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DAILY SURVEY 22.10.2018.
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SERBIA

DACIC SAYS IN VIENNA SERBIA-AUSTRIA RELATIONS RISING STEADILY

BELGRADE, 19 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said in Vienna, on Oct. 19 that relations between Serbia and Austria were rising steadily and voiced his satifaction with talks with Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the Serbian Foreign Ministry said in a press release. Dacic, who spent Oct. 19 in Vienna, thanked Austria for its support for Serbia's bid to join the European Union, and for its initiative during its chairing of the EU to open as many chapters as possible, the statement read further. "We have no issues with Austria except a divergence in interpreting the issue of Kosovo," Dacic said, adding that Serbia was interested in solving all open issues in the region, which can only be acceptable, he explained, if the interests of all sides are taken into account. The Serbian minister said Serbia was ready for making deals and dialog with Pristina, and expected the EU as the dialog moderator to exert additional pressure to implement what was agreed and signed five years ago. "We feel that this is very important, because it was a condition of us when signing the Brussels Agreement. It is clear that this issue cannot be solved without acknowledging mutual interests, but also the individual interests of the Serbian and Albanian peoples," Dacic said. He pointed out that Pristina was continuing to take unilateral actions, like the decision to launch the transformation of the Kosovo Security Forces, i.e. the formation of the Army of Kosovo, which he said was against every resolution of international organizations, like Resolution 1244 of the U.N. Security Council.

VUCIC: KOSOVO ARMY BIG PROBLEM FOR SERBIA

BELGRADE, 19 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Oct. 19 that Serbia would have a big problem if the policy of creating an army in Kosovo were to continue and to lead to the stationing of that army in northern Kosovo. After meeting with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer, Vucic said Serbia was too small to be able to make demands of America, but that it was asking U.S. partners to understand that the possible formation of a Kosovo army could threaten peace and stability and produce tragic consequences. "I pointed out that we would have a big problem on our hands and that we would be pushed into a corner... if the policy of creating a Kosovo army and any stationing of that army in northern Kosovo, were to continue," Vucic said. Palmer stated that the U.S. had long supported the transformation of the Kosovo Security Forces into the Army of Kosovo and that the U.S. maintained this position. It is a transition that will need some time and we will work with our partners in Pristina toward that and to ensure that it is going forward to the benefit of regional peace and stability, Palmer said. Vucic stated that he was aware that the U.S. supported the transformation of the Security Forces and that the ethnic Albanians would not be going ahead without its support, but that he was trying to explain that it could lead to great detriment and tragedy, and that he was asking Washington to see things from Serbia's side.

VUCIC SENDS SYMPATHY TELEGRAM OVER TRAGEDY IN INDIA

BELGRADE, 21 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic sent a telegram of condolence to his Indian counterpart, Ram Nath Kovind, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, over a deadly train accident in Punjab. In an Oct. 21 letter of sympathy, Vucic offered "sincere condolences over the terrible accident near Amrtisar, which turned a celebration into a day of mourning. The citizens of Serbia share the sadness that their Indian friends are feeling. Please, extend my deepest sympathies and strong support to the families of the victims, and best wishes for a quick recovery to those injured in the accident." At least 58 people were killed when a train ran into people attending a Hindu festival celebration. Many people were standing on the railway tracks, watching a fireworks display during the festival which is very popular in the north of India. Witnesses say that it was the noise of the fireworks that prevented the people on the tracks from hearing the train and moving away.

VUCIC URGES NORDIC INVESTORS TO INVEST IN SERBIA, REGION

BELGRADE, 19 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Oct. 19 invited the Nordic business community to continue to invest in Serbia and the region. "We are trying to elevate the level of trade with Nordic countries. In 2017, it was around EUR655 million, and this year we're expecting EUR700 million," Vucic said in Belgrade, at an Investment Forum on business opportunities in the Western Balkan region and Nordic countries. According to Vucic, Serbia wants free business and the free flow of goods, people and capital. The president said Serbia had a lot to learn from Nordic countries about regional cooperation and about "playing on the same team." "Serbia wants less barriers in the economy and more roads and railroads. For that reason, we have proposed the introduction of one market [in the Balkans]. This idea has already gained support in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina," Vucic said, adding that he hoped this idea would become a reality in five to ten years. This would, he said, reduce optimal expenses by more than seven percent, making the region more attractive to foreign investors.

