"Even if we recognized Kosovo in 2008 we wouldn't be in EU"
Journalist Ljiljana Smajlovic on Monday spoke for Prva TV about the Belgrade-Pristina talks, the country's EU future, and "Trump's people"...Source: B92, Prva TV
"There is a theory that there had been talks about an exchange of territory, but that the Americans told the Serbs this cannot happen, all related to the Crimea issue," Smajlovic said, and added:
"On the other hand, the Albanians were told they didn't have to make any concessions to the Serbs because the Serbs were guilty of war and everything else... Giving the UN chair (to Pristina) in exchange for a promise of fast-track EU membership for Serbia seems to me a very bad trade. We cannot quickly become a member of the EU - even if we recognized Kosovo in 2008 (when Pristina made the unilateral declaration of independence), we would not be a part of the EU today."
"It is clear that the EU is struggling to survive and there will be no rapid enlargement. They swung a carrot at us called '2025' (as possible date of accession) - but none of that entered the EU budget. And let's face it - there is no fast-track membership," Smajlovic said.
She added that none of the people currently in power in Europe can guarantee or promise anything.
"I think that the demand that Serbia cease to resist Kosovo getting the UN chair is so huge that I don't know what the Albanians should do in return. To begin with, we need to go into the discussion that those few Serbs (in Kosovo) should be guarded like the apple of the eye, to have all their rights respected. to live completely safe and as a privileged minority, such as some minorities in European countries. And then we could begin to talk about everything," Smajlovic added.
According to her, there is no need to hurry, "because we already know that we will not become a member of the EU in 2025."
"Although they constantly say the ball is in our court, Merkel, after Croatia's (EU) entry, said that there would be a long break in the enlargement. Now we have heard it from Macron, so I don't know how to convince anyone that we will join the EU quickly when no one is allowed to enter. The ball is not in our court, the point is that all of it would be impossible even if Macron agreed," Smajlovic said.
She also said that "the only possible way to solve the Kosovo problem is if the president of Serbia and of the ruling party, Aleksandar Vucic, intends to present some dramatic change in the situation, such giving Kosovo the UN chair - in a referendum."
"It's interesting that the opposition opposes it. They say that Vucic is hiding behind a referendum and that he wants the people to handle a hot potato. If Vucic's solution is no different than the status quo, then there is no need for a referendum - we know what the mood is. If the proposal is some kind of dramatic change, it seems to me that the referendum is the only way to do it. For the opposition it is risky, and Vucic said they are afraid of their own voters. If he proposes a solution the opposition voters accept too, I think the opposition would find it problematic to oppose that solution both because of their own voters and because of the West," Smajlovic said.
Asked to comment on the statement of former US Ambassador to Serbia Cameron Munter that "the biggest problem in the Balkans is the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina," she stressed that his words "should not be taken seriously because he heads an NGO and what he says depends on the job he is paid to do."
"Such persons do not speak on behalf of the US administration. For example, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations Pete Marocco is from the administration. He, like Wess Mitchell, is part one of the new people, the Trump people. They know what they're talking about and they've agreed on it with Trump's staff. They should be listened to, not what a former ambassador is saying," Smajlovic said.