"Serbia wants top level direct Kosovo talks"

Tomislav Nikolić addressed the UN General Assembly in New York to say that Serbia is "committed to achieving a lasting peace between Serbs and Albanians".

Source: B92, Tanjug

The country also advocates "direct negotiations on the highest political level, without the recognition of Kosovo's independence", the Serbian president stated.

Nikolić underlined that Serbia wants a permanent, viable and acceptable solution to all problems and wants to move forward towards European future and is fully committed to the process whose result should be a lasting peace between Serbs and Albanians.

"We strongly desire that the talks be continued in good faith and with good intentions, taking into account, among other things, that it is important to keep the dynamics of the European integration of Serbia and of the Western Balkans as a whole in order to ensure progress and stability of the entire region in the long term," the Serbian President said at the UN headquarters, adding that Serbia had a particular proposal in mind - direct negotiations at the highest political level.

Serbia is ready for a constructive participation in the negotiating process, he stated.

According to him, the agreement can be reached only through consensus, without one-sided decisions and moves.

"At the same time, may I be clear: Serbia is not ready and cannot nor will it ever under any circumstances recognize, either explicitly or implicitly, the unilaterally declared independence of its southern province of Kosovo and Metohija," Nikolić declared.

Serbia will continue negotiations fully prepared to help all citizens of Kosovo live better, in democratic and safe conditions, but will not negotiate on the implementation of independence of the so-called state of Kosovo, the president pointed out.

"This situation will come to an end, even though we hear, all the time, that the status of Kosovo is non-negotiable and that it is not upon us to decide on it," the president stated.

"I wonder what can be the subject matter of negotiations and who is an authority at all to determine it," he asked.

Nikolić underscored that the issue of Kosovo-Metohija can be resolved and will be resolved in a peaceful manner.

"Serbia has committed itself and will fulfill all obligations undertaken by it as a State in the agreements reached thus far, though I look at them as meeting the wish list of the Albanian party and concessions made by our leadership at that time, under heavy pressure," he remarked.

He said that Serbia sincerely wants to become an equal EU member and patiently builds a relationship of trust and peace in the region, which is burdened by a difficult history.

"A lot has been achieved so far in the implementation of reforms, the fight against crime and corruption, harmonization of laws with the regulations of the European Union. In this sense, Serbia has performed even better than the countries which have already become EU members," the Serbian President stressed.

Nikolić warned that Serbia, despite its strong support for strict observance of international law and all the basic documents on which the work of the UN is grounded, today faces the violation of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter in the part of its territory.

"I am not a prophet, but I must say that the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo constitutes a dangerous precedent and a long-standing threat to stability in the region of the Western Balkans and beyond it, he said and added that Serbia, which is a member of the UN, is a victim of double standards.

"Our battle against the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo and Metohija is at the same time struggle to preserve the principles of the repect of the territorial integrity. Today, the struggle for the territorial integrity of Serbia is also the struggle for peace in all countries of the world and for the rule of law in international relations," Nikolić observed. He said the majority of UN members refrained from recognising Kosovo’s independence and thanked them for their support and solidarity.

The Serbian President stressed that Serbia is proud of the excellent and important relations with a large number of states in the world, as well as that it is proud of its own history.

"Some individuals of our nation, and there is no nation without such individuals, have made mistakes, even committed crimes. We have surrendered our own citizens suspected of having breeched international law to international justice. For this reason, we rightfully expect that justice for the country and the people who were on the side of law and justice in both World Wars," Nikolić noted.

He also harshly condemned the attempt of the so-called Republic of Kosovo to claim the material heritage of the Serbian medieval state and the spiritual heritage of the Serbian people, along with the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the province, as its own, describing it as a blatant attempt to fabricate history, achieve historical revisionism and delete all traces of the existence of the Serbian people in the province.

He also remarked that Serbia demands an investigation into allegations from the report by Dick Marty, rapporteur of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly.

"We are simply asking for the truth. We are asking to discover the destiny of hundreds of Serbs missing from Kosovo and Metohija, who are reasonably believed to be the victims of illicit trafficking in human organs and of other crimes committed in Kosovo and Metohija. In the name of my people, I simply demand justice for the innocent victims," he said.

Nikolić recalled that for several decades Serbia has striven to help all multinational operations under the UN mandate to the best of its ability, stressing that the active participation of Serbia in the coming period will be even more prominent and pronounced.

Despite the considerable efforts of almost all states, terrorism perseveres as a threat to international stability, said Nikolić.

Serbia has harmonized its regulations with international laws regulating security and it is trying to put an end to terrorism through global and regional efforts, Nikolić noted.

"In this context, it is of vital importance to make progress on the adoption of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism," he stated.

The president observed that Serbia is a point of contact of various cultures and religions, where the spiritual and material heritage is a mixture of tradition and elements of different religious communities and ethnicities.

"No one should suffer or be humiliated because of their religion; their religious feelings are sacrosanct and safeguarded as the fundamental human rights. But no life should be lost in religiously-motivated clashes," the president emphasized, condemning attacks on innocents, and adding that they should be specially protected.

"On behalf of the Serbian people I offer our sympathies to the United States over the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya," he said.

Ahead of his speech on Tuesday, Nikolić had a chance to meet with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and U.S. President Barack Obama.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić is also in New York, where he is holding a host of meeting on the sidelines of the General Assembly, including with his Croatian counterpart, and those from Finland, Sweden, and Greece.

Top Kosovo Albanian officials, including Atifete Jahjaga and Hashim Thaci, have also arrived in New York. Reports said that Thaci was on Monday seen at the entrance to the UN building.

Serbia's former foreign minister, now President of the UN General Assembly

Vuk Jeremić commented on this situation

for B92 to say that the Kosovo delegation had no right to participate in debates, but that they could attend as guests as one of the UN member-states.

According to information available so far, the Priština delegation is attending "under the UNMIK (UN mission in Kosovo) umbrella".

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