Belgrade, April 20, 2012
BASESCU SIGNS LAW ON RATIFICATION OF SAA WITH SERBIA
BUCUREST, April 19 (Beta) – On April 19, Romanian President Traian Basescu signed the law ratifying the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between the EU and Serbia. The Law on the ratification of the Agreement was adopted by the Romanian Parliament's Senate on April 2.
At the proposal of the Foreign Policy Committee chairman, Titus Corlaceanu, with the Law on the ratification, the Senate adopted the Statement on European standards of honoring minority rights. The statement on honoring minority rights, adopted with the ratification of the SAA, is a sort of stipulation to Serbia to honor the rights of the Romanian minority.
70 PERCENT OF SERBIANS AGAINST NATO ACCESSION
BELGRADE, April 19 (Tanjug) - Around 70 percent of Serbian citizens oppose NATO accession, while only five percent have confidence in the military alliance, according to a poll by Ipsos Strategic Marketing and B92 television whose results were presented Thursday.One in ten respondents said they would vote yes in a referendum if asked "Are you in favor of Serbia joining NATO?", while 15 percent said they would not vote.
OMBUDSMAN: STATE SHOULD INTRODUCE FINANCIAL DISCIPLINE
KRAGUJEVAC, April 19 (Beta) – Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic said in Kragujevac that he would ask the state to introduce financial discipline for employers who do not pay contributions. After speaking with the workers of the bankrupt construction company Ratko Mitrovic, who have been on hunger strike for eight days, Jankovic told journalists that he would launch an initiative to have such a law passed.
"I will also launch a formal initiative that the Serbian government recommends that the Parliament adopts a law under which everyone who has an employment booklet which shows that the pension conditions have been met will have that right, and the state will have to force employers to pay into the pension fund," said Jankovic.
He called on the Ratko Mitrovic company workers to end their hunger strike so as not to jeopardize their health and added that a worker should not have to bear the consequences for something which is the responsibility of the employer.
The former workers of the Kragujevacbased construction company Ratko Mitrovic, which has gone into bankruptcy, did not accept a proposal to resolve the problem of paying the debt of the firm's former owner and on April 19 continued their hunger strike which they began on April 11.
GOOD AIR TRAFFIC COOPERATION WITH MONTENEGRO
BELGRADE, April 19 (Tanjug) - The Serbian government adopted the bill ratifying the Agreement on cooperation in the field of air traffic between Serbia and Montenegro, the Serbian government's press service released.The agreement, signed in February this year, is the basis for the improvement of cooperation between the competent authorities in the field of civil aviation, in accordance with national laws and regulations, and with the norms of international law.
Serbia and Montenegro have a good cooperation in the area of air traffic, reads a statement issued on Thursday.The Air Traffic Control Agency of Serbia and Montenegro provides air traffic in the airspace of Serbia and Montenegro, while the Serbian Civil Aviation Directorate and the Montenegrin Civil Aviation Administration have had a long-term cooperation, the statement reads.
GARDETTO: CONCERN OVER POSSIBLE CORRUPTION
BELGRADE, April 19 (Beta) – In the period ahead of the elections, there is concern in Serbia because of possible corruption and the access to finance and the media for small parties, the chief of the preelection mission to Serbia of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, JeanCharles Gardetto, stated in Belgrade on April 19.
In an interview to BETA, Gardetto said that some of those who he met in Belgrade expressed their concern regarding the capability of the AntiCorruption Agency to fulfill its task, due to the lack of staff and financial resources.
"Some of the people we met have expressed concer about possible corruption and worry about the capacaty of the AntiCorruption Agency to fulfill its task because of the lack of human and financial resources", the CoE official said.
Gardetto pointed out that among the problems that were mentioned to him is the issue of access to the media and to finance for small parties, and added that, despite this, he does not expect major problems during the electoral process.
Gardetto estimated that the Serbian authorities had made progress regarding the legal framework for the elections, and particularly pointed out the greater presence of women on the parties' tickets and the abolishing of the partyregulated system distributing mandates, with the mandates now being given to the candidates according to their position on the electoral ticket.
