Belgrade, March 29, 2012
SERBIA – EU
EP ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON SERBIA'S PROGRESS
BRUSSELS, March 29 (Tanjug) –Members of the European Parliament (EP) adopted the Resolution on the European integration process of Serbia, which asks that Serbia be given a starting date for accession talks with the EU as soon as possible, but also urges Serbia to refrain from calling the local elections in Kosovo-Metohija.The Resolution was adopted by an overwhelming majority of a total of 754 votes "for" and only 49 "against", and only one amendment, out of 12 adopted, changes the initial text of the resolution and refers to local elections in Kosovo. The amendment was submitted by EP Rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin.According to the amendment, the calling of local elections would be against the international law and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244.Most of the adopted amendments are technical.The draft resolution, based on a report by EP Rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin, has garnered support from the majority of EP members, including leaders of the three biggest parliamentary groups - progressive, socialist and liberal - all of whom stressed that Serbia needs to normalize relations with Kosovo and intensify its reform and anti-corruption efforts.The draft resolution on Serbia includes positive assessment of the country's cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), internal reforms, and improvements in regional cooperation.It also notes certain weak points, primarily in relation to the reform of the justice system, position of the media, and treatment of national and sexual minorities.During Wednesday's meeting of the EP, Danish Minister for European Affairs Nicolai Wammen, whose country is currently presiding over the EU, and European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele both expressed expectation Belgrade would meet the key requirement for accession talks, that is continuing the dialogue with Pristina and making progress.The European Parliament will today also vote on draft resolutions on Montenegro, Macedonia, Turkey and Kosovo.The draft resolutions based on the annual progress reports had previously gone through a comprehensive debate in the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs, where they won a majority of votes.
FUELE: SERBIA & EU RELATIONS REACH HIGHER LEVEL
BRUSSELS, March 28 (Tanjug) – EU Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan Fuele told the European Parliament that Serbia's relations with the European Union are at a great turning point and that they have reached a higher level. During a plenary session where a debate was held on the draft resolution on Serbia's progress towards European integration, Fuele said that he firmly believes that Serbia has the capacity for new steps towards Europe. He paid tribute to President Tadic, who, as he said, brought a new spirit to the process of understanding and reconciliation in the region. Fuele stressed that Serbia must now work hard to fulfill the requirements for obtaining the date for the beginning of negotiations, a key condition for which is the resumption of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and implementation of its results. Furthermore, it is necessary to continue with the reforms of the system, Fuele said.European Parliament opened a debate on draft resolutions relating to several countries, including Serbia, to which some MEPs are expected to table amendments.When it comes to the resolution on Serbia, an amendment should enable Kosovo's participation in the forthcoming 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.According to the agenda, the discussion about the resolutions on Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Turkey should last one hour, and the EP will vote on them at the plenary session which has been scheduled for Thursday.
FUELE: SERBIA HEADING TO ACCESSION TALKS THIS YEAR
BRUSSELS, March 28 (Beta) – The European Parliament in Brussels hailed Serbia's candidacy and requested that talks with Belgrade commence as soon as possible. Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said 2012 could be a year for Serbia to head toward accession talks with the EU. This was underlined in a debate on a resolution on Serbia's EU integration, which the parliament should adopt on March 29. The document calls on the European Council to fix the date, as soon as possible, for launching the talks with Belgrade, considering that Serbia has fulfilled all the criteria set by the EU leaders in Dec 2011. "We are determined to pursue our engagement with Serbia," Fuele said. He added that the goals and criteria of the EU "are clearly defined," stressing that he "is completely confident in Serbia's capability to engage its capacities and reach the required additional progress in order to start the accession talks." The commissioner said he was convinced that Serbia, with Brussels' assistance, would pursue the path to EU membership, which would send the entire region a favorable message, strengthening peace and economic progress of the Western Balkans.
