CoE urged to take part in solving Kosovo polls issue

STRASBOURG -- Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić says the behaviour of the Priština administration concerning the local elections was "unacceptable."

(Beta, CoE)
(Beta, CoE)

Speaking in Strasbourg on Thursday he called on the Council of Europe (CoE) to help ensure the elections are conducted regularly and without bias.

"If case all the organisations we addressed fail to react - which is the only way to change the stand of Albanians - Serbia will re-examine its decision to back the elections which it did not organize and on the regularity of which it can exert no influence," Nikolić said in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

Nikolić said that Serbia called on Kosovo Serbs to vote in the local elections organized by Priština so that the Serb community could get legitimate and legal bodies recognised by the international community.

"Perhaps this may be a problem for Priština but Belgrade did this honestly, at a very difficult moment when there are different views in Serbia on the issue and when opponents of the elections are openly calling the government traitors," Nikolić said and added that the other side should now show honesty as well.

"The Priština Electoral Commission is recklessly deleting Serbs with the right to vote from the electoral lists and is refusing to let the party backed by the Serbian government have its own representative in the Electoral Commission and at polling stations," Nikolić said and added that this has to be a reason for concern for the Council of Europe.

Without Serbia's participation, there can be no development of democracy and coexistence in Kosovo and Metohija, he said.

Nikolić stated that he does not want to believe that democracy and justice can be selective.

Nikolić underscored that Serbia attaches major importance to the Belgrade-Priština dialogue under the EU auspices, and noted that agreements are binding and that the dialogue was elevated to the highest political level thanks to Belgrade's initiative.

He expressed the belief that the agreement would contribute to overall regional stability and cooperation, as well as Serbia's EU integration, and added that only compromise solutions can contribute to a lasting conclusion of open issues.

Nikolić expressed the belief that the Council of Europe would continue to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of its member countries, and thus remain committed to its stand on maintaining a status-neutral approach.

Noting that this year marks the 10th anniversary of Serbia's admission in the CoE, Nikolić said that the CoE contribution and assistance are valuable for the development of democracy in Serbia which aims to contribute to the common goal with the further support of the CoE, that is to ensure that all European citizens can enjoy rule of law, human rights and democracy to an equal extent.

He underscored that Serbia attaches major importance to rule of law as one of the main CoE principles, and added that the Serbian government's activities in the field over the past few months mostly aimed to solve the urgent issues in the justice system.

Nikolić stated that Serbia supports the initiative of the secretary general for the enhancement of the CoE monitoring mechanisms, and once more asserted Serbia's unambiguous commitment to European values.

Nikolić said that he was "glad to see that this commitment of the country has been recognized by Serbia's international partners," adding that Serbia has become a responsible, honest and reliable partner trying to view problems realistically and approach the search for a solution in a constructive and efficient way, in the spirit of dialogue and tolerance.

Boosting the economy is a goal to which Serbia will attach most attention, Nikolić said.

He underscored that Serbia attaches special attention to further activities in the realisation of the PACE resolution based on the report on human organ trafficking in Kosovo and Metohija filed by CoE Rapporteur Dick Marty.

PACE has to show interest in the effects of its resolution and examine the progress made in the investigation into the criminal cases so as to prevent this remaining a dead letter, Nikolić said.

He recalled that the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia adopted a declaration condemning the Srebrenica crime, and added that it is now turn for others to show their stand on the crimes committed by members of their nations and to show compassion for Serbian victims.

"EU membership is a path to a sustainable development in the region," the president said and added that this is why Serbia believes its example would help other Balkan countries progress on their EU path.

"Do not judge Serbia too harshly for not allowing Pride Parade to be staged in Belgrade due to security risks for a large number of citizens," Nikolić said and added that this decision should not make futile the efforts in fulfillment of European standards over the past year and a half.

"Serbia will be ready to ensure free expression for minority groups soon," he said and asked the CoE to show understanding that it would be inhumane to weigh the justifiability of the gathering on grounds of potential casualties.

Nikolić added that Serbia attaches special attention to the improvement of position of all national minorities, but it also expects other countries to ensure full respect for the rights of the Serb minority in keeping with CoE standards.