Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press service
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DAILY SURVEY 10.07.2018.
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BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic travelled to London on July 9 to attend a conference of interior and foreign ministers within the Western Balkans Summit, where the future of the Western Balkans was discussed, but, as he put it, the problems within the European Union (EU) and around it were visible. "We've seen today that the problems within the EU and around it are of immediate relevance, which painted a completely different picture of the summit. I knew something was wrong when I realized that Boris Johnson had been absent all day," Dacic was quoted as saying by the Serbian foreign ministry. Dacic also said that the interior and foreign ministers held their talks as planned, and that there was a good atmosphere. Instead of Ben Johnson, their session was mediated by Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan, the foreign minister explained. "We had the usual talks on the EU perspective for the Western Balkans, projects, the need to solve bilateral issues peacefully and to overcome problems from the past. As for the formal part and the conclusions, there was a proper atmosphere," Dacic was quoted as saying by his ministry on July 9. Earlier that day, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson had resigned amidst a growing political crisis at home over the Brexit strategy, following the resignation by Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis.


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - President Aleksandar Vucic on July 9 told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the development of a Regional Economic Area and the construction of the Nis-Pristina highway were of great importance for the Western Balkans and asked her to use her authority and reputation to step up the realization of these two projects. Vucic and Merkel had a telephone conversation ahead of the the Western Balkans Summit in London to view possible results of the summit and their implementation in the Western Balkans, aimed at improving cooperation in the region, according to a statement from Vucic's office. Vucic described the Regional Economic Area as a crucial project for the future of Serbia and the entire region as it would attract more investments and accelerate the flow of people, goods, capital and services, the statement said. Vucic thanked Merkel for having initiated the Berlin process which had considerably contributed to peace and stability in the Western Balkans. They also talked about the resumption of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and agreed that negotiations were necessary and that the preservation of peace and reaching a compromise were crucial for both sides. Vucic and Merkel also discussed the migrant crisis as well as the measures Serbia had been undertaking to pursue its responsible policy on this matter, it said in the release.


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - President Aleksandar Vucic and Pete Marocco, the deputy assistant secretary for the U.S. Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, said in Belgrade on July 9 that a positive trend in bilateral relations "is visible through a wide spectrum of common interests." Vucic said he appreciated the commitment and support of the U.S. administration in resolving the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, adding that he was assured that reaching a true compromise with Pristina was the only guarantee for the future of Serbia and the entire region, according to a statement from the Presidency after the meeting. He further said that Belgrade and Washington continued to deepen bilateral relations, describing visits by U.S. officials as good opportunities to remember the long lasting and fruitful connections. Marocco said he appreciated Vucic's commitment to peace and stability in the region and his contribution to the interethnic dialogue in the Western Balkans, the statement said. Marocco also said that Serbia had achieved considerable progress in reforms required for its EU accession. He added that Serbia was taking important steps in fighting extremism and terrorism, noting that he saw great potential for cooperation in these fields. The two officials agreed that the centennial of the Serbian national flag being flown at the White House was an important jubilee and an opportunity to mark the friendship between the Serbian and American peoples.


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - President Aleksandar Vucic said on July 9 that Serbia's relations with India were marked by mutual respect and a high level of support in the most important area, according to a release from Vucic's office. On July 9, Vucic received a farewell visit from India's Ambassador to Serbia Narinder Chauhan, and thanked her on India's principled policy and position on respecting Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Vucic said that he also saw progress in bilateral relations through the arrival of India's company Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited - TAFE, which would continue production on the premises of Serbia's IMT tractor manufacturer. Narinder Chauhan said that India's companies were satisfied with business conditions in the Serbian market, adding that she hoped their experience would serve as an impetus for other companies to invest in Serbia.


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade met on July 9 with Eleonora Mitrofanova, head of Rossotrudnichestvo, the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation, to discuss bilateral relations, the situation in the region and cultural, scientific and educational cooperation, stressing that Russia was among Serbia's strategic and leading economic partners. Vucic said that Serbia was committed to the further development of political relations with Russia based on strategic partnership, and thanked her for Moscow's firm and principled support to Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to a release from the Presidency. Vucic also thanked Mitrofanova for her support to Serbia while serving as Russia's ambassador to UNESCO, when Kosovo's application for membership in the organization had been denied, as well as for Russia's assistance for the completion of the St. Sava Church in Belgrade, which, he said, represented a symbol of successful bilateral cooperation. Vucic also congratulated Mitrofanova on a decoration she had received from the Serbian Orthodox Church. Mitrofanova offered the assistance of Russian experts for the swifter completion of works on the St. Sava Church.


