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Jeremic: Serbia should stay firm about Kosovo

16. May 2012. | 08:46 08:51

Source: Emg.rs, Tanjug

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic has said that if Serbia remains firm in not recognizing Kosovo, Pristina will have no choice but get back at the negotiating table, even if the topics include the Kosovo status issue.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic has said that if Serbia remains firm in not recognizing Kosovo, Pristina will have no choice but get back at the negotiating table, even if the topics include the Kosovo status issue.

“If we stay firm about not recognizing Kosovo and keep preventing Kosovo from integrating in international organizations, there will be alternatives but to get back at the table where not only technical issues are discussed, as it has been the case in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina so far, but also the status issue,” Jeremic told Tanjug's correspondent in New York.

After a UN Security Council meeting, the Serbian foreign minister said that by active diplomacy over the previous four years, Serbia had managed to freeze Kosovo's attempts to achieve statehood through its unilateral declaration of independence.
“Besides great energy having been invested by some of the largest states of the world to make this happen, it did not happen, because only a minority of the world countries have recognized Kosovo,” Jeremic said.

According to Jeremic, Serbia has succeeded in blocking Kosovo's attempts to become a member of any international political organization. “We managed to fight for the position where any future step of Kosovo in the international arena depends on Serbia's stand,” said Jeremic.

“Without a decision and consent from Serbia, there will be no solution to the Kosovo problem and I think that this is perhaps the biggest success of our diplomatic efforts, aimed at preserving the territorial integrity of our country,” said the Serbian foreign minister.

Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic agreed Monday in New York with the assessment of the UN Secretary General that the room for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue may be "narrowed", but underlined that the reason for this is that ethnic-Albanian public opinion is turning increasingly hostile to the continuation of any sort of negotiations. According to Jeremic, Serbia remains "fully committed to the process."

"Disagreements on status must not impede our ability to act in concert on resolving practical issues. Much work remains to be done in improving the lives of the people through talks conducted in good faith," Jeremic underlined in his address before the United Nations Security Council in New York.

The Foreign Minister pointed to the need of a realistic solution for northern Kosovo, protection of Serb enclaves in southern Kosovo, and preservation of Serbian identity and religious heritage, as well as property. Underlining that Serbia seeks "a just conclusion to the Kosovo conflict," Jeremic recalled that one story kept repeating itself in the several-century-long history of the Balkans - whenever one side got everything, the other just "bade its time" in anticipation of more favorable circumstances that would allow for the return of what was thought to have been wrongly taken away.

Serbia is determined to bring to an end, with a true consent of all parties, the bane in which "today's victor becomes tomorrow's vanquished." Commenting on the case of Fatmir Ljimaj, Jeremic welcomed the announcement by the EULEX Special Prosecutor's Office that it would appeal the not-guilty verdict for war crimes committed against Serbs.

As for the investigation into the illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo, for which the UN Secretary General said had progressed, Jeremic pointed to "lack of transparency" in the inquiry conducted by EULEX.He said that during the reporting period, many critical questions, including those related to accountability, mandate, jurisdiction, and witness protection and relocation, did not receive adequate answers.

"Uncovering the full truth about these monstrous allegations, unprecedented in the history of warfare, must remain our top priority. As a recent Amnesty International report has concluded, more than 400 Serbian families are still waiting for the bodies of their relatives to be found; many believe that their son, father or brother may be among the Serbs taken to Albania. They are still waiting for justice," Jeremic underscored.

Noting that UNMIK is a crucial pillar of peace and stability in Kosovo, Jeremic concurred with the statement by the UN Secretary General that "actions undertaken by the international actors operating within the framework of the United Nations and Resolution 1244 (1999) need to be strategically aligned and closely coordinated." Jeremic gave the example of the possible "reconfiguration" of EULEX, mentioned in the Report, and said that no details as to what those "structural changes" might involve have been provided.

"Our longstanding position on the European Union's engagement in Kosovo remains unchanged. We believe the EU should sustain its status-neutral efforts in order to build the missing institutional environment and improve the dismal societal conditions in the province," Jeremic said.

Speaking about Kosovo Serbs' position in the province, Jeremic noted that the Ministry for Kosovo and Metohija had recorded more than 180 separate attacks against Serbs, their possessions, or their holy sites that took place in the first quarter of 2012 - averaging out to more than two per day. According to the UNHCR, only 33 Serbs returned to the province in the first three and a half months of 2012, which is about half the number that did so during the same period last year.

Since the last session UN SC session on Kosovo, Pristina has unfortunately continued to engage in a campaign of intimidation against Serbs, the foreign minister said. Jeremic listed the incidents in which Serbs have been arrested in Kosovo from the beginning of the year, underlining that two of the four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the province were targeted on the same day: on March 31, graffiti appeared at the monastery of Visoki Decani, reading "Property of the Kosovo Liberation Army," and a few hours later, an extremely hazardous sub-munitions device was discovered on the grounds of the church of the Holy Virgin of Ljeviska, located in the old quarter of the ancient Serbian capital of Prizren. Between March 17 and April 9, parish churches in a number of enclaves in southern Kosovo were desecrated, vandalized, or, in one instance, fired upon by an automatic weapon, Jeremic pointed out.


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