Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press service
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DAILY SURVEY 02.07.2018.
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BELGRADE, 29 June 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on June 29 that another state had decided to withdraw its recognition of Kosovo's independence, but declined to say which before an official release. Dacic said at a press conference hosted by his ministry that whenever a state decided to withdraw its earlier recognition of Kosovo, Western diplomats and Bexhet Pacolli would travel there to convince its authorities to not go ahead with the withdrawal. The Serbian foreign minister said that he received an e-mail two days ago that a certain state had decided to withdraw its recognition of Kosovo, that is, "admitted that it was wrong," and that he expected the note to be delivered to the nearest Serbian embassy by the end of the week. The minister said the state recognized Kosovo's independence six years ago, that it was five times larger than Serbia and not an African nation, adding that he expected Pacolli to try to figure out which. Dacic said that the latest move showed that nothing was over yet, and that Pristina had better "accept a compromise as soon as possible." He said that the states that had changed their minds were under strong pressure. The same day Liberia announced that it had decided to withdraw its recognition of Kosovo's independence, the U.S. and other Western states pressured Liberian President George Weah to meet with Pacolli, Dacic said.


BELGRADE, 29 June 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on June 29 that Serbia had seriously taken up the case of the Bytyqi brothers, U.S. citizens who took part in the conflict in Kosovo and were killed. In a comment on a resolution passed by the U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee, suggesting that the authorities in Serbia should make the trial of the persons responsible for the deaths of the Bytyqi brothers a priority, Dacic said that no one was saying that the state was not cooperating. "No one is saying that the state is not cooperating...Serbia is treating this matter very seriously," Dacic told reporters in Belgrade. The case is a priority in U.S.-Serbian relations, as well as a long-standing obstacle. U.S. citizens Ilir, Argon and Mehmed Bytyqi were arrested late in June, 1999, for illegal entry into the former Yugoslavia, and were sentenced to 15 days in jail by a court in Prokuplje. They were allowed to leave the prison earlier, but instead of being released, the brothers were taken to Petrovo Selo, a base of the Serbian Special Anti-Terrorist Units, where they were killed with a bullet to the back of the head and buried in a mass grave, together with other Kosovo Albanians. Their bodies were discovered in July 2001, in the mass grave in Petrovo Selo. No one has been charged for the three murders, while the two policemen charged with the illegal arrest of the Bytyqi brothers were acquitted in 2013.


BELGRADE, 30 June 2018 (Beta) - Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said on June 30 that he hoped the Belgrade-Pristina dialog would result in a compromise, which would preserve peace and stability, according to a statement from the Serbian Presidency. In a talk with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Parolin voiced his gratitude for the government's aid to the Catholic community in Serbia. Vucic thanked the Vatican for its support for Serbia's territorial integrity and said that, for the sake of peace and stability, Serbia wanted a compromise with Pristina, but with the protection of state and national interests. He also expressed satisfaction with the good relations between Serbia and the Vatican and said that he wanted them to develop even further.


BELGRADE, 30 June 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Knut Fleckenstein met on June 30 to discuss Serbia's EU accession and the situation in the region. The Office of the Serbian President quoted Vucic as saying that the EU integration process was important to Serbia, underlining the importance of the reforms carried out along the EU path, which have improved Serbia's economic status and attracted foreign investors. Fleckenstein underscored support for Serbia's EU accession, noting that the Serbian president was contributing to peace and stability in the Western Balkans. The two officials discussed the situation in the region and the status of the Belgrade-Pristina talks, and Vucic said that he was taking part in the dialog to achieve a true compromise for the sake of peace and stability, but also in order to protect vital national interests.


BELGRADE, 30 June 2018 (Beta) - Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said on June 30 in Belgrade that the protection of cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo and Metohija was of immense importance to the Vatican, according to a statement from the Serbian government. Cardinal Parolin and Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic concurred that the work of a mixed commission on Aloysius Stepinac and the consequent dialog between the two churches had had a positive effect on their relations, although a final decision had not been made yet, and that it provided an example for studying other historical figures and periods. The prime minister acquainted Cardinal Parolin with the state of the Belgrade-Pristina negotiations, saying that Serbia wanted the dialog to continue and thanked the Vatican for its non-recognition of Kosovo. Parolin said that he was carefully monitoring both the situation in the region and the Belgrade-Pristina dialog. Parolin also conveyed the Vatican's support to Serbia's European integration. The collocutors said that relations between Serbia and the Vatican were good and clear of open issues, as well as that both sides aimed to strengthen ties, especially in the fields of culture and education.


