Serbia “on right path again”, Serbian FM

Serbian FM Vuk Jeremić says Serbia has the capacity and resolve to “break all records in 2010”, when it comes to the speed of joining the EU.

“From a hyperactive year in the foreign policy domain, Serbia is entering another of the kind. We are resolved to catch up with some countries that are, due to the circumstances, ahead of us in the EU-integration track,” he said.

Jeremić added that Serbia will “certainly strive” to become EU candidate by the end of next year.

“2009 was the best year for Serbia’s EU integration since the democratic changes. This is evident from the EC reports. We have canceled visas, unfrozen the interim agreement, submitted membership [candidate status] application. Our ambition is that the EC 2010 report is even better,” said the minister.

“Our road toward Europe will not be easy and one of the obstacles will be the conservative viewpoint of some EU members regarding the enlargement to the Western Balkans. I am convinced that all the obstacles will be surmounted,” he was optimistic.

Beside its EU ambition, Serbia will, according to Jeremić, “using all her forces and all available diplomatic and legal means” continue to fight to preserve the territorial integrity over Kosovo, and one priority will be regional relations, including protecting the rights of Serbs in the region.

“I would add to this the economic diplomacy. We will use the established political ties to boost the Serbian economy growth and enable for the citizens’ better lives.”

“As far as our government is concerned, there is no dilemma, Kosovo was and will remain an integral part of Serbia. I do not expect any government in the future to revise that stance,” Jeremić said.

He also stated that despite the fact that a number of Serbia’s neighbors acted in a way that endangered the country’s vital interest, “the answer was resolute but measured and as a result peace and stability of the region were preserved”.

“Our relations with the neighbors are not as they could be, but this did not happen through any decision that Serbia has made. We will continue to do all in our power to improve the circumstances in the Western Balkans and for the whole region to continue toward EU integration”.

Jeremić declared that Croatia’s genocide lawsuit against Serbia represents a “great burden” in the relation between the two countries.

“Unfortunately, Zagreb has so far not shown the intention to drop the suit and our government last year made a decision to prepare a countersuit. It has been completed and it relates to the crimes committed between 1991 and 1995, with a sizeable historical annex that sheds the light on the NDH [the puppet Nazi Independent State of Croatia] period,” said Jeremić.

Returning to the issue of Kosovo’s status, the minister said that Serbia’s strategy for the period after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rules on the legality of the ethnic Albanian unilateral independence declaration will be aimed at suppressing the number of recognitions, blocking Kosovo’s possible application for membership in international organizations, and maintaining the format in which Priština’s representatives take part in regional and international gatherings.

“We have prepared well, we have held meetings with all new [non-permanent] UN Security Council members, and I expect that, after the opinion [of the ICJ] is announced, there will be space for new dialogue,” he stated.

“Our starting negotiating position, once there is new dialogue, will be the same as it was when Albanians decided to leave the table and unilaterally declare independence. It is my opinion that any compromise is better than any unilateral, imposed solution,” Jeremić concluded.

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