“Frozen conflict is in nobody's interest”

BELGRADE -- Serbia is trying to find a solution in a very small maneuvering space it has at its disposal because a frozen conflict does not suit anyone, says Rasim Ljajić.

Rasim Ljajić (Beta, file)
Rasim Ljajić (Beta, file)

According to the deputy prime minister and trade telecommunications minister, the outcome of the negotiations will not be known until April 2 when the next round of the Belgrade-Priština dialogue should be held.

Ljajić stressed that he would not like to be in PM Ivica Dačić and First Deputy PM Aleksandar Vučić’s shoes.

“Intensive diplomatic activities are underway, we are looking for a compromise, the stakes are high because the biggest state issue is on the table and that outcome will not be known until April 2,” he told RTS on Wednesday night.

“In soccer terms, Serbia is two or three players down and this is a realistic power ratio and even those who are not involved in politics can see what negotiating positions are like,” Ljajić stressed.

“It is not simple and I would not like to be in the shoes of those who negotiate and Dačić has taken a great responsibility and I would not like to be in Vučić’s shoes either because as a leader of the biggest party he has the greatest responsibility,“ he said.

Ljajić pointed out that if the EU and Priština offered the same document as the last time, Belgrade would certainly reject it because it was unacceptable to both northern Kosovo Serbs and the Serbian government.

According to him, the offered document can be called the “Ahtisaari minus plan” and it is completely unacceptable. He noted that the so-called Ahtisaari plus plan envisaged the Priština University as well.

The deputy PM said that a frozen conflict would not suit Serbia.

“In that little space we have, we need to find a solution. The frozen conflict situation does not suit as at all, especially postponement. It would not be the end of the world, we will continue to live after that, we will fight but this is not a good solution, especially if we drag out the process indefinitely,” Ljajić stated.

When asked who would make a final decision whether Brussels and Priština’s offer would be accepted, he said that every potential solution would be presented to MPs who would vote on it.

When asked if a new exodus of Serbs from Kosovo could be expected, he said that he did not believe it was possible despite the previous negative experience because he believed that the international community was now more involved and that it would be an “embarrassment for them more than for the interim institutions in Priština”.

Commenting on the country’s EU integration, Ljajić said that anyone who wished Serbia to take another path to clearly say which one.

“Anyone who is happy about the current crisis in the EU is wrong because it affects us too,” he noted and added that both Greece and Cyprus would have probably gone bankrupt if there had not been for the EU.

Ljajić said that despite numerous unfair decisions and double standards of the EU, “a solution is not to give up on the EU integration because when you are swimming in a river you do not look at the water, you are trying to get to the other side”.

Commenting on announced government reshuffle and possible early elections, he said that the uncertainty was the worst option for Serbia.