President "will demand clear answers from EU"
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić believes that Serbia has done everything asked of it in order to start EU accession talks in the fall.Source: Tanjug
In an interview for Tanjug news agency on Friday, the president said he would "demand a clear answer from EU officials in Brussels on June 14 on whether there are some special requirements for Serbia that could postpone the start of the talks".
"I expect to finally find out in Brussels what no one in Serbia has heard so far, which is whether the EU insists on Serbia accepting Kosovo's independence in order to continue its path towards the EU. We have received the candidate status and expect, rightfully, the talks to begin in autumn," Nikolić told Tanjug.
When it comes to objections regarding candidate countries' obligations stemming from the European agenda, Nikolić said he was willing to help "any government that gets formed" to cope with the issues noticed by the EU as well, which referred to the judicial reform, corruption and crime.
Asked how he saw the future of the Belgrade-Priština talks and whether he expected the EU to formally ask Serbia to renounce Kosovo, Nikolić said he believed the EU would never formulate such a request.
"I guess that the EU always tried not to speak about independence openly. But, it appears to me that we consciously participated in a silent approach to independence by resolving certain issues that were related to the so-called independent state of Kosovo," Nikolić said.
Therefore, I would like all citizens of Serbia to take part in resolving the Kosovo issue based on a consensus of political parties, he added.
The Serbian president said that he is ready to confer with Kosovo Albanians, with the exception of Hassim Thaci, who is suspected of serious crimes against Serbs.
"I cannot confer with such a man until the fate of the investigation, which is to be seriously carried out by the UN, is resolved, that is until someone finally determines whether he is guilty or not," the president said.
Regarding the issue already mentioned by the EU, which relates to his opinion about Srebrenica, Nikolić said: "My stand on Srebrenica is completely clear. That is the place in which the members of my people committed a horrendous crime, and I will never try to provide justification for that. But, I will not go beyond what has been concluded in the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia."
He noted that in March 2010, the parliament passed the Resolution on Srebrenica condemning "the serious crime" which was committed against the Bosniaks in Srebrenica, and underlined that the document does not mention the term "genocide".
He stressed that on that occasion he insisted that the parliament passed a resolution that would condemn all crimes committed in the territory of former Yugoslavia, with a special emphasis on the crime against the Bosniaks in Srebrenica, which was dismissed by the then ruling coalition.
Commenting on his statement on Vukovar which prompted numerous reactions, including the one by Croatian President Ivo Josipović, Nikolić said that his words were taken out of the context, and that the misunderstanding was cleared up to a great extent during the talks with the Croatian Ambassador to Belgrade.
He recalled that during his campaigns, he spoke of Knin and Vukovar as Serbian towns in terms of population structure, and not in some other context, and stressed that even six or more years ago, he had said that "we recognize Croatia within the borders stipulated in its UN membership."
"Vukovar is in the territory of Croatia. If it had a majority Serb population, so what. We have many towns in Vojvodina where the majority population is of some other nationality, and it all functions well. So, I have no intention of appropriating anyone's territory or any people," said the Serbian president.
Nikolić believes that his behavior in the first 15 days of his term has shown that he does not want any misunderstandings or conflicts with anyone in Serbia or the region:
"We have to rely on each other," said Nikolić, adding that the region should not go back to the past if it wants to advance cooperation and develop.
He added he was certain that following a minor "post-election slowdown," he would have the same contacts Serbia's previous president had with the Croatian president and the non-Serb members of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency.
"I will accept any invitation for an official visit to any country. We sent out invitations to all heads of state to my inauguration in Belgrade on June 11. Most of them will come. Josipović apparently has a previous engagement, but we are staying in touch with Croatia," said Nikolić.