Serbian Deputy PM Božidar Đelić: Kosovo must be settled before EU accession

Serbian Deputy PM Božidar Đelić has stated that the issue of Kosovo-Metohija has to be solved previous to Serbia’ EU accession, which is not viable before 2015.

The unanimous decision of the EU foreign ministers to forward Serbia’s EU candidacy application to the European Commission (EC) has been another step forward in our vision of the EU accession. It is clear that Serbia will not join the EU before 2015, Đelić said.

He underlined that unfortunately, time has been wasted, but added that it was not possible to predict economic crisis, which had serious consequences on the EU and Eurozone.

When he was told that the crisis is not the only obstacle, and that the greatest one is called Ratko Mladić, a fugitive of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Đelić recalled that Serbia has arrested Radovan Karadžic only a few days after the current authorities came into power in 2008.

Serbia has arrested and extradited 42 out of 44 ICTY indictees, and I hope that it is only a matter of time when the cooperation with the ICTY will be completed, Đelić said.

As for the results of polls according to which only 36 percent of the Serbian citizens support Mladić’s arrest, he stated that the number of supporters of this action is constantly growing.

However, this also reflects that fact that during the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia, crimes were not committed only by one party, but rather by everyone involved, and that not enough has been done for the Serbian victims. Moreover, the Kosovo issue appears to be another area in which moves were unilateral and asymmetrical. This is a partial explanation of the citizens’ stance, but it does not change anything about Serbia’s obligation to cooperate with the ICTY, Đelić underlined.

“As for Kosovo, Serbia wants to be involved in the resolution of the issue. We are aware that the problem has to be solved prior to the EU accession. It is for its Constitution and history that Serbia cannot accept any type of independence of Kosovo. The EU aspirations of Belgrade and Priština can be a strong impetus for a compromise on all open issues, including the status. We regret Austria’s decision to recognize Kosovo, and we hope that Vienna will support our search for a compromise,” Đelić said.

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