Serbian president on Kosovo, Mladić arrest

BELGRADE -- I am not expecting that European Union officials are going to try to convince me to recognize Kosovo independence, Serbian President Boris Tadić told Euronews.

Boris Tadić (Beta)
Boris Tadić (Beta)

“Those who try something like that will fail. But, at the same time, I don’t expect that Serbia can start a new conflict within the European Union. That is why we tabled a resolution with the 27 European Union countries in a joint assembly with the United Nations last summer [in which] we opened dialogue with Priština,” the president pointed out.

According to him, there are many solutions for Kosovo but the two sides need to agree on them.

“There are many solutions, but those solutions have to be agreed. We need the other side to be more flexible, ready for dialogue, brave, innovative. If we are strict and rigid, we cannot find a solution for problems that [have existed] in the Balkans for more than 100 years,” he stressed.

“I am not very happy about being involved in all the problems that exist in the Balkans and I am not guilty of the problems that [have existed] for more than 100 years, but I am expecting and asking everyone to take into consideration and respect the legitimate Serbian interests,” Tadić said.

Commenting on Euronews reporter’s remark that it would not be easy, the Serbian president said:

“But what is easy? Is it easy to find a Ratko Mladić? To capture Slobodan Milošević? Radovan Karadžić? Two former presidents of Serbia? Presidents of Republic of Srpska — all generals? It’s not easy to take [those] kind[s] of risks. I am always ready to take risks if we [can] have a rational and promising future, if we can find a solution for problems that are creating an unsustainable atmosphere in the region — if we can find a really rational strategy and at the end of the day bring all the people who are living in the Balkans into the European Union.”

“Mladić arrest was not too late”

Commenting on Ratko Mladić’s arrest, Tadić rejected speculations that it was “is too little, too late”.

“My answer is very simple. I can explain easily what happened. [For] 16 years, we didn’t have the same governments in power. [During those] 16 years, we had a democratic revolution in Serbia. Sixteen years ago, it was the government of Slobodan Milošević. Until 5 October, 2000, Ratko Mladić had been walking [around] freely. He had been protected by the people from the state. This is crystal clear,” he stressed.

“For Serbia it [would have been] much better to fulfill that obligation earlier, many years ago. Every day [of] our investigation was extremely painful for Serbia. The moral price we paid in the international community was extremely high. [And] we [have] lost many investors in the past few years,” the Serbian president added.

When asked how the government had decided to extradite Mladić bearing in mind that only 34 percent of Serbs supported arresting Mladić, Tadić said:

“If you are calculating with opinion polls, with the common approach of your people, being president or [another] politician, you [don’t deserve] to be president.”

He added that such serious accusations regarding Srebrenica meant that Mladić “has to be in the Hague Tribunal, to be treated with a fair process, but he has to give some answers”.

“At the same time, [by] finishing that process, [by] capturing all the indictees, we are creating a better atmosphere in terms of reconciliation between us [Balkan states],” Tadić concluded.