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DAILY SURVEY 09.07.2018.
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CHINA-CEEC SUMMIT IN SOFIA

BRNABIC: SERBIA COMMITTED TO STRENGTHENING STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP WITH CHINA, COOPERATION WITHIN 16+1 INITIATIVE

SOFIA, 7 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said at a July 7 summit between China and 16 Central and Eastern European (CEE) states in Sofia that Serbia was committed to its strategic partnership with China and cooperation with the 16+1 initiative, which brings together China and 16 CEE countries. Speaking at the conference, Brnabic said that Serbia's "timeless friendship of steel" with China was important, the Serbian cabinet quoted her as saying in a press release. "Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, during his premiership, recognized the importance of strengthening Serbia's relations with China, initiating friendly relationships and cooperation in all segments," she said. Brnabic said that Serbia was committed to an active role in initiatives contributing to firmer ties and closer cooperation and not limited to infrastructure projects, but energy, economy and culture as well. "The modernization of the railway connecting Belgrade and Budapest, carried out together by Serbia, Hungary and China as part of the first cross-border project within the cooperation mechanism, is key to infrastructure connections," the prime minister said. She said that it was vital for Serbia to sign a commercial contract for the modernization and reconstruction of the Hungarian-Serbian railway between Novi Sad, Subotica and the Kelebija border crossing, worth EUR943 million. The prime minister said that regional infrastructural projects were crucial for Serbia, particularly the "Highway of Peace" which will extend to the Albanian port of Durres, a highway connecting Belgrade and Sarajevo, and another one with Bulgaria. Brnabic said that the exceptional political importance of the 16+1 mechanism was that it provided a strong link between East and West, China and Europe. "I would like to thank the people of China, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang for the strong support they have been offering to these projects. It has facilitated the exchange of goods and mobility with a very positive impact on the stability and growth of the entire region," she said. The Serbian delegation at the summit, headed by the prime minister, includes Serbian Minister of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic and Minister of Mining and Energy Aleksandar Antic. Apart from a commercial contract for the Belgrade-Budapest railway, Serbia has signed a memorandum of understanding on a joint plan for Chinese-Serbian cooperation within the Belt and Road Initiative, a memorandum of cooperation on joint support for the construction of a fruit and vegetables industrial park, and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in reconstruction projects along Corridor X and a railway connecting Belgrade, Nis, Presevo and the Republic of Macedonia.

BRNABIC, LI: WE ARE STRENGTHENING SERBIAN-CHINESE PARTNERSHIP

SOFIA, 6 July 2018 (Beta) - At a July 6 meeting in Sofia, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic discussed the development of bilateral cooperation and strategic partnerships with her Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang. Brnabic and Li had met ahead of a conference bringing together China and 16 Central and Eastern European states, held on July 7 in the Bulgarian capital, the Serbian government reported. The two prime ministers described the political relationship between the two states as excellent, and as being a comprehensive strategic partnership with mutual trust and support. The Serbian prime minister said that for her country it was very important to take part in China's global initiative "One Belt, One Road," part of which was China's cooperation with the CEE region, adding that Serbia would continue its policy of friendship. Brnabic and Li also discussed cooperation in the energy sector and infrastructure, as well as road and railway building projects being realized with China's assistance. The Serbian prime minister said that her country was very proud of a trilateral railway modernization project to connect Belgrade and Budapest, being carried out by Serbia, Hungary and China. It is the first cross-border project within the aforementioned cooperation mechanism. Prime Minister Brnabic has said that she sent a prospecting letter to demonstrate Serbia's interest in joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Brnabic underlined that Serbia needed strategic partners, and that she would like the RTB Bor mining complex and Ikarbus vehicle producer to find strategic partners such as Hestil, which purchased the Smederevo steel mill, preserved 5,000 jobs and modernized the factory. She said the opening of a Chinese cultural center in Belgrade was an important project, and that Serbia wanted to open one in Beijing as soon as possible, the Serbian cabinet quoted her as saying in a press release. The prime minister thanked her Chinese counterpart for China's support in the matter of Kosovo's independence, particularly within the U.N. and other international organizations. Li said that the support was continuous and unquestionable, and that China and Serbia had a friendship of "steel."

