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DAILY SURVEY 22.06.2018.
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SERBIA-BULGARIA

VUCIC MEETS WITH RADEV: POLITICAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN SERBIA, BULGARIA GOOD, RELATIONS GETTING BETTER

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - On June 21 President Aleksandar Vucic described relations between Serbia and Bulgaria as increasingly good, adding that top-level political dialogue between the two countries was good. "Our cooperation is advancing swiftly," Vucic told a news conference which he held with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, whom he thanked for Bulgaria's support to Serbia's European road and always being ready to listen to "what Serbia has to say on the subject of Kosovo." He said that trade between the two countries had exceeded EUR1 billion and that imports and exports had grown substantially and that companies were establishing ties. The president added that Serbia's citizens were spending their winter and summer vacations in Bulgaria, while Bulgarians were in third place in the total number of tourists in Serbia. He announced that Radev and he had discussed a Nis-Dimitrovgrad gas pipeline and the reconstruction of railroads on that route, and added that he would visit Corridor X on June 22. He added that regional cooperation was excellent, that textbooks in their mother tongue had been arranged for the Bulgarian minority in Serbia and that Serbia was ready to spend more money on financing Bulgarian language media.

RADEV: EUROPEAN FUTURE GUARANTEE OF REGIONAL SECURITY, STABILITY

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - On June 21 Bulgarian President Rumen Radev supported in Belgrade Serbia's accession to the EU and called for greater activity in linking regions that were important from the standpoint of European integration. Radev told a news conference held with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that a European future was a guarantee of regional security and stability. "I assured President Vucic that your country can count on our support," Radev said. He said that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina had no alternative and that a solution had to be found, otherwise there was no future in the EU. He added that the Serbian side's arguments needed to be analyzed and carefully evaluated, otherwise there could be no durable solution. He said that trade and tourism between the two countries were advancing along with infrastructure projects, such as a highway from Belgrade to Sofia and a natural gas interconnection between the two countries, adding that infrastructure connections were important for the region's European integration and that more activity was needed in that area. The Bulgarian president said that the gas interconnection with Serbia was a priority for his country and that the Bulgarian part of the aforementioned highway was expected to be completed by 2022.

BRNABIC, RADEV DISCUSS COOPERATION IN ECONOMY, ENERGY

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on June 21 met with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev to discuss the further development of relations between the two countries, the improvement of economic and cooperation in the energy sector, and current political issues in the country and the region, the Serbian government has stated. Brnabic said Serbia was considering all projects that could secure a stable gas supply, especially those in which it would be a transit country. The prime minister also said that energy, agriculture, furniture production, the automobile industry and construction were the fields where possibilities existed for long-term cooperation with Bulgaria. Brnabic said that tourism was also a sector with great potential, that Bulgaria was second according to the number of arrivals in Serbia in 2016, with 88,089 tourists, that growth of 3.6 percent was registered in 2017, while 10-percent growth in the number of Bulgarian tourists was registered in the first four months of 2018, with more than 30,000 arrivals. The prime minister thanked Radev for his country's support to Serbia on the European path. "We are grateful for Bulgaria's strong efforts toward placing EU enlargement among the priorities of its presidency, in the first half of this year," Brnabic said.

SERBIAN PARLIAMENT SPEAKER MEETS BULGARIAN PRESIDENT

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - Bulgarian President Rumen Radev met with Serbian Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic on June 21. The Parliament has said in a press release that "Gojkovic and Radev stressed that Serbia and Bulgaria had a common future and that it was important in that context to use all potentials for intensifying connections, with the aim of improving good neighborly relations, and to additionally strengthen and make cooperation more concrete, especially in the fields of infrastructure, transportation, energy, education and culture." Reiterating that Serbia's aim was to become a full member of the EU, Gojkovic thanked Bulgaria for placing EU enlargement and the European integration of the Western Balkans among the priorities of its presidency of the EU Council, due to end soon. Gojkovic said she hoped "that EU enlargement in the Western Balkans will also be a priority during the presidencies of Austria and Romania," while Radev pointed out that "friendly Serbia can count on Bulgaria's support," reads the press release. Gojkovic and Radev concurred on the importance of the development of parliamentary cooperation, while Gojkovic advocated greater cooperation between the parliamentary committees on agriculture, tourism, infrastructure and energy. She said the experience of the Parliament of Bulgaria was important for Serbia in the process of European integration and in harmonizing domestic legislation with EU regulations, and announced that she would visit Bulgaria.

