Serbia had demonstrated its desire for full co-operation with its neighbours and expressed hope that negotiations towards accession to the European Union would start no later than January 2014, as agreed, president Tomislav Nikolić told the UN General Assembly on September 25 2013.
“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,” Nikolić said in his statement at the General Debate of the Assembly’s 68th session, the UN News Centre said.
“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 co-operation and in other ways improve living standards of the entire population.
Turning to regional issues, Nikolić said that the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo in 2008 was undermining the international system established by the UN. Serbia had been responding to that development through measured diplomatic and political means, precluding any use of force, he emphasised.
“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 to the UN General 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,” Nikolić said, “we have acquired the right to criticise 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.