"Serbia does not accept Kosovo's membership in UN"

NEW YORK -- President Tomislav Nikolić addressed the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday to say that Serbia has neither de jure nor de facto "recognized Kosovo."

(Beta/AP)
(Beta/AP)

The EU-mediated agreement reached with Priština in April "in no way means that Belgrade intends to accept Kosovo's accession to the UN and other international organization," he added.

Nikolić at the same time said that Serbia wished to, with the reached agreements, protect the Serb community in Kosovo and ensure normal life for all residents of Kosovo.

Nikolić addressed the participants of the General Debate of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly by saying that Serbia looked towards the future and EU membership.

But, he noted, Serbia expected the accession talks with the EU to start no later than January 2014, adding that he "hoped the talks would not take too long or go on forever."

The Serbian president said that the country was "turning toward the future" and wished to build good relations with all its neighbors, and cooperate with them "with the goal of improving the living standard in all regional countries."

Through the Brussels agreement, he said, Serbia showed that "t wishes to protect the Serb community in Kosovo "as much as is within its power, but also to secure a normal everyday life for all residents in the province."

Nikolić said that Belgrade "neither de jure nor de facto" recognized Kosovo as independent, and pointed out that the agreement concerned "only the clearly marked questions such as the holding of local elections and the forming of the Community of Serb Municipalities."

According to him, "Serbia will fully implement the agreement - but that in no way means that Serbia intends to accept Kosovo's membership in the UN and other international organizations, initiatives and forums, that can be joined only by sovereign states."

"We have faith in the UN which was in 1999 given its mandate in Kosovo and Metohija," he said, and added that the UN mission, UNMIK, had an indispensable role.

He appealed for the mandate of UNMIK to remain unchanged, for its size to stay the same and for its activities to be intensified.

Serbia supports EULEX, and is asking the EU - "toward which it is irrevocably moving" - to respect its own principles also when it comes to Kosovo and Metohija.

"We expect that EULEX will, while maintaining the status-neutral approach, continue to help build democratic institutions in the province and protect the human rights of the Serbs and other non-Albanian residents, because only their rights are threatened," Nikolić stated.

He called on the UN members to support Serbia in the efforts to learn the truth about the kidnappings and murders of some Kosovo Serbs whose organs were harvested and sold.

"Council of Europe rapporteur Dick Marty proved, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe confirmed, that some of the current ethnic Albanian leaders in Kosovo had organized kidnappings and murders of Serbs whose organs were then taken out and sold," Nikolić said.

Serbia has not been able to conduct its own legal procedure for those crimes, which happened at the end of the 20th and start of the 21st century and the likes of which have not been seen anywhere in the world, he remarked.

Serbia is "still convinced" the UN has to be involved in the investigation, Nikolić noted.

He also commented on the work of the Hague Tribunal (ICTY) and said the court had abused its mandate given by the UN Security Council, undermined the reconciliation process in the former Yugoslavia and compromised the idea of an international criminal justice system.

In terms of foreign policy, Serbia is renewing some old and establishing new friendships and strategic partnerships on all sides of the globe, he said.

Serbia has been entrusted with the OSCE presidency in 2015 and, along with activities in regional initiatives, it will certainly be a recommendation for a more responsible position in the UN, Nikolić believes.

He said he had visited almost all of Serbia's neighbors in more than a year since the start of his term and talked with the leaders of all the neighboring countries at international meetings in an effort to show that Serbia wanted regional cooperation and joint efforts with its neighbors in order to resolve common issues.

Nikolić pointed out he had made gestures indicating that Serbia wanted to reconcile with its neighbors, adding that he was convinced those acts would help significantly towards achieving that reconciliation and righting the wrongs of the past.

Serbia turns to the future now and wants to build good relations with all the nations surrounding it, he said.

Serbia remains committed to the UN Charter and millennium development goals and participation of its troops and police in UN peace missions, he stressed.

"Sustainable development goals in Serbia's opinion should be global in their nature, but applicable in all countries regardless of their capabilities, development level, priorities and political agendas," the president feels, adding that the priorities for setting those sustainable goals should be energy efficiency, renewable energy and climate change.

Serbia is willing to increase its involvement in UN peace missions using the units and equipment that are standard for national contingents, but also by using the options in the UN stand-by arrangement, Nikolić underscored.

In accordance to its policies based on Security Council's resolutions, Serbia will also promote the participation of women in peace operations, he said, adding that involvement in those and other multinational operations was a contribution to peace and security in the world.

Terrorism is a threat to UN's basic values and it is omnipresent, he emphasized.

"Serbia is adjusting its legislation in order to combat terrorism and it supports the UN global strategy against terrorism and all UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions related to this, the president stated. As a victim of terrorist attacks, some of which have claimed the lives of children, Serbia understands very well the need for regional and broader cooperation against terrorism," he added.

Serbia is a signatory of almost all international treaties and initiatives on disarmament, non-proliferation and weapons control and it is fulfilling its obligations to their full, he noted.

Serbia has never fought an aggressive war, and the weapons it has serve only to protect it, Nikolić said, adding that Serbia had never been a threat to anyone, had not owned weapons of mass destruction and was not planning on introducing them to its arsenal, which was visible and open to inspection.

Nikolić congratulated the newly elected president of the UN General Assembly, John William Ashe, and his predecessor, Vuk Jeremić, adding that Jeremić had represented Serbia well while remaining unbiased and professional during his one-year term as the president of the General Assembly.