U.S. ambassador says Serbs are "a bit schizophrenic"

Serbs are a bit schizophrenic, as their heart pulls towards the East, but the head directs them to the West, said U.S. Ambassador Michael Kirby.

Source: B92

Speaking for B92 late last week, and asked to "describe Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic," Kirby said Vucic was a man who "deeply cares about the future of the country and knows politics and people well."

"Vucic is trying to lead you forward towards the European Union, but the Serbs are a bit schizophrenic. Their heart pulls them towards the East, while at the same time, the head directs them to the West," said Kirby.

According to him, the dilemma between Europe and Russia is a false choice that is put in front of Serbia.

"There is confusion in connection with that choice. You will continue to have friends in both the East and the West, now you have them in both the U.S. and Russia. However, now the question is not of friends, but of interests of Serbia. You need to implement reforms to move closer to the European Union. The rest are false choices," said Kirby speaking about the pressure exerted on Serbia.

The U.S. ambassador added that it was "in Serbia's interest to create a society in which people can find jobs, in which young people can see a future in their own country."

"I believe in the potential of Serbia, I've seen enough examples of success in the country. In the last two centuries many people left and succeeded in my country, such as (Mihajlo) Pupin or (Nikola) Tesla. I'd like to see the same type of success in the future, but in Serbia."

Speaking about the case of Vojislav Seselj, Kirby said that he "firmly believes in the rule of law."

"Seselj should be sent back to The Hague, if he accepts the court's decision he will will do it himself, and the question is what the court will ask of Serbia if that does not happen. This country respects the Hague Tribunal, perhaps not always with joy, but it always respected the decisions and that is the rule of law," said Kirby.

"The Seselj case" brought with it the issue of relations between Serbia and Croatian, something that has often been addressed by Labor Minister Aleksandar Vulin, who also recently suggested Serbia should "reexamine its foreign policy."

"Mr. Vulin heads a ministry that does not deal with the Hague Tribunal or international relations. I never heard such things talked about by the prime minister, the ministers of justice, interior and foreign affairs. I would say that Mr. Vulin can say what he wants, but that his position in the government is not associated with that topic," said the U.S. diplomat.

PM agrees

Speaking during a news conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic "denied that Kirby said that Serbs are a schizophrenic people."

Instead, said the prime minister, the U.S. diplomat posted in Belgrade said that "we are in a situation that is a bit schizophrenic," as Serbs have "an emotionally good" stance towards Russians, while at the same time "we want to live like in Europe."

"I agree with every word that he said yesterday, except with the nice words he said about me," Vucic concluded.


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