Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press service
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DAILY SURVEY 03.07.2018.
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BELGRADE, 2 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on July 2 that he was not optimistic about the outcome of the Belgrade-Pristina talks in Brussels, because not much depended on Serbia, but the talks had to go on to protect peace and stability across the region. After a meeting in Belgrade with European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, Vucic said that it wasn't a mere phrase that it's very important to maintain peace and stability in relations with Pristina, and that he was prepared to talk with Kosovo Albanian representatives "three times a day, if that's what is necessary." "Am I an optimist? It's clear that Serbia's is not in a comfortable position, and not everyone wants a compromise. Yet it's our job to seek agreement, and try to find it. We'd better negotiate ten years then wage war for an hour. We'll do our best to reach a compromise, but no one will humiliate or knock Serbia down, however doable it may seem to some," Vucic said. The Serbian president added that he had discussed with the EU enlargement commissioner other matters of importance for Serbia and the region, Belgrade-Pristina relations and how to improve the situation with the rule of law. "I completely agree with everything Commissioner Hahn has said, about the rule of law in particular, and I'm convinced that we'll make progress in the area until the next report," Vucic said. Speaking of EU accession, Vucic said that Serbia could rely on the EU's support to find the best way out, as Serbia belongs to Europe, even though the Kosovo issue had to be resolved first. The Serbian president said that Serbia was carrying out reforms for its own sake, not because of the Union, hoping that the states of Europe would overcome the challenges they had been facing, so that the integration process could continue. The president thanked Hahn for his commitment and rational approach to handling regional and Serbian problems alike. Speaking about the Agreement on implementing the IPA Action Program, signed by Head of EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizio and EU Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimovic, Vucic said that the assistance was worth slightly more than EUR41 million to support the judicial sector and further integration process. He added that the total assistance for 2018 was around EUR138 million and that there were signs that it would grow in the next period, noting that Serbia wished to use all benefits available to it as an EU candidate country.


BELGRADE, 2 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on July 2 congratulated leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on his victory in Mexico's presidential election. Vucic said in his letter that Serbia and Mexico had developed firm, durable ties, hoping that the victory of Lopez Obrador would contribute to the development of relations between the two nations. "Accept my sincere congratulations on your election as Mexican president, together with the most sincere wish to lead your country along the path of success, for the benefit of all its citizens," Vucic said. The Serbian president said that Serbia's policy was one that opened the door to cooperation with all the states that could recognize a mutual interest in that, considering Mexico as a traditional friend, and a welcome partner. "Allow me to express exceptional gratitude for your firm position on the southern province of Kosovo and Metohija, whose illegal, self-proclaimed independence Mexico has refused to recognize, supporting our vital state and national interests," Vucic wrote. According to the preliminary results, Lopez Obrador won the July 1 election with over 53 percent of the voters' support.


BELGRADE, 2 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said at a July 2 meeting with European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn that after the draft version of constitutional amendments to reshape the Serbian judiciary had been harmonized with recommendations by the Venice Commission, Serbia would have a document in line with European standards and practices. Brnabic's office has quoted the prime minister as saying that the constitutional change would strengthen the independence and responsibility of the judiciary. At the meeting with Hahn, also attended by the Serbian minister in charge of the country's EU accession, Jadranka Joksimovic, Brnabic said she was pleased that an agreement had been signed to implement the IPA Action Program for Serbia, designed to support the reform of the rule of law, and solidify Serbia's administration. Brnabic added that the Venice Commission had recognized key solutions for Serbia, to help the country strengthen an independent and unbiased judiciary. It was also underlined at the meeting that the purpose of the agreement was to support judicial institutions in Serbia, including the Ministry of Justice, courts and the state prosecutor, in order to make them more efficient and transparent. Hahn said that the EU supported Serbia in implementing the judicial reforms, adding that the progress the country made in the rule of law determined the speed at which it would join the EU. The officials also discussed the upcoming Western Balkan Summit, taking place in London, on July 10, as part of the Berlin Process.


BELGRADE, 2 July 2018 (Beta) - The Norwegian and Serbian prime ministers, Erna Solberg and Ana Brnabic, said on July 2 in Belgrade that Norway would continue to support Serbia's EU accession and reforms, even though not a EU member itself. Solberg said after the meeting with her Serbian counterpart that Norway remained committed to the stabilty of the Western Balkans, saying that Serbia had a key role in the process. Brnabic said that Norway was Serbia's important partner in protecting regional stability, and that Serbia was a country on whose example one can see that it is possible to cooperate with neighbors despite a stormy past. Norway's PM said that the two states had developed a solid partnership. She also said that Serbia was a recognized destination for Norwegian companies, but that it was necessary to create predictable and fair conditions for all foreign investors in Serbia.


