Vučić for the Italian "La Stampa": "Let Kurti withdraw troops and there'll be peace"
President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, gave an interview to the Italian newspaper "La Stampa", during which he spoke about the situation in Kosovo and Metohija.Source: B92, La Stampa
The entire interview is presented below.
"Kosovo is part of Serbia, that is very clear. It is written in the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, it is also confirmed by the UN Resolution from 1999. What is the problem?" Aleksandar Vučić, the President of Serbia, is in Belgrade and is scheduled to meet the parents of the children killed in the horrific massacre at the elementary school that took place at the beginning of May and caused a state of shock in the country and triggered a series of protests.
An hour before the rally, he talks to the journalists of "La Stampa" and follows the non-stop flow of completely different gatherings, protests of his people, 300 kilometers away, in the north of Kosovo. "Our people there are angry," he says. He was supposed to meet with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Bratislava yesterday, but Vučić did not go. "We're going to Chisinau tomorrow (today, for readers)." But Kurti will not be there. In a game of tactical passing of the ball, which according to the leader from Belgrade, is the fault of Pristina, which does not want peace in the Balkans.
President Vučić, Kosovo Serbs from the North are reporting violence by the Pristina police. In your opinion, what kind of discrimination are we talking about?
"Serbs living in the North and in other enclaves feel attacked by special units of the Kosovo police. Almost every week. There are reliable sources that confirm this. Pristina has no right to have special police in the North. They detain, stop, harass our people. Kurti has always said, "We are a sovereign country, we have the right to deploy our forces wherever we want". Clearly, he cannot do that. And he has done more than that. People have started protesting against the illegal and illegitimate mayoral elections. There are municipalities where the mayor was elected by 11 people. It is not democratic to have 0.02%. Even the Americans and the EU condemn his behavior. But he does not want to hear it."
What are you asking him to do in order to stop the protests?
"To take his alleged mayors to the south and to remove his troops from the north. Then there will be a true reconciliation between Serbs and Albanians. We want that, we are ready for many compromises. On the other hand, there are those whose only goal is to expel the Serbs and to show their muscles. We are calming the people down, but if it continues like this, that will not be possible."
Even the US Secretary of State, Blinken, scolded Pristina. Is Kurti in trouble?
"We are deeply grateful to our American partners for emphasizing whose fault it is, who wanted these incidents. But we need more. Pressure from the international community so that Pristina acts in a rational way. We are ready for dialogue. It was not easy to digest the negotiations as they were expected in Brussels (that is, for Serbia to recognize Kosovo, for the two sides to reciprocally recognize documents, passports, plates, for Pristina to create Community of Serbian Municipalities".
You have already participated in the negotiation process with the EU many times. From the outside, everything looks like wasted time: you continue to accuse each other and tensions rise...
"We need to see the formation of the Community of Serbian Municipalities, then we will be ready for other talks."
Do you still intend to join the EU?
"We are on that path and these are our values. Together with Montenegro, we are the most advanced country in the entire region. Our economy makes up 50% of the economy in the Western Balkans. We belong to Europe, I hope that we will progress faster in the future".
What will happen to the sanctions against Russia? That is one of the conditions, but you refuse it.
"For 4 out of 5 UN Resolutions, we voted in line with other EU countries. We have no problem supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Crimea, Donbass, Zaporizhizha and Kherson belong to it. We condemn aggression. If we are talking about the accession process, six months before entry, we should be fully aligned with European foreign policy".
So, for now, nothing from sanctions, we'll see later?
"There are certain differences that stem from what we experienced 25 years ago."
You still buy gas at ultra favorable prices from Moscow. Will you give it up?
"We are also deciding on other options, with the Bulgaria-Serbia interconnector we will take gas from Azerbaijan, and liquid natural gas from Alexandropoulos. We are doing it together with the European Community."
Republika Srpska leader Dodik went to Putin. And you? When was the last time you heard from him?
"I haven't talked to Putin for more than a year. But I met with many EU leaders who visited him and talked with him. I think it's nothing negative to talk to someone. But I don't do that because they would say see the Serbs. What they want to ban to us, they allow themselves".
Do you consider Russia and China reliable allies?
"Everyone in the world who adheres to international law is our partner. We are not ashamed to say that. Italy, for example, is our great friend even though it recognized the independence of Kosovo. I often talk with Tajani and Meloni. China is becoming an increasingly important investor for us, as well as Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine. That's politics."
You know Putin well.
"Yes, that is correct".
When will they stop the war and sit down?
"I would like to see both of them, Zelensky and Putin, as soon as possible, sitting at the same table. That is always better than waging war."
What compromise could be acceptable to him?
"Both must find a common denominator. Also the West, together with the Ukrainians. Concessions are necessary on both sides. Otherwise we will have more conflicts. As soon as possible, it would be best for humanity, for the whole world. I know that is not popular because there is a certain kind of ban on peace, but it is time to make an enormous political effort to achieve any kind of truce. But not by unilaterally setting conditions."
Are you afraid that new conflicts could break out, in the Balkans, for example?
"I believe and hope not, but I am speaking about the Serbian side, not on behalf of others".