VUCIC, RADEV ATTEND OPENING OF PHOTO EXHIBITION AT NATIONAL BANK OF SERBIA

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - A photo exhibition by two authors from Bulgaria and Serbia, Applied Nostalgia, opened at the National Bank of Serbia's gallery on June 21, and was attended by the presidents of the two countries, Aleksandar Vucic and Rumen Radev. The exhibition consists of photographs by Serbian author Dragana Udovicic and Bulgarian photojournalist Hristo Rusev, whose country is currently chairing the EU. Opening the event, Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic said that it was intended to link people in the Serbian capital with the capital cities of the EU's chairing states. Joksimovic said that Bulgaria's six-month presidency had been used to "show how similar we are, how much shared historical heritage we have and whether our goals for the future are the same." "Since Bulgaria joined the EU, Sofia has become a nice and dynamic city. This is a city that shows you that when you introduce better standards, they start living their own lives regardless of whether someone wants this or not because for people it is always easy to get used to things being better," Joksimovic said. She added that Serbia would open two new chapters at the end of June when the Bulgarian chairmanship ends - Chapter 33 which applies to budgetary and financial regulations and Chapter 13 which applies to fishing. Bulgarian Ambassador to Serbia Radko Vlaykov stressed that the idea of holding an exhibition had been gladly supported because it was "a brilliant tradition and an excellent idea," adding that the exhibition opened in Sofia on June 7. He thanked Minister Joksimovic for her cooperation and the presidents of the Serbia and Bulgaria and National Bank of Serbia Governor Jorgovanka Tabakovic for attending the opening.

SERBIA

VUCIC SAYS WILL GO TO BRUSSELS, NOT OPTIMISTIC DUE TO STATEMENTS FROM PRISTINA THESE DAYS

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - On June 21 Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced that he would go to Brussels on June 24 and participate in the resumption of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina but that "I am rather discouraged" with regard to the prospect of them succeeding given the statements coming from Kosovo these days. "I have to say that I will go to Brussels to talk, but I am rather discouraged, given the statements these past days from actors in something that is supposed to be a dialogue," said Vucic. After meeting with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, Vucic told reporters, "I do not like to speak badly of someone" in a meeting with a foreign guest, "not even whether someone has met their obligations stemming from an agreement." Vucic said he was not an optimist, but that it was the job of all state organs to be "present where they need to be" and fight for the interests of their country, but also of the region.

VUCIC THANKS LIBERIA FOR DECISION ON KOSOVO, INVITES PRESIDENT WEAH TO VISIT

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on June 21 thanked the foreign minister of Liberia, Gbehzhongar Milton Findley, for his country's decision to revoke the recognition of Kosovo's independence. Vucic said during the meeting that he wished for Serbia and Liberia, despite their being far apart geographically, to establish closer ties and cooperation, and invited the president of Liberia, who was once one of the best football players in the world, George Weah, to visit Serbia, read a statement from the presiden't press service. Vucic and Findley concurred that there were great possibilities for cooperation in various fields, including agriculture, energy and education. The statement reads that it was announced that students from Liberia would come to study in Serbia within the program of grants for foreign students.

VUCIC, IRANIAN MINISTER DISCUSS COOPERATION DEVELOPMENT

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on June 21 talked with the Iranian minister of mining, industry and trade, Mohammad Shariatmadari, about bilateral relations and economic cooperation. According to a statement from his office, Vucic stressed that relations between the two countries were good, adding that he hoped they would be even better in the future, especially in economic cooperation. He pointed out that additional efforts were necessary for economic ties between the two countries to improve and expand. "We will attempt, with concrete activities, to contribute to an increase in trade, and work on the development of overall cooperation, especially in agriculture, construction, energy and tourism," Vucic said. He thanked Iran for its principled stand regarding the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo. Minister Shariatmadari stressed the importance of the long-lasting diplomatic relations between the two countries, pointing out that he expected the Mixed Committee on Trade of Iran and Serbia, and the Business Forum, to significantly contribute to the improvement of bilateral cooperation. He presented to Vucic a letter of invitation from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

BRNABIC THANKS INDIAN AMBASSADOR FOR DEVELOPING TIES

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on June 21 received the Indian ambassador to Serbia, Narinder Chauhan, on a farewell visit, and thanked her for the immense engagement in the development of bilateral ties and strengthening of the two countries' friendship, the Serbian government has stated. Brnabic further said that exceptional results had been accomplished in the previous period in the development of political relations between Serbia and India, as well as in economic cooperation, adding that she was particularly pleased with the arrival of the Indian company TAFE, which had acquired the brand of Serbian tractor producer IMT this year. The ambassador said Indian companies were very satisfied with the business conditions in Serbia, and added that she was pleased that joint work in the previous period had resulted in improved cooperation in the fields of agriculture, health, culture, education, the IT Sector, tourism and sports. The prime minister said that Serbia very much appreciated India's principled stand regarding Kosovo, adding that she was convinced Serbia would have India's support in preserving its sovereignty and national integrity in the future. The collocutors concurred that the forthcoming visit of Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu to Serbia, scheduled for September this year, would give special momentum to the development of overall bilateral relations between the two countries.

