Slovak FM on EU, Kosovo, cooperation

BELGRADE -- Slovak Foreign Minister Mikulas Dzurinda stated on Wednesday that Bratislava will continue to assist Serbia's EU path.

Mikulas Dzurinda, center, in Belgrade today (Beta)
Mikulas Dzurinda, center, in Belgrade today (Beta)

He underlined that modernization of Serbia is good and necessary "not for bureaucracy, but rather for people".

“Each country needs modernization, and Serbia needs some reforms and some positive changes in the area of economy, justice and the fight against crime and corruption,” Dzurinda, who is today the guest of honor at a Serbian MFA conference in Belgrade, underlined in an interview for Tanjug.

Dzurinda underscored that Slovakia has already established the center for sharing experience from its integration process, and that during 2010, some people from Serbia's administration visited Bratislava in order to get training and exchange experience. He added that this cooperation will continue.

“As an EU member state, we will be extremely happy to be useful to your country and your government and offer our experience,” the Slovak minister stated at the ambassadors' conference in Belgrade.

As for the coming talks between Belgrade and PriŠtina, Dzurinda said that Slovakia expects that the dialogue will lead to a better understanding between Belgrade and Priština, and that the final result will be sustainable.

“We believe that the dialogue will facilitate understanding between the government of Serbia and the administration of Kosovo, while the final goal will be to establish good neighborly relations which can be or should be sustainable,” he said.

According to the minister, who welcomed Belgrade's preparedness for the dialogue, it would be good to start the debate before February or sometime during the month.

When asked about the claims, which appeared in certain Slovakian and Serbian media, that Bratislava could change its position on Kosovo, the minister said that there is no reason for such a change.

“Slovakia will not change the position on this case,” Dzurinda underscored.

Regarding the report by Special Rapporteur Dick Marty on illegal human trafficking in Kosovo, which names Kosovo Albanian Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, Dzurinda said that he expects that the debate on the platform for the Council of Europe will be free and open, and that everybody will respect its conclusions.

“The case should be investigated. People have the right to know what happened,” Dzurinda underlined.

"Just as Serbia has an obligation to cooperate with the ICTY, the same yardstick should apply to the other side," the Slovak minister told TASR news agency, according to a Beta report.

"When there are such serious suspicions mentioned in the Marty report, they need to be thoroughly investigated," he added, and said that his country expected a debate on the Swiss senator's report on January 25 to be open, and the conclusions adopted.

Dzurinda also advocated an investigation to be launched into the alleged vote rigging during the December 12 elections in Kosovo organized by the government in Priština.

He also advised the Kosovo Albanian leadership to form a negotiating team as soon as possible.

"It is in our interest, today I could see it was in the Serb interest as well, and I believe it is in the interest of Priština also, for the talks to start and be productive. The goal is clear - to reach an agreement and solution that will be peaceful, and what's important, sustainable in the long run," said the Slovak minister.

Dzurinda stated that political dialogue and political-cultural relations between Slovakia and Serbia are at a much higher level than business cooperation.

"Now when the dialogue is at a very high level, the window of opportunities for business people will be used in a much better mood or a much higher level than before. It would be very good for the economy of both Serbia and Slovakia," he said.

Slovakia can offer cooperation regarding the construction of highways, cross-border cooperation, gas storage building and also many other fields of industry, Dzurinda added.