Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Reception to mark end of Serbia’s presidency over CoE Committee of Ministers

Belgrade, Nov 7, 2007 – The Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated today that Secretary General of the Council of Europe (CoE) Terry Davis will arrive tomorrow in Belgrade to attend a reception marking the end of Serbia’s presidency over the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers.

According to the statement, the reception will be hosted by Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vuk Jeremic. Davis will also attend a humanitarian concert in the Sava Centre which will mark this occasion.

Slobodan Trkulja and the Balkanopolis Band together with the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra will perform at the concert and proceeds from the concert will be used for fighting drug addiction.

Serbia’s presidency was assessed as very successful on several occasions and the six-month rotating presidency will now be handed over to Slovakia on November 12 in Strasbourg.

According to general estimates, during its presidency Serbia showed commitment to European values and carried out duties on this function in a serious and responsible manner, concludes the statement.

More intensive regional police cooperation necessary to tackle organised crime

Belgrade, Nov 7, 2007 – Interior ministers and police officials from the region agreed today in Belgrade that a more intensive regional police cooperation is necessary so as to tackle organised crime.

Serbian Minister of Interior Dragan Jocic told a press conference held after the regional meeting of interior ministers and police officials in the region that this meeting confirmed readiness of regional police forces to continue fighting organised crime.

Jocic pointed out to the importance of preserving the state borders from all forms of criminal activities, thus protecting both the region and the EU countries.

He said that regional police cooperation in searching for Hague indictees will be everyday on an operational level and added that Serbia initiates this cooperation being the country that should end its cooperation with the Hague tribunal.

Representatives from Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia participated in the meeting.

Parliament ratifies agreements on visa relaxations, readmission

Belgrade, Nov 7, 2007 – Serbian parliament adopted today laws on ratifying the agreement between the Republic of Serbia and the EU on relaxing visa regime and the agreement between Serbia and the EU on readmission of persons residing in the EU illegally.

The agreements on visa relaxations and readmission, which were signed on September 18, 2007 in Brussels, should come into force on January 1 next year.

Ratification of these agreements is an important step forward in EU association and in the process of Serbia’s inclusion in the White Schengen List.

The agreement on visa relaxation regards certain categories of citizens and will simplify and accelerate the procedure of obtaining visas for EU countries. The cost of visa will be fixed at €35.

Relaxations will apply to businesspeople, lawyers, doctors, architects and other professionals, journalists, scientists, artists, sportspersons, students, professional drivers, civil servants, as well as representatives of religious and non-governmental organisations.

This document will also apply to citizens who need to travel to EU countries for medical treatment, to visit civil and military graveyards, to attend funerals or to visit family, and to tourists whose travel plans are arranged by respectable tourist agencies.

The agreement on readmission regulates the return of Serbian citizens, citizens of other countries and those without citizenship who entered EU territory through Serbia to stay in EU territory illegally.

Ratification of the agreement on readmission has shown that Serbia is willing to make such agreements with all interested countries, and that Serbia is ready to fully cooperate with the EU in organised, reciprocal and institutionalised return of persons staying illegally in EU countries.

The agreement defines the procedure of readmission; the process of return according to highest European standards, deadlines, expenses and protection instruments.

Parliament also ratified the agreement between the council of ministers of the former state union of Serbia-Montenegro and the French government on returning and accepting illegal aliens.

Serbia initials Stabilisation and Association Agreement with European Union

Belgrade/Brussels, Nov 7, 2007 – Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic and EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn initialled today in Brussels the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union.
The Serbian delegation at the initialling ceremony was led by Serbian President Boris Tadic, and the delegation also includes Director of the EU Integration Office Tanja Miscevic, Assistant Foreign Minister Milica Delevic and the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister's Advisor for Legal Issues of European Integration Vladimir Todoric.

Rehn said that the EU's decision to initial SAA with Serbia is a result of improved cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which was reported by the tribunal's Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte.

He stressed that full cooperation of Belgrade with ICTY remains the condition for signing the SAA, which is initialled today, two years after the first round of negotiations on that agreement.

The Serbian Deputy Prime Minister said following the initialling ceremony held in Brussels that Belgrade will make all efforts to ensure that the agreement is signed as soon as possible.

According to Djelic, for those who are working on Serbia’s EU integration there will be no rest until the agreement is signed.

Today, on behalf of the Serbian government Djelic handed over Belgrade’s action plan to Rehn according to which it is emphasised that Serbia’s aim is to acquire candidate status by the end of 2008 and also to be included in the White Schengen List.

Djelic said that a new era of relations between Serbia and the EU has begun with the handing over of this action plan to the EU Enlargement Commissioner.

Once political questions are settled we will be able to carry out the process of EU integration at record speed. We have proven our capacity for such work since we managed to conclude negotiations on this agreement within a mere three and a half months whereas other countries needed up to two years, stressed Djelic.

He said that the SAA is the best insurance for domestic and foreign investors, and added that the EU budget for Serbia in 2008 will stand at €190.9 million.

However, as long as we do not acquire candidate status, the most important items on the European budget which regard regional development and agriculture, will not be available to Serbia, said Djelic.

He expressed conviction that Serbia will succeed in realising its goals within a period of just over a year.