Sunday, March 31, 2013

Vucic: We deserve accession talks date

BELGRADE - Serbia deserves to get a date for opening accession talks with the EU, and if the EU thinks otherwise they should say what the Serbian government has done wrong, First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said Saturday. "We will not beg anyone. We think we have deserved the EU's respect and the date with our work, effort and dedication," said Vucic.

 "If Brussels thinks different, they should tell our people that we failed," he told a news conference at which he presented the results of the government's work to date. "We have a clear approach: you evaluate Serbia and its government; if you say it did not do a good job, then tell us what we failed to do," said Vucic. He noted that Serbia has fulfilled the major portion of the seven conditions posed by Germany in exchange for its consent to opening accession talks.

 "Only one and a half or, according to them, two and a half conditions remain," which Serbia is prepared to fulfill as much as is in its power, concluded Vucic. Serbia is ready to compromise in the dialogue on Kosovo, but it will not agree to its own abolishment and humiliation, First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said Saturday.

 "We will make compromises because this is important for Serbia's future and for our children, but the EU, the United States and others, Russia included, must show that they do not want to see Serbia humiliated," Vucic told a news conference at which he presented the results of the government's work to date. Ahead of the resumption of Belgrade-Pristina talks on April 2 in Brussels, Vucic says that as it attempts to solve the issue of Kosovo, the Serbian nation and state faces the most complex situation in its recent history. He explained that the offer made to Belgrade at the last round of EU-facilitated talks is "not worthy of respect or consideration."

 "We were offered absolutely nothing. Everything was in line only with Kosovo laws. I wonder why we even sat down to talk," said Vucic. "Serbia cannot accept nothing, it wants something, so that it would have a future and to get this it is ready to make difficult decisions," said Vucic. Noting that every decision has a cost, Vucic said the present generation of Serbian politicians is ready to pay the price for the difficult decision on its shoulders, but that "in return, it wants justice - not for the politicians, but for the people." "We want to live in peace with the world if they will let us," he said, adding: "We are going to Brussels to talk about accepting compromises if there is respect and desire to reach a compromise," said the deputy PM.

 "We are telling the EU, not Pristina - do not walk over us and quash us," he added. "We are asking the EU to take care of Serbia and the interests of our people in Kosovo, without harsh words for Pristina. Pressures that some people's political careers will be over will not get you anywhere," said Vucic. He did not want to comment on the insistence that he personally get directly involved in the talks with Pristina. "I know what they expect, but it is inappropriate for me to comment," he said, adding that "there will be no difference in the position advocated by the president, prime minister or anyone in the Serbian delegation." 

 "In Brussels, we represent Serbia and it is our duty to protect its interests," stressed Vucic. He added he does not see a pressing need to go to the talks, but he will take political and personal responsibility for their results. "If anything depends on me, if I need to help make an agreement happen, I am always ready to walk to Brussels if need be, but this is not a personnel issue, but a matter for the EU," he said, thanking EU High Representative Catherine Ashton for her efforts in mediating the dialogue. "We support all efforts, but what we are asking for is that Serbia not be the only one being blackmailed and asked to accept its own abolishment," concluded Vucic. Serbia's first deputy prime minister, said Saturday that the previous system in the country was criminally set up to suit the interests of a weathly few in a systematically undermined society.

 "Our internal system was criminally set up to suit only the interests of a wealthy few, and the state itself was made torpid for the benefit of certain rich men," Vucic told a news conference at which he presented the results of the government's work to date. He said the new government has taken on the monsters and called them by their proper names. "We promised there would be no deals with those who did not think of the citizens and the state," recalled Vucic. 

 The deputy PM said that between August 1, 2012 and March 10, 2013, charges were filed against 115 people and 89 people were arrested in connection with 24 controversial privatization cases. Total damages exceed RSD 79.8 billion, while the accused are believed to have made RSD 60.2 billion in profit from these crimes. Vucic said the government has tackled three key problems in the previous period: Kosovo, organized crime and corruption, and its own habits.

 "The government has taken painful, difficult and risky moves, because Serbia could no longer afford frozen conflicts, plunder of state property and politicians bragging in the media, while the nation crumbled," he said, adding "it is important that the people see Serbia is slowly moving forward." Vucic said the fight against corruption will continue after the talks on Kosovo are over, regardless of the political affiliation of its actors, and added that anyone tarnishing Serbia's reputation will have to answer. He said many new cases will be opened, while ongoing investigations such as Agrobanka will be wrapped up. 

The prosecutor's office is working on the Azotara and Nibens Group affairs and no in the government will succumb to pressures, Vucic noted.

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