"EU's condition is recognition of Kosovo"
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic has said that it seemed to him "Europe would like Serbia to put Vojislav Seselj on trial."Source: RTS, Tanjug
According to him, the motive behind the resolution on Seselj passed last week in the European parliament at Croatia's initiative is the upcoming election in that country.
Nikolic stressed that Serbia is not under obligation toward anyone "to comment on the statements of its citizens, especially those who have no political significance."
The Serbian president further told the state broadcaster RTS that it seems "Europe wanted Serbia to put Vojislav Seselj on trial," and that they "got lost in that case," adding that the the tribunal and Seselj are "fighting one another."
"What they agreed on and what their plan is I do not know. Serbia has nothing to do with it," underlined Nikolic.
According to him, "the EP has started to pick on Serbia - probably because of the election in Croatia, there is no other reason."
"Serbia is consciously going to the EU," Nikolic said, and pointed out that it does so although aware it is difficult and brings with it many sacrifices, while "many citizens talk about it because they have faith in the people who lead them."
He said that Seselj "did not find his feet in Serbia," that he "expected euphoria, and instinctively wants to return to The Hague and put on a show, but Serbia does not want shows."
As for some descriptions of the current relations between Serbia and Croatia as "the ice age," Nikolic said that the two countries are on the right track and that "we should wait until after the election there."
The Serbian president believes that a party cannot hope to win in Croatia unless it takes a "Serb-hating" stance, and added:
"In our country, a party cannot exceed the threshold if it hates others. That's how far ahead we are."
The president said that during his recent visit to Belgrade EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn relayed a clear message that Serbia will not be part of the European Union "until the issue of Kosovo and Metohija is resolved."
Ethnic Albanians in this Serbian province in early 2008 unilaterally declared independence, but Serbia rejected it as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Interpreting Hahn's words, Nikolic said that "it means - because the majority of the EU has recognized Kosovo - that we should also agree with that."
"He literally said - we do not want you with an unsolved problem," Nikolic stated.
The president then reiterated that Serbia will never recognize Kosovo.
"Another issue that I managed to extract from the European Commissioner is the introduction of sanctions against Russia," Nikolic continued, and added:
"He told me, 'you can act like this for a time because you are not an EU member, but later there is no deviation from the foreign policy of the European Union'."
Turning to the economy and austerity measures, the president stressed that the government had to decide on such a step.
"If we continue like this with the collection of revenues, I think these measures will not be so rigorous. We have much better revenues than we expected and we await 2015 with much optimism, and 2016 with even more optimism," Nikolic said.
He added that "the current situation with the South Stream pipeline is very unfavorable for the country, and looks like a game of cat and mouse between the East and the West."
"In it, we sustain damage on the sidelines, collaterally, and we need to discuss this seriously both with our European and Russian partners," Nikolic said.
He also offered assurances that Serbia "can never run out of energy supplies for the winter."
"That much the Russians owe us, because we suffer a lot because of Russia. The damage that we will have is not as high as it would be if we were to impose sanctions on Russia," said the president.
He recalled that he had been "hinting for months" at the possibility that the South Stream pipeline might be abandoned.
According to him, it is unrealistic to expect that Serbia will be able to connect to another pipeline via Turkey, Greece and Macedonia, while this would provide a much less favorable source of income than South Stream.
The president also spoke about the government to say its success is measured "by the people," while he was not the one who should either criticize, or praise the cabinet.
Nikolic added that he still must express his own views on certain issues, and cannot refrain from that "simply because someone will say that he was in this way attacking Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic."
The president said that he and Vucic "agree on almost everything" and have been "overcoming their differences for almost 22 years - while the media are saying all this time we are quarreling."
"The two of us we are two different people, we act differently, we have the same idea in principle, we agree on everything, but we act differently. He is faster, more energetic, and I'm not very slow, but I'm slow enough, because sometimes I know how to look at things from different angles," Nikolic said.
Asked about his political career after his presidential mandate is over, Nikolic said that he considered ending it then, but that this "remains to be seen."
The president said he "saw no reason" for possible early presidential elections.