Thursday, December 22, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Serbia’s minister for EU integration Božidar Đelić stated that he will not withdraw his resignation upon Serbia’s failure to secure EU status. Prior to December 9th, Đelić declared his utmost confidence that Serbia was to be granted membership adding that he would resign as minister of EU integration should the Union’s decision be otherwise - the EU meanwhile postponed Serbia’s membership status to February/March 2012. Đelić, however, stated that the EU integration remained to be the most favorable strategic goal for Serbia while the upcoming decisions on Serbian integration will remain contentious. The reason for this, said Đelić, was that the EU was in its greatest crisis, economically as well as institutionally.
President Boris Tadić also discussed systemic changes as he stressed that Serbia’s institutional transformation has been recognized by all EU member states. The president, however, pointed out that next year will not be a decisive year whereby citizens are to recognize noticeable alterations in their living standard. Anybody who releases contrasting statements, according to Tadić, is not truthful. Instead, he pointed toward the successful infrastructural improvements regarding the repair of roads and bridges. The biggest problem for Serbia is her trade deficit. There is no solution without increasing exports which is part of the decade long chronic problem regarding Serbia’s economic downward trend. A report released by the ministry of finance indicated that Serbia’s debt amounted to €14.48 billion Euros – in other words, Serbia’s debt amounts to 44.8% of its gross domestic product (GDP) and has therefore grown since the 2010 fiscal period when debt amounted to 42.9% of its GDP. According to the law on budged systems, Serbia’s debt is not to exceed 45% of its GDP.
The president further stressed that as long as Serbia’s economy remains in dire straits; there will be no solution to the Kosovo question. Solving Serbia’s economic problems is therefore of greater significance than the Kosovo question, according to Tadić, as economic growth allows for improved international relations while resolving the central question of existence regarding Serbia’s citizenry. The economic question is the defining problem of our day and there is no state that can survive in political isolation, said the president adding that whatever political situation a state is about to make, it is central to take into consideration that the world is interconnected. Serbia, moreover, must avoid backward policies that lead to political unrest and instability. Tadić also stated that Serbia’s goal must remain EU membership despite the Unions economic problems while doing so does not stipulate that Serbia is no longer allowed to pursue economical and political cooperation with other states. In addition, the president questioned those who propose to “freeze” the current conflict in time as well as how and with whom’s help to resolve the conflict in the future while inquiring the opposite spectrum of politicians that proposed a complete reversal of decisions taken thus far. Who, Tadić asked, will explain to Serbs living in Kosovo that they will lose rights thus far attained should the Ahtisaari plan be implemented? The president thus stressed that Serbia ought to strive to promote a policy that includes a future with the EU as well as Kosovo. Cooperation to resolve the Kosovo question with other states, including “Washington, Moskau, Brussels, Peking as well as Albanian interlocutors” if of utmost importance while Serbia must pursue balanced politics. What matters in the end, however, is the voice of Serbia’s citizens.
Rasim Ljajić, minister of labour, employment and social affairs, stated that by deciding against Serbia’s EU status, anti European politicians gained strength. Ljajić explained that Serbia must continue to implement institutional reforms adding that doing so would remain important even if Serbia were to be denied membership status again in March of 2012. The minister also stated that Serbia has not given up on implementing UN Resolution 1244. Ljajić, however, cautioned politicians to refrain from being too secure regarding political success should Serbia be granted membership status pointing toward Croatia’s HDZ election debacle despite securing EU membership.