"There has been progress regarding the legal framework, with quotas for women on the tickets, and with the amending of the electoral law which abolished the partyregulated system for distributing mandates," he said.
SWEDEN TO IMPLEMENT DIRECTIVE ON ASYLUM SEEKERS AS OF MAY 1.
BELGRADE, April 19 (Beta) – As of May 1, the Swedish authorities will prohibit reentry into Sweden for persons who have been rejected for asylum or a residence permit, and the ban will also apply to other countries of the Schengen agreement.
The Serbian Interior Ministry stated on April 19 that it has been informed that Sweden will start implementing the EU directive on the returning of asylumseekers as of May 1.
This means that everyone whose asylum application in Sweden has been rejected will be banned from entering the countries of the Schengen zone for a period of one to five years. According to figures of the European statistics bureau EUROSTAT from March, in 2011 Serbian citizens submitted 13,900 applications for asylum in the EU, which is 3,800 fewer than the year before.
Although the number of asylumseekers dropped to some extent, Serbia was still among the leading countries according to the number of asylumseekers in 2011 it was fifth with a share of five percent, which is two percentage points less than in 2010.
In Germany, in the first three months of this year, 1,403 Serbian citizens sought political asylum.
According to the German Interior Ministry, Serbian citizens are thus the second most numerous newly arriving asylumseekers in the first quarter of 2012, right after the citizens of Afghanistan. However, the number of asylumseekers from Serbia has been declining since the start of the year from 697 in January to 399 in February and 308 in March.
TEN YEARS OF USAID IN SERBIA
NOVI PAZAR, April 19 (Beta) – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) marked a decade of work in Serbia and half a century of offering assistance around the world at an official ceremony in the Cultural Center in Novi Pazar.
U.S. Ambassador Mary Warlick said at the ceremony that she was very proud of all the programs and activities which have taken place in this part of Serbia over the last 10 years and said she was convinced that work on the economic development of this region would continue in the future.
"We will continue working on the economic development of this region, because we recognize great economic problems here," said Mary Warlick.
USAID Serbia Mission Director Susan Fritz underscored that special attention had recently been paid to the textile sector in Novi Pazar, as well as work with young people who are mostly unemployed.
U.S. Ambassador Mary Warlick, together with State University of Novi Pazar Rector Cemal Dolicanin, on April 19 also opened a Careers Center at that higher education institution, which aims to help young people find jobs more easily.
Since 2001, USAID has invested more than USD662.5 million to stimulate economic development, strengthen the judicial system and promote good management in Serbia.
KOSOVO & METOHIJA
IVANOVIC: LOCAL ELECTIONS WILL NOT BE HELD
ISTOK, April 19 (Beta) – The state secretary of the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija, Oliver Ivanovic, stated in Istok that the organizing of local elections in Kosovo is not possible without the support of the international community and that, if these elections are held in some municipalities, they will not be recognized.
"If the Serb representatives in Zvecan and Zubin Potok decide to hold the elections, they will not be recognized because, had the intention existed for the elections to be recognized, the Republic Electoral Commission would have issued a different instruction," Ivanovic said. In his words, local officials must defend the interests of the people and have the best possible relations with Serbia and Belgrade, and everything else is "perilous and wrong, regardless of whether the Serbs live in the north or south of Kosovo and Metohija."
He called on the politicians in Kosovo to honor the decision of the government in Belgrade.
DACIC:PRESSURE AGAINST SERBIA BECAUSE OF ELECTIONS IN KOSOVO
BELGRADE, April 19 (Beta) – Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic stated on April 19 that the international community is exerting pressure on Serbia because of its organizing elections in Kosovo.
"We can do that in cooperation with international organizations, but the idea that someone should organize the elections on our behalf, and that Pristina should agree to it, is absolutely unacceptable for us," Dacic told reporters in Belgrade.
In his words, all talk about the elections in Kosovo is part of the attempts to lead Serbia into recognizing, through various arrangements, that Kosovo is not an integral part of its territory and that it cannot organize elections there by itself, and that someone else can do it on Serbia's behalf.
