30. Nov 2022.
Interview with Ivica Dačić upon his return to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

It is good to be back at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, like coming home after travels. My colleagues at the ministry gave me a warm welcome, we have known each other for years, we have worked together for years. I am confident that we will continue the path to victory, as our fight for withdrawals of recognition of Kosovo, the fight to prevent Kosovo from becoming a member of Interpol and UNESCO, and the fight to bring the subject of Jasenovac to its rightful place. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we also have a lot of motivation and good energy to do it in the best way, for the benefit of Serbia, says Foreign Minister and SPS leader Ivica Dačić in an interview for daily Kurir.

Who was the first to congratulate you on your re-election as a minister?

- Since Aleksandar Vučić and myself are party presidents, he was the first to congratulate me immediately after the agreement on the government. Him and Ana Brnabić. It was Vučić who proposed that I assume the ministerial position and I am very grateful for the trust I was given to perform such an important function.

Were there any people in the SPS who were dissatisfied that they did not get a ministerial position?

- Things are not done that way in our party. Our members, unlike in some other parties, do not fight and argue or leave or make fractions in the party because they did not get what they expected. In our country, everyone knows very well that it is not just government and parliament positions that are important for a party’s success. Everyone is important and everyone contributes to that success. It is also a well-known fact that no position is permanent, and holding a local, state or party position depends only on constant work, and nothing else.

Do you think that Serbia can still resist the pressure to impose sanctions on Russia? You have seen the assessments and forecasts by some Western media and analysts that this government could be tasked with the introduction of sanctions...

- Ten years ago they made forecasts that Vučić and myself would recognize Kosovo, except that we didn't. What to say to those who make such forecasts? Like many others, they do not listen at all, and both Vučić and I are constantly saying what we really think what is best for Serbia. The issue of sanctions against Russia is not recent, it has been a topic since 2014, when the West first introduced sanctions against Russia. And we have been clear about our position - we will not introduce sanctions because we are the only one country Europe that was once under sanctions, and we do not wish that experience on any nation. Of course, the pressures are much stronger now, and we are openly saying that we will make that decision ourselves, measuring only our interest and no one else's. We did not impose sanctions on Russia because we know very well that it is not in our interest. If our interests, our economy, and our political stability are threatened in any way, we will consider different decisions, but they will be our decisions and no amount of pressure will change that.

What if the EU starts with economic pressures and threats, such as cancelling grants, withdrawing investors?

- We will fight to prevent that from happening, we are already fighting with it now, because those pressures are not recent. I do not remember stronger pressures since 1999, and you know I have been in this a long time. We must constantly talk with our partners in Europe and in the West in general, and we do that. President Vučić is constantly in discussions, and now I will be more involved as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. And they all understand our position very well, and it is very specific because it is not easy for us to impose sanctions on anyone. I am sure that we will find a common language and understanding. It will not be easy, it is not easy now, but we must protect Serbia’s interests with all we have.

The deadline set by Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti for the replacement of Serbian license plates expires next week and Pristina claims that there will be no delay despite Western demands... How do you interpret the fact that Kurti does not listen to the pleas of high-ranking Western officials to postpone the deadline for replacing the plates? Are you concerned about possible escalations and a new pogrom of Serbs in Kosmet?

- For the umpteenth time we are watching the same game dictated by Pristina - if they do not get their way, there will be violence. That is the only policy they have, whether Kurti, Haradinaj, Thaci, whoever is in the government. Those who have always allowed such destructive behaviour should discuss it with them. There is a proposal on the table from the West to postpone the re-registration. It is a reasonable proposal, because it eliminates the possibility of escalation, it leads to lowering tensions and dialogue, and that is clearly not what Kurti is comfortable with. In any case, we are looking after our compatriots, ensuring, as much as possible, that they are safe and not exposed to any risks, considering the aggressive team in power in Pristina. This is a central issue for us and we will, like always, do our utmost to protect the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija.

Are Serbia's attempts to prevent Kosovo's membership in the Council of Europe doomed to failure if we consider who is behind the Pristina government?

- From the very first day after my return to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I tackled that very issue, because it is also part of the overall pressure exerted on Serbia. We are not in a favourable position, it is no secret, because the admission of new members to the Council of Europe does not require the consent of all, but two-thirds of the current members. On the other hand, Pristina has been lobbying to enter this organization for a long time, for years, and we have made a huge effort to prevent that from happening. We will continue to work on it, with full force, both with the Council of Europe and all its members, because we know very well that the admission of Kosovo would be a dangerous precedent and a heavy blow for this organization. We always tell them clearly that opening the door to Kosovo would open the door to other separatists that may also seek membership in the Council of Europe.

Do you think that there could be new withdrawals of the recognition of Kosovo's independence?

- Not only is it possible, but it is also realistic. On the condition that Pristina violates the Washington Agreement and starts seeking admission to international organizations again. This is not a threat; we only ask for the implementation of what has already been agreed. In any case, we will know how to respond.

Are you at all optimistic that in the near future - some mention next year - there will be a solution for the Kosovo issue? We see that both the EU and the US are now engaged in this issue more than before.

- Ever since the first talks with Pristina as part of the EU-mediated dialogue, in which President Vučić and myself took part, I learned that it is not wise to be optimistic. I learned that from those in Pristina, because obstructions, blockades, blackmails, and interruptions of dialogue have been their methods, nothing like that has ever come from us. You are right, the US and the EU are much more involved now, and that is good, it suits us, because we also do not want a status quo while Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija are exposed to violence. We will not allow any quick and partial solutions, not when our interests are at stake. We want compromise, agreement, and respect for everything that has been agreed upon, because that is the only way towards peace and stability. We want to see a lasting agreement in place between Serbs and Albanians, that will serve all future generations. We have the opportunity for that, but we also have a huge responsibility to protect our country and our people. We have been successful so far and that we will continue on that path.


We have nothing against Putin and Zelensky talking in Belgrade

Some mention that Belgrade could be the place for peace negotiations between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.

- The most important thing would be for the peace negotiations to start as soon as possible and for the war to stop. That is much more important than where the negotiations will be held or who will mediate those negotiations. The fact that Belgrade is also mentioned as a place for peace talks only means that Serbia enjoys respect for its attitude towards the war in Ukraine. And that relationship is principled and deeply sincere because it is a conflict between two peoples who are close to us, and we are downhearted that the war even started. Basically, if there is a sincere desire from both sides to discuss peace in Belgrade, we will have nothing against it. Serbia did not contribute to the outbreak of war, but it can contribute to peace.

Source/Photo: Kurir/Miloš Miskov, Beta