EP CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON MEDIA INDEPENDENCE IN SERBIA
STRASBOURG, March 28 (Beta) – In a draft resolution on Serbia, the European Parliament expressed concern over the attempted supervision and interference in the work of the media in Serbia. It called on the Belgrade authorities to guarantee "media independence from political pressure and other sorts of interference." The resolution, to be voted on by the parliament on March 29, "underlines that strong and independent media are a necessary, integral part of a democratic order, and in that light welcomes the adoption of the Serbian government's Media Strategy." The MPs commended the Action Plan for the Strategy implementation, as well as "the planned withdrawal of the state from ownership in the media." The MPs also "underlined the need for undertaking steps against the concentration of media ownership and lack of transparency in the media." The parliament further requested that "an equal approach be ensured to the advertising market, including the allocation of money from state funds for advertising and commercial expenses." The parliament "regrets that the state authorities imposed a media blockade during the July 2011 incidents in northern Kosovo and mispresented the role of KFOR in those events."
KOSOVO & METOHIJA
EP: FEASIBILITY STUDY NEW PHASE IN EU-KOSOVO RELATIONS
STRASBOURG, March 28 (Beta) – Participants of a European Parliament session devoted to Kosovo on March 28 hailed the progress Pristina had made in the dialog with Belgrade, stressing that a feasibility study for Kosovo was important for accessing the EU. The EU decision to start composing a feasibility study for a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with Kosovo represented a new phase in relations with the EU, Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele said during a debate in the European Parliament. "Talks and later the SAA implementation is a springboard toward EU membership," Fuele said. Fuele handed the Pristina authorities a document on starting the elaboration of a feasibility study. The commissioner added that he hoped the "road map" for visa liberalization could be presented this spring.
MELTZER: KOSOVO CANNOT BECOME EU MEMBER
VIENNA, March 28 (Tanjug) – MP of the Freedom Party of Austria in the European Parliament (EP) Andreas Meltzer stated that EU enlargement should not focus on Serbia and Montenegro alone, and underscored that in its current form, Kosovo can never become a member of the EU.Ahead of the Wednesday EP sitting during which MPs should discuss reports on the progress of Turkey, Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro, Meltzer pointed out that the EU should intensify its focus on the integration of countries such as Serbia and Montenegro.Serbia is not a European country just because of its cultural, historical and geographic parameters, it also demonstrated in the past year that it wishes and is willing to meet the criteria set by the EU, Meltzer pointed out in the release.He said that Serbia is yet to undertake a long and difficult path toward full membership in the EU and it is in the interest of Europe and the EU to integrate the most important country and thus take care of the stability in the Balkans.The threat to the stability in the Balkans is embodied in the artificially set up entity of Kosovo which cannot survive without substantial funds from Brussels.The region which violated UN Security Council Resolution 1244 by declaring independence contrary to the international law cannot become a member of the EU in its current form, he underscored.
DACIC HERALDS MEASURES AGAINST PRISTINA DUE TO SERB ARRESTS
BELGRADE, March 28 (Beta) – Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said reciprocal measures could be imposed on Pristina due to growing arrests of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. The arrest of members of local selfgovernments on March 27 "is a typical example of the insolence and pressure of Pristina aimed at preventing the elections, called by Belgrade," Dacic told journalists at a regional conference entitled "Insurance market development in Southeastern Europe." It is shameful, according to Dacic, that the international community tolerates the behavior of the Pristina authorities, who are arresting people who have committed no criminal act police officers working in Vranje, postmen and representatives of local selfgovernments. "This raises the question of the ability to further implement all the agreements achieved" in the dialog with Pristina," Dacic said, adding that Pristina's actions "have crossed all the lines." "These are open provocations and Serbia will not respond right away as it probably should, but we shall do everything we can," he stressed.