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Serbia and KiM
Boris Tadić announced that UN Resolution 1244 still provided the legal basis by which the Kosovo question can be resolved adding that he has a clear political plan as to how to resolve the problem. He did, however, not specify what the exact steps toward the goal of resolving the Kosovo problem were. The president explained that the request for Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s independence was on the table during negotiations with the EU while Serbia denied doing so. In clarifying Ivica Dačić’s statement, Tadić elucidated that the EU did condition Belgrade’s recognizing of Priština prior to Serbia’s recognition of EU membership status. However, not in the manner of Dačić’s words. Ivica Dačić had earlier stated that Serbia is only to be granted EU membership status lest she recognize Kosovo. Head of the EU delegation to Serbia Vincent Deger too demented such allegations stating that the EU at no point in time stipulated that Serbia must recognize Kosovo prior to being admitted as a prospective member to the Union. Deger added that such a stipulation would be futile given that five out of 27 members state themselves did not recognize Kosovo. Tadić clarified that resolving the Kosovo question is a political battle adding that he is sure that Serbia’s European partners will understand that accepting a sovereign Kosovo is a possibility that is unacceptable to Serbia. Moreover, Europe will understand that without a Serbian state located centrally in the Balkans, there will be no peaceful and stable future as is in the interest in all of Europe. Tadić concluded his speech by thanking Russia’s contribution of humanitarian aid to Serbs resident in Kosovo adding that no one humanitarian convoy aught to be stopped “especially not if the convoy is destined for Serbs resident in Kosovo who are truly the most vulnerable ethnic minority in Europe today”.
Earlier this week, a convoy carrying humanitarian aid destined for Serbs in Kosovo was halted at Jarinje and Brnjak as reported by the Russian news agency ITAR-TAŠ. Russian ambassador to Serbia Aleksandar Konuzin thus stated that the EULEX mission is once again no longer neutral subjecting the delivery of humanitarian aid to questions of politics. The delivery is stated to include mobile aggregates, blankets, food items and cots.
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Bosnia i Herzegovina (BiH)
Head of South East Europe’s anti terrorism team Dževad Galijašević told Srna that the head of Bosnia’s Islamic Community Mustafa Cerić was given a large amount of money to support the Wahhabi movement in BiH. Galijašević, in an answer to the open letter written by Cerić, stated that he did not invent the problems that plague the Islamic community today. In his open letter, Cerić wrote that the “moving story” about Wahhabis was an invention by self-styled experts on terrorism comparing the treatment of Muslims in the region to the Jews in Spain during the inquisition in 1492. Galijašević further stated that the religious and political support is a real problem for Bosnia inviting Cerić to explain his repeated comparison of Bosniaks to Wahhabis adding that the Bosniak public does not support Wahhabi’s while he, Cerić, does. Galiješavić further stated that it would actually be better if Cerić were to explain how “he organized the planting of a bomb” under the Islamic Community (IC) that wounded the prior head of the IC effendi Jakub Selimoski as well as other murders taking place prior to Cerić’s ascendance to the post of the IC’s helm. Another question involved the finances of the IC.
In related news, the collegiate news paper Dnevni Avaz accused Bakir Izetbegović who is a member of the BiH government, to have protected members of the Wahhabi movement for years. Questions directed at Izetbegović include why he has protected the movement for years, what exactly his role was in “Islamsizing ” the Bosnian Army to the damage of Bosniaks as well as how many mujahedeen had exactly passed through his office between 1992 and 1997. The article further accused Izetbegović of playing a role in BiH’s mafia and criminal activity in cooperation with companies/groups such as Al-Šidi from Riyadh, BBI Centar, BiH’s Telekom and the OKI Company. Moreover, the doors to BiH’s EU accession are slated to remain closed on account of Izetbegović which will further hinder the state to prosper. A statement released by Izetbegović countered that such accusations had negative impacts on BiH, especially on its citizens. Furthermore, according to Izetbegović, none of the above accusations are truthful.
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Sunday, December 11, 2011
Whether or not Serbia receives EU candidacy status will not influence the upcoming elections as Rasim Ljajić, minister for labour, stated. Elections are likely to be held in March 2011. The minister added that even if Serbia were given EU status, elections would not be held early while no new requirements were added to Serbia’s EU accession requirements while there are changes to the hitherto requirements. The regional representation of Kosovo, for instance, is among those conditions changed. Ljajić added that that he expects a positive outcome for December 9th adding that Serbia is already in pre election mode.
