SANU President Vladimir Kostic has said it was “important to express an opinion also when it not suitable to the collective mind.”
“I will not let someone determine what I may and not say, and what is a unique body of opinion which I need to adhere to,” said Kostic in a statement for the daily Vecernje Novosti.
Commenting on reactions to original statement about Kosovo – a province which he said was “factually and formally lost for Serbia, while the only political wisdom is how to leave Kosovo with elements of dignity” – Kostic repeated that it was his personal opinion and not the position of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU), but said it was “wrong that people who never heard the all of what he said discuss his positions.”
Kostic added he “would not talk about whether he is a patriot,” and “stressed he could have left Serbia 20 times, for a lot of money” – but decided to stay “with his children and grandchildren.”
“Let Serbia decide for itself whom to believe,” said the SANU head, and added that the journalist who interviewed him when he made the statements “acted like a professional and had not provoked him.”
During that interview, beside his statement about Kosovo, Kostic also said that an alliance with Russia was “an artificial alternative” for Serbia, and that the country “should enter, while vomiting, this paradise with the European Union”.
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic reacted by saying that Kostic expressed his views “at a time the state is leading a difficult battle, despite tremendous pressure from those who promote the independence of Kosovo.”
Nikolic urged SANU to declare itself on Kostic’s stance, and whether after such a statement he can remain president of the Academy.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that he “cannot agree with Kostic’s statement” – but that everyone is entitled to their judgment and opinion and that he will not call anyone a traitor.
“It’s a bad time for such statements at a time when we are trying to prevent Kosovo’s membership in UNESCO,” said Vucic.