"Let's make 'Balkans for Balkan people' our slogan"
Serbian Government's Office for Kosovo and Metohija head on Thursday suggested that the Balkans should adopt the slogan, "the Balkans for the Balkan people."Source: Tanjug
However, he continued, "this does not mean isolationism - but instead making connections with the West and the East, to the benefit of citizens."
Speaking at a panel of the "New International Reality - Challenges and Perspectives" conference, organized by the Belgrade Strategic Dialogue Foundation, Djuric asserted that "no country is capable of solving its strategic problems alone, without intensive cooperation with others."
Djuric also thinks that "everything should be done to support the initiative put forward to regional leaders by President Aleksandar Vucic, to remove all economic barriers between Balkan countries."
"If we manage to remove these barriers, we will succeed in attracting more and more investors into this area, creating new jobs, and tackling the social causes of conflicts and tensions that have marked it. If we are economically stronger, we will be more able to lead a more autonomous policy," he is convinced.
According to him, the EU, as the most important economic and political factor in the Balkans, needs to more strongly support cooperation and integration processes in the region.
"The first principle of cooperation should be the strengthening of economic ties, we should talk about strengthening infrastructure connections, because without that we cannot talk about stronger economic integration. Serbia is ready, not only in political but also in financial terms, to support infrastructure connections between the countries the Balkans," Djuric said.
He stressed that infrastructure projects are supported not only by the EU, but also by Russia, and many other countries. Djuric also assessed that the countries of the region should define strategic directions of cooperation, and said it was "important to network societies - while Serbia is ready to support cooperation of social organizations and above all of young people."
"I think that this is necessary for a better understanding and linking of states and peoples in the Balkans," Djuric said, adding that the countries of the region should "absolutely respect each other" while "relations should be based on principles of the founding acts of the UN, international law, and respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also of the rights of the people who remained outside the boundaries of their states of origin."
He spoke about Kosovo and Metohija to say that Serbia's orientation toward EU membership and other forms of international political and security integration did not prevent the negative act of Pristina's unilateral declaration of independence.
He said that this has resulted in further deterioration of relations among the peoples in the Balkans.
"The consequence is permanently strained relations between Serbs and Albanians, which we want to overcome with the (Belgrade-Pristina) dialogue to which we are committed," Djuric said, adding that it was a fact that 16 years after the arrival of international forces to Kosovo and Metohija, there was an economic and political failure to govern there.
According to the Serbian official, it is necessary to discuss new models of cooperation, "because shutting down, and creating new borders in Europe, whose nations have chosen to strive for greater cooperation, runs contrary to the principles of European integration."