Serbia and Kosovo are about to meet again this weekend to discuss the last points of a possible agreement brokered by the European Union.
The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, told Euronews that the final aim of the talks was to bring Albanians and Serbs “both from Kosovo, but also Albanians and Serbs in an entire region, to live together”.
Sergio Cantone, Euronews: Mr President, thank you for joining us. First question, you are about to open a new round of talks with your Kosovan counterpart. What is your red line?
Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia: I don’t speak very often about red lines, because if you speak too much about red lines, there are no real negotiations and the other side will insist only on these red lines. And it’s more important to discuss the issue properly, which means to try to find compromise solutions.
Euronews: One of these previous arrangements is the Association of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo…
Aleksandar Vučić: Yes, exactly.
Euronews: That you are asking for. But apparently, the Kosovan government is not ready to give, or at least there is a divergence of points of view concerning the way or the method?
Aleksandar Vučić: The issue is that we signed it in 2013 and 2015. And these are: the implementation plan, principles, management team and of course the first agreement. These four arrangements. We have everything already signed and also signed by European Union representatives and it has to be delivered. But that’s not the final aim. The final aim is to bring Albanians and Serbs both from Kosovo, but also Albanians and Serbs in an entire region, to live together, to live much better and to respect each other.
Euronews: The problem for the Kosovans is that they are afraid of – that’s what they say, of course – is to create the conditions for a new kind of Republika Srpska in Kosovo. The Republika Srpska, I remind our viewers, is this Serbian republic in Bosnia.
Aleksandar Vučić: It’s not true. It’s a Serb republic, it’s not Serbian. But anyway, you are right, because we hear this kind of platitude on a daily basis. There was something that was – and is still – written. And it’s signed. And that has to be delivered. Otherwise, international public law does not exist.
Euronews: Apparently, the current Kosovan government would like to have more sovereignty on its own territory… what they consider to be their own territory… that has been recognised by many countries.
Aleksandar Vučić: By many countries. But not by an international public law. But now I’m insisting on reconciliation, real reconciliation: not always trying to humiliate the other side, but to find a compromise solution for both.
Euronews: Reconciliation goes through not maybe a mutual recognition, but a mutual set of concessions?
Aleksandar Vučić: Yes
Euronews: So, the Association of Serbian Municipalities is one, which should be in favour of Serbia , as you said to implement, but it was already agreed…
Aleksandar Vučić: Reconciliation requires many concessions from the Serbian side as well”. Which is: many arrangements on customs stamps, customs seals, original representations, diplomas, documents, professional issues, plates and everything else.
Euronews: The problem is especially to understand where is the point concerning the autonomy of a Serbian community living in Kosovo: education…
Aleksandar Vučić: Education, health care system, spatial planning, rural and urban planning, economic development: everything that’s been outlined and itemized within the principles that have already been agreed upon.
Euronews: Would you be able to establish a clear line of separation between the concept of autonomy and self-determination?
Aleksandar Vučić: Why did some people give or approve or accept that right to self-determination for some people and for some nations and why didn’t they give it to some others? And we will firmly remain on it. And Serbia is the country that attracted 62% of overall foreign direct investments in the western Balkans.
Euronews: Mr President, but this kind of economic miracle of Serbia is also based on, say, a moderate price of the gas that is coming from Russia…
Aleksandar Vučić: Just partly, yes.
Euronews: And the European Union is calling Serbia to rally to the sanctions.
Aleksandar Vučić: Speaking about the gas price, I believe we have a good price and we have a booming economy. Last year… in the last three years, we were one of the five fastest growing economies in entire Europe.
Euronews: Because, as you said, the price of your energy is lower than in other countries and that could be a problem for you If you had to rally to the sanctions of the European Union against Russia.
Aleksandar Vučić: But that’s not the only issue. And you know, I was reading and was listening about thousands of false accusations against Serbia about ruining regional peace and stability and “Serbia will attack Bosnia, Serbia will attack Pristina, Serbia will attack that and that”.
Did it happen? No, it did not. There were some tensions in North Kosovo and what I wanted to say to our people many times and I’m reiterating it here: we had a very professional relationship and very good and responsible and serious relationship with NATO, we will carry on with that. And I was very satisfied with that.
Euronews: President Putin has entwined the Kosovo question with some other questions, first in Crimea and then also in the Donbas.
Aleksandar Vučić: Is it a question for me or for some Western leaders? Because he found a precedent. But our reaction was different, just for you to know, we said: “We do support the UN charter, and that’s why Crimea and all the other parts of Ukraine belong to Ukraine.” That was our response. Just to be fair with your viewers.
Euronews: Would you be ready to make some concessions to the Kosovan counterpart when it comes to the membership of the Council of Europe?
Aleksandar Vučić: They have already started that procedure for the Council of Europe without asking Serbia. And they don’t need Serbia for that. But there is a regulation… and that proposed plan by Germans and French on international organisations. And they got my response. So I said it face-to-face to Macron and Scholz.
Euronews: The UN? The United Nations is too early to say, because China and Russia have their say.
Aleksandar Vučić: It’s not about China or Russia. I believe it’s about Serbia more than China and Russia. I discussed it with Macron and Scholz.
Euronews: And… ?
Aleksandar Vučić: And with all the others.
Euronews: And what was the… ?
Aleksandar Vučić: We discussed about red lines at the beginning of our interview.