"It's anti-Russia hysteria world, but Serbs won't join in"
Serbian First Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has told RT that "we live at a time of anti-Russia hysteria in the world."Source: B92, RT.com
But Serbia will not join anti-Russia sanctions, Dacic said.
"Serbia belongs to Europe geographically, politically and historically and it’s only logical that our interest in becoming the member of the European Union is based on, I would say, our personal experience," he said. "I held different positions in government - as Prime Minister and as the minister of foreign affairs - and I’ve never heard anyone from the Russian side speaking negatively of our wish to join the EU."
"We live at a time of anti-Russia hysteria in the world. When I was in the White House and talked to National Security Adviser McMaster he literally said that the American influence is good and the Russian influence is harmful. In case of Serbia it didn’t prove to be true in the past, seeing how over the past few decades many principles of the international law have been violated in the example of Serbia," Dacic said.
"The only thing that Russia expects is that it will not result in an anti-Russian position which Serbia is not at all interested in doing. But one of the conditions is to harmonize our foreign policy with that of the European Union and that’s where Russia comes in. Joining the sanctions against the Russian Federation - there are some countries which pose this question at each meeting. You probably know which countries I’m referring to," the Serbian minister said.
"It’s not our position that we’re not on anyone’s side," he continued. "We would like to be members of the EU but on the other hand we have good bilateral relations with the Russian Federation. And we have no intention to impede those relations just to become an EU member."
"On the other hand, all those who love Serbia have to take care of our national interests as well. Pursuing anti-Russian policies would be to our detriment. So we’re not sitting on two chairs, we have our own chair," Dacic said.
Serbia should seek common ground with the Western interests in a sense that they should take an impartial stance towards us, he said.
"We’ve had good relations with the United States and the UK. We were allies in wars but during the crisis of 1990s they practically diverted a lot from us, which resulted in their airstrikes against us. And then there was this operation ‘Storm’ in Croatia as well. Not to mention the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. So in that sense it’s necessary for the Western countries to understand that there would be no peace in the region without searching for a common solution, without searching for something that is acceptable to all. And speaking about the relations between Russia and the US, we hope that there will be some sort of a warm-up in these relations," Dacic said.
When it comes to the Kosovo negotiations and the possibility of both Russia and the US taking part in them, Dacic said, "we’ve never heard from the US that they would like to take part in those negotiations."
"That’s what the Albanians from Kosovo are saying. They are actually seeking the involvement of the US in addition to the EU. On the other hand, we have to keep in mind that those proposals are put forward, we have to acknowledge them. In that case we would like to invite the Russian Federation to join as well. In the talks that President Vucic had with President Putin and with Foreign Minister Lavrov and myself Russia has expressed readiness to join the process. But actually we don’t feel it’s necessary to expand this story right now."
Speaking about Kosovo, the minister remarked that it has been 10 years after the unilateral declaration of independence - "and it’s still an experiment":
"Regardless of the fact that Kosovo has been recognized by some states Kosovo hasn’t completed its independence run, it hasn’t become a UN member and member of other organizations. There are a lot of countries that do not recognize it like Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Brasil, Argentina, Mexico, Ethiopia, South Africa, Spain. Five EU members haven’t recognized Kosovo. Also over the past few months we’ve managed to have some of the countries revoke their recognition. It means that the process is still alive, it’s not over yet. No one can have a secession without an agreement with the country from which they wish to secede. In that sense we’re for a dialogue. Some European countries say that Serbia has to, that Serbia must recognize Kosovo’s independence. But that’s not a compromise. Serbia will never recognize the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo."
Dacic said that Serbia "has its own proposals on how a working compromise could look like" - but that "Albanians in Pristina don’t consider it necessary to even enter a compromise":
"They don’t want to discuss, they just want to discuss that Belgrade should recognize their independence. That’s unacceptable for us. We can have discussions on all other issues, we have an internal dialogue on how to arrange the relations. But Albanians obviously think it’s enough to have recognition from some Western countries and that would make it a fait accompli. They’re wrong there. They have a false list of countries that have recognized them. They speak of 116 countries that recognized them. I’m sure it’s in the interest of all to actually find a compromise. But if they don’t want a compromise we shall continue our struggle. "
Asked whether Barbados recognizing Kosovo and Surinam revoking their recognition "really changes anything in the Kosovo-Serbian issue," Dacic replied:
"There’s a huge difference between explanations given by the countries that recognise Kosovo and those that are actually revoking their recognition. Some say that they have general legal principles. But essentially it’s not correct. From the point of view of the international law it’s absolutely unacceptable. The Albanians in Kosovo aren’t a nation. They are an Albanian national minority because the Albanian people have their own state - that’s Albania. Is there any other nation that have two states? And they say that they need one president now..."
"They can create Albania if they want to but on the territory of other states. Surely, not on our territory," he continued. "We want dialogue, we want dialogue to be successful, we want to reach a solution that is in the interest of all. But imposing a solution that we have to recognize Kosovo, giving ultimatums - that’s something that doesn’t work with the Serbian people."
As for German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel saying recently that "Serbia will have to recognize Kosovo to join the EU," Dacic responded by saying:
"Serbia and Yugoslavia in the past welcomed the reunification of Germany. And it’s not appropriate for Foreign Minister Gabriel to make a statement like that. He also said that he didn’t say that. And If he didn’t then I apologize to him. EU doesn’t have a common position on Kosovo. They criticize us for not accepting the common European foreign policy on Russia. So why don’t they figure out a common foreign policy regarding Kosovo? These are positions stated by those who recognize Kosovo. It is my opinion that there’s no price for Serbian recognition of Kosovo. If anyone thinks that for the sake of joining the EU Serbia would recognize Kosovo under the conditions that they impose right now and not on the basis of dialogue and compromise, they are very wrong. We want a compromise. But the solution proposed by Kosovo Albanians is a not a real solution."
Asked what was important for Serbia - joining the EU by 2025 or Kosovo, Dacic replied:
"No one has officially said this (recognize KOsovo) to us. EU cannot really stand by a position like that when it has five members that do not even recognize Kosovo. We cannot expect Spain to be more Serbian-oriented than the Serbs themselves. No one can demand those things of Serbia. It’s humiliating us. Serbia seeks good relations when it joins the EU. But what they are telling us, they should be telling Pristina as well. They should tell them that there’s no European perspective, no path to Europe unless you reach an agreement with Belgrade. They tell us that there’s no such perspective - they should tell this to the other side as well, say that there will be no European path to them unless they reach a compromise. And so we'll see if there are really double standards in their behavior. I know an answer, I can tell you this immediately right now - yes, there are double standards. But we’re not going to fall for that. This is my opinion. Maybe there will be some other government in Serbia that will accept it, but I think this is not going to happen in our generation."
Kosovo cannot become a member of the EU, Dacic also said, and explained that President Vucic spoke about "mountains of obstacles" on that road before Serbia, he was referring to Kosovo.