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic sent a telegram of condolences on July 9 to her Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, to express her sympathy for the death toll from the torrential rains in Japan. "I was deeply shaken by the deaths caused by the catastrophic floods in your country. On behalf of the Serbian government, please accept the deepest condolences over the tragedy in Japan," Brnabic said. She added that "Serbia, as a true friend, feels for the people of Japan in these difficult days.


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - Prime Minister Ana Brnabic met on July 9 with Finnish Ambassador to Serbia Pertti Ikonen, who said that Helsinki backed Serbia's EU accession and EU enlargement. Brnabic said that Serbia's strategic goal was to join the EU, noting that comprehensive reforms were important primarily in the interest of citizens and further economic prosperity, according to a release from the government. "At this moment, changes in the judiciary are the most important" Brnabic said, adding that she expected that upon the endorsement of the Venice Commmission's recommendations and completion of reforms, "the state will have a strong, independent and responsible judicial system." Ambassador Ikonen said that Finland backed Serbia's EU integration and EU enlargement process, adding that the Western Balkans would remain in the focus when Finland assumed the rotating presidency over the EU next year. He also said that Finland had substantial experience in regional cooperation and in curbing corruption, which could be useful to Serbia, stressing that the transparency of public administration was a way to fight corruption. Brnabic and Ikonen also discussed the rule of law and Serbia's progress on Chapters 23 and 24, and the drafting of a media strategy as an important document for regulating media freedoms.


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on July 9 opened the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) World Congress, devoted to migrations. Hosted by Belgrade's National Theater, the event will offer nearly 1,000 lectures and presentations until July 13, including a series of performances by local and foreign artists. On behalf of the Serbian government, as a sponsor of the event, Brnabic welcomed more than 1,000 professionals, theorists and practitioners of theater and performing arts from 54 states, recalling that Serbia had cherished a long theater tradition everyone was proud of. "The organization of this prestigious congress is an opportunity for Serbia to present its own artists and their creative work to the global audience, to join a stimulative conversation with the representatives of different cultures and different views," Brnabic said in her speech. The Serbian PM said she hoped the Congress would make it possible for Belgrade's guests "to see Serbia the way we see it - a vivid, multicultural country at the crossroads between East and West, a shrine for cultural riches and heritage."


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of the Interior Nebojsa Stefanovic said in London, on July 9, that his department had worked very hard to collect illegal weapons and ammunition, and to destroy them in collaboration with international partners, having also uncovered organized criminal groups involved in the illegal arms trade, the interior ministry reported. "Full membership of the European Union (EU) is Serbia's strategic goal. It isn't the country's sole motive though, as illegally possessed weapons are a threat to the security of our citizens, Serbian growth and stability," Stefanovic said to his peers at the Western Balkans Summit in London. Minister Stefanovic said that Serbia was fully committed to designing the Road Map for the Western Balkans, as well as a French-German initiative to define specific, well-adjusted and verifiable measures to control light weapons, in order to prevent, process and prosecute illegal trade and arms abuse in the region. He recalled that Serbia was a regional leader in the destruction of illegal weapons through a legalization process, and that the interior ministry had destroyed over 18,000 pieces of weaponry in 2017 alone. The Serbian interior minister said that in that same year, his department had submitted 1,269 criminal reports, arrested more than 179 people and seized 1,881 different weapon pieces, 24.27 kilos of explosives and 47,727 pieces of ammunition, and that the trend continued into 2018. In 2018, 747 criminal reports have been filed, 54 persons arrested and 815 pieces of fire arms, 33,264 pieces of ammunition and 13.3 kilos of explosives siezed, Stefanovic specified. Stefanovic also had a fringe meeting with British Minister of State for Security at the Home Office Ben Wallace, and the two ministers underlined exceptional bilateral cooperation. A joint declaration defining the Principles of Cooperation in Exchange of Law-Enforcement Information was signed at the summit, it said in the ministry's statement.


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - EU Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimovic said on July 9 that the government would implement all the Venice Commission's recommendations about constitutional amendments relating to the judiciary. In a meeting with Eduard Kukan, the chair of the Delegation to the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, Joksimovic said that Serbia would be fully committed to reforms and would especially work on fulfilling and aligning with the standards pertaining to Chapter 23, dealing with the judiciary and fundamental rights and Chapter 24, dealing with justice, freedom and security, and standards relating to curbing crime and corruption, minority rights and media freedoms. She informed Kukan that "an inclusive process for drafting a media strategy has been relaunched," according to a statement from the government. Kukan said that Serbia had been recognized as an important country for the stability and prosperity of the entire region and achieving common EU objectives. He further said that the EU commended Serbia's active role in the resolution of important issues and backed and stimulated reforms and EU integrations as they contributed also to the development of the region, which was in the EU interest, the statement said. Joksimovic and Kukan also discussed the situation in the region, the migration crisis and other topics.


