Serbian president on visit to Palestine

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić late on Wednesday arrived in Palestine, where he was greeted with top honors and the sounding of anthems.

Source: Tanjug
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After his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nikolić addressed reporters in Ramallah.

"We have a similar fate and solve it in a similar way - through negotiations. Sometimes those who do not support us think that it is our weakness that we negotiate, and we are negotiating because we are strong, because we believe that we are right and that is why we want to provide our own and other people's children with better lives," said Nikolić.

He pointed out that it was difficult to start talks, while then "a solution is found."

"Serbia just never let anyone threaten our integrity and humiliate us, and President Abbas will not let that happen to the Palestinian people," Nikolić said.

He noted that Abbas had informed him on the progress of negotiations with Israel, and that he informed the Palestinian leader about the progress of the talks between Belgrade and Priština, and added:

"We will use the negotiations to reach a permanent solution - Serbia's only geographically far away from Palestine, otherwise the closeness is obvious and eternal."

Noting that Serbia has good relations with both Palestine and Israel, Nikolić said he was confident they would come to an agreement, and recalled that the Serbian vote for Palestine in the UN General Assembly came because of the country's "feeling, soul, and desire that every citizen and nation on the globe should have its rights."

"You have seen that in matters affecting fundamental rights we can make a choice, but in this conflict, do not make us take sides - I think the negotiations are taking place under the auspices of great powers and are going in the right direction and I hope that you will reach an agreement that will allow your and the Israeli people to live more peacefully, more securely, to develop, and to finally begin to connect," the Serbian president said.

He added that "Serbia also thought it would never be able to speak to some."

The Palestinian president addressed the same press conference to say that Serbia was one of the first countries which recognized that "the key to peace and stability in the Middle East is that Palestine returns to the map."

"Our contacts with your country never stopped, and remember, your country was one of the first to host an early dialogue between the Palestinians and Israel," said Abbas, addressing his guest.

Headded that he and Nikolić, among other things, discussed ways in which they can strengthen the friendly relations between the Palestinian and the Serbian people and develop cooperation and business relations, economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation in the tourism sector.

Abbas also stressed the decades-long cooperation in education, which has led to a large number of family, cultural and social ties, noting that a large number of people in the Palestinian cities and refugee camps speak the Serbian language thanks to the education they received in Serbian universities.

The Palestinian president urged Serbians to visit the holy shrines in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and other tourist spots, and Nikolić said that the Serbian authorities will encourage the faithful from all over the country to come to Palestine, because, as he said, it was unnatural that Bethlehem and Jerusalem have no visitors, "because someone is spreading the story that there is no security, while Palestine is as safe as Serbia."

Nikolić urged Palestinian leaders to encourage their investors to invest in Serbia and thanked Abbas for his hospitality, inviting him to come to Serbia to discuss further cooperation.

He emphasized that Serbia "will be in the EU" because it is deserved this as a democracy with the rule of law, and that Serbia has many friends outside the EU.

"Palestine we put in our heart, I do not say in the first place, because I think the there is plenty of space in the heart," Nikolić was quoted as saying.

Before meeting with Abbas, the Serbian president visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and had a working lunch talks with Abbas' adviser for Christian issues Ziad Al-Bandak.

Nikolić also met with Palestinians who studied at Serbian universities, and Serbs living in Palestine.

The Serbian president laid a wreath at the grave of former Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat in Ramallah.

Nikolić travelled to Palestine after his two-day visit to Israel.

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