BELGRADE, 2 July 2018 (Beta) - The Serbian and Norwegian prime ministers, Ana Brnabic and Erna Solberg, on July 2 visited the House of Human Rights and Democracy in Belgrade to meet with civil society representatives, in order to discuss social and economic rights. Brnabic said that Serbia had to work hard to improve the human rights situation, not for the sake of the European Union (EU), or the United Nations (UN), but for the citizens of Serbia. "I believe that a dialogue between the Serbian government, civil society organizations and the media is very important, and I'll always remain open to it," the prime minister of Norway said. She agreed that the Serbian government was trying to improve the legal framework to protect human rights, but warned that its full implementation was the problem, adding that everyone should work together to make it possible - the government and the judiciary, as well as civil society organizations. Brnabic said that Serbia had opened Chapters 23 and 24 in the country's accession talks with the Union, and that the two referred to the rule of law precisely. In addition, Serbia has ratified the U.N. Human Rights Convention, accepting to apply it fully, the Serbian PM explained. She also said that where the rule of law was concerned, Serbia had made important breakthroughs over the past 12 months, but agreed that there was still much to be done.


BELGRADE, 2 July 2018 (Beta) - Justice Minister Nela Kuburovic has said that a well regulated and developed legal system, aligned with international standards, was necessary for creating a favorable economic environment and represented one of the most important reform processes in Serbia, it said in a release from the ministry on July 2. Kuburovic made the statement at the opening of the International Forum on Judicial Cooperation, held as part of the One Belt One Road initiative, in Beijing on July 2 and 3. She stressed that judicial reform paid great attention to improving legal security, quality and efficiency of justice, which had been considerably boosted with the introduction of notaries public in Serbia's judicial system in 2014, the release said. "Over the past few years, we have taken important steps toward improving judicial efficiency by accelerating court proceedings and reducing court costs, particularly with the use of modern ICT systems and alternative dispute resolutions," she said. Speaking about legal cooperation in criminal and civil procedures between Serbia and China, Kuburovic said that it was based on certain conventions of the U.N. and its organizations. "Serbia has proposed to China four agreements in the field of judicial cooperation, which will fill in the existing gap and strengthen the legal position and thereby legal security of Chinese companies operating in Serbia, as well as the position of citizens and the protection of their rights in both countries," Kuburovic noted. She further said that the partnership between China and the former Yugoslavia and today with Serbia had been further fortified since the establishment of the strategic partnership in 2009, noting that Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Belgrade in 2016 had raised bilateral relations to the level of strategic partnership.


BELGRADE, 2 July 2018 (Beta) - European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn has said that the July 2 signing of the Agreement on implementing the IPA 2017 Annual Action Program for Serbia, worth more than EUR41 million, reflects EU's commitment to providing full support to Serbia on its EU path. After meeting President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade, Hahn said that the EU had been helping Serbia with some EUR200 million on average annually to align its legislation with the EU acquis, recalling that the EU had so far provided about EUR2 billion in grants for Serbia. "Everything related to EU integrations is done in the interest of Serbia's citizens and not to please some European officials or bureaucrats," Hahn said. Noting that he would refrain from mentioning Kosovo as an open issue, Hahn said that there were "many other crucial elements" which had to be addressed by Belgrade and the EU in the accession talks. He said that under the agreement signed on July 2, EUR26 million were intended for judicial reforms in Serbia. "We shall support the basic judicial institutions in Serbia, to help their work become more efficient and more transparent as the rule of law lies at the very essence of the negotiations and dictates the pace of the accession process," Hahn explained. According to him, improving the quality of the judiciary was crucial for Serbia in becoming more attractive for foreign investors. "There is a link between Serbia's development, its attractiveness for foreign investors and the quality of the judiciary. Of total investments in Serbia, 80 percent are from the EU, and all those investments create new jobs and improve the well-being of the citizens," Hahn noted. Hahn welcomed "the first encouraging steps" in producing a media strategy, describing the Serbian government's intention to assemble all relevant stakeholders at a single table as a step in the right direction.


BELGRADE, 2 July 2018 (Beta) - The head of the UNHCR office in Serbia, Hans Friedrich Schodder, said on July 2 that it's impossible to presume how many migrants would stay in the territory of Serbia, but that it's important that those who wanted to stay were given a chance to do so. "Serbia has recently passed a new law on asylum and temporary protection. Accordingly, all those who wish to receive international protection, provided they deserve and need it, could ask for and get it in Serbia. At the same time, there's no need for Serbia to replace the protection mechanisms that exist, and can be implemented in the EU," Schodder said to reporters in Serbia. The UNHCR chief said that it was important for his organization to help Serbia implement national laws, and to help everyone who wants international protection to receive it in Serbia, and go through the legal process to stay in the country. "It's impossible to assess the number of people who will stay in Serbia. Migrants are still crossing into Serbia, even though not as many as before," Schodder said. He recalled that the UNHCR, together with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), provided concrete suggestions to the EU as to how to handle the migrant crisis in a positive way, explaining that the recommendations referred to the territory of the Union, but not outside the EU. An advisor at the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, Milenko Nikic, told reporters that since the migrant crisis broke out in 2015, Serbia has been one of the EU's most stable partners.


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