Upon learning that Serbia will not yet be given EU candidacy status, prime minister Mirko Cvetković reminded foreign investors that Serbia is nevertheless an attractive state despite Serbia’s not receiving of EU candidacy status. Instead, she ought to be seen as a state on its way to the EU. The prime minister added that he does not believe that the EU’s decision will weigh heavy on Serbia’s economy while it will have negative impact on Serbia’s citizens. Cvetković added that he seeks to persuade Božidar Đelić to remain in office as he did not do his job badly. At any rate, Serbia will continue its policies of EU integration.
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“Ljajić: Raspisivanje izbora ne zavisi od odluke Saveta EU”. Ekonom East Media Group. accessed December 7, 2011. www.emg.rs/vesti/srbjia/170353.html
Serbia and the EU
Serbia’s president Boris Tadić expressed moderate optimism concerning Serbia’s EU status at the outset of the past week. Following a conference hosted by the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), Tadić stated that Serbia ought to stay optimistic while not being non-realistic concerning the “certainty of Serbia’s membership status”. He further noted that should Serbia not be granted status, Belgrade should nevertheless work and look to a future as part of the EU as membership is in the interest of Serbia’s citizenry. The president highlighted that membership was especially pertinent for Serbia’s youth who without the prospect of EU membership are poised to look toward an insecure future. Tadić further criticized earlier statements made by officials who proposed that Serbia does not need the EU and instead can work to achieve alternative political solutions. The president added that Serbia, in addition of having to secure EU membership status, needs to ensure a functioning system while finding sustainable solutions regarding the conflicts that ensued in the 1990’s.
In a press release from December 6th, Tadić stated that Serbia fulfilled all requirements, while Serbia deserved the status of EU membership accession. In a report issued by the Commission, Serbia received a positive assessment by which Belgrade’s cooperation with the ICTY as well as efforts at resolving Serbia-Priština problems were acknowledged. The president, however, reminded that Serbia does not yet know whether or not she will receive membership status or not.
Serbia, however, was not granted EU candidacy status on the 9th of December. Instead, Serbia will learn in March 2012 if a new round of negotiations will lead to EU candidacy status. Boris Tadić congratulated Montenegro and Croatia on their membership status adding that he is not surprised that Serbia was not granted EU membership status. Serbia, he added, will continue to seek EU membership status nevertheless.
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Serbia and KiM
Serbian president Boris Tadić called on Serbs resident in Kosovo to accept the agreement reached in Bonn, Germany, attained on the 3rd of December. At the SPD led conference, an agreement regarding the administrative crossings between Kosovo and Serbia has been reached. Priština and Belgrade agreed to post administrative officials from Kosovo and Serbia while EULEX will administer the system. Tadić appealed to Serbs on the barricades as well as to their leaders to accept the plan. However, the president recalled that Serbia agreed to post Serb and Kosovar officials on the administrative crossings and not on the border between Kosovo and Serbia. Serbia, in other words, will not recognize – “nor will recognize Kosovo’s independence” in the near future. Tadić reminded citizens, however, that now is the time to differentiate between politicians and populists adding that real and sustainable solutions are necessary for the state. Furthermore, the current situation does not ask for nationalist and patriotic commitments, but for viable solutions behind which one is able to stand – “I can stand behind my solutions” – the president added.
Later on, Zubini Potok’s mayor Slaviša Ristić and KFOR commander Adolf Konrad agreed found an agreement by which barricades by Jarinje will be removed. According to the agreement, a checkpoint – controlled by KFOR officials and members of the Kosovar police force – will be set up were they plan on controlling traffic. This means that people will remove themselves from the barricades which points toward a normalizing situation in northern Kosovo.
