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EU to open entrance talks with Serbia

Serbia Posted on Sat, December 05, 2015 20:19:18

Reuters

December 03, 2015 4:26 PM

BELGRADE,
SERBIA—

The
European Union said Thursday that it would open the first two so-called
chapters of accession talks with Serbia this month, rewarding the country for a
series of accords with its former Kosovo province despite their patchy
implementation.

One
chapter will focus on relations with Kosovo, which broke away during a war in
1999 and declared independence in 2008. Serbia does not recognize its former
southern province as sovereign, but has struck a series of deals brokered by
the EU to try to regulate relations between the two.

Analysts
and Western diplomats say implementation of the agreements has been piecemeal
at best on both sides, but the EU is keen to keep Serbia anchored in the
process of Western integration to counter what diplomats say is growing Russian
engagement in the Balkans.

“I
am looking forward to the 14th [of December], when we can expect the chapters
to be open for more detailed negotiations,” EU foreign policy chief
Federica Mogherini said on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe in Belgrade.

Accession
talks will begin with chapters 35 and 32, on Kosovo and financial controls.

“We
will be coming to Brussels with big expectations and the firm belief that
Serbia belongs to Europe,” Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said
after meeting Mogherini.

Vucic was
information minister at the tail end of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic’s
disastrous rule during the 1990s, when federal Yugoslavia collapsed in conflict
and Serbia was bombed by NATO to halt its killing and expulsion of ethnic
Albanians from Kosovo during a counterinsurgency war.

Once a
devoted ultranationalist, Vucic has rebranded himself as a pro-Western
reformer, but critics and some Western diplomats remain worried about freedom
of expression and the media in Serbia.

Serbia
insists it will never recognize Kosovo, but it is likely to come under pressure
to do more to settle relations the nearer it gets to EU membership, a process
that will take years.

The EU
itself remains divided on Kosovo sovereignty, recognized by 23 of the bloc’s 28
members.



EBRD and Tirana Municipality to cooperate in infrastructure projects

Albania Posted on Sat, December 05, 2015 10:13:15

European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development will provide funding and support for Tirana
Municipality for the improvement of infrastructure and the sustainable
development of the city.

The new collaboration
was announced on Thursday by the Tirana Municipality press office after the
representatives of the two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding,
respectively by the Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj and by the First Vice
President of the EBRD, Phil Bennett, in Tirana capital.

According to the
signed MoU, the EBRD will support the Municipality of Tirana in compiling
projects, in the aspect of institutional development, and will offer assistance
in the implementation of projects and procurement. The two institutions have
also agreed to cooperate in the field of urban transport and road
infrastructure.

After signing the MoU,
the Mayor of Tirana stressed that such agreement is very important for Tirana
city and that the implementation of sustainable and eco-friendly projects will
support the establishment of a sustainable environment which will boost the
economic development of the city and will improve the living standards for its
citizens. In turn, the First Vice President of the EBRD Phil Bennett declared
that a sustainable infrastructure is one of the main conditions for the
development of a friendly urban climate and the EBRD will assist in the
establishment of such infrastructure in Tirana city.

Since the beginning of
the EBRD activity in Albania, the bank has invested about $ 1 billion in more
than 70 different projects, mostly in the economy field.