President reiterates Kosovo is "EU's condition"Source: Tanjug, N1
BELGRADE -- Tomislav Nikolic says he does not support "quite every move made by the government," but claims they are "one team that will, if it so occurs, leave together."
"That I support it publicly means that I stand behind it. If we go, we will all go," he said.
Nikolic noted that the measures taken by the government are risky for it, but that Prime Minister Vucic is "of an age when he can take risks and spend one mandate in opposition, and then be returned to power by the people," but added that he expects the government to "fully stabilize the situation in the country by the next election."
The president also said he thinks the government "has a chance of remaining in power despite the measures it is taking. "
Asked "who wants him to step down as president," Nikolic said those were "perhaps the ones who want and need a weaker Aleksandar Vucic," who, he pointed out, has his support despite the fact they have not held identical positions "on many issues in the past 20 years - but managed to solve all the problems."
Asked whether the Progressive Party (SNS) was "the last party in his career," he said the answer depends primarily on his health and what is ahead of him in life.
"It depends primarily on my health, I would not want to impose myself on anyone, and also to be competition to my own party, but I could again become a member of the SNS," Nikolic, who stepped down as party leader after he was elected as Serbia's president, said.
The fact that Serbia has not imposed sanctions on Russia is not the reason why the country failed to open the first chapter in EU membership negotiations this year, he said, and reiterated that Serbia "should become a member."
The president said that "it would not be good if there is no agreement with the government" when it comes to his announced plan for Kosovo, because, he said, the solution can be found easily.
While confirming he is working on the plan, Nikolic noted that "there is no need to hurry, because on the one hand, this question requires a serious approach, and then the resumption of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has been announced for early February."
"By then the situation will be much clearer because the Brussels administration will present the conditions for opening of (EU membership negotiating chapters) chapters and for Serbia joining the EU," Nikolic said.
He said he did not know what solutions his predecessor Boris Tadic and Vojislav Kostunica as prime minister offered in the past, but claims he is "the only president who dared to present a plan, from which originated the Brussels agreement, and present it to the public."
"The plan originated from me. I do not want to hide behind anyone," Nikolic said, adding that was the reason why "it would not be good" if he and the government failed to agree now - considering that they "managed to do that before."
Criticizing Hashim Thaci's statement that Serbia "already recognized Kosovo" Nikolic said that "the Kosovo minister knows that recognition of Kosovo was never put on the table," and added that this statement "only complicates the position of the interim institutions in Pristina ahead of the talks in Brussels - "because they will have trouble explaining why the agreement on the resolution of living conditions without prejudice to status is being interpreted as a de facto recognition of Kosovo."
Nikolic said that "a sensational recognition of Kosovo cannot and should not happen."
Nikolic also repeated his criticism of some diplomats posted in Belgrade, especially the German ambassador, referring to his public appearances as "meddling in our country's internal affairs."
This was "especially true" when it comes to "the talks with EU Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn, when, although he was present , the German ambassador had no objection to Hahn's statement that recognition of Kosovo was a condition for Serbia's EU membership."
Therefore, Nikolic believes, the diplomat "cannot say that Hahn did not say that" - adding that if he himself lied, "the recordings do not." The president also said this was "the first time in many years that he heard something of the kind during a formal conversation."
Such a statement should not be interpreted by anyone, he is convinced. Nikolic them added that "he interprets it in a simple way":
"The statement by European Commissioner Hahn was that Serbia will be faced with 'a complete agreement' with Kosovo and Metohija before entering the EU. And now I ask whether there is agreement with the Albanians and how Serbia can achieve it in order to become an EU member," he concluded Nikolić.