Edita Tahiri stated that the joint solution reached regarding the administrative crossing between Serbia and Kosovo was the result of joint action between Priština and Belgrade. Tahiri stated that the joint solution was in line with EU concept while it agreed with Kosovo’s constitution adding that Serbia, with said agreement, acknowledged the border between Kosovo and Serbia. “Kosovar rules will preside on the side of Kosovo while Serbian rules will preside in Serbia”. EULEX, meanwhile, will be the guarantor of the agreements agreed upon will be implemented. Kosovo’s president Hašim Tači meanwhile stated that the agreement regarding the joint administration of the crossing will ease movement of goods and people while Serbia “de jure” acknowledged Kosovo’s borders with Serbia.
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Sunday, December 4, 2011
Serbia’s president Boris Tadić announced that any existing links between Serbia’s political structures and the organized crime are severed adding that the upcoming elections are crucial in fighting the organized crime. According to Tadić, the fight against crime was not carried out with determination and only gained considerable strength with the current government. Tadić stated that the organized crime is not the generator of corruption as practices common in the nineties are no longer prevalent in Serbia. Tadić explained that Serbia, as well as other Eastern European states are no longer heavens for the organized crime as they know that they will be systematically rooted out. Successes listed by the president in proof that fighting against the organized crime is successful included the seizure of more than two tons of cocaine from South America as well as the confiscation of property paid for by criminal activity worth 350 million Euros.
Vojislav Koštunica, leader of the Serbian Democratic Party (DSS) stated that Serbia should “forget” about EU membership and instead ought to develop as an independent political state. According to Koštunica, Serbia should follow its national and state interest as opposed to bowing down to Brussels. Brussels, Koštunica continued, is not Serbia’s capital city: “we have a state and her name is Serbia”. Koštunica assured that he does not wish for Serbia to become isolated. Instead, he wishes to cooperate with all EU states. The leader of the DSS stated that policies tied to Serbia’s seeking of EU membership status comes with the price of losing Kosovo adding that the current government is ready to sacrifice Serbia’s state and national interests only so as to receive EU membership candidacy.
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Serbia, the EU and KiM
Brussels announced that Serbia is likely to receive EU candidacy status with the stipulation that continued talks between Kosovo and Serbia be fruitful. Upon a dialogue between Serbia’s vice president Božidar Đelić and head of the Belgian embassy, Đelić stated that since the danger of escalating violence in northern Kosovo is reduced, Serbia can count on Belgium’s support regarding candidacy status. Meanwhile, Serbia is likely to know if it will receive candidacy status by December 5, 2011.
Continued dialogue between Priština and Belgrade was taken up again on November 30th this past week. Borislav Stefanović stated that despite the difficult situation in northern Kosovo, both parties seek to find a solution regarding Priština’s representation in regional forums as well as crossings. Prior to the eighth round of talks, Stefanović stressed that KFOR should no longer try to remove the barricades by force adding that dialogue with Priština will continue to be difficult as Kosovo will not succumb from its self proclaimed status of being an independent state.
Tadić meanwhile advised Serbian citizens of northern Kosovo to remove the barricades. Defense minister Dragan Šutanovac echoed this notion as he noted that the security situation in northern Kosovo is critical emphasizing that Serbs should listen to their president. Head of the European Union caucus Nada Kolundžia added that the barricades are starting to threaten the lives and security of the citizens on the barricades as well as local residents. In such a situation, Kolundžia stated, one should forget about policies and incentives in the interest of people’s lives and security. Šutanovac added that it is not in his or the governments interest to arm-twist anybody into accepting the presidents wishes while it was important that Serbs on the barricades should work with the government as doing so lies in Serbia’s greater interest.
Meanwhile, the dialogue between Zubini Potok’s Mayor Slaviša Ristić and the KFOR’s commander of the German/Austrian unit Franz Pirkerk ended without any results save for an agreement that solutions to the situation in northern Kosovo will be brought about peaceful ways. In the near future, KFOR will not attempt to remove any barricades while Pirkerk stated that KFOR wants to establish a checkpoint by which to selectively inspect through traffic.
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