Imposing sanctions on Russia - "unthinkable"
Tomislav Nikolić has told the RTS in an interview that the government's decision to call on Serbs in Kosovo to vote was "strategic, and highly forced."Source: B92, RTS
But, the Serbian president added, "Belgrade is moving within the framework of the Constitution of Serbia."
Nikolić further noted that there was no resistance to this decision, "even the opposition was simply silent."
As for the results, he said he was "not satisfied":
"I cannot be satisfied that we go from 20 deputies to ten or nine of those to whom we can trust, and that this should be normal to us."
"Without influencing politics it will be difficult to achieve what we agreed in Brussels, and what we charted in the resolution of our assembly," Nikolić said.
Asked to comment on speculation of the Priština-based Albanian daily Zeri that Serbia would "recognize Kosovo in the UN" and in return see the formation of "a specific entity in northern Kosovo," he said:
"Zeri is speculating or trying to test the waters about what Serbia would be prepared to do, but there is no politician in Serbia who would trample on the Constitution, and decide to recognize independence of Kosovo and Metohija, and secure some kind of entity rights of northern Kosovo as part of an independent state of Kosovo. That really is not possible."
"When a part your territory is taken and what has been taken is so strongly defended, you would have to have tectonic disturbances occur in the future in the world's history so that we can enter Kosmet (Kosovo and Metohija) by force. It is absolutely impossible, let's not kid people with that," Nikolić said.
When asked what he expected from the meeting between Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday in Berlin, Nikolić said that "we have a lot to discuss with Germany, because it is the most serious partner of each member of the EU and of Serbia on its path towards the EU."
"Instructions of German parliamentarians are to us signposts, a warning. Germany has indicated it wants to invest in Serbia, it is their interest since we have a free (trade) market that the EU does not. Vučić will let us know when he gets back what was the tone of the conversation, what were the issues, I expect the subject to be the help of Germany so that citizens of Serbia live better. Of course, then Angela Merkel, who is outspoken when she talks with those who are smaller, will say what she expects. The prime minister will say what she can expect from Serbia, and what she cannot," said Nikolić.
According to him, Merkel said previously that there would be no enlargement of the EU in 2018 and 2019, and that it should "now be learned from her if the barrier has been lifted for 2019, or if there is a new term."
When the interviewer remarked that Serbia "refrained from imposing sanctions on Ukraine (Russia) but did not do the same toward Belarus," the president said that "we do not impose sanctions, but need to coordinate a common foreign policy with the EU" and added that he "knows what it's like to live under sanctions," and also knows that "it (the decision on sanctions) does not touch the president of Belarus."
Nikolić added that the talks to arrange the visit of Alexander Lukashenko, who will arrive in Serbia on Wednesday, started in November.
He said that Lukashenko offered help immediately after Serbia was hit by the floods last month, and added:
"If some journalists are not interested in the fact Belarus has not recognized Kosovo, I am very much interested in that, if they don't care that Iran did not recognize (Kosovo), I very much do, if they don't care that Ukraine did not recognize, I do care," said he.
Asked whether the economy will be the main topic of talks with Lukashenko, Nikolić said it would. "Yes, of course, we will sign several agreements. The public will be informed about it."
When asked why he decided not to attend the inauguration last weekend of Ukraine's new president, but sent his foreign policy adviser instead, Nikolić said he thought sending Serbia's ambassador in Kiev would have been "small leve," and added that he personally did not consider the possibility of going.
Nikolić added that he would "certainly visit Ukraine if (Petro) Poroshenko pursues a policy of peace."
"Poroshenko belongs to the Russian Orthodox Church, and maybe this is a good choice," remarked Nikolić.
Asked whether Serbia would impose sanctions on Russia, Nikolić replied: "That is so unthinkable - only, Serbia must have the same yardstick, behave equally toward the small and big states."
"Serbia should not be choosing sides and I would like it to conduct the policy that Josip Broz Tito used to, but it should coordinate its foreign policy with the EU," the president was quoted as saying. In an apparent reference to the former Yugoslavia, he added that "the EU, something like the EU, was created here in 1945."
Speaking about the marking of 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, Nikolić said that the original idea was "for everyone to go to Sarajevo" in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but revealed he had decided not to attend that ceremony.
As he explained, the responsibility for organizing the event was transferred to the City of Sarajevo, which in turn wants to stage the event in a building that has an inscription saying that "aggressors and Chetniks were killing in that place" - and that therefore, he would not attend.
Nikolić said he did not know how long it would take to repair the damage from the floods, but that the country cannot do it alone, and that this was "precisely the meaning of his talks with French President Francois Hollande to hold an international donors' conference."
"There will be two conferences, one on the highest, probably ministerial level in France, and one in Brussels, which was suggested by Hollande," Nikolić said.
Asked whether there was censorship in the media, Nikolić said this was not a question for him - but for journalists. He added that journalists should say who is censoring them, and added that some media outlets were using lies and fabrications in their desire to "collapse the system," and focusing on attacking him.
"Well, if I were a journalist, the only thing I would allow anyone to correct would be my grammar," he said, adding that he would "not allow to be censored."
"If you allow one person to censor you, and do not say who it was, they will censor you every day, that's how it goes," the Serbian president said.