SERBIA – REGION
DACIC: BALKAN ROUTE STILL VERY ACTIVE
VIENNA, March 28 (Tanjug) – The drug trafficking Balkan route still has a central role in Europe, Interior Minister Ivica Dacic underlined in Vienna.There is the Balkan route of heroin transit from Afghanistan, via Turkey, the Balkans, Italy and Austria to Western Europe, but the route other way round is also gaining in importance, the minister added.He said at a press conference that South American cocaine is being transported from Dutch and Belgian ports to Southeast Europe via the Balkan route, the Austrian press agency APA reported.The EU project on combating drug trafficking in the Balkans and the bilateral cooperation between Austria and Serbia, as well as those between other countries, should hinder drug trafficking. Under Austria's guidance, investigators from all 27 EU states, three candidates, the western Balkans, Switzerland, Ukraine, the U.S., and representatives of Europol, Eurojust, Interpol, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the European Commission are cooperation on the operative level of this project. Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner stated that the results of this cooperation deserve praise, APA reported.As an example of good cooperation of security forces in the Balkans, the participants of the meeting referred to a large operation which lasted throughout 2011 until the beginning of 2012.Director of the Austrian Criminal Investigation Service Franz Lang and Serbian Police Director Milorad Veljovic said that during the joint action police confiscated the total of 74 kilos of marijuana, two kilos of amphetamines, 6.5 kilos of heroin, 650 grams of cocaine, 6,000 ecstasy pills, money, and arrested seven persons.Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic will finish his two-day visit to Vienna on Wednesday, where he attended a trilateral meeting with the interior ministers of Austria and Hungary.
VUJANOVIC: VOTE IN SERBIA TO ENSURE FASTER EU INTEGRATION
BELGRADE, March 28 (Beta) – Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic on March 28 said the upcoming parliamentary elections in Serbia should ensure a quality and quick EU integration and resolution of internal affairs in the country. "Serbia, like Montengro, needs faster economic development and also to ensure higher pensions, more jobs and other things," Vujanovic told the Belgrade B92 TV. The economy, according to him, will be the crucial question in the vote. The Montenegrin president assessed cooperation with his Serbian counterpart Boris Tadic as meaningful and productive, adding that Tadic had done a lot on promoting Serbia and its values. Vujanovic also said the official language in his country should be Montenegrin, while the Serbian language should be given special importance in order to respect the Constitution. "It is necessary to preserve Montenegrin as the official language and to give special importance to Serbia and thereby respect the Constitution," Vujanovic explained. He noted that the border between Serbia and Montenegro would not and could not be changed in regard of the Sandzak region, stressing that "no one's statement should imply a change of that border."
PUSIC: I FIND POSSIBLE REHABILITATION OF MIHAILOVIC SAD
ZAGREB, March 28 (Beta) – The Croatian minister for foreign and European affairs, Vesna Pusic, stated that she is watching the court procedure for the rehabilitation of Dragoljub Draza Mihailovic in Serbia, with sadness. "When a country becomes involved in justifying and rehabilitating its own quislings from World War II and collaborators of the nazis and fascists, it is not good for the region because it drives it backwards, but it also drives that country backwards," Pusic told the Croatian website Tportal. She estimated that if someone thinks they can win the elections or strengthen their position with such topics, it means "there is a very strong retrograde trend in the country and that is bad for everyone." "It is the worst for Serbia, naturally. Until it pulls out of that, there can be no real step forward. We know, because we were at the same level 15 years ago," the minister added. Asked about whether her ministry would send a protest note to Serbia if Mihailovic is rehabilitated, Pusic said she finds this "improbable."
SERBIA – ECONOMY
NO EXACT PLAN FOR IMF VISITS TO SERBIA
BELGRADE, March 28 (Tanjug) – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has no exact plan as regards its representatives' visit to Serbia in the coming period, but they will certainly come to Belgrade in mid-2012 to have talks with a new government about the steps needed to continue with reviews of the arrangement, IMF Resident Representative in Belgrade Bogdan Lissovolik told Tanjug on Wednesday.That is in line with the preliminary agreement mentioned in the Aide-Memoire, which was published following the IMF visit in February.In order to continue to review the arrangement with Serbia, the IMF requires an agreement on legislative measures that would eliminate additional spending and debt increase, the Aide-Memoire underlines.Although it is likely that this will happen after the elections, the government voiced readiness to keep the deficit and debt increase within the limits stipulated in the arrangement until the end of its term, with the aim of contributing to the preservation of trust in the sustainability of the fiscal policy, the IMF noted in February.On that occasion, a preliminary agreement has been reached that the IMF mission should come back to Belgrade in mid-2012 to have talks with a new government on the steps required to continue with reviews.The completion of the first review of the stand-by arrangement was postponed because the budget for 2012 is not in line with the agreed fiscal program, the IMF released.In mid-November, 2011, the IMF and the Serbian government achieved an agreement on the first review of the precautionary arrangement which envisages that the targeted budget deficit should not exceed 4.25 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012, with the expectation that the economic growth will be 1.5 percent.
