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DAILY SURVEY 17.11.2017.
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SERBIA

VUCIC: WITHOUT LEGALLY BINDING DOCUMENT WITH KOSOVO, EU MEMBERSHIP IMPOSSIBLE

BELGRADE, 16 November 2017 (Beta) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Nov. 16 that Serbia would not be allowed to become a member of the EU without a legally binding agreement with Kosovo. "This is not a question of independence, no one is saying that in that way yet, this is being talked about between the lines, but not in that way, but this is what I can tell you for now," Vucic told reporters in Arandjelovac. Remarking that he had had good discussions in Brussels (with EU and NATO officials), Vucic said that Serbia would not be able to become a member of the EU without drastic changes in its overall attitude toward Kosovo and Metohija. Asked what "drastic changes" meant, Vucic replied: "To normalize the situation, as they say, that is what it means, however you interpret it. Therefore, they will not allow us to become a member of the EU without a legally binding document." He said that this was difficult for Serbia, and that he had learned a lot from debates and two round tables held within the internal dialogue on Kosovo and Metohija. Vucic said that it would be great if "we could agree amongst ourselves," but that he thought that it would be hard to do.

MOGHERINI, BRNABIC ADVOCATE FORMING OF COMMUNITY OF SERB MUNICIPALITIES

BELGRADE, 16 November 2017 (Beta) - EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said in Brussels on Nov. 16 that she was convinced the new phase of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue would succeed, but reiterated that the course of that new phase had to be politically protected in order to guarantee room for agreements. Federica Mogherini said this at a news conference with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and European Commissioner Johannes Hahn, after the session of the EU-Serbia Stabilization and Association Council. She reiterated that she did not wish to say anything about when the legally binding agreement between Belgrade and Pristina on the normalization of relations would be signed, but stressed that the forming of the Community of Serb Municipalities and the implementation of the agreements reached, especially the one on energy, were crucial for the dialogue. The EU high representative and Brnabic pointed out that normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as regional cooperation, were important for Serbia's progress on the path to the Union, and stressed the importance of the internal dialogue on Kosovo that had been initiated by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. Because of this, Brnabic urged Pristina to start implementing the agreement on the Community of Serb Municipalities as the key condition for the success of the dialogue and the normalization of relations with Belgrade. Mogherini said the key to the further success of the dialogue and the "new phase" was political will from both sides, and that the internal dialogue on Kosovo in Serbia was also very important for the European prospects of both sides, because it would lead to regional cooperation, reconciliation and turning toward the future by joining the EU.

HAHN: USE THE NEW MOMENTUM FOR INCLUDING WESTERN BALKANS IN THE EU

BELGRADE, 16 November 2017 (Beta) - Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said in Brussels on Nov. 16 that joining the European Union was the first strategic goal of Serbia, while European Commissioner Johannes Hahn pointed out that the new momentum for including the Western Balkans in the EU, which the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, indicated in September, should be utilized. Brnabic and Hahn said this at a joint news conference with EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, after a session of the Serbia-EU Stabilization and Association Council. High Representative Mogherini stressed that the EU's doors were open for all from the Western Balkans, as soon as each partner in the region individually fulfilled the required conditions and reforms, and pointed out that the EU was satisfied with the reforms in Serbia, but that now the rule of law should be addressed. The Serbian prime minister said that the government in Belgrade would now focus in the negotiations primarily on reforming the rule of law and public administration, which was important for the fight against corruption, but added that time was needed for tangible results. She added that it would be realistic to expect Serbia to open three or four new chapters in the EU negotiations, reasonably soon. Federica Mogherini and Ana Brnabic wished to stress the fact that the EU was the key trade and economic partner, which had invested nine billion euros in assets in Serbia since 2000, and provided 200 million annually in support to Serbia's preparations for EU membership. Mogherini and Hahn commended the Serbian government's success in consolidating the state budget and macroeconomic business conditions, while the Serbian prime minister said the Serbian government would now focus on reforming the rule of law and public administration, stressing that, without regional stability, there could be no stability for anyone in the Western Balkans.

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