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DAILY SURVEY 18.07.2018.
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SERBIA

VUCIC, MACRON: SERBIA'S EU ACCESSION HINGES ON PROGRESS IN REFORMS

BELGRADE, 17 July 2018 (Beta) - The Serbian and French presidents, Aleksandar Vucic and Emmanuel Macron, said at a July 17 meeting in Paris that Serbia couldn't join the European Union unless it made progress in its reforms, underlining the importance of peace and stability in the region. After an hour-long meeting at the Elysee Palace, President Macron said that Serbia could join the EU in 2025 if the country made progress in the reform process, but that it was also necessary to reform the Union by that time. The French president said that Serbia shouldn't consider 2025 as "an automatic criterion" for the EU accession. "I've said before that other states, too, should first take care of the key matters, like reforms. If they make quicker progress in their reforms, the (EU accession) negotiations can be closed," Macron explained. Serbian President Vucic said that Serbia couldn't join the EU without the Kosovo issue, legal system and the rule of law addressed, not even with Macron's support. "Even if Macron says that Serbia is joining the EU right now, it will not do so before we solve our problems. You know I'm not an optimist as to how successful we will be, but I'll do my best to make it happen," Vucic said. President Macron said that "the EU reform could be completed by 2025," adding that "France has made reform proposals referring to the EU budget, defense and strategic issues." France's Macron said that the EU wasn't operating properly because there were many differences between the 28 member states, as their views had drifted apart in the meantime. Vucic said that he had reached a high level of agreement on key issues with his French counterpart, and that both insisted that regional peace and stability had to be protected. In addition, the region should seek solutions jointly, looking into the future, not only back at the past, the two presidents agreed. "Serbia has won Macron's support for a compromise with the Albanians in Kosovo, making durable peace possible for all the people living in the region," Vucic said. The Serbian president added that he had discussed the future of Serbia and the region with his French counterpart, as well as the Belgrade-Pristina talks and "sincere friendship between Serbia and France, lasting for centuries, rather than decades." President Macron said that his country wished to assist Serbia on its way to the European Union, thanking Belgrade for its help "in the security sector and fight against organized crime and illegal migration," describing Serbia as "a vital partner" in those areas. "Serbia has played an active role in the EU accession talks, and we want to help the country solve the most sensitive issues along the way," Macron said. The president said he supported the stability of the entire region and individual states, appealing to them not to give in to any foreign threat. "France and Serbia share the same will to ensure regional stability, individual sovereignty and the capacity of each state of the region not to give in to any foreign influence or disturbance," Macron said. President Vucic said that they had also discussed the creation of a regional economic area in the Balkans. "It's not a new Yugoslavia, but it is a single economic market. It's not a replacement for the EU either," Vucic clarified. The Serbian president said that the future was the main theme, and that bilateral cooperation was improving, economic ties in particular. Macron said that the 100th anniversary of the Great War was a reminder that France and Serbia had once fought as allies, adding that Serbian and French soldiers were together again as peacekeepers, in Mali and Lebanon for instance. The French president thanked Vucic for having accepted an invitation to attend a peace conference in Paris, in November, saying he hoped to be able to accept Vucic's invitation to visit Serbia, fulfilling the promise he had given earlier. Macron welcomed Vucic outside the Elysee Palace, with an honor guard and military honors, after which they talked for about an hour. After a working lunch, the two presidents held a joint press conference.

VUCIC: PROGRESS MADE IN PROBE INTO IVANOVIC MURDER, NO SUSPECT IDENTIFIED

BELGRADE, 17 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on July 17 that Serbian investigators had made progress over the past few weeks in a probe into the murder of the Civil Initiative SDP leader, Oliver Ivanovic, and that he was confident everything would be done for the case to be solved, but at this point no person was identified as a suspect. In a statement to the media after a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, Vucic said that "unfortunately Belgrade has no effective power in Kosovo," and that Serbia was unable to carry out a crime scene investigation, nor was it entitled to run an investigation, so the authorities in Pristina did it instead. "We have shared all the information with Pristina, and we are prepared to cooperate at any time, because it's a key issue for us. We've asked foreign agencies to send us satellite recordings to see where the killers were hiding, but they told us they were useless, because it was a foggy day. We wanted to see them anyway, but they haven't been sent to us," Vucic said. The Serbian president said a perfect crime didn't exist, and that there was a great need and a great hope that the crime would be solved. "I'm sure it will be. And I'm not asking who can help us, but I'm confident that everything will be done for the crime to be solved. It's a key issue for us," Vucic said.