RUSSIAN, SERBIAN CULTURE MINISTERS OPEN VOSTANI SERBIA SHOW IN BELGRADE'S RUSSIA HOUSE

BELGRADE, 20 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Culture and Information Vladan Vukosavljevic and Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky on Oct. 20 opened an exhibition in Russia House in Belgrade titled Vostani Serbie, staged in honor of the centennial of the end of the Great War. The ministers confirmed for the press that they had previously discussed cooperation between the two countries in culture, including cinematography, celebrating Russia Day in Serbia, and opening a Serbian cultural center in Moscow. Vukosavljevic said the opening of a Serbian cultural center in Moscow was the absolute priority for his ministry in 2019. "We have ahead of us the signing of an international bilateral agreement on the status of cultural centers, and that means the formalization of the existing state of affairs in Serbia and paving the way for it in Moscow, too. The absolute priority next year is opening a Serbian cultural center in Moscow," Vukosavljevic said. Opening the Vostani Serbie show by Dragan Martinovic, the ministers emphasized the many years of good relations between the two states and two peoples.

PALMER: BELGRADE, PRISTINA TO REACH DEAL AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE

BELGRADE, 21 October 2018 (Beta) - Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S.Department of State Matthew Palmer said on Oct. 20 that when it came to Kosovo, "there are no blank cheques or red lines," but that Belgrade and Pristina should reach an agreement as soon as possible. "What we would like to see is the full normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, and that is a very complex challenge," Palmer said in an interview with the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS). The U.S. official argued that any agreement needed to incorporate "a security aspect, political and economic components, and something about the Serbian Orthodox Church's property in Kosovo, Gazivode and Trepca, too." "Ergo, a complex agreement, and the only thing that matters to us is that it is reached locally, that it is durable and applicable. We are ready to hear any agreement that the two sides might make, provided it meets these requirements," Palmer said. When asked about the possibility of a land swap, Palmer said he would rather "not go into details," as no version of an agreement had been presented. "Our position is there are no red lines nor blank cheques. We would like the two parties to reach the best possible agreement. We will look at whatever they bring us, if both societies agree, and everyone considers it a good solution. We will carefully think it though, and if there are any objections to details, we will make them clear," Palmer said. Answering the question if a normalization agreement implied Serbia's recognition of Kosovo, Palmer said the U.S. was "not a party to the negotiations." "The U.S. is not the one negotiating. We want to give the parties room to reach a result that can be described as full normalization. Now, I do not want to predefine what it should look like, we would rather that the negotiators reach a deal on their own, but it is clear that both sides will be required to do some serious and politically difficult things to provide for such an outcome," he said.

