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DAILY SURVEY 21.05.2018.
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SERBIA

VUCIC RECEIVES FAREWELL VISIT FROM ARGENTINIAN AMBASSADOR

BELGRADE, 18 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on May 18 received a farewell visit from Argentinian Ambassador to Belgrade Ricardo Fernando Fernandez, whom he thanked for contributing to better Serbian-Argentine relations with his diplomatic experience and dedicated work. Vucic recalled that it was during Ambassador Fernandez's term that the Republic of Serbia Square was opened in Buenos Aires and the Republic of Argentina Park opened in Belgrade, affirming that "despite their geographical distance, the two nations and the two peoples are close," read a press release from the president's office. The Serbian president thanked the ambassador for Argentina's principled stance of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia. The two officials agreed that traditional friendship, mutual understanding and a common commitment to the principles of international law formed a solid foundation for Serbia and Argentina to step up their political dialog and boost economic cooperation, but also every other form of cooperation of mutual interest. Ambassador Fernandez recalled that Serbia and Argentina's diplomatic relations went back 90 years, and that he highly valued the efforts of the president and government of Serbia to develop cooperation.

VUCIC GIVES CONDOLENCES TO CUBAN PRESIDENT AFTER PLANE CRASHES

BELGRADE, 18 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic expressed his condolences to Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in the wake of a plane crash that killed dozens. "Please receive my sincere condolences on the plane crash outside Havana, which claimed many lives. Please convey my expression of sympathy to the families of the passengers and crew who were killed," Vucic's telegram read. Vucic added that he was "confident that the Cuban leadership will give support and comfort to the people who lost their loved ones in the accident." "News of the accident and the death toll grieved me greatly, especially because I saw for myself during a recent visit to Cuba how strong the friendship between our countries and peoples is," the president of Serbia wrote.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic also sent her condolences to Diaz-Canel. A Cuban plane carrying 113 passengers and crew members crashed on May 18 immediately upon takeoff from the international airport of Jose Marti in Havana. An unnamed military official said three people survived the crash and were transported to a hospital in critical condition.

BRNABIC SAYS SERBIA WILL SPEED UP CONSTRUCTION OF GAS PIPELINE TO SOFIA

BELGRADE, 19 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has stated that the building of the Nis-Sofia natural gas pipeline would begin ahead of schedule. She told the May 20 issue of the Vecernje Novosti daily that the EU had set aside around EUR50 million in IPA funds, and that the Serbian state had created a surplus in the budget, so that, after the successfully implemented economic reforms, the project would be launched ahead of plan. According to Brnabic, the execution of the joint EU-Serbian project will ensure the "diversification of directions and sources," along with improving security of supply both for Serbia and for Bulgaria and the rest of the region. "On the other hand, the northern part of the pipeline system will be considerably disburdened, which, in turn, increases the security of the supply in the direction of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the future supply of our southern province of Kosovo and Metohija, Macedonia and Montenegro," Brnabic added. She said the EU was ready to set aside money, and that the state had to secure the route of the pipeline, i.e. to compensate the owners of the land through which the pipes will pass. "The route of the pipeline will follow Corridor 10 because that is the most profitable option, and the owners of the lots will be paid compensation for the laying of the pipes," the prime minister said.

BRNABIC: TALKS WITH IMF TO CONTINUE IN JUNE

BELGRADE, 18 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on May 18 that Serbia's talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would continue in June, and that a new arrangement could be signed by the end of summer. "A new program, together with the goals that it is designed to accomplish, has almost been arranged with the Fund. A high level of understanding has been reached with the organization as to what needs to be done in the coming years," Prime Minister Brnabic explained. Head of the IMF Mission to Serbia James Roaf said on May 18 that an agreement had been made with the Serbian authorities over the key elements of the new program, and that the talks would be completed when a new finance minister was appointed. The Serbian cabinet quoted Brnabic as saying in a press release that all the meetings with the Fund held over the past seven days were successful.

STEFANOVIC MEETS WITH HIS BELGIAN COUNTERPART TO DISCUSS COOPERATION TO COMBAT ORGANIZED CRIME

BELGRADE, 18 May 2018 (Beta) - Serbia's deputy prime minister, Minister of the Interior Nebojsa Stefanovic, met in Brussels, on May 18, with his Belgian counterpart, Jan Jambon, to discuss cooperation between the two police departments in fighting organized crime and terrorism, and Serbia's accession to the European Union (EU), the Serbian interior ministry has reported. Belgian Minister of Security and the Interior Jambon was quoted as saying that the two ministers would soon make cooperation between the two departments complete, which would be very important for both states. The minister said that bilateral cooperation was discussed at the meeting, alongside with the problem of migration, noting that Serbia had played an important role in the migrant crisis, especially in 2015. "We have also talked about Serbia's membership in the EU. Belgium is supporting Serbia in reaching that goal," Minister Jambon said. Stefanovic thanked the Belgian interior minister for his country's support for Serbian reforms on route to the EU, and said that he expected good bilateral cooperation to be continued in the future. The Serbian interior minister recalled that he had signed a police cooperation agreement with Jambon last year, which mostly pertains to combating organized crime and terrorism.

EU AMBASSADOR: KOSOVO IS KEY TO SERBIA'S EU ACCESSION

BELGRADE, 19 May 2018 (Beta) - Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi said that Kosovo was the key element in Serbia's accession to the European Union (EU). "The normalization of relations with Pristina and progress in the domains of democracy and rule of law are two driving forces behind Serbia's accession to the EU. Of course, Kosovo is the key element," Fabrizi said in an interview with the Blic daily, published on May 20. The EU ambassador said that the Union made it very clear how important that was, which was why it was providing "good services" in the Belgrade-Pristina talks. When asked if Serbia would have to say "yes" to Kosovo's independence, Fabrizi said that the EU supported status neutrality, and that the full normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations was required in the form of a legally binding agreement. "Through the dialog the EU provides good services in order to reach that goal," he explained. The EU ambassador to Serbia explained that the format of the talks would remain the same, and that the involvement of EU High Representative Federica Mogherini would continue.

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