President confers with Hungarian counterpart

BUDAPEST -- Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić met with Hungarian President Janos Ader in Budapest on Tuesday, as part of his official two-day visit to Hungary.

Nikolić and Ader in Budapest on Tuesday (Tanjug)
Nikolić and Ader in Budapest on Tuesday (Tanjug)

Nikolić was greeted with the highest state honors in front of the Sandor Palace. After the meeting, the two officials addressed the press and continued to have a working lunch.

Nikolić and Ader agreed that the time has come for the two countries to overcome open issues and to deepen cooperation in economy, culture and European integration.

The two presidents told reporters after the meeting in Budapest that he would soon pay tribute "to the victims of crimes committed in Novi Sad in 1942 and in Vojvodina in 1944 and 1945".

President Nikolić underscored that after the elections in May, Serbia decided to help other countries resolve problems which were pushed under the carpet.

We share good ties, in terms of Serbs living in Hungary and Hungarians living in Serbia, and we need to ensure the best possible living conditions for them and include them in democratic developments and defend their human, minority and collective rights, Nikolić said.

Resolution of open issues will make it possible for future generations not to live under the burden of the past and instead use all the potentials of cooperation, Nikolić said.

Reflecting on recent incidents, Nikolić and Ader pointed out that they would invest their presidential authority so as to prevent and punish insults on nationalist grounds.

The Serb community living in Hungary has no reason to fear, Ader said and added that he can freely say that no other community in Hungary has any reason for fear either. Reflecting on the recent writing of offensive graffiti on Serbian institutions and churches in Budapest and Szentendre, Ader said that meetings like this one serve as clear indicators of the intention for the Hungarian government to strongly oppose such events on both sides.

The two presidents gave a lot of their attention to the process of European integration and Nikolić established that on its European path, Serbia needs Hungary as a country whose roots lie far back in the ancient European civilization and which maintains a friendly attitude and is a promoter of membership in the EU.

President Nikolić said that Serbia had fulfilled almost all conditions from the European agenda needed to get a date for the beginning of EU accession negotiations, and pointed out that mistakes made by the previous government were being corrected rapidly. He also said that the previous government had done a lot on Serbia's EU path.

"We are expecting to get a date for the beginning of EU talks. We have launched the implementation of difficult agreements reached by the previous administration because we want to help people in Kosovo-Metohija live better. However, we will never recognize the independence of Kosovo and Metohija," he stressed.

Hungarian President Ader said that the conditions for the beginning of EU accession talks were completely clear, and voiced expectation that Serbia would enter the next phase of EU integration in which, as he put it, Hungary would help Serbia thorugh its experience.

Future meetings between our state secretaries, which will be held in Budapest in Belgrade, will serve that purpose, he said.

Hungarian journalists were interested in the situation in Vojvodina, following a recent decision of the Constitutional Court of Serbia regarding the elements of the autonomy of the Serbian province, and Nikolić pointed out there were no strained relations between Belgrade and Novi Sad, adding that, in Serbia, all laws had to be in keeping with the Constitution.

"If something is not in keeping with the Constitution, it will be altered to be in compliance with the Constitution, and no one will jeopardize the autonomy of Vojvodina- the constitutional autonomy of Vojvodina," Nikolić said.

"The Constitution is new and modern, the citizens voted for it in a referendum and it will be valid until it is changed. We will provide an opportunity for Vojvodina to be presented in Brussels, only in a different way," the Serbian president concluded.

President Nikolić will also meet with Hungarian Parliament Speaker Laszlo Kover and representatives of the Serb national minority on Tuesday.

As part of his meeting with the Serb minority in Budapest, the Serbian president will visit a Serb kindergarten, elementary school, boarding school and Nikola Tesla Grammar School on Tuesday afternoon.

He will also visit the headquarters of the Self-Government of Serbs in Hungary, a Serbian Orthodox church in Budapest and the Cultural and Documentation Center of Serbs in Hungary.

Nikolić arrived in Hungary late on Monday, and had an informal dinner with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Orban has told Nikolić that the government in Budapest supported Serbia's EU membership bid.