BJORNSTAD: SERBIA, KOSOVO TO REACH AGREEMENT TAKING INTO ACCOUNT REGIONAL STABILITY

BELGRADE, 20 October 2018 (Beta) - Norwegian Ambassador in Serbia Arne Bjornstad said that his country supported Serbia and Kosovo in reaching a normalization agreement that would not harm the stability of the Western Balkans, but make it more attractive to investors instead. In an interview with the Beta news agency, Bjornstad said that Kosovo had the right to set up its own army and that it needed to keep the position of minorities and legal procedures in mind. "Norway wishes for Serbia and Kosovo to reach an agreement on the normalization of their relations, because that would be good for both sides. Owing to existing uncertainties, and a growing fear of the destabilization of the region, both Serbia and Kosovo are losing out on investments and jobs," the ambassador said. He underlined that a new agreement "has to take regional stability into account," and that its purpose should be to create a stable environment attractive to investors. "Whatever they might agree on, both Belgrade and Pristina need to take into account the possible impact on the stability of the region," the Norwegian ambassador cautioned. When asked if Norway was satisfied with the way that talks between Serbia and Kosovo had been handled in Brussels, and if they might involve the U.S. and Russia as well, Bjornstad said he could not see an alternative to the current process. "Right now, there is no alternative, or at least there is no other EU-mediated option. I do not see how a change of format could create a different result," the diplomat said. Ambassador Bjornstad said that Norway, as a state that had recognized Kosovo's independence, believed that Kosovo, just like any other sovereign state, was entitled to making an independent decision on whether to set up its own army, or transform the Kosovo Security Force into one, as Pristina had repeatedly announced lately. Norway's ambassador also said that the European Union's expansion to the Western Balkans was necessary, as it would contribute immensely to the stability of Europe, and not only the Balkans, adding that that was why his country "strongly supports" the states of the region on their path to the Union. When asked what his take on the rule of law in Serbia was, Bjornstad explained that "certain progress in the area is by all means necessary," adding that Serbia was needed "an independent and efficient court system." The Norwegian diplomat said that the biggest problem with the freedom of the media in Serbia was that there were too many newspapers, radio and television stations that depended on different subsidies and gifts, which opened room for manipulating the media. "Progress is sorely needed in this area too; journalists should feel safe, and they should never be attacked for writing something someone may not like," the ambassador said. The diplomat said that Serbia and Norway had developed "a very good relationship, without problems." "Maybe we do not see eye-to-eye on everything, but we have no open issues or disputes either. There are many contacts between Serbian and Norwegian politicians, and what we are trying is to expand and make more regular is a dialog on the level of the executive," Bjornstad said. As for trade and investments, much more could have been done, the ambassador said, adding that there was "quite an interest" on the part of Norwegian companies in doing business in Serbia. "Norway's businesses are waiting for Serbia to make progress on its path to the EU, and one of the problems is that high-tech companies are unable to use part of their technology outside the EU and NATO," he said. The ambassador suggested that in order to attract more investors from Norway, Serbia had to join the EU first, as EU membership guaranteed stability at home and in the region. He added that different subsidies and para-fiscal costs also complicated the situation.

SERBIA

 

 

DACIC SAYS IN VIENNA SERBIA-AUSTRIA RELATIONS RISING STEADILY

BELGRADE, 19 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said in Vienna, on Oct. 19 that relations between Serbia and Austria were rising steadily and voiced his satifaction with talks with Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, the Serbian Foreign Ministry said in a press release. Dacic, who spent Oct. 19 in Vienna, thanked Austria for its support for Serbia's bid to join the European Union, and for its initiative during its chairing of the EU to open as many chapters as possible, the statement read further. "We have no issues with Austria except a divergence in interpreting the issue of Kosovo," Dacic said, adding that Serbia was interested in solving all open issues in the region, which can only be acceptable, he explained, if the interests of all sides are taken into account. The Serbian minister said Serbia was ready for making deals and dialog with Pristina, and expected the EU as the dialog moderator to exert additional pressure to implement what was agreed and signed five years ago. "We feel that this is very important, because it was a condition of us when signing the Brussels Agreement. It is clear that this issue cannot be solved without acknowledging mutual interests, but also the individual interests of the Serbian and Albanian peoples," Dacic said. He pointed out that Pristina was continuing to take unilateral actions, like the decision to launch the transformation of the Kosovo Security Forces, i.e. the formation of the Army of Kosovo, which he said was against every resolution of international organizations, like Resolution 1244 of the U.N. Security Council.

 

VUCIC: KOSOVO ARMY BIG PROBLEM FOR SERBIA

BELGRADE, 19 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Oct. 19 that Serbia would have a big problem if the policy of creating an army in Kosovo were to continue and to lead to the stationing of that army in northern Kosovo. After meeting with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer, Vucic said Serbia was too small to be able to make demands of America, but that it was asking U.S. partners to understand that the possible formation of a Kosovo army could threaten peace and stability and produce tragic consequences. "I pointed out that we would have a big problem on our hands and that we would be pushed into a corner... if the policy of creating a Kosovo army and any stationing of that army in northern Kosovo, were to continue," Vucic said. Palmer stated that the U.S. had long supported the transformation of the Kosovo Security Forces into the Army of Kosovo and that the U.S. maintained this position. It is a transition that will need some time and we will work with our partners in Pristina toward that and to ensure that it is going forward to the benefit of regional peace and stability, Palmer said. Vucic stated that he was aware that the U.S. supported the transformation of the Security Forces and that the ethnic Albanians would not be going ahead without its support, but that he was trying to explain that it could lead to great detriment and tragedy, and that he was asking Washington to see things from Serbia's side.

