01 August 2006

Kostunica Stands Firm on Kosovo-Metohija

Serbia will not renounce Kosovo-Metohija
for accelerated EU accession

Belgrade, July 31, 2006 – Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said in an interview with daily Danas that Serbia will never renounce Kosovo-Metohija in return for the country’s accelerated EU accession and stressed that Belgrade would respond by using all legal means should the province proclaim independence.
Vojislav Kostunica speaks during an interview with daily Danas
Photo: FonetKostunica expressed belief that the solution to this most difficult problem will not be unfavourable for Serbia. There is one part of international community that sees only one option, that is Kosovo-Metohija’s independence, pointing only to its superficial advantages. Independence for the province has many shortcomings whereas essential autonomy, the solution we pledge, has many advantages, Kostunica stressed. The Prime Minister went on to say that the UN Security Council’s session dedicated to Kosovo-Metohija on July 13 made a particular impression on him. Representatives of all five permanent members of the UN Security Council spoke, which shows that there is awareness of the importance and complexity of the problem, he said. We had a chance to hear the arguments made by Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, which were very convincing and close to our position, Kostunica pointed out. It is of utmost importance that the debate on Kosovo-Metohija is first led in Serbian parliament, Kostunica said and noted that the negotiating team will inform parliament in early autumn on what has been done. Parliament is the only real, democratic forum where the issue of Kosovo-Metohija can be discussed, he said and added that if we consider the worst solution, the position of Serbia would be to conclude that Kosovo-Metohija is part of Serbia. This is no empty rhetoric but a constitutional and legal formulation, Kostunica pointed out. According to the Prime Minister, in trying to solve the Kosovo-Metohija issue, Serbia has presented only arguments of law and not force and this is the road that Serbia plans to pursue. The argument of force is very often on the side of others, certain parts of the international community, who sometimes condition Serbia’s European integration with renunciation of Kosovo-Metohija, Kostunica said and highlighted that this would be impossible. There are certain defined conditions for all countries that want to become EU members and no country was forced to give up part of its territory in order to join the EU, said Kostunica and stressed that Serbia cannot be such a case either. Speaking on cooperation with the Hague tribunal, the Serbian Prime Minister said that all those accused must be brought before the court in The Hague. All those accused who were proven to be in Serbia went to The Hague, Kostunica said noting that the Serbian government is now facing a technical problem to establish where Ratko Mladic is located at the moment. We are trying to solve the very specific “Mladic case” through the Action Plan and through better coordination with The Hague, Brussels, Serbian intelligence services, copying the Croatian model, Kostunica said. The Prime Minister also announced that after parliament amends the law on ministries, he will make consultations about candidates for ministers of defence and foreign affairs. It is certain that the government will get two new ministries after the law on ministries is amended, he said. New elections should take place after the constitution is adopted, Kostunica said and explained that Serbia is no longer a federal unit or part of the state union and therefore it needs to pass a democratic constitution that will last for some time. Serbia’s foreign policy will focus on EU integration and cooperation with The Hague whereas the country’s interior policy will be based on Kosovo-Metohija, the new constitution and the economy. Kostunica concluded that he does not see a more logical solution than elections taking place after the new constitution is adopted.