President takes part in Christmas ritual, talks about Kosovo

President Tomislav Nikolic and his associates on Christmas Eve brought the badnjak - an oak branch - into the Serbian Presidency building in Belgrade.

Source: Tanjug

The president in this way took part in the Serbian Orthodox Christmas traditions, ahead of the holiday celebrated in Serbia on January 7, according to the Julian calendar.

"Happy Christmas Eve, which forms an unbreakable bond with Christmas, a bond between us, Serbs, and Christianity, which we accepted and into which we built some of our ancient traditions, where the badnjak is a symbol of strength," Nikolic said.

He added that today is "a day of peace, and in order to truly have peace from God, we must reconcile with those with whom we are not on good terms."

According to the president, many "temptations" still lie ahead, "and citizens know it" - but "a people so dedicated to the future, a people that believes in God and loves everyone who believes in their God, cannot go to ruin."

"Our citizens can only expect better days," he is convinced.

Nikolic wished that the badnjak brought into the Presidency will also "shine the light onto all Serbs in the diaspora, and especially in the Serb Republic, which is celebrating 25 years since its founding."

The president then spoke about his canceled trip to Kosovo, to say he was to spend Christmas Eve with Serbs in the eclave of Strpce.

He stressed that Serbia's leaders stand for "all citizens in Kosovo and Metohija living better and safer," and noted that Belgrade has been engaged in talks with representatives of the administration in Pristina for several years now, "ceding them a large portion of powers, as an essential part of (Kosovo's) autonomy."

"However, their passion without a sense of measure for the so-called independence, prevents them from appraising what's possible, and what isn't, it drives them to quarrel with us all the time, and interpret our peaceful behavior as weakness. Serbia is not weak, many know this, while the Pristina administration should know this better than others," Nikolic underlined.

Speaking about his canceled trip to Kosovo, the president said Belgrade "respected the procedure, announced it through the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, requested permission, according to the procedure."

He added that the Pristina authorities on Thursday informed "their police" that the Serbian president and members of his delegation cannot enter the territory of Kosovo and Metohija until further notice.

"At 08:30 the advance (delegation) arrived at the administrative crossing and they were told to wait, that there was no permission to let them through. I told them than unless they were allowed entry by 16:00 hours, they should go back. A new telegram was received by the Kosovo police at 17:20 saying that neither myself nor members of my entourage could enter. The Office for Kosovo and Metohija received no official notice. So much for each party's behavior," Nikolic remarked.

The president, still referring to the authorities in Pristina, added that "one cannot make up a state and then behave, in that made-up state, as an equal partner to others."

"They hide behind the Big Brother, and Serbia knows it. The (Serbian) authorities are mindful not to enter any big conflicts with anyone, so that some measures are not taken toward Serbia, because they don't hesitate to introduce measures even against (their) big partners. How would Serbia fare," he said, adding that his country "has its limits."

Nikolic continued to say that while "there's no border (between Kosovo and central Serbia) because he can't go to Kosovo and Metohija" - a limit has been reached - "because the (Serbian) state has given everything it could give to the Pristina administration in terms of powers."

"Any other thing that would be discussed would lead into some tacit agreeing to that independence," Nikolic stressed.

Commenting on the arrest in France on a Serbian war crimes warrant of former KLA leader and Kosovo prime minister Ramush Haradinaj, the president said French judicial authorities made "a good decision" when they kept him in custody until Serbia's extradition request arrives - "and now we'll see how they'll decide on that request."


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