Nikolić's speech at Gazimestan interrupted

Those who threw objects at Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić at Gazimestan on Saturday were "in fact targeting Serbia," said the SNS party.

Source: Tanjug

They caused "unforeseeable damage to everyone and eroding the reputation of our country," according to the ruling Progressives.

"The Serb Progressive Party vehemently condemns today's attacks against the President of the Republic of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić. The insulting chants and primitive attacks are a disgrace, not only to those who today treated the Serbian president in such an uncivilised manner, but also to Serbia," the SNS said in a statement on Saturday.

The SNS "will do its utmost and fight every day for Serbia to become a modern and orderly society in which incidents such as this one will merely represent a distant, ugly past," the statement said.

On Saturday Nikolić, who stepped down as SNS leader in favor of Aleksandar Vučić when he was elected Serbia's president, held a speech at a ceremony marking Vidovdan (St. Vitus' Day) at Gazimestan - the site of the 1389 Battle of Kosovo, fought on Vidovdan between the Serbian medieval state and the invading Ottoman Turks.

Nikolić's speech was interrupted "because of extremist groups that booed and shouted out inappropriate remarks," Tanjug reported.

Gazimestan

Tomislav Nikolić laid a wreath at the memorial honoring the heroes of the Kosovo Battle at Gazimestan, a monument commemorating the historic Battle of Kosovo.

Nikolić said that Serbia will continue fighting for its holy land and negotiating with everyone, but he was forced to break off his speech at one point because of extremist groups that booed and shouted "improper remarks."

At the ceremony marking Saint Vitus' Day, Nikolić pointed out that Gazimestan is a holy site where Kosovo heroes fought the crucial battle for freedom and their homes 625 years ago.

Addressing those who booed and shouted improper comments labeling him as a traitor, the Serbian president said that "feuding Serbian lords joined forces at this site in 1389 to fight against the powerful Ottoman Empire."

In response to the booing crowd which bore the symbols of Obraz and other right-wing organizations, Nikolić said that they were "out of their mind but that he forgives them because they know not what they are doing and are labeling as traitors the people who want to help them."

“If Serbs had booed Prince Lazar in such way when he called on them to go and fight, you would have nowhere to come today,” Nikolić said.

Nikolić said in his speech earlier that Albanian neighbors are also living in the area nowadays and are building their homes and tilling their land here, and he wished them luck, but he also warned them that they should always bear in mind that they are living on Serbian land.

“May they preserve all that they are building forever, but they should know that they are building it on Serbian land,” Nikolić said.

Certain members of the booing crowd shouted out the name of Vojislav Šešelj and slogans such as, "You have betrayed Kosovo."

Nevertheless, Tanjug reported, "Nikolić won a round of applause."

The Serbian president attended the memorial service by Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro and the Littoral, Bishop Teodosije of Raška-Prizren and Bishop Pahomije of Vranje.

The commemoration brought together Justice Minister Nikola Selaković, Labor Minister Aleksandar Vulin, Director of the Office for Kosovo Marko Đurić and Kosovo Serb officials.

Before the Serbian president's address, Serbian Orthodox Church Metropolitan Amfilohije called on Serbs and Albanians to live peacefully alongside each other. He underscored that Serbs and Albanians have been living together for centuries and should live in peace.

Amfilohije said that Gazimestan is a holy site where Serb heroes fought for the faith, justice and truth, and noted that the Battle of Kosovo was a battle against tyranny, which was waged by not only Prince Lazar but also many others in Europe.

He noted that "many ancestors of ethnic Albanians currently living in the area" also took part in the Battle of Kosovo, defending their homes and dignity together with their Serb neighbors.

The bishop qualified as "insane" the shouting and booing during the Serbian president's speech at Gazimestan.

Gračanica

Tomislav Nikolić said at the Serb Orthodox Monastery of Gračanica in Kosovo on Saturday that Serbia should pursue a prudent policy in Kosovo, and underscored that "nyone who deems that the future could be built by making war is seriously mistaken."

Nikolić "told reporters that Serbia will never recognize Kosovo's independence, just as Kosovo authorities will continue to behave as if they were in a sovereign, independent state, so it is in the interest of both Serbs and ethnic Albanians to reach an agreement," Tanjug reported.

He stressed that Serbia should pursue a prudent policy, talk with everyone so as to ensure that Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosovo "reach an accord, and not make war."

“I am convinced that, as long as I am president, Serbia will not wage a war,” Nikolić said.

The Serbian president said that his intent was made clear in the resolution that was passed by the Serbian parliament, based on which many fruitful talks were realized with Priština's institutions and the European Union.

Asked what if the EU asked of Serbia to recognize Kosovo's independence for the sake of EU membership, Nikolić replied that "five EU member states have not recognized Kosovo, and have not been excluded from the bloc, so he does not see a reason why Serbia should do that."

Asked "whether there are road blocks in Kosovska Mitrovica," Nikolić said that "Serbs set up a peace park there and that now it is up to ethnic Albanians to accept the offered friendship."

Nikolić met Kosovo Serb officials in Gračanica, and unveiled a plaque on the monument to Milos Obilić, a medieval Serbian knight in the service of Prince Lazar.

The monument to Milos Obilić was previously located in the town of Obilić, where it was damaged in 1999, and was temporarily moved to the churchyard of the Monastery of Gračanica.

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