"It's my duty to explain to Serbs importance of compromise"

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic ha told Italy's ANSA agency that a compromise must be reached before solving the Kosovo problem.

Source: B92, Beta, Tanjug
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(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

A central commemoration for the victims of the bombing of Serbia 20 years ago, which NATO carried out in the final phase of the war in Kosovo, will be organized in Nis, southern Serbia on March 24.

Vucic told this to ANSA during the interview.

"The attacks of the allies, which were launched without UN permission, in order to force Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw troops from from Kosovo and stop ethnic cleansing, were launched on March 24, 1999 and lasted for 78 days, and the balance was about 2,000 dead and enormous destruction and damage," writes ANSA.

"For us, this is a difficult month and a painful memory. Serbs believe that they have been wronged 20 years ago and that is what 99 percent of the population think," Vucic said.

He said that this is one of the main reasons why Serbia does not intend to join NATO.

"Despite that, we maintain good relations with the Alliance and its member states, but we do not want to enter it, and we will remain neutral," Vucic said.

The president added that the result of these attacks, in addition to the casualties and the destruction, was also the escape of hundreds of thousands of Serbs from Kosovo, two thirds of whom have not returned to their homes.

"We can not recognize Kosovo without getting anything from the other side," Vucic was quoted as saying in the interview he gave ahead of the visit to Serbia of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday.

However, Beta agency said that this statement was included "in the first version of the interview" - but that ANSA "decided later to leave this sentence out of it."

Vucic is also quoted as saying that the issue of "border changes" was "a controversial topic - since not everybody recognizes the same borders, depending on whether they recognized Kosovo or not."

"Unlike Kosovo leaders who deceive their citizens every day with unrealistic promises that Pristina will get everything, and Belgrade nothing, it is my duty to explain to Serbs the importance of compromise (with Pristina) which does not represent a defeat but a victory. A victory for the future of Serbia," said Vucic.

He denied that he had ever had secret meetings with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, as some media claimed, and described as "pure lies" the allegation of the existence of a draft of a final agreement between Belgrade and Pristina.

He reiterated that Belgrade will not continue the dialogue with Prishtina until the Kosovo authorities abolish the 100 percent taxes on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"Unless there is a compromise agreement on Kosovo, it will be a disaster. Although everything seems difficult and sometimes impossible, we are determined to reach a compromise, I am sure that we can come to a solution with the help of our European friends and with the support of Russia, America, China and others countries," said the president of Serbia.

He pointed out to "the cautious and responsible approach of Belgrade which did not respond to he maximalist and provocative measures of Pristina in order not to endanger peace and stability in the region."

Vucic also said that he appreciates the mediating role of the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini - unlike Pristina, which is critical of Brussels.

"The problems are between Serbs and (Kosovo) Albanians, I can ot criticize Europe that has done everything it can preserve peace," Vucic said.

Speaking about Serbian politics, Vucic said that (weekly) protests against his authorities are a democratic right and can continue "as long as there is no violence and conflict.

"Every year we see protests and demonstrations, let them protest freely," Vucic said.

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