"Resolution on Kosovo no obstacle to Serbia's goals"

BELGRADE -- Ivica Dačić says a draft resolution on Kosovo adopted by the state leadership on Wednesday, is "no obstacle to the defense of our state and national interests".

Ivica Dačić (Tanjug, file)
Ivica Dačić (Tanjug, file)

The document is at the same time "no obstacle to receiving a date for the start of EU membership negotiations", he told Serbia's public broadcaster RTS in an interview late on Wednesday in Belgrade.

"This is Serbia's big step forward. Perhaps somebody is unable to see it from the sidelines, but I think this resolution is harmonized with our national and state interests and Serbia's European path," Dačić stated.

He stressed that "the first thing to do" was to dispel the impression that the document's adoption "will remove all the problems in Kosovo and Metohija as if with a magic wand".

"In fact, this is a sum of basic principles for the talks with Priština, and Serbia cannot go below that," the prime minister noted, and asserted that the resolution was "different from other documents" as Serbia was for the first time offering solutions for the problem of a "parallelism" of institutions in Kosovo and Metohija.

"That's the big difference. Those who perhaps view this differently are forgetting that Serbia has for the first time suggest a way for institutions to be acceptable to Serbia, Serbs in Kosovo, and Priština"."

Dačić also stated that Belgrade "previously made the mistake of saying only that Kosovo is a part of Serbia, which is not contentious", but that "between that and the real life there was a huge space that was filled by acceptance of some solutions that have led to the current government 'entering the pitch in the second half'."

He stressed that there was "parallelism and paralysis of institutions" in Kosovo and Metohija, and that Serbia, considering that this would be next on the agenda of the talks in Brussels, "must say what it proposes".

According to the prime minister, Serbia believes that Serb municipalities "should have a kind of community, while internal arrangements and jurisdictions should be the subject of political talks".

The basic message sent by the new document, he continued, was that "the political dialogue will continue and that Serbia should continue its road toward the EU".

Asked about the continuation of the technical dialogue, Dačić said that he would "at the meeting on January 17 first say that the Serb side knows what was agreed during the previous meeting" - that Serbs should not pay any duties, including VAT, customs, and excise, while talks should begin on January 10 on how to overcome that problem:

"These talks should start tomorrow and possibly end by January 17. In the meantime, that regime cannot be changed, the deal was not for the regime to change on the 10th, but for the talks to start on the 10th about how to solve the problem".

"No change expected in IBM implementation"

Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Aleksandar Vulin has said ahead of Thursday's continuation of the technical dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina that he does not expect any change in the implementation of the regime of the integrated management of crossings (IBM) in northern Kosovo.

“I expect working groups to prepare adequate proposals which will later be discussed at the political level, and decided on by Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci with (EU High Representative) Catherine Ashton as an intermediary,” Vulin told Tanjug ahead of his trip to Brussels.

He noted that the working groups do not have the mandate to decide, change things on the ground, make new decisions.

“At the level of experts, they can put forward proposals, and how something can be solved, and then that would be decided upon at the political level,” Vulin underlined.

“We have to wait until January 17, and the working groups should prepare for the Serbian prime minister and his interlocutor (Kosovo prime minister) something that would be possible to achieve at administrative crossings in the future,” Vulin said.

Vulin's deputy Krstimir Pantić, who is also the mayor of Kosovska Mitrovica, also traveled to Brussels.