Dacic: “We expect opening of new chapters in December”

At today’s press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, Head of Serbian diplomacy Ivica Dacic underlined that the 35th Meeting of the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) would certainly be the most important event in the month of December, to be hosted by Serbia in its capacity as Chair of the Organization. The central meeting will take place on 13 December 2016. The meeting that will adopt numerous important decisions for the future activity of the Organization, will bring to an end the successful Chairmanship of Serbia and reaffirm our commitment to regional cooperation.

Also taking part in the event will be Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, who will make a bilateral visit to Serbia on 12 December.

On 5 December, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn will visit Serbia.

This month, Minister Dacic will have talks with Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry of the Republic of Zimbabwe Walter Mzembi, on 6 December 2016, with the aim of promoting the Republic of Zimbabwe’s candidacy for the post of Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In the talks, the officials will also discuss the current bilateral relations and cooperation between the two countries.

On 7 December 2016, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Serbian Foreign Minister will meet with Secretary of State for European Affairs in the Portuguese Foreign Ministry Margarida Marques.

The 23rd OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting will take place in Hamburg on 8-9 December, also marking the end of the German Chairmanship-in-Office of the Organization, as well as the end of Serbia’s engagement in the OSCE Troika.

A working visit by representatives of the Foreign Ministry of Malta is planned for 20 December in order to discuss the preparation of the visit by the so-called Enlargement Committee of the Council of the European Union during the Maltese EU Presidency, as well as the continuation of Serbia’s accession process.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic said today that the participation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in multilateral events was important because these events presented opportunities to meet with representatives of multiple countries in one place.

Minister Dacic noted that he had had 28 meetings during the Summit of the Francophonie in Madagascar, which created additional nervousness on the part of the Pristina representatives, seeing that EU Member States that did not recognize independence of Kosovo were being put under great pressure to reconsider their positions.

Speaking about his walking out of the event in Warsaw, on which occasion Foreign Minister of Kosovo Enver Hoxhaj said that Serbia was guilty of the wars in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, Minister Dacic said that, prior to his decision to leave the event, he had waited to see how EU representatives would react to this, which they, as the Minister underlined, failed to do in the end.

“I may have made a mistake, but that is what I thought was right. They have grown nervous when I said that Serbia would not recognize Kosovo, and Hoxhaj said that it would”, Minister Dacic elaborated.

He recalled that the topic of the Warsaw meeting was the security component and reconciliation, asking how we could have been able to discuss reconciliation after such words of Hoxhaj’s.

As regards Minister Dacic’s activities in the past month, at the meeting of Heads of Governments of the People’s Republic of China and Central and East European countries (16+1) in Riga on 5 November 2016, an Agreement was signed between Governments of the Republic of Serbia and of the People’s Republic of China on mutual abolition of visas for holders of ordinary passports. It is expected that, following the ratification procedure, the Agreement would come into force on 1 January 2017.

During his visit to Canada, the Head of Serbian diplomacy also met with Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum, and on that occasion they formally commenced talks on a political level between the two parties on the launching of visa liberalization as well as on the lifting of restrictions against members of the administration of the former FRY.

The European Commission has adopted the 2016 Serbia Progress Report which is largely positive in its assessments. Progress was noted in almost all areas, including those of particular importance such as public administration reform, judiciary efficiency and combating organized crime. The EU has commended the progress Serbia made in building a functional market economy able to withstand pressures of competitors coming from EU Member States.

Progress was also made in the context of alignment with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, in particular through adopting the Law on Enforcement of International Sanctions, including the EU’s restrictive measures. Serbia has continued to participate in EU-mandated civilian and military missions.

The European Union has commended Serbia’s constructive contribution to regional cooperation and fostering good relations with all of its neighbours, both EU Member States and those aspiring to EU membership. Belgrade’s engagement in and commitment to the dialogue with Pristina, as well as to the implementation of agreements made, has also been acknowledged.

In December, the European Parliament will initiate the procedure for adopting a Resolution on Serbia’s progress, the adoption of which in the EP is envisaged for 15 March 2017.

The Head of Serbian diplomacy underlined that he hoped that the fourth Intergovernmental Conference could take place in December, on which occasion at least one new chapter would be opened, namely Chapter 5 on Public Procurement as well as, hopefully, Chapters 25 – Science and Research and 26 – Education and Culture.