"Only I have the guts to call a spade a spade," says Vucic
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says his country is "not sitting on two, but on one chair."Source: B92, Prva TV
In an interview for Prva TV Vucic also said that he "did not care what impression world leaders were getting" and that he "does not have to justify himself to them, but to the citizens of Serbia."
During the wide-ranging interview, that touched on the country's EU bid, the situation in the region, the economy, wages and pensions, and the upcoming local elections in Belgrade, the president said "the one chair" in question was "Serbian."
"Were you mad when I said in Washington that we are on the European path, but would not impose sanctions against Russia - that's the Serbian chair. That's the one and only chair and it shows the strength and determination of Serbia and its citizens to conduct such a policy," he said.
Vucic also stated that the situation in the region was "emotionally" far from good, and that Serbia was not to blame for any problems in relations with Croatia.
"Are we the ones who raised the monument to (Ustasha terrorist) Barisic, inscribed in our laws that they (Croatia) are the aggressor, that they committed genocide in Jasenovac? Did we or did they do all that. You (Croatia) asked for it, the Serbian government paid for the Home of Ban Jelacic, the music classroom (for Croat minority) in Sonta, you got it...," he said.
However, Vucic continued, "nobody can force the Serbian president to not speak the truth":
"I said it, they told me those were conflict messages, it's just that I don't understand what about them, when three years ago I said - they asked me ten times about the missing Croats, I said we will make an effort to make things much better, but that more Serbs than Croats went missing (during the 1990s). Then they jumped on me, as if I uttered some terrible heresy, when I am the only one in the region who has the guts to call a spade a spade and speak the truth. Did you hear anyone refute the number of the missing Serbs? No, because there is an exact number."
Commenting on the statement by Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosniak (Muslim) member of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina that "peace in the region depends on Serb leaders," Vucic said the statement was actually "a little worse," as Izetbegovic said that "there would be no war unless leaders in Serbia caused it."
"Unlike him, I never mentioned either war nor war solutions. I'm always ready to talk to Bakir, just as I am ready to talk to (Croat member of Presidency) Covic. Always also with representatives of Pristina," he added.
When it comes to the dialogue with Pristina, Vucic said that "reaching an agreement without any conflict would be historic - it would open up our road, not only the European one, but also one of economic development, we would solve national problems in a rational way."
The president also said he was satisfied with the work of Prime Minister Ana Brnbabic, and that he did not see any need for early parliamentary elections.
As for the economy, Vucic stressed that Serbia finished last year with at least EUR 2.25 billion foreign direct investments, "more than the whole Western Balkans region plus Croatia."
He said he was satisfied with the reduced unemployment rate, a trend that he said continues, and was "especially proud of the result of the 2014-15 reforms that led to a dramatic reduction in Serbia's public debt."
During the interview, the Serbian president wished everyone a happy New Year.