 

VUCIC SENDS SYMPATHY TELEGRAM OVER TRAGEDY IN INDIA

BELGRADE, 21 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic sent a telegram of condolence to his Indian counterpart, Ram Nath Kovind, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, over a deadly train accident in Punjab. In an Oct. 21 letter of sympathy, Vucic offered "sincere condolences over the terrible accident near Amrtisar, which turned a celebration into a day of mourning. The citizens of Serbia share the sadness that their Indian friends are feeling. Please, extend my deepest sympathies and strong support to the families of the victims, and best wishes for a quick recovery to those injured in the accident." At least 58 people were killed when a train ran into people attending a Hindu festival celebration. Many people were standing on the railway tracks, watching a fireworks display during the festival which is very popular in the north of India. Witnesses say that it was the noise of the fireworks that prevented the people on the tracks from hearing the train and moving away.

 

VUCIC URGES NORDIC INVESTORS TO INVEST IN SERBIA, REGION

BELGRADE, 19 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Oct. 19 invited the Nordic business community to continue to invest in Serbia and the region. "We are trying to elevate the level of trade with Nordic countries. In 2017, it was around EUR655 million, and this year we're expecting EUR700 million," Vucic said in Belgrade, at an Investment Forum on business opportunities in the Western Balkan region and Nordic countries. According to Vucic, Serbia wants free business and the free flow of goods, people and capital. The president said Serbia had a lot to learn from Nordic countries about regional cooperation and about "playing on the same team." "Serbia wants less barriers in the economy and more roads and railroads. For that reason, we have proposed the introduction of one market [in the Balkans]. This idea has already gained support in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina," Vucic said, adding that he hoped this idea would become a reality in five to ten years. This would, he said, reduce optimal expenses by more than seven percent, making the region more attractive to foreign investors.

 

RUSSIAN, SERBIAN CULTURE MINISTERS OPEN VOSTANI SERBIA SHOW IN BELGRADE'S RUSSIA HOUSE

BELGRADE, 20 October 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Minister of Culture and Information Vladan Vukosavljevic and Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky on Oct. 20 opened an exhibition in Russia House in Belgrade titled Vostani Serbie, staged in honor of the centennial of the end of the Great War. The ministers confirmed for the press that they had previously discussed cooperation between the two countries in culture, including cinematography, celebrating Russia Day in Serbia, and opening a Serbian cultural center in Moscow. Vukosavljevic said the opening of a Serbian cultural center in Moscow was the absolute priority for his ministry in 2019. "We have ahead of us the signing of an international bilateral agreement on the status of cultural centers, and that means the formalization of the existing state of affairs in Serbia and paving the way for it in Moscow, too. The absolute priority next year is opening a Serbian cultural center in Moscow," Vukosavljevic said. Opening the Vostani Serbie show by Dragan Martinovic, the ministers emphasized the many years of good relations between the two states and two peoples.

 

PALMER: BELGRADE, PRISTINA TO REACH DEAL AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE

BELGRADE, 21 October 2018 (Beta) - Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S.Department of State Matthew Palmer said on Oct. 20 that when it came to Kosovo, "there are no blank cheques or red lines," but that Belgrade and Pristina should reach an agreement as soon as possible. "What we would like to see is the full normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, and that is a very complex challenge," Palmer said in an interview with the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS). The U.S. official argued that any agreement needed to incorporate "a security aspect, political and economic components, and something about the Serbian Orthodox Church's property in Kosovo, Gazivode and Trepca, too." "Ergo, a complex agreement, and the only thing that matters to us is that it is reached locally, that it is durable and applicable. We are ready to hear any agreement that the two sides might make, provided it meets these requirements," Palmer said. When asked about the possibility of a land swap, Palmer said he would rather "not go into details," as no version of an agreement had been presented. "Our position is there are no red lines nor blank cheques. We would like the two parties to reach the best possible agreement. We will look at whatever they bring us, if both societies agree, and everyone considers it a good solution. We will carefully think it though, and if there are any objections to details, we will make them clear," Palmer said. Answering the question if a normalization agreement implied Serbia's recognition of Kosovo, Palmer said the U.S. was "not a party to the negotiations." "The U.S. is not the one negotiating. We want to give the parties room to reach a result that can be described as full normalization. Now, I do not want to predefine what it should look like, we would rather that the negotiators reach a deal on their own, but it is clear that both sides will be required to do some serious and politically difficult things to provide for such an outcome," he said.

 

BJORNSTAD: SERBIA, KOSOVO TO REACH AGREEMENT TAKING INTO ACCOUNT REGIONAL STABILITY

BELGRADE, 20 October 2018 (Beta) - Norwegian Ambassador in Serbia Arne Bjornstad said that his country supported Serbia and Kosovo in reaching a normalization agreement that would not harm the stability of the Western Balkans, but make it more attractive to investors instead. In an interview with the Beta news agency, Bjornstad said that Kosovo had the right to set up its own army and that it needed to keep the position of minorities and legal procedures in mind. "Norway wishes for Serbia and Kosovo to reach an agreement on the normalization of their relations, because that would be good for both sides. Owing to existing uncertainties, and a growing fear of the destabilization of the region, both Serbia and Kosovo are losing out on investments and jobs," the ambassador said. He underlined that a new agreement "has to take regional stability into account," and that its purpose should be to create a stable environment attractive to investors. "Whatever they might agree on, both Belgrade and Pristina need to take into account the possible impact on the stability of the region," the Norwegian ambassador cautioned. When asked if Norway was satisfied with the way that talks between Serbia and Kosovo had been handled in Brussels, and if they might involve the U.S. and Russia as well, Bjornstad said he could not see an alternative to the current process. "Right now, there is no alternative, or at least there is no other EU-mediated option. I do not see how a change of format could create a different result," the diplomat said. Ambassador Bjornstad said that Norway, as a state that had recognized Kosovo's independence, believed that Kosovo, just like any other sovereign state, was entitled to making an independent decision on whether to set up its own army, or transform the Kosovo Security Force into one, as Pristina had repeatedly announced lately. Norway's ambassador also said that the European Union's expansion to the Western Balkans was necessary, as it would contribute immensely to the stability of Europe, and not only the Balkans, adding that that was why his country "strongly supports" the states of the region on their path to the Union. When asked what his take on the rule of law in Serbia was, Bjornstad explained that "certain progress in the area is by all means necessary," adding that Serbia was needed "an independent and efficient court system." The Norwegian diplomat said that the biggest problem with the freedom of the media in Serbia was that there were too many newspapers, radio and television stations that depended on different subsidies and gifts, which opened room for manipulating the media. "Progress is sorely needed in this area too; journalists should feel safe, and they should never be attacked for writing something someone may not like," the ambassador said. The diplomat said that Serbia and Norway had developed "a very good relationship, without problems." "Maybe we do not see eye-to-eye on everything, but we have no open issues or disputes either. There are many contacts between Serbian and Norwegian politicians, and what we are trying is to expand and make more regular is a dialog on the level of the executive," Bjornstad said. As for trade and investments, much more could have been done, the ambassador said, adding that there was "quite an interest" on the part of Norwegian companies in doing business in Serbia. "Norway's businesses are waiting for Serbia to make progress on its path to the EU, and one of the problems is that high-tech companies are unable to use part of their technology outside the EU and NATO," he said. The ambassador suggested that in order to attract more investors from Norway, Serbia had to join the EU first, as EU membership guaranteed stability at home and in the region. He added that different subsidies and para-fiscal costs also complicated the situation.

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