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DAILY SURVEY 09.10.2018.
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SERBIA

VUCIC: LOW APPROVAL RATES FOR NATO DUE TO BOMBING, KOSOVO

BELGRADE, 8 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Oct. 8 that the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 and the events in Kosovo were the main reasons for the low approval rates the Alliance had received in Serbia. "These are in fact the true reasons, everything else is a side effect, more or less. We are developing cooperation, even though Serbia maintains a military neutral status, and has no ambition to join any military alliance," Vucic said after he had opened the "Serbia 2018" exercise in Mladenovac. Vucic said that Serbia, at some rational level, was satisfied with cooperation with NATO, and that the unpopularity of NATO was the consequence of emotional and psychological issues. Vucic said he was convinced the citizens of Serbia would appreciate the fact that NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg repeatedly regretted the civlian victims during the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Serbia. "There's no one in this country who hates Stoltenberg. The Serbs hate what happened in Kosovo and in 1999, but if Jens was more present, that might be a good way to develop our cooperation," Vucic said. Answering the question as to how NATO could change the perception the Serbs had, Stoltenberg said the best way was to continue joint work, like the exercise in Mladenovac. "This exercise is good for Serbia, for the region and NATO. Actions speak louder than words, and the best we can do is to show that we have a chance of strengthening the partnership," he said.

VUCIC: WE'LL DO EVERYTHING TO AVOID CONFLICT IN REGION

BELGRADE, 8 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Oct. 8 that Serbia would do everything in its power to avoid conflict and preserve peace and stability in the region, and do its utmost not to cause a headache for either the great powers or its own people. Participating in the Leadership for Regional Security conference held by the Belgrade Security Forum together with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, Vucic said it was necessary for economic progress. "We'll do our best to continue the dialog with Albanians in Pristina, to establish better relations with new leaders in [Bosnia and Herzegovina], and I don't think there's any doubt that we'll have to have better relations with Croatia, to the extent that we can contribute," Vucic told the conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Belgrade. "We'll do our best not to cause a headache for the great powers, but first of all not to create a headache for our own people, to create a better economic environment so we can develop," he noted. "We know what was done to us; what we did to others, and we should avoid the mistakes we made in the past and take care of the future, which won't be easy," the president of Serbia said.

STOLTENBERG: WE RESPECT SERBIA'S NEUTRAL MILITARY STATUS, I REGRET INNOCENT VICTIMS

BELGRADE, 8 October 2018 (Beta) - North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said on Oct. 8 that the military alliance fully respected Serbia's neutral military status, and the fact that there is no aspiration to join the North Atlantic Alliance, regretting once more the innocent victims of the 1999 bombing of Serbia. After the opening of the "Serbia 2018" international exercise in Mladenovac, Stoltenberg said he was aware of the controversy surrounding the Alliance due to the 1999 bombing campaign, and that the war was still a painful memory for many people, especially those who lost someone close to them. Stoltenberg said he regretted every innocent life that was lost during the bombing, repeating that the purpose of the campaign was to protect civilians. Estimates say that close to 1,000 soldiers and police officers were killed during the bombing, along with nearly 2,500 civilians. "We can't forget the past, but we can move on to the future," Stoltenberg said, adding that the partnership was for the benefit of Serbia and NATO alike, recalling all the joint programs carried out in the past, including demining projects and the destruction of surplus arms, re-qualification of military cadres, etc. The NATO General Secretary said that the Alliance was committed to a safe environment for everyone in Kosovo, including the Serbs, and that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue was the best framework for a solution all the communities could benefit from. Stoltenberg said that the Alliance was committed to peace and stability across the Western Balkans, and that NATO members were great investors contributing to Serbia's economic growth.

KIM OFFICE ASKS INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS TO PREVENT PROVOCATIONS

BELGRADE, 8 October 2018 (Beta) - Marko Djuric, head of the Serbian government's Office for Kosovo and Metohija, said on Oct. 8 that the recent invasion of northern Kosovo by Kosovo special forces had been a threat to the stability of the region, and that it was necessary for international organizations to take steps to prevent similar provocations. A press release issued by the Office reads that Djuric had said during a talk with the head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Jan Braathu, that stability and peace were in the interest of the Serb and the Albanian peoples, and of the entire region. "Seeking a compromise solution for Kosovo and Metohija, Serbia is in fact working in the interest of all whose ambition is to live in a stable and prosperous society," Djuric said. Djuric stated that there was "less and less readiness" to continue negotiations "among the political representatives of Albanians from Kosovo and Metohija." This is confirmed, he said, by the fact that Oct. 10 will be the 2,000th day since the signing of the Brussels Agreement and the deal on the Community of Serb Municipalities, which has not been established.

EU LAUNCHES NEW PROJECT TO SUPPORT SUPREME COURT OF CASSATION

BELGRADE, 8 October 2018 (Beta) - Representatives of the Serbian Supreme Court of Cassation and the EU Delegation to Serbia announced during an Oct. 8 visit to Vrnjacka Banja the launch of a two-year project, "EU for Serbia - Support to Supreme Court of Cassation." The project is designed to support "the strengthening of the capacity of courts," reduce the court backlog, "introduce alternative dispute resolutions with an emphasis on mediation," and the harmonization of court practice. It was also said at a press conference in Vrnjacka Banja that the project team would cooperate with four appellate courts, 25 higher courts, 66 basic courts, mediation centers and mediators. Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia Sam Fabrizi said that a great result had been accomplished, as nearly a million old cases had been resolved, according to the Annual Report on the Work of Courts. Fabrizi said it was due to dynamic cooperation between the team of the project "Development of Judicial Efficency" the Supreme Court of Cassation, and the Ministry of Justice, joint work of all relevant institutions of the Serbian judiciary and the commitment of national courts. "Speaking of the key areas of work, the new project has great potential to contribute to the introduction of advanced mediation services, which will reduce the backlog and costs, and accelerate processes for the clients willig to resolve their disputes in an amicable way, through an agreement acceptable for both parties," Fabizi was quoted as saying in a joint statement by the EU Delegation in Serbia and the Supreme Court of Cassation. The EU earmarked EUR1.5 million for the project, and the successful realization of the new initiative would give the citizens of Serbia a higher level of legal security, easier access to justice, and a more transparent insight in the work of the judiciary. The purpose of the project is to contribute to the development of the judiciary and the rule of law in Serbia in line with the requirements of EU accession, and it is being carried out by a consortium led by the British Council in Serbia.

VOJVODINA DELEGATION TRAVELS TO BRUSSELS TO ATTEND EUROPEAN WEEK OF REGIONS AND CITIES

BELGRADE, 8 October 2018 (Beta) - Vojvodina's delegation visited Brussels on Oct. 8 to attend the opening of the 16th European Week of Regions and Cities. The event was opened by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the provincial government reported in Novi Sad. This year's European Week is bringing together the most important regional and local actors from 70 states, expected to attend more than 150 meetings. Vojvodina's delegates will attend sessions on EU enlargement. Vojvodina Premier Istvan Pastor said that by attending the European Week of Regions and Cities and similar events year after year, Vojvodina has created numerous contacts, commercial ones included. Pastor's deputy, Djordje Milicevic, said that the European Week was "a good opportunity for Vojvodina and Serbia to present their important reform processes to other European regions."

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