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DAILY SURVEY 16.05.2018.
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SERBIA

VUCIC: SERBIA IS PLEASED WITH LEVELS OF TRADE WITH GERMANY

BELGRADE, 15 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said during a May 15 visit to Dusseldorf that Serbia was satisfied with trade with Germany, expecting closer economic ties with North Rhine-Westphalia. "The value of trade with North Rhine-Westphalia is EUR620 million. I am grateful to the minister-president for saying that we could go over EUR835 million," Vucic said at a joint press conference with North Rhine-Westphalia's Minister-President Armin Laschet. "Different economic and political themes were discussed and Laschet listened to everything I had to say about the political situation in Serbia, and its reforms," the Serbian president said. Laschet stated that North Rhine-Westphalia closely followed the State of Bavaria in terms of investments in Serbia, and said that he was encouraging German businesses to invest in Serbia. "North Rhine-Westphalia's companies that have invested in Serbia are high-quality and world-renowned firms, and when they say, 'Let's go to Serbia,' that's a very good signal," the minister-president of the German state said. Laschet expressed support for Serbia's EU accession, having noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel "appreciated" the reforms Serbia was carrying out.

DJORDJEVIC: SERBIAN MILITARY CEMETERIES IN GREECE IN NEED OF RECONSTRUCTION

BELGRADE, 15 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy Zoran Djordjevic met on May 15 with a minister plenipotentiary at the Greek embassy, Lambis Kounalakis, in charge of economic and trade relations, to discuss the reconstruction and maintenance of Serbian military cemeteries in Greece. The labor ministry said that Djordjevic had underlined the importance of Serbian memorials, the Zeitenlik in Thessaloniki, at the Kaimaktsalan and on the island of Corfu. Minister Djordjevic said that the protection of war memorials demonstrated Serbia's respect for its own past, and all those innocent people who had lost their lives in war conflicts. "Serbia desires to honor its brave predecessors. We will always try to protect the dignity of the memorials built to honor them, keeping the memory forever," the labor minister said. The two officials discussed cooperation in organizing a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War this coming September.

SERBIA, ALBANIA CREATING JOINT TOURISM OFFER FOR FOREIGNERS

BELGRADE, 15 May 2018 (Beta) - An agreement on cooperation in the area of tourism between Serbia and Albania toward creating a "joint tourism product" was signed by ministers Rasim Ljajic and Blendi Klosi in Belgrade on May 15. Albanian Minister of Tourism and Environmental Protection Blendi Klosi told journalists that tourism was becoming a mainstay of the Serbian and Albanian economies as "it brings money, and money brings economic power and greater strength and advancements for all in the region." "Albania and Serbia as a region have a big chance and there is a lot that they can offer jointly, the potential is great, it needs to be tapped and among other things includes cultural heritage, promoting life and lifestyles," Klosi stressed. The Albanian minister said that he had arranged to hold a joint meeting of the ministers of tourism of the region to work together to forge a joint strategy and joint tourism product which would unify all the offers of the Balkan countries, so that they could achieve bigger results globally. Ljajic told reporters that the "joint tourism product" increased the chance of attracting tourists, especially from overseas markets as opposed to individual campaigns where the opportunities were lower since tourists nowadays wanted to see two, three or more countries during one trip. Serbia has agreements with Montenegro and Macedonia and is readying agreements with Croatia and Bulgaria. Ljajic said that "nothing is better or more efficient in bringing stereotypes and barriers between people down than tourist travels."

