President on Kosovo resolution, NATO membership

BELGRADE -- Serbia’s President Tomislav Nikolić was answering citizens’ questions about Kosovo, NATO and other issues on RTS on Thursday night.

Tomislav Nikolić (Beta, file)
Tomislav Nikolić (Beta, file)

He said that he expected the parliament’s resolution on Kosovo to be adopted on January 11 and that it would have a majority support of MPs.

“I think parliament will on January 11 adopt the resolution that the platform is a part of and which will be slightly changed compared to the initial draft but principles will remain unchanged. Once parliament has adopted it, it will no longer be possible to change it and we can call it the Holy Bible from then on,” the president explained.

He expressed expectation that opposition representatives would show during the voting on the resolution that they were responsible.

“I did not expect I could propose something that Albanians would be satisfied with because that would be Kosovo’s independence but an ideal result would be that would leave neither Serbs nor Albanians dissatisfied,” Nikolić said.

Commenting on the monument to members of the so-called Liberation Army of Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa (UCPMB; OVPMB) in the southern town of Preševo, he said that the authorities should remove the memorial if ethnic Albanian political leaders refused to remove it themselves. He added that he had already discussed the issue with PM and Interior Minister Ivica Dačić.

“Serbia needs to react and Serbia will react. The memorial should be removed by Albanians themselves, by political leaders of the Albanians in southern Serbia and if they want to show that they lead their people so they can have a good life in Serbia. If they do not want that, then Serbia should remove the plaque in broad daylight and show that something like that is not allowed by Serbia’s laws,” Nikolić underscored.

He added that the government had his full support to remove the memorial and that he was ready to “take the risk for possible attacks from the country and the world”.

“This is not allowed anywhere, anywhere in the world and it will not be allowed in Serbia either,” the president stressed.

According to him, talks with ethnic Albanians’ political leaders are already underway.

He said that Serbia needed to show decisiveness now, just as it had been showing it in combat against crime and investments.

“This is not a small issue, it is about nipping the evil in the bud or letting it thrive,” the president explained.

“Serbia should never join NATO”

Nikolić said that Serbia should never join NATO and that the Serbian parliament had already voiced its stance on the issue. According to him, anyone who wanted to do anything different needed to consult citizens first.

“I will never propose joining NATO and would never agree if the Serbian citizens made such a decision. Partnership for Peace should be a maximum of our cooperation with NATO,” he noted.

The president said that he had spoken to NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who “could not answer his questions”.

“I asked him with which borders Serbia would join NATO if it was, hypothetically speaking, to happen today, since NATO would guarantee those borders after that and if NATO recognized that Kosovo was a part of Serbia. He said he had no answer to that question,” Nikolić said.

He said that he then asked if it would be possible to send a Serbian battalion to Kosovo if Serbia joined NATO today, but that Rasmussen could not answer that either.

“I told him we had nothing to talk about with NATO without those answers,” Nikolić said.

He added that Serbia would never be a part of any military alliance and that compulsory military service would not be reintroduced.

“We will not have compulsory training, we will have special units and until others around us decide to sit and remove threats against each other Serbia needs to have the army,” the president explained.

He noted that there were parts of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) that Serbia would not be able to start implementing and that this would have to be discussed thoroughly with the EU.

According to him, one of the biggest problems was duty-free import of goods and agricultural products from the EU that should begin in 2014.

Nikolić said that he would like to visit his best man and Serb Radical Party (SRS) leader Vojislav Šešelj in The Hague but that it depended on Šešelj.

“Šešelj was my best man I have never said anything bad about him and I will not say it now. Šešelj has had a very negative attitude toward me lately but it is his right, he is in special situation, he has the right to have special stances,” he said.

When asked if he would visit him as a president, he said:

“Yes, but that visit, because I know Vojislav Šešelj, depends solely on his consent”.