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin and Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Bureau Official for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) Pete Morocco met in Belgrade, on July 9, to discuss cooperation in the military sector, the region's political and security situation and anti-terrorism combat, the Serbian Ministry of Defense reported. Minister Vulin said to Morocco, who wanted to learn more about the role of the Serbian media and social networks in efforts to curb violent extremism, that Serbia and his department were open to a dialogue and discussions about projects of mutual interest, as regional cooperation and the exchange of information were crucial for the safety of all citizens. The minister said that the Army of Serbia was developing its potentials to counter modern-day threats through exercises like the 2017 Cyber Tesla joint exercise with the Ohio National Guard, allowing segments of the private and public sector dealing with information security to join the teams. Minister Vulin also pointed to Serbia's remarkable role during the most intense period of the migrant crisis, when a joint effort by all national security agencies improved not only security, but also the fight against terrorism and religious extremism.


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister for Innovation and Technological Development Nenad Popovic met on July 9 with Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Bureau Official for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) Pete Morocco, underlining at the meeting that economic development and cooperation were instrumental in fighting violent extremism and regional stability. Minister Popovic said that poverty and unemployment were frequent causes of extremism in the region. "Young people without jobs and good prospects for the future can easily become the targets of different extremist groups. Economic growth and better education can reduce extremism considerably," Popovic said. The minister said that innovation, innovative entrepreneurship and information technologies were the sectors that were attractive to young people, offering the best chance of regional growth and cooperation. "Serbia is very active in launching regional initiatives for cooperation in the IT and innovation sectors, because we feel it's an opportunity for overall regional growth," Popovic explained. The U.S. official said that his country considered Serbia an important partner in regional initiatives to fight violent extremism, designed to strengthen inter-religious and inter-ethnic dialogues. Morocco said he was prepared to help Serbia build ties with institutions and companies at home, to boost their regional presence, the Ministry of Innovation and Technological Development quoted the U.S. official as saying.



BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbia and the European Commission (EC) signed a contract on July 9 to confirm that Belgrade would headquarter the Western Balkans Transport Community. The agreement was signed within the Western Balkans Summit, held on July 9 to July 10 in the British capital, and the ceremony was attended by Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic. European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc wrote on Twitter that "it's yet another cornerstone bringing us closer to a functional transport community between the EU and the Western Balkans," adding that "it's an enormous achievement for the entire region." Congratulations also came from European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, Director for the Western Balkans at the European Commission's (EC) Directorate-General for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR). Hahn said in a Twitter post that "it's good news for connectivity and cooperation in the Western Balkans that the Western Balkan Six agreed to headquarter the Transport Community in Belgrade." Ruiz Calavera greeted the agreement in her message on Twitter, adding that the EU would finance 80 percent of the Community's secretariat in Belgrade "to accelerate the EU-Western Balkans Connectivity Agenda."


BELGRADE, 9 July 2018 (Beta) - Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Zorana Mihajlovic met on July 9 with Montenegrin Ambassador to Serbia Branislav Micunovic to discuss joint support to infrastructure projects, stressing that the infrastructure interconnecting Serbia with its neighbors was a priority for Belgrade. "Aside from the Corridor 11, which will provide better road connections, Serbia is planning to continue the reconstruction of the Belgrade-Bar railway also to enable a more efficient railway connection with Montenegro and the port of Bar," Mihajlovic said, according to a statement. Mihajlovic and Micunovic also talked about the signing of a memorandum of cooperation for carrying out infrastructure projects, which would facilitate more intense cooperation on the realization of concrete projects of strategic importance for both countries. "Corridor 11 is currently the biggest ongoing infrastructure project in Montenegro and one of the biggest in Serbia and it is logical that the two countries' relevant ministries maintain comprehensive cooperation, exchange information and provide support to each other to enable carrying out projects more swiftly," said Mihajlovic, who is soon to meet with the Montenegrin transportation and maritime affairs minister in Podgorica. Mihajlovic said that better cooperation in this field was also important for implementing the recommendations deriving from the Transport Community Treaty and the Connectivity Agenda, which were important for economic growth and the unimpeded movement of people and goods in the region.


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