"Pressure is being exerted on Serbia from the international community, on the Parliament speaker who is the acting president of Serbia, Slavica DjukicDejanovic, for her to meet with representatives of these international organizations," Dacic said.
He said that Serbia does not intend to view such demands as legitimate and pointed out that there is nothing to be discussed with the Parliament speaker and acting president, about how the elections will be organized.
"That is under the jurisdiction of the Republic Electoral Commission, the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija and the Serbian government, which determines and carries out the internal policy. We do not want these elections to be the subject of quarreling, and especially not a reason for physical attacks against the Serbs," Dacic said.
He said that Serbia will organize elections in Chicago and Buenos Aires, and that there is no reason why it should not organize elections in Kosovo.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS: HOLDING OF LOCAL ELECTIONS IS NECESSARY
BELGRADE, April 19 (Beta) – The majority of members of the Serbian Parliament's Committee for Kosovo and Metohija, at the April 19 session that was held without a quorum, estimated that elections in Kosovo should be held at all levels, in all areas where security conditions permit this.
"The holding of elections does not depend on the will of a government official, but on the will of the Serbian people. Mathematically speaking, both conditions have been met the necessary and the sufficient the elections are scheduled and the Serbian people want to vote," said Dragisa Djokovic, a deputy of the Democratic Party from Kosovska Mitrovica.
Deputy Vladimir Milentijevic, member of the Democratic Party of Serbia from Zubin Potok, stated that the Serbian government had clearly shown that it was ordered to give up on the elections from Brussels, Pristina and the U.S., and that it had obeyed.
At the session, attended by eight of the total of 17 members, the chairman of the Committee, Ljubomir Kragovic, said that the Serbs will not forego their right to vote, which the Serbian state is abolishing for them.
KOCIJANCIC: EU CLOSELY MONITORS SITUATION IN NORTH
BRUSSELS, April 19 (Tanjug) - Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, has said that the EU closely monitors recent developments in northern Kosovo.In a statement for Albania's Top Channel TV, Kocijancic said that the noticed tensions and provocations are neither in keeping with the dialogue process nor with the European integration both parties have chosen.
We are still working with both parties in order to implement all agreements reached so far, she pointed out.Commander of KFOR, Major General Erhard Drews, said in Kosovska Mitrovica Wednesday that the situation in the Kosovo north ahead of the Serbian elections is tense and urged all parties to preserve peace.I would not say that the situation has been exacerbated by the recent events, the KFOR commander told Pristina-based RTV 21. However, we should say that the situation is getting really tense with the approaching of the Serbian elections.Drews called on the Kosovo government to remain restrained and not to take any action similar to that of July 26 the year before, bearing in mind what the consequences of that operation were.
French Ambassador to Pristina Jean Francois Fitou also commented on the last July action of Kosovo's special forces and called for caution in taking such actions.I believe that no one should threat the north, he said.In a statement with the Pristina daily Express, Fitou said that everything that the Serbs from northern Kosovo ask for is in Ahtisaari's plan, but added that no one should threaten them.Kosovo Prime Minister Hasim Taci told the MPs at a parliament session on Wednesday that his government is not interested in using force in the north, despite the fact that, as he put it, the opposition blames the Serb community for the situation in the area.
EU DISSATISFIED WITH ELECTORAL REFORM IN KOSOVO
PRISTINA, April 19 (Tanjug) - EU Special Representative in Kosovo Samuel Zbogar and representatives of the EU countries Thursday expressed dissatisfaction about the lack of progress in the reform of electoral laws of Kosovo.The mandate of the parliamentary commission to modify the legislation expires on April 22.
Zbogar and the EU member states called on all political parties to commit to extend the electoral reform commission's mandate to allow for a substantial discussion on the reforms, consideration of relevant EU recommendations, involvement of civil society in the discussion and realization of reforms' objectives, the EU office in Kosovo said in a statement.The last two electoral processes in Kosovo were accompanied by major irregularities, such as stealing of votes, multiple voting by one person and many other irregularities identified by the EU election monitoring team, Zbogar's office said.