AMBASSADOR KEEFE: GREAT BRITAIN TO MAINTAIN PRESENCE IN REGION AFTER BREXIT

BELGRADE, 15 May 2018 (Beta) - British Ambassador to Serbia Denis Keefe has said that he expects a summit between the EU and the Western Balkans this week in Sofia, as well as a summit of the Berlin Process in London in June, to support economic stability, security and reconciliation in the region. In an interview with Beta, Keefe said that relations between Serbia and Great Britain, although long-standing, were fairly complicated given that there were subjects that they did not agree on, but that London supported Serbia's reforms and European integration and that it would continue to be present in the region after Brexit. The British ambassador said that accession to the EU did not imply only the solving of technical issues from negotiations on accession but also harmonization with the values shared by all EU members, meaning harmonizing with Brussels' foreign and security policy where Russia was concerned. Great Britain's exit from the EU does not mean that the country is quitting Europe, Keefe said, adding that London intended to remain active in the Western Balkans after Brexit as it had important interests regarding security and stability in the region. The purpose of the Berlin Process is to support reform processes, the accession of the Western Balkans to the EU. And we think that the summit in London will also support this process. We think that we can contribute to economic stability, security and reconciliation in the Western Balkans, Keefe said. He went on to say that London was cooperating with its partners in the Balkans and partners in the EU because it thought that there was a possibility for the reform process in the Western Balkan countries and their accession process to take a positive leap. The summit in Sofia this week will be a very important meeting of all of the Western Balkan countries and all of the countries of the EU. There will be, I am convinced, important discussions, there will be decisions on that process. We talked without partners about the connection between the summit in Sofia and summit in London. We have a chance to do something very positive together, he said. The ambassador added that there were concrete things on the table at these gatherings and that the EU's members had already earmarked a lot of money for infrastructure and regional connections, as well as that they would continue to do so. I hope that people will return from the summit in Sofia with a sense of progress and I expect people to return from the summit in London with the feeling that we have moved things in the right direction even further, he said. Keefe also said that Great Britain wanted to support Serbia's European integration because Serbia itself had decided to go down that road, but that it needed to continue conducting reforms in the area of the freedom of the press and rule of law, as well as to adopt the joint foreign and security police that was based on the EU's core values. I have often heard President [Aleksandar] Vucic speak of Serbia conducting reforms, carrying out accession to the EU for its own reasons and this is right, this is the best reason, Keefe said. The British ambassador said that the European Commission regularly evaluated Serbia's progress but that the rule of law, the media, the judiciary had been routinely identified as areas in which further progress was needed. Accession to the EU also includes harmonization with the EU's joint foreign policy. It is evident that in some areas Serbia is harmonized with this joint foreign policy, while in some others it is not. I regularly discuss this with the foreign minister, your government, your president. And obviously that is one of the key reasons why Serbia has not so far harmonized its attitude toward Russia and the question of Kosovo. These are some questions that need to be worked on, he said. He added that after Serbia's admission to the EU its policy by definition would be harmonized with the EU's joint foreign and security police, but that no one knew yet what the exact road to getting there was. Where Russia is concerned, the key question are the values shared by European, democratic states, which is something that Russia does not respect. We were recently a victim of that in a horrible way, after an attack and an attempted murder with chemical weapons in Salisbury. We have seen countries supported by Russia use chemical weapons in other places as well, such as Syria. This question is very important to us, for all of Europe. This is also a very important question for Serbia. Serbia, like us, is a signatory of the convention banning the use of chemical weapons, Keefe said. Keefe also said that London planned to continue its activities in the region and added that its embassy in Belgrade was being expanded to enable cooperation in as many areas as possible with partners in Serbia. We have always been one of the most active members of the EU in promoting integration in this region. And we will continue to be that. Maybe our voice will be heard in a somewhat different space, but it will be the same voice, the voice that supports progress, reforms, reconciliation, and a better future for the region, he said. The British ambassador further said that relations between Belgrade and London were complicated because they did not agree on everything, but that there was room to improve them, as well as increase the activity of British investors in Serbia. There is interest, it is rising, it is not as big as I would like it to be and my team is working hard to support this interest, Keefe said. He said that in the four years that he had spent in Serbia much had been done - Great Britain had secured financial assistance for supporting reforms, Belgrade and London were cooperating on issues in the areas of justice and internal affairs, they were fighting crime and extremism and cooperating on migration. There are subjects that we do not agree on, but there are subjects which, I hope, we will agree on in the future, but we have to work on that. For me as the ambassador it is very important that we can build quality bilateral relations in which we can jointly realize many positive things while at the same time working on the questions that we do not agree on, Keefe said, adding that last year the two countries celebrated 180 years of diplomatic relations. We like to think that we are the first country that has had diplomatic relation directly with Serbia. This is an important thing in our relations, he said. Keefe added that the activities of British investors in Serbia were not level with the activities of investors from other members of the Union, but that their interest was growing along with trade between the two countries. He announced that an xCEED conference on financial technologies and services would take place next week, which would gather nine companies from Great Britain that had not previously been involved in business in the region. He announced a conference on new technologies in education for June, which he said would be attended by numerous British companies that offered their expertise and products to the region.

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