BELGRADE -- Tomislav Nikolic says Kosovo is crucial "although recognizing its southern province as independent has not been set as a condition for Serbia's EU membership."
"This demand was until recently hidden, but now represents the dominant opinion in Europe, especially since the formation of the current composition of the European Commission."
Therefore, he continued, Serbia must as soon as possible determine itself toward this demand that is becoming increasingly visible, and do so with a new state platform for Kosovo and Metohija.
"Immediately after the May holidays the platform should be on the prime minister's desk. The government will say whether the plan is feasible or not. Then the ministers will formally decide whether to send this or a slightly amended draft to the National Assembly. I think we should not take different roads on this issue," Nikolic said.
According to him, the core idea of the new platform is that Serbia will never recognize an independent Kosovo, and to clearly show what the lines are that will never be crossed, but also "for everyone to stand behind such a policy and to let everyone know that is Serbia."
"We see that Pristina is gradually forming its own institutions. They insist on issues that also concern statehood, while eliminating the Serb influence in Kosovo in respect of property ownership, energy. They are ignoring the agreement on the community Serb municipalities. They are launching 'Greater Albania' issues. There's no more time," warned the president.
Nikolic said that he has been persuading all his western interlocutors for years that "there is a risk," and that their answer has always been that "the EU will never allow such a thing."
"I asked them - what if Kosovo, that you recognized, and Albania organize a referendum on unification. How would you prevent them," said Nikolic, adding that "the mild answer of the West " was now evident, although he added he "doubts the sincerity of those who said they will not allow the creation of a Greater Albania."
On the other hand, Pristina claims that Kosovo is an independent state and in this has the support of those countries that have recognized it.
"For us Kosovo and Metohija is an essential autonomy within Serbia. With such positions a final agreement (between Belgrade and Pristina) is not in sight. Who could give in," asked the president, and "admitted" that Kosovo is an issue on which everything will be decided.
He noted that Serbia has met the conditions for the opening of chapter 34, but that EU membership negotiations "are not beginning."
"Has chapter 35 on Kosovo been imposed on us so that we never join the EU," Nikolic wondered, adding that "some apparently expected that Serbia will be led by people who would accept the independence of Kosovo."