Nikolić: We will cooperate, but not recognize

BRDO PRI KRANJU -- Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić on Thursday attended a meeting of regional leaders in Brdo pri Kranