Sept. 3. Will any and how many chapters will be opened is not something that the European parliament decides on, but I hope that Serbia will be rewarded for its continued progress, McAllister said. At the end of his speech he said that he believed in Serbia and President Vucic's ability.

CONFERENCE ON HISTORY OF CZECHOSLOVAKIAN-YUGOSLAV RELATIONS

BELGRADE, 24 May 2018 (Beta) - A conference titled History of Relations between Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia was held on May 24 at the Czech Embassy in Belgrade, as part of marking one hundred years since the end of World War I, the creation of Czechoslovakia and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (SCS) and the establishing of diplomatic relations between them. The Czech assistant foreign minister, Jakub Durr, said at the conference that Czechoslovakia and the Kingdom of SCS had been created simultaneously, that the reasons for their forming had been the same, that they had faced the same challenges and position in international relations, and that it was no wonder that they had become allies soon after the war. As a symbol of quality of relations between the two countries, Durr cited the locations of their respective embassies in Belgrade and Prague, both of which are in the central parts of the two cities. He also said that Czech culture had left a significant mark in this region, since many people from this region had studied in Czechoslovakia. In his words, the priority of the Czech Republic, as well as of Slovakia, is the Western Balkans' membership in the EU, and they are working on that together. The Slovak ambassador to Serbia, Dagmar Repcekova, said that, although they dissolved more than 20 years ago, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia had "lasted much longer than that" and that many important people had participated in their creation. "Cohabitation calls for daily compromises, but also has its good sides. (...) Like there once was in Czechoslovakia, there is a common artistic space in Yugoslavia," Repcekova said. The former Slovak ambassador to FR Yugoslavia, Miroslav Mojzita, said that the Slovak minority in Serbia was a good link and proof of good relations between Serbia and Slovakia. "The multi-ethnic states have broken up, but the values remain. (...) Mutual trust in international relations is a valuable asset in these times; it has somehow disappeared, but we still have it," Mojzita said. The assistant foreign minister of Serbia, Dejan Ralevic, said that the Czech Republic and Slovakia were nowadays an example of democracy in the world and that Serbia was bound to them by traditional friendship. The host of the gathering, the charge d'affaires of the Embassy of the Czech Republic, Pavel Koblizka, said the Czech Embassy was the right place to hold the conference because "its size is the symbol of relations between Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia."

ECONOMY

SERBIA'S NEW CONTRACTS FOR PROJECTS WITH CHINA AT 16+1 SUMMIT IN SOFIA IN JULY

BELGRADE, 24 May 2018 (Beta) - The Serbian minister of construction, transportation and infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlovic, and the Chinese ambassador to Serbia, Li Manchang, on May 24 discussed the realization of infrastructure projects and signing of contracts for new joint projects of Serbia and China. The ministry has stated that both sides are satisfied with cooperation and ready for new projects. For Serbia, Mihajlovic said, it is immensely important to sign as soon as possible the commercial contract for the last segment of the Belgrade-Budapest high-speed railway, from Novi Sad to Subotica, and the contract on financing the Preljina-Pozega motorway, so that works could start as soon as possible. "Also important for us is the reconstruction of remaining segments of the railway Corridor X, from Belgrade to Nis and on to the border with Macedonia," the minister said. It is expected that these two contracts and the memorandum on the reconstruction of the Belgrade-Nis and Nis-Presevo railways will be signed in Sofia in July, at the summit of the prime ministers of China and 16 countries of Central and East Europe.

MIHAJLOVIC, RZD INTERNATIONAL GM ON RAILWAY PROJECTS

BELGRADE, 24 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic met on May 24 with Russian RZD International company GM Sergey Pavlov to discuss the realization of ongoing projects and potential new joint projects by the Serbian and Russian railway companies. The Ministry of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure quoted Zorana Mihajlovic as saying that the projects that had been realized so far were an example of successful cooperation and that she expected it to continue with regard to new, joint projects. The minister and director of RZD International discussed the reconstruction and modernization of the Stara Pazova-Novi Sad railway, located on the future Belgrade-Budapest fast railway, which was part of the Chinese global One Belt One Road project. Possible projects which RZD might be interested in were discussed at the meeting, including the construction of a railroad leading to the Nikola Tesla Airport and the construction of a new dispatch center for the railway company. Pavlov voiced his satisfaction with cooperation so far within the realization of a Russian loan for the modernization of Serbia's railways, as well as the Russian company's readiness to be involved in new projects in Serbia.

ANTIC: GAZPROM NEFT, NIS INTERESTED IN PETROHEMIJA

SAINT PETERSBURG, 24 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Energy and Mining Aleksandar Antic said on May 24 that Gazprom Neft and the Petroleum Industry of Serbia (NIS) were interested in the Petrohemija petrochemical plant and that more intensive talks would be held on that subject. On the sidelines of an Economic Forum in St. Petersburg Antic met with Gazprom president Alexey Miller and Gazprom Neft president Alexander Dyukov to discuss Petrohemija and stressed that the company was working fine, but that a strategic partner was necessary. "We need a strategic partner for investment, especially for investing in a line for producing polypropylene, which should secure Petrohemija long-term and stable functioning in economic conditions regardless of possible turbulence connected to global oil prices," Antic said. He said that during the talks with Miller they concluded that since the start of the year gas deliveries to Serbia had grown by six percent year-over-year. "We concluded that this was primarily the result of industrial growth in Serbia and GDP growth and that we expect to continue with these trends," he said. He also said that Miller and he had arranged to continue talks on possibly raising the amount of gas delivered to Serbia. Antic added that they had also discussed strengthening the gas transmission system in Serbia, especially in the direction from Bulgaria to the Hungarian border and increasing the capacities of the Banatski Dvor storage facility.

DAILY SURVEY

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