SERBIAN, GEORGIAN PRIME MINISTERS: RELATIONS FRIENDLY, COOPERATION NEEDS TO BE STEPPED UP

BELGRADE, 17 July 2018 (Beta) - The prime ministers of Serbia and Georgia, Ana Brnabic and Mamuka Bakhtadze, agreed at a meeting in Tbilisi on July 17 that bilateral relations were good and traditionally friendly and that the two countries would take steps to step up cooperation in different areas. Brnabic said that Serbia "is interested in strengthening dialogue with Georgia at every level," adding that the principle of mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries was a good basis for enhancing relations, the Serbian cabinet said in a press release. "We are grateful to Georgia for not acknowledging Kosovo's self-styled independence, as well as its firm stance to not support the admission of so-called Kosovo to international organizations like UNESCO," Brnabic said. Both officials agreed that the good political cooperation between Serbian and Georgia should be followed up by more intense economic cooperation. Trade between Serbia and Georgia in the first five months of the year was modest at a little over USD2 million, while in 2017 trade totaled only USD7 million. To help improve economic and business cooperation, a Serbian business delegation will visit Georgia this coming fall, the statement said. "Serbia wants better economic cooperation with Georgia, as its present level does not suit the potentials of both countries," the Serbian prime minister said. Brnabic, who is the first Serbian prime minister to pay Georgia an official visit, met with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze with whom she agreed that relations between the two countries were good and friendly and that there was room for improving them, especially in the areas of the economy and business. The Serbian prime minister will speak at the fifth summit of the international Partnership for Open Administration in Tbilisi on July 18. Serbia has been participating in the event since 2012. The results of open administration will be presented by participants from over 90 countries on July 18.

MIHAJLOVIC, LUTTEROTTI FOR BETTER COOPERATION BETWEEN SERBIA, AUSTRIA IN TRANSPORT, INFRASTRUCTURE

BELGRADE, 17 July 2018 (Beta) - Ministry of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic met with Austrian Ambassador to Serbia Nikolaus Lutterotti on July 17 to discuss enhancing cooperation between the two countries in the area of transportation and infrastructure. "Serbia and Austria are good partners in politics and the economy, Austrian companies are already working in Serbia, but there is definitely room for even better cooperation in the areas of transportation and infrastructure, including the areas of railroads, river transportation and improving traffic safety," Mihajlovic said. The topic of the discussion were new investments being prepared by Serbia in the area of road and rail infrastructure and Austrian corporate interest in getting to know the possibilities for participating in the realization of projects, the Ministry of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure said. Ambassador Lutterotti said that Serbia was a key country to Austria where political, economic and commercial relations were concerned and stressed that during Austria's EU presidency the priority would be keeping the EU focused on the Western Balkan region and progress in EU enlargement.

MIHAJLOVIC, CSABA: CANADA INTERESTED IN INFRASTRUCTURE COOPERATION

BELGRADE, 17 July 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Construction, Transportation and Infrastructure Zorana Mihajlovic met on July 17 with Canada's Ambassador to Serbia Kati Csaba, who pointed out that her country was interested in working together with Serbia in the infrastructure sector. Mihajlovic said that Serbia was finishing Corridor X, and was about to start new infrastructure projects, naming as top priorities the two highways to link Nis, Merdare and Pristina, and Sarajevo and Belgrade, the reconstruction of a high-speed railway line between Belgrade and Budapest, and the rehabilitation of the Nis-Dimitrovgrad railway link. The ambassador said that her country was interested in developing bilateral ties in the infrastructure sector. The projects you've been carrying out are commendable, as well as the results you've achieved on the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business List. It's a very good signal to investors. We are interested in cooperation, given the projects you'll be implementing in the coming period, Csaba said. The minister and the diplomat also discussed a boost to air traffic. The two states signed an air traffic agreement last May, planning to open a direct air route.

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