Serbia fully ready to integrate into Europe, its President tells UN gathering

Tomislav Nikolic, President of Serbia. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

25 September 2013 – The President of Serbia said at the United Nations today that his country had demonstrated its desire for full cooperation with its neighbours and expressed hope that negotiations towards accession to the European Union would start no later than January 2014, as agreed.

“I hope that I will be able to inform the next General Assembly session on …Serbia's continued progress towards its full membership of the European Union,” President Tomislav Nikolic said in his statement at the General Debate of the Assembly’s 68th session.

“At the same time, Serbia has revived the old and forged new friendships in the world,” he said, describing participation in many multilateral activities, from UN peacekeeping to establishing the next development agenda. “We have been creating strategic partnerships in the East, West, North and South.”

In the region, he said, Serbia desired to connect with its neighbours through new road, railways and bridges, to jointly appear on international markets, to expand cultural, scientific, technological and sports cooperation and in other ways improve living standards of the entire population.

Turning to regional issues, he said that the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo in 2008 was undermining the international system established by the United Nations. His country had been responding to that development through measured diplomatic and political means, precluding any use of force, he stressed.

“We are convinced that problems, including the status of Kosovo and Metohija, should be resolved peacefully. For this reason, we heeded the call of the United Nations General Assembly …to enter into negotiations with representatives of the authorities in Pristina,” he said while reiterating that Serbia had not recognized Kosovo’s independence, “either de jure or de facto.”

He requested that the mandate of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) remain unchanged, that its staff not be downsized and that its activities be reinforced.

He also reaffirmed his April 2013 statement before the Assembly that the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) did not help reconciliation, was not independent, had acted differently in similar situations and otherwise abused its mandate.

“By accepting the integrity of the Tribunal,” he said, “we have acquired the right to criticize its work and to propose a solution as well.” In that light, he requested the UN and the ICTY to find a legal means to ensure that convicted Serbs be sent to serve their prison terms in Serbia.

Mr. Nicolic is one of scores of leaders to speak at the annual General Assembly session at which heads of State and Government and other high-level officials will present their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance.

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