FERRARA: NEW FIAT PLANT TO BE OPENED MID-APRIL
BELGRADE, March 29 (Tanjug) – An assembly plant for a new Fiat model in Kragujevac will be ceremonially opened mid-April by Fiat Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne, General Manager of Fiat Automobiles Serbia (FAS) Antonio Cesare Ferrara has stated.At the presentation of new Lancia models in Belgrade on Wednesday evening, Ferrara said that the opening of the assembly plant for Fiat 500L is expected on April 16.Marchionne and Serbian President Boris Tadic attended the world premier of Fiat 500L at the Geneva Motor Show early in March.On the occasion, Marchionne said that the car maker's goal is to sell 160.000 Fiat 500L units in 2013.Serbian President Boris Tadic stated that the premiere of Fiat 500L, which is to be made in Kragujevac, promoted not only the new Fiat car but also Serbia.The Fiat-Chrysler company announced early February that the starting cost of a Fiat 500L unit will amount to about EUR 16,000, and that the model will be produced in two gasoline versions and one with a diesel engine.
DEGERT: IMPLEMENTATION OF ENVIRONMETAL LAW CHALLENGING
BELGRADE, March 29 (Tanjug) –Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Vincent Degert said Thursday, opening a national seminar on climate change, that Serbia has good laws in this area, but the key challenges are the capacities for their implementation.Serbia has good legislation, but this is not enough. The important thing are the capacities for the implementation of these laws. This is the key challenge for Serbia, said Degert.According to him, Serbia is not alone in this important task and the EU is there to support its efforts.The National Climate Change Seminar - Opportunities, Benefits and Challenges of EU Climate Policy and Legislation is organized in the framework of the Regional Environmental Network for Accession (RENA).In addition to Degert, Minister of the Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning Oliver Dulic and Head of the government EU Integration Office Milica Delevic will also speak at the seminar.
THREE NEW TOWNS TO GET SERBIAN-FRENCH CURRICULUM
BELGRADE, March 29 (Tanjug) –Bilingual programs have existed in Serbia since 2004 and are being implemented in nine elementary and nine high schools, and the Ministry of Education has plans to introduce a Serbian-French curriculum in Valjevo, Pirot and Sremski Karlovci next year.Opening a seminar on bilingual Serbian-French curriculums at the Institute of Economic Sciences, Minister of Education Zarko Obradovic said developing multilingualism and interculturalism is one of his department's priorities.Serbia has five French-Serbian classes - three in Belgrade and one each in Novi Sad and Nis, totaling 270 students."Bilingual education allows students to get an excellent knowledge of both subject matter and language and get internationally-recognized certificates," Obradovic said.The two-day seminar is organized by the French Institute in Serbia, and has brought together teachers from Serbia, Ukraine, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Croatia, Romania, Hungary and Macedonia.According to Obradovic, in addition to gaining knowledge, bilangual education helps "young people develop greater understanding of other languages and cultures.""The Ministry has a constant mission of improving the education system to provide young people with a quality education fitting the needs of the modern world," said the minister.Addressing the participants, French Ambassador to Serbia Francois Xavier Deniau stressed the importance of knowing foreign languages, which are not only a means of communication, but also a way of thinking and seeing reality.French is the official language in 36 countries, and 14 of the 27 EU member countries are full-fledged or associate members of the International Organisation of La Francophonie, said the ambassador.In addition to French, schools in Serbia also offer bilingual programs in English, Russian, Italian and German.