BELGRADE, 29 June 2018 (Beta) - Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi on June 29 in Belgrade handed Serbian Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic the IPARD II financial agreement on the allocation of aid for rural development for the period 2014-2020. Regarding the agreement signed by the Serbian government and the European Commission, Fabrizi said the project provided EU grants totaling EUR175 million, while combined with private and government incentives the figure could reach up to EUR400 million. In his words, the signing of the agreement is a result of cooperation between the Serbian authorities, primarily Agriculture Minister Branislav Nedimovic, the EU Delegation and the people in Brussels. The project aims to help farmers and food producers prepare for the competition when Serbia joins the EU, said Fabrizi. He also said he hoped the applications for grants would be processed soon and added that Serbian agriculture had great potential. Agriculture accounts for 10 percent of Serbia's GDP, 20 percent of the workforce works in agriculture, 50 percent of export-bound agricultural products go to the EU and those exports have in the last few years doubled, to USD1.5 billion, said the EU Delegation chief. According to him, IPARD is a test for Serbia's agriculture, to show whether it is capable of utilizing everything that the EU Common Agricultural Policy has to offer. Minister Jadranka Joksimovic said that the most important requisite for accreditation for the grants had been to relocate the Directorate for Agrarian Payments from Sabac to Belgrade. "The journey of carrying out all the activities was a long one and today we can truly proudly turn a new page in Serbian agriculture," she said.


BELGRADE, 29 June 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Policy Zoran Djordjevic talked on June 29 in Belgrade with the ambassadors of Norway, the EU, the U.S. and Turkey about empowering and employing citizens, especially vulnerable groups in the Raska region, at a gathering that was also attended by Bosniak National Council representatives. Djordjevic reiterated the government's strong resolve to improve the position of minorities, with a special focus on women in local communities, according to a press release from Djordjevic's ministry. "Serbia is an example of a state that takes care of the position of minorities and vulnerable groups, as proved by the numerous instances of praise sent to the Serbian government," said the minister and recalled that President Aleksandar Vucic insisted on investing in infrastructure and the further development of highways, so that even the most remote parts of Serbia could be connected and become interesting to investors. "In that sense the government does not distinguish Vojvodina, Raska, Sumadija, eastern Serbia or Kosovo and Metohija. It is all Serbia and all of its parts should be evenly developed," said the minister. Djordjevic recalled that a public debate was under way on a Gender Equality Bill and the Anti-Discrimination Bill, which would help give men and women equal rights not only on the labor market, but also in all spheres of Serbian society. "Novi Pazar, Sjenica, Raska and Tutin are particularly distinctive towns due to their multicultural nature. The Republic of Serbia is proud of its cultural and religious diversity and will enable all of its citizens to exercise all rights in line with the Constitution and law," said Djordjevic.


BELGRADE, 29 June 2018 (Beta) - Serbia and Kosovo will get only what they agree as part of their dialog, U.S. ambassador to Serbia Kyle Scott said on June 29. When asked what was the maximum that Serbia could get from the negotiations on Kosovo, the ambassador said that his country was "merely encouraging both sides to conduct a dialog." "We are encouraging both sides to reach a compromise, because there will not be any agreement without it," Scott said to reporters in Belgrade. The diplomat added that the resolution that the U.S. Congress passed on the Bytyqi case was a manifestation of "impatience and frustration." "Three U.S. citizens were killed in Serbia 19 years ago, and no one has been called to account yet. They crossed into Serbia illegally, they were arrested and released, after which they were found with bullets in their heads, and their hands tied behind their backs, at a special police location," Scott said. The ambassador added that the issue would remain on the agenda of the Serbian-U.S. bilateral relations.


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