Serbia "expects positive decision in December"Source: Tanjug
BELGRADE -- Serbia expects that the European Council will deliver a positive decision on the official opening of membership negotiations in December, says Ivica Dačić.
This would be "a very important impetus for the overall reforms and the country's revival," according to the Serbian prime minister.
The positive decision in December would thus confirm the June decision that the first intergovernmental conference should be held by the end of January at the latest, Dačić said at a joint press conference after meeting Danish Minister for Trade and European Affairs Nick Haekkerup on Tuesday.
The two key priorities of the Serbian government are Serbia's EU entry, and economic and financial consolidation.
The realization of the first priority, Serbia's EU entry, means the speeding up of the EU integration process, Dačić said, underlining that Serbia needs to continue with key internal reforms.
"So I think that the positive decision of the European Council would be a very important impetus for the overall reforms and Serbia's revival," he underlined.
On the other hand, the government is also aware that for such a positive decision Belgrade needs to continue with the process of normalizing relations with Priština.
"It is important that the dialogue be continued, it is important to implement the Brussels agreement," the Serbian prime minister concluded.
Ivica Dačić has said that he believed the international community will decide that the local elections in northern Kosovska Mitrovica should be repeated, adding that the talks on the vote and other matters relevant to the implementation of the Brussels agreement between Belgrade and Priština are continuing in Brussels on Wednesday.
After meeting with Danish Minister for Trade and European Affairs Nick Haekkerup in the Serbian parliament late on Tuesday, Dačić said that the government did everything it could to ensure the Serbs in Kosovo take part in the Kosovo local elections on Sunday.
“In most of the municipalities, the vote was successful as the turnout was good. We are also very pleased about the results achieved by the Citizens Initiative Srpska,” Dačić said.
He added that it was up to the KiM Serbs to chose who they would like to represent them as heads of municipalities and the Serbian government did not want to interfere with that, but it did want to see “if we can be together.”
However, he said, a great number of citizens and Srpska candidates for mayors were targets of both verbal and physical attacks on election day and before it.
“They were putting enormous pressure on the Serbs who wished to go to the polls or who were candidates. It did not happen only on election day ... the people are going through tremendous pressure, which is brought to bear both on them and their families, and are even physically attacked ... I am sorry that the Serbs did such things to each other,” the Serbian prime minister said.
“We were not persuading the Serbs to vote because of (Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim) Thaci; we did it for their own good,” Dačić said, sharply condemning the violence that took place during the elections on Sunday.
The main goal of the elections in Kosovo was for the Serbs to elect their legitimate and legal representatives and after that form the Community of Serb municipalities that will “be recognized by Belgrade, Priština and the international community,” and I think that we have succeeded in doing that.
Dačić noted positively that the vote in Kosovo went well, except in the Kosovska Mitrovica north and in Zvečan.
He said that he expects the vote at those polling places to be repeated and that the Citizens' Initiative Srpska will win.
The Serbian prime minister said that those responsible for demolishing several polling stations in northern Kosovo on Sunday afternoon and violently attempting to discourage voters from casting their votes will be found and prosecuted.
“We do not intend to threaten anybody or lead any campaign in northern Kosovska Mitrovica when the elections are called again. You can decide for yourself, you know the situation, the Community of Serb municipalities, the Serbian leadership, rather than Albanians in Kosovska Mitrovica. This is the only way Serbia can help you,” Dačić told the Serbs in northern Kosovo.
“We respect your position, but you should also respect the stance of held by the majority in Serbia, which means that you need to go to the polls,” Dačić said.
If the Serbs in northern Kosovo and Metohija do not respect the Serbian government’s position, then Serbia cannot help them any more than they can help themselves, the prime minister said.