Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Top state officials reach agreement on Kosovo

BELGRADE -- Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić and the government reached an agreement on two documents on Kosovo at a joint session on Wednesday.
Tomislav Nikolić, Ivica Dačić and Aleksandar Vučić (Beta)
Tomislav Nikolić, Ivica Dačić and Aleksandar Vučić (Beta)
It is expected that an extraordinary parliament session will be held at 10:00 CET on Saturday.
The president said after the meeting that the government had unanimously adopted two documents – a resolution that is a binding document on which MPs will vote in parliament and a platform that is also a binding document.Prime Minister Ivica Dačić has said that the platform would not be presented to the public.

“It is not customary to let those we are yet to negotiate with familiarize themselves with the platform and our tactics,” he said and added that it was not good that any version of the document had been released.

Nikolić said that some changes had been made to the platform but that its core had remaind completely the same.

“We have softened some edges, some parts could earlier be interpreted as suspension of the technical dialogue or EU negotiations and we have eliminated those doubts,” he pointed out.

The president said it was important that the agreement was reached unanimously.

“Serbia showed at the government meeting today that it can stand unanimously behind a document, with all the reservations and apprehension one has when talking about Kosovo. A lot of time has passed, what we are doing today is a minimum of what we could have gotten several years ago and a maximum of what we will be able to get in a few years," Nikolic told reporters.

He said that it would not be good for Serbia to do anything that was not in accordance with the resolution, adding that the “current opposition and the former authorities led to this level in relations with the provisional institutions in Priština”.

“I am partially at peace, I have been carrying a great weight for many years, the obligation I assumed the moment I was elected in agreement with representatives of the government. I fulfilled it today, it is now up to citizens to be aware of the challenges that await us, how torn we are between things we have to do and things we should do,” the president said.

Nikolić added that he hoped that the MPs would understand the responsibility they had.

“The government has proposed that the document is discussed at an extraordinary parliament session. I hope that MPs will understand the importance of the moment and their responsibility because this is not some bill we should fight over, point out what could have been done differently. The government deserves help. I will not pull out, I am not after political points,” the president stressed.

The joint session started around 10:15 CET on Wednesday in Belgrade.

The session was supposed to be held on Tuesday but it was postponed.

According to top officials of the ruling coalition, the session was not held on Tuesday because it was never officially called due to technical reasons and because the officials needed more time to discuss a final version of the document.

The resolution contains five items – that Serbia will never recognize Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence, that the dialogue with Priština will continue and that every progress in the dialogue needs to be accompanied by progress on Serbia’s EU pathway, solving of a status of the north of the province and special guarantees of individual and collective rights of Serbs south of the Ibar River.

Tanjug has learnt that the government on Monday received the draft resolution that had been prepared by the president’s cabinet. The government officials needed more time to harmonize their positions, including whether they would directly refer to the platform or if its official mentioning would be avoided.

Nikolić said earlier that Serbia could not get more than what the platform on Kosovo contained but that it must not accept anything less that.

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