BRNABIC, BORISOV DISCUSS DEVELOPMENT OF SERBIAN-BULGARIAN TIES

SOFIA, 7 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic met in Sofia, on July 7, with her Bulgarian counterpart, Bojko Borisov, to discuss closer bilateral cooperation. Brnabic and Borisov said ahead of the 7th Summit of China and 17 Central and Eastern European (CEE) states that political and economic relations between the two neighbors had been developing constantly, with an emphasis on trade, infrastructure and energy, the Serbian government said in a press release. The value of trade between Serbia and Bulgaria reached a billion euros in 2017, while Serbian exports accounted for nearly EUR590 million, the cabinet stated further. The two prime ministers said that bilateral cooperation was gaining strong momentum in the energy sector. Brnabic said it was very important that a memorandum of understanding on the construction of a gas inter-connector between Bulgaria-Serbia had been signed. "The construction of a Nis-Dimitrovgrad gas line is one of Serbia's priorities, as it will ensure new sources of stable gas supply for both states," Brnabic explained. Brnabic and Borisov also discussed infrastructure projects, saying that the eastern section of Corridor X could be finished by the end of the year, while the modernization of the Nis-Dimitrovgrad rail line ought to begin later in 2018, or at the beginning of 2019. The Serbian prime minister thanked her Bulgarian counterpart for returning the issue of EU enlargement to the Union's agenda. The two prime ministers also discussed the issue of ethnic minorities. Brnabic said that Serbia had secured the highest European standards of protecting all ethnic minorities, including the Bulgarian community in Serbia.

BRNABIC TALKS TO HUAWEI REPRESENTATIVES

SOFIA, 6 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said at a July 6 meeting with representatives of Huawei in Sofia that Serbia was open and ready for cooperation with the world's leading IT companies. "The Serbian government needs partners like Huawei to help us respond to the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution," Brnabic said. The prime minister told the representatives of the Chinese company that the IT sector had experienced a surge in Serbia, with IT sector exports up 32.4 percent against last year, and as much as 44 percent in April against April 2017. Brnabic said digitization was one of the key priorities of her cabinet as it was a chance for Serbia to join the most highly developed economies. The prime minister is heading a Serbian delegation at the China-16 CEE country summit on July 9.

ANTIC EXPECTS SEVERAL SERIOUS COMPANIES IN TENDER FOR RTB BOR

BELGRADE, 7 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Mining and Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic said on July 7 that he expected several serious companies, including the Chinese Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd. to take part in a public call for a strategic partner for the RTB Bor mining complex. "The Chinese company has a serious shot at showing that it shares the government's vision in this project," Antic told N1 TV from the China-16 CEE country summit in Sofia. He said Serbia's wishes were on the table -- a strategic partner to inject over USD300 million of capital and to continue to grow the company. Antic confirmed that a tender would be called in ten days. As for the summit in Sofia, Antic said it was now a regular thing and that Serbia "has the most important relations with China in that format, barring none." He also said he did not anticipate issues with the EU over projects with China, as European standards were required. "We deeply believe that this type of standardization is of interest to us and to them. That is the best guarantee that no one will ever have a problem developing projects with China," Antic said.

SERBIA

DACIC RECEIVES FAREWELL VISIT FROM UNICEF OFFICE DIRECTOR

BELGRADE, 6 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic received a farewell visit from, Michel Saint-Lot, head of the UNICEF Office in Belgrade, on July 6, who is leaving after almost five years as the head of the office. Dacic thanked Saint-Lot for his personal engagement, understanding and dedicated work to improve the situation in Serbia through cooperation with UNICEF in numerous areas, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release. The Serbian minister stressed the importance of UNICEF's assistance to the most vulnerable categories of population during the devastating floods of 2014, and everything that was done to ease the suffering of the youngest migrants and make life bearable during the refugee crisis of 2015 and beyond, the statement read further. Saint-Lot recalled some key UNICEF activities and voiced gratitude for sound and successful cooperation with all bodies and institutions in Serbia.

AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR PAYS A FAREWELL VISIT TO MINISTER DACIC

BELGRADE, 6 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic met on July 6 with Australia's outgoing ambassador to Serbia, Julia Feeney, underlining the importance of achievements in economic and cultural cooperation between the two states. Dacic said that the biggest cooperation project of all was the Australian Rio Tinto's role in developing mining projects in Serbia, and the launch of a joint archaeological project called Glac in Sremska Mitrovica, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Minister Dacic thanked Ambassador Feeney for her personal contribution to the development of bilateral cooperation over the past four years, pointing to the importance of intensifying top-level political dialog, the ministry released. Ambassador Feeney said she was pleased with the development of bilateral relations, and thanked Minister Dacic for excellent cooperation with the foreign minister and other state agencies, the ministry added in the release.

BRNABIC, DITTMANN: HISTORICAL PROGRESS IN SERBIAN-GERMAN RELATIONS

BELGRADE, 6 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic received outgoing German Ambassador Axel Dittmann on July 6, agreeing with him that the two countries were experiencing historic progress in their relations. Noting that Germany was among Serbia's leading economic and foreign-trade partners, one of the most significant investors and the largest bilateral donor, the prime minister thanked the ambassador for his personal contribution to advancing cooperation and nurturing relations between the two nations. She added that Germany's support included a strong advocacy of Serbia's EU integration and of regional stability and cooperation, especially within the Berlin Process, the Serbian cabinet said in a press release. Stating that Germany would continue to be a reliable partner to Serbia on its road to the EU, the ambassador said the projects being implemented by the two countries together were very important to the Serbian economy and reforms. Dittmann said an improved business climate in Serbia had made investments by foreign companies possible, adding that he expected the number of German investments in Serbia to grow. He thanked the prime minister and the Serbian government on their support and trust during his time in Serbia.

JOKSIMOVIC: SERBIA PLANS TO ADJUST VISA POLICY BEFORE IT JOINS EU

BELGRADE, 6 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian minister in charge of the country's accession to the European Union (EU), Jadranka Joksimovic has said that Serbia intends to adjust its visa policy before joining the EU, as it will improve the safety of Serbian citizens. "I believe there is no reason for our visa-free regime to be threatened," the minister said in an interview with the Kurir daily when asked if Serbia's visa-free regime could be threatened, as the EU was apparently unhappy with Serbia's decision to lift visas for certain states, which had increased the number of migrants in the Union. The EU is closely monitoring the movements of citizens from states on the EU's black lists and so is Serbia, which is monitoring the situation very carefully, and controlling flights at the Belgrade airport alongside Frontex. "Back in 2015, when the migrant crisis was at its peak, Serbia demonstrated credibility and responsibility to EU states and to its own citizens, in terms of border control and participation in joint solutions. Serbia is a candidate country, and it is in its own best interest, too, to handle the problem in the best possible way," Minister Joksimovic said.

DITTMANN: NO DECISION ON MIGRANTS WITHOUT PARTNERS FROM SERBIA

BELGRADE, 6 July 2018 (Beta) - German Ambassador to Serbia Axel Dittmann said he did not know whether Serbia was among the Balkan countries where camp shelters for migrants are to be built, and added that no decision would be made without cooperation with partners in Serbia. "The European Council only agreed to order consideration of the concept (building camp shelters for migrants). Now we need to wait for that. I do not know whether Serbia is being considered in that context," Dittmann told Politika in an interview when asked to comment on the volatile reactions to announcements that migrant camps could be built in the Balkans, including Serbia. Western European countries will not make any decisions about migrants or do anything without the cooperation of and spirit of trust with partners in Serbia, the outgoing ambassador said, recalling that Serbia had received EUR50 million from the EU when it was on the migrant route. He added that solidarity was important in solving migrant problems and that everyone was working on that. According to him, much remains to be done in the EU, including improving the common asylum system.

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