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Serbian Foreign Minister and SPS party leader Ivica Dacic says that Serbia will not allow the violation of the rights of the RS (Serb entity) under any circumstances.
He also says that when he spoke about “the guilt of Slobodan Milosevic” he had that of Serbia in mind.
In a wide-ranging interview with Deutsche Welle’s Serbian service, he reiterated that the Hague Tribunal ruling against Radovan Karadzic “literally stated there is no evidence that Slobodan Milosevic, that is, Serbia – because Milosevic was its president – was guilty of war crimes.”
According to him, the verdict also stated that “Serbia and Milosevic were not part of, what they in the Hague call, a joint criminal enterprise.”
“That was the essence. That is very important for Serbia. That means that everyone can and must be held accountable on an individual basis for the crimes they committed, but that the state of Serbia was not behind it. For us, and for Serbia itself, this is very important. It does not concern at all either Milosevic, or anyone else individually. It is therefore about it us as a state being, as you know, faced with various lawsuits. There was a Croatian lawsuit, there was a lawsuit of Bosnia-Herzegovina. You see that (Hashim) Thaci is announcing that Kosovo too will sue Serbia, although I don’t know where Kosovo could sue Serbia, because Kosovo is not a state that is recognized by the United Nations. So, that’s impossible to do it before the International Court of Justice. But they are all accusing Serbia of having committed crimes, genocide, and even seek compensation for war damages. Therefore, for us, what has been ruled in the case of Karadzic – where the role of Serbia and Milosevic as the president of Serbia was also defined – is very important, because it was said there was no evidence that Serbia was behind it. It is even literally stated that Serbia advocated the acceptance of peace plans, but that the Bosnian Serb leadership, that is, Karadzic, refused. That is a very important thing. And it should not to be confused with political matters, whether or not one supports Milosevic. Milosevic was the president then. Whoever had been the president, there is responsibility for the whole country would have been behind that,” Dacic has been quoted as saying by the German broadcaster.
Asked “what kind of relations Belgrade has with Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo,” Dacic said that the state leadership was “open to peace and stability in the region.”
“There is no solution based on the ‘everyone loves everyone else’ mantra, but we all live here in the region, we have a similar history and similar problems. The common goal of all countries is primarily the stabilization of the economy. During the conflict, we lost a lot of time. The European Union would certainly have to recognize that the European path of the Western Balkan countries holds these countries together and encourages regional stability. There is a need for joint projects, but it will not be easy, even though the war is long over. In reality, true peace has not yet been reached. Just as somebody starts a war, so they should start peace. Serbia is making efforts in this direction. We will not return to the past in the way that can be seen in some countries where anti-Serb policy rules and who provoke Serbia, jeopardizing peace and stability in the region,” said Dacic.
He then explained “why Belgrade sees Zagreb as the main culprit for the worsening of relations.”
“You know, Croatia as a new member of the European Union is trying to profit from that position and set various ultimatums and conditions before Serbia, that would block Serbia’s path to the EU. They openly threatened that Serbia would never become an EU member. One of the problems is the (Serbian) law on prosecution of war crimes, but we respect international law. Another problem is that anti-Serb campaigns in Croatia are the norm. With it goes the rehabilitation of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), which was Hitler’s creation. In numerous concentration camps then (during WW2) they killed hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and others. And now, with the blessing of Croatian institutions, people who during WW2 committed crimes against Serbs are being rehabilitated. This leads to the reaction of the Serbian side. For that reason I think that our bilateral problems must be dealt with in an appropriate manner. But in any case we will not accept the rehabilitation of those who humiliate Serbian WW2 victims. We believe that the EU should react to these developments.”
Asked “when Serbia would recognize the reality of an independent Kosovo,” Dacic said that the Kosovo issue is not political in nature, but rather a problem of international law.
“Serbia cannot accept that it is legal for a part of its territory to lay claim to independence, without Serbia’s consent. Tomorrow the same could happen elsewhere in the world. Take the example of Catalonia. It wants to follow the example of Kosovo, unilaterally and without the consent of Madrid. You know, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told me that the United States has been investing in Kosovo’s independence for about 20 years. I wondered how this was possible, considering that Washington then supported the sovereignty of Serbia. She replied: ‘Yes, it is true that we support the sovereignty of Serbia, but without Kosovo’. I replied, ‘Well the Russian foreign minister said the same thing to me – Russia respects Ukraine’s sovereignty, but without Crimea’. So – what can we do? We want to solve problems, but we cannot take on a policy of unilateral actions. Serbia has its own interests, and we have done a lot in the dialogue with Pristina. But Pristina is not fulfilling its obligations under the normalization process. We are still far from normalization of relations. However, normalization does not contain, not even to the smallest degree, a recognition of Kosovo’s independence,” Dacic said.
According to him, Serbia has taken “a very wise position” regarding the RS Day referendum:
“It is important to preserve stability in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On the other hand, we have to be honest and say that Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) politicians have exerted great pressure to impose a false picture in the world about Bosnia-Herzegovina being a Muslim country. There are even proposals to abolish the Serb Republic (RS). We will never accept that. The Serbs are a constructive people. Bosnia-Herzegovina is a country with three nations and two entities. We will not under any circumstances allow the violation of the rights of the RS (Serb entity). However, we do not want to a repeat of the events from the early 1990s. The responsibility is on all stakeholders, not just the Serbs and the RS.”
Asked about Serbia’s stance toward the European Union, which is “in a crisis,” he said that Serbia is “more European than some countries that are members of the European Union.”
“I was known to say this even before the British referendum. Why? Because the EU is a cohesive factor that promotes regional cooperation in the Balkans, which is burdened by years of conflict. We are convinced that it is worth fighting for these goals and becoming a member of EU. I only hope that the European Union will survive long enough for us to become its part,” said Dacic.
As for the possibility of his country joining NATO, the Serbian foreign minister said Belgrade is “not even thinking about it.”
“Our official position is that Serbia should maintain its military neutrality. We do not want to be part of a military alliance. On the other hand, we have the highest level of cooperation with NATO that a country that does not want to become a member can have,” Dacic concluded.