INTERNATIONAL PLATINUM WOLF EXERCISE AT JUG BASE NEAR BUJANOVAC SHOWS ARMY'S CAPABILITIES

BUJANOVAC, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - An international military exercise dubbed Platinum Wolf 2018 was held at the Jug military base near Bujanovac, and Minister of Defense Aleksandar Vulin said that one of the most important missions of the Serbian Armed Forces was participating in multinational operations, as well as that its contribution to peace operations globally confirmed that it could cooperate with world's most developed armies. A total of 510 participants from nine countries demonstrated the skills that they had learned since June 11, when the exercise started. The minister said that Serbia was a militarily neutral state and that as such it could cooperate with the East and West, i.e. anyone it could learn from. Vulin said that the arming and equipping of the Serbian Armed Forces would continue and that the army would have everything it needed. U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott voiced his thanks to the Serbian Fourth Army Brigade, which hosted the event, and said that the exercise was very useful for multinational peace operations, because the most important thing was for units from different armies to be able to practice together in real life scenarios. This is the fifth Platinum Wolf in which a total of 1,600 soldiers from 14 partner states underwent training.

GERMAN AMBASSADOR: WE SUPPORT BOTH SIDES IN BELGRADE-PRISTINA DIALOGUE

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - German Ambassador to Serbia Axel Dittmann said in Belgrade on June 21 that his country supported a meeting between Serbian and Kosovo presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci in Brussels on June 24 because the solution of relations with neighbors, in addition to reforms, modernization and rule of law, was one of the EU's requirements. Relations with neighbors are very important to the EU, we do not want conflict and that is why we favor normalizing relations between Belgrade and Pristina. That dialogue is the most important thing for people living in Kosovo and Metohija, that is why the EU supports both sides in the dialogue, Dittmann told reporters ahead of an international conference called Messages from the Western Balkans, organized by the European Movement in Serbia. When asked about media speculation that Germany was allegedly asking that Federica Mogherini be replaced by a special negotiator, Dittmann said that this was untrue. That is not true. The dialogue has been led between two sides, it is being brokered and organized by the EU and Federica Mogherini. We are assisting and helping but it is being led by the EU's high representative, Dittmann replied.

ECONOMY

SERBIA, IRAN SIGN AIR TRAFFIC AGREEMENT

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - The Serbian minister of construction, transportation and infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlovic, and the minister of mining, industry and trade of Iran, Mohammad Shariatmadari, on June 21 signed an agreement on air traffic as the framework for direct flights between the two countries, which have been restored after 27 years, the Serbian government has stated. "Serbia is a country that works on connecting and, when countries are not in close physical proximity, the most important thing for connecting is air traffic. We've signed a new, modern agreement on air traffic, which will be the framework for traffic and direct flights between our two countries, which were recently reopened after a 27-year pause, and for commercial cooperation between Air Serbia and Iran Air," Mihajlovic said. The two ministers also discussed the development of cooperation between the two countries in the fields of transportation and construction and, as Mihajlovic put it, "good transportation connections are also the basis for developing relations in all other fields," mainly in commerce, culture and tourism. "The construction sector is developing fast in Serbia and there is a lot of room for cooperation and exchange of experience. Serbia is 10th in the world in the issuing of construction permits, and our companies have much to offer and have great experience in road construction and maintenance," Mihajlovic said, as conveyed by the Ministry of Construction. Minister Shariatmadari said that transportation and infrastructure were very important for the overall improvement of bilateral relations between Serbia and Iran. The agreement on air traffic between Serbia and Iran was signed within the 15th session of the Mixed Committee on Trade of the two countries, which was held at the Palace Serbia in Belgrade.

MIHAJLOVIC AND NDEGWA: WORLD BANK'S SUPPORT IN NEW INVESTMENT CYCLE

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic on June 21 talked with the chief of the World Bank's office in Serbia, Stephen Ndegwa, about the realization of current infrastructure projects and a new investment cycle, read a statement issued after their meeting in Belgrade. "By the end of the year, we will finish the construction of road Corridor X - the most important transportation route for Serbia and its citizens. This is the result of cooperation with the World Bank, which I expect to continue on new projects, in a new investment cycle, worth five billion," Mihajlovic said. Ndegwa said that the Ministry of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure and the Corridors of Serbia company could count on the World Bank's full support until the completion of Corridor X, and that it was ready to continue providing that support in future projects, with the aim of efficient implementation of public investments. They also discussed the activities being carried out within the reform of the road sector, read the ministry's statement.

SERBIA, LIBERIA ARRANGE SIGNING OF AGREEMENTS ON COOPERATION IN AGRICULTURE

BELGRADE, 21 June 2018 (Beta) - The signing of an agreement on cooperation between Serbia and Liberia was arranged at a meeting in Belgrade on June 21 between representatives of the two countries, the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture has announced. Serbian Minister of Agriculture Branislav Nedimovic and Liberian Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Milton Findley explained tha the agreement would pertain to the transfer of know-how and technology from the Serbian side in agriculture, as well as increasing Serbian agricultural exports to the Liberian market. "Serbia is making a comeback in West Africa through the transfer of know-how in the areas of agriculture and exports," Nedimovic said. He explained that the Serbian side wished to use its experience in agriculture and technology at this time to help the people of Liberia develop this production field. "This sector is important for the partnership that we would like to see between Serbia and Liberia in advancing trade and services between the two countries," the Liberian foreign minister said. The Liberian delegation that met with the Serbian minister of agriculture also included the minister of information, culture and tourism, Eugene Lenn Nagbe.

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