Serbian officials meet with Clinton and Ashton

U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton and EU foreign and security policy chief Catherine Ashton met in Belgrade on Tuesday with President Tomislav Nikolić.

Source: B92

The meeting was also attended by Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić, and was held behind closed doors.

The participants addressed reporters afterwards.

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Ivica Dačić was the first to address journalists to say that Serbia will not recognize Kosovo and that it should not be forced to do that by the EU or the United States.

Dačić stressed, however, that Serbia "will do everything possible to normalize relations with Priština for the sake of a joint integration into the European Union".

He also thanked the EU official for confirming that the EU would not force Serbia to do anything it could not do.

Dačić stated that Clinton and Ashton "did not set new ultimatums and conditions", but that they rather traveled to Belgrade "to discuss the issues of life importance to Serbia - continuation and acceleration of European integrations and fulfilment of criteria for getting a date for the start of negotiations".

According to him, the political criteria includes internal reforms and establishment of "visible and sustainable relations" between Belgrade and Priština.

Catherine Aston addressed the news conference next to say that Serbia' future "is in the EU", and that considerable progress had been made, resulting in Serbia's candidate status.

She also said that it was "vital that all agreements reached in negotiations so far be implemented by both sides", and that Dačić had been encouraged to continue on that path. She said that a meeting similar to the recent meeting between Hashim Thaci and Dačić would be repeated soon.

The negotiations should continue in the interest of both sides in order to improve the lives of people, Ashton stated, and added that "Serbia is not being asked to recognize Kosovo".

Hillary Clinton said that the meeting today represented a continuation of consultations started with Nikolić in New York, and that "it is important for people is Serbia to know that we are dedicated to the European path of Serbia and that we support the dialogue between Belgrade and Priština".

The U.S. are also appealing on both sides to implement all reached agreements.

Clinton said that Serbia was not asked to recognize Kosovo, but that this dialogue calls for progress in relations. She welcomed the meeting between Thaci and Dačić and the tendency to raise the level of negotiations to a higher level.

Cinton stated that "Kosovo is an independent state", and that "borders in Europe would not change". According to her, "a great deal can be accomplished" when it comes to improvement of the lives of people.


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