Nikolić, Jahjaga, Ashton meet in Brussels

Tomislav Nikolić says that he "told President Jahjaga that the dialogue will not move toward a solution if she continues to insist that Kosovo is independent".

Source: Beta
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Nikolić spoke for B92 in Brussels shortly after a 50-minute meeting he held with Jahjaga and EU's Catherine Ashton, who acted as mediator.

"As part of the dialogue that I support, two months ago I suggested that (Kosovo) President Jahjaga and I meet. Unfortunately, Mrs. Jahjaga insisted - along with a textbook story about human rights - that two independent states should cooperate," the president said.

Kosovo's ethnic Albanians five years ago unilaterally declared independence, but Serbia rejects this proclamation.

"I said that if she continues to insist that Kosovo is an independent state, the dialogue will not be able to move toward moving a joint solution," Nikolić added.

"According to the Serbian Constitution both foreign and internal policies are in the hands of the Serbian government, my role is to control whether this is being done within the framework of the (Serbian parliament's Kosovo) Resolution, it is not my role to reach agreements. The meeting can be appraised as useful, in terms of getting acquainted with one another, but the problem is that there were no common topics that could be discussed and for which solutions could be found."

The president stressed that during the meeting today, he "moved within the scope of the Resolution":

"Clearly, everyone who is talking with our representatives is insisting that it (Kosovo) is about an independent state, and that cannot pass."

Asked to comment on the speculation that the meeting was "the last step toward (Serbia's) recognition" of Kosovo, Nikolić said that the encounter was "certainly not motivated by our desire to recognize Kosovo, but rather to tone down the passions."

"Serbia's desire is completely clear - the last thing that I would do for as long as I Iive would be to agree to, to accept Kosovo as an independent state."

In a statement for Tanjug, Nikolić said that his meeting with head of interim institutions in Priština Atifete Jahjaga did not ensure a step forward concerning the biggest obstacle, that is the Kosovo and Metohija status.

Nikolić underscored that by the parliamentary resolution, Serbia recognizes the specific nature of the territory of Kosovo and Metohija with an independent judiciary, president, government and the asse, but there are also communities there, such as the Serb or the Roma community, and they should have a certain autonomous status within it.

The Serbian president underscored that during the meeting, he voiced all the stands contained in the Resolution adopted by the Serbian parliament.

He noted that this is the framework Belgrade's negotiating team will not overstep in the continuation of the dialogue.

Nikolić stated that this is a good start because the book of agreements has been opened, but it is uncertain just how long the process would last.

“After all, this is not so important. It is better for the talks to last longer and yield a solution eventually,” he said and added that it would be difficult to reach an agreement if Priština's stand about its independence remains firm and unchanged although it is not recognized by the UN.

Nikolić said that without Serbia's consent, there can be no independence for Kosovo and Metohija for as long as the UN exists in their current form, adding that he does not see why authorities would be unwilling to discuss another solution which would improve living conditions both in Serbia and in the Balkans as a whole.

“There is no other solution save for the agreement and if you read the Resolution of the Serbian National Assembly, you will realise that Serbia offered the solution according to which Kosovo and Metohija would be able to function and develop almost as an independent state, but no country can be expected to recognise the independence of any of its parts without asking their citizens first,” Nikolić said.

He added that everyone should bear in mind that there is a number of countries which have not recognized Kosovo and Metohija independence because they are aware it would open problems in their own territory.

According to Nikolić, during their separate meeting Ashton "did not voice any remark which could serve as grounds for doubt that the European Commission (EC) report would be positive".

Nikolić expressed his optimism and added that in his view, the fact that Serbia wants to conduct talks with ethnic Albanians and is doing so is positive for the country.

“EU membership is our primary goal and we will do all a country and a nation with their pride can do,” Nikolić said.

He also stated that a new meeting could take place "only if there are results on other levels, in the technical agreements of government representatives", and added:

"Then it would be time for us to confirm it with our authority."

Ahead of the meeting, Jahjaga briefly addresses reporters in passing to say that she would talk with Nikolić as the president of "a sovereign, independent state".

"We are equal here. This is the opening of a new chapter in our road of Euro-Atlantic integrations," said Jahjaga.

The top-level meeting will be held “as a part of the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Priština”, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton said in an official invitation to Nikolić and Jahjaga.

Ashton first had separate meetings with Nikolić and Jahjaga.

The meeting between is considered an “affirmation of the Belgrade-Priština dialogue at the top level”, European Commission (EC) officials have stressed earlier in the day.

European diplomatic sources told Beta news agency that Ashton was expected to point out the importance of the dialogue and "normalization of relations for Serbia and Kosovo’s EU perspective”.

Ashton: Nikolić, Jahjaga are committed to dialogue

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton said after meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić and Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga Wednesday that she saw constructive engagement coming from both sides.

Ahton said in a press release that she met in Brussels today with the two heads of state to discuss the on-going dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, which has already produced a number of significant achievements.

“We are now tackling the issue of northern Kosovo and the coming weeks will be critical, she said.

The European foreign policy chief said that Both Nikolić and Jahjaga have assured her of their continued support and commitment to the dialogue and their respective European agendas.

“I reaffirmed the European perspective for both Serbia and Kosovo and encouraged both sides to continue

Jahjaga: Useful meeting

Atifete Jahjaga stated after the meeting with Tomislav Nikolić on Wednesday that this was "the first meeting between presidents of two independent and sovereign countries".

In a telephone statement for Priština-based RTK media outlet, Jahjaga noted that the meeting was "constructive and that strong support was given to the normalisation of the two countries' relations, which constitutes an important contribution to peace and stability".

Jahjaga said that "strong support was given to the dialogue headed by the prime ministers with a view to normalising the relations between the two countries and resolving the problems which the two countries' citizens are facing".

When asked who was "the biggest winner in the meeting with Nikolić", Jahjaga said that "Kosovo and Serbia are the winners, as well as peace and stability, both in the two countries and the wider region".

Meeting represents “proof of top leaders’ unity”

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić has said, ahead of the Brussels meeting on Wednesday, that the Serbian president will show support to everything done by Serbian representatives with the meeting with Jahjaga.

According to him, this shows unity of top state officials’ position regarding Kosovo.

He told daily Blic that the president would not negotiate because Prime Minister Ivica Dačić negotiated on behalf of Serbia.

“Our goal is to implement what is written in our document (parliament’s resolution on Kosovo) because it is taking care of Albanians’ interests but it thoroughly protects the Serb community as well,” the minister noted.

He added he was optimistic regarding Serbia’s EU integration and that the country had a good chance to get a date for the beginning of the EU accession talks.

“I truly believe we have a very good chance to get a date for the start of the EU negotiations and that it has rarely been this good,” Mrkić stressed.

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