PM: Platform most positive document in last 13 years

BELGRADE -- We should join the EU and we can leave if we do not like it, Serbia’s Prime Minister Ivica Dačić told Tanjug on Saturday.

Ivica Dačić (Tanjug)
Ivica Dačić (Tanjug)

He said that Serbia needed the EU and that the state platform for Kosovo was not welcomed by the West due to the call for suspension of the technical dialogue with Priština and a principle that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”.

Dačić noted that the draft platform is “the most positive document that Serbia has proposed in the last 13 years”.

“If it had been proposed ten years ago, we would have won the Nobel Peace Prize, but not today,” the prime minister said.

“Even those who are our greatest friends in the West were very negative when it comes to that sentence, that the negotiations should be suspended. I don’t think they read the rest. Even if they did, they did not comment on it,” he said and stressed that he, President Tomislav Nikolić and First Deputy PM Aleksandar Vučić had decided to “leave that on the backburner”.

“We have eliminated the dilemma whether the technical dialogue should be continued or not. Those talks are not only technical anymore. President Nikolić proposed Catherine Ashton that I should lead the negotiations and meet with Hashim Thaci. I have no disagreements with him there,” Dačić explained and said that he believed that Nikolić should also take part in the negotiations.

He said that the top state officials agreed that it was the best to aim for a “comprehensive solution”.

According to him, Belgrade does not think that it is realistic that key progress will be made in just a few months.

“This is why we need to have a flexible approach, so we do not end up in a situation that we cannot go forward or back, meaning to stop talks with the EU and have nothing to talk about in the dialogue with Priština,” the prime minister explained.

He said that a resolution on Kosovo, on which MPs should vote on January 11, was being defined and prepared.

Dačić explained that the resolution was in fact the first part of the draft platform that contains basic negotiation principles.

“The resolution itself will speak of the basic principles that are important and that is that we will not recognize Kosovo and Metohija, that we believe that the focus of our proposal is the position of the Serb community, meaning Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, that Kosovo Serbs will have a significant say in the continuation of the dialogue and that we believe that all that should be followed by progress in the EU integration process,” he stressed.

According to him, Serbia will not give up on those principles in the negotiations.

“What we will in the end manage to achieve, we will see. What we do achieve and define will later be turned into a law on Kosovo and Metohija’s essential autonomy and this would allow us to avoid all problems, as to whether it is in accordance with the Constitution or not,” the PM said.

When asked whether he still thought that the partition of Kosovo was the right solution, he said:

“I do, but I do not propose it anymore. I think it would be in the best interests of Serbs and Albanians but, since apparently neither Serbian nor Albanian interest is important here, this obviously cannot pass in the international relations. If it was up to Serbs and Albanians, I think they would accept it. But I do not insist on it. It is my personal opinion”.

He said that a part of the UN Resolution 1244 that envisaged return of a certain number of Serbian forces to Kosovo had never been implemented.

“That part of the resolution has never been implemented, I have pointed it several times. But it is obvious that it certainly won’t be implemented,” Dačić concluded.

He said that Serbia “does not have a single friend among the Western countries that make key decisions in the international community”.

“We are in the situation in which our national interests do not coincide with interests of some great powers. Our friends, who support us, cannot help when it comes to Europe. We have support in the UN,” he explained.

Dačić said that he would be “happiest if an international conference on Kosovo was called” but that it was not possible at the moment.

“Two topics will be discussed in Brussels in next six months – one is resolving the situation with parallelism of institutions where one does not recognize the other and the other is specificity of Serbs in Kosovo,” he stressed.

Dačić noted that “we have lost many friends in the international scene and that Kosovo is recognized by new countries day after day”.

“If it is true that Pakistan has recognized Kosovo, this is very alarming for Serbia. This is a large Islamic country. Libya, Tunisia, Egypt can be expected to do so as well. Whom have we won over? That is why we need to help those who have a good opinion about us to be our friends,” he said.

The PM said he had many complaints regarding Brussels’ attitude toward Belgrade but that Serbia still needed the EU since “it would be a historic mistake to let our children live in a country that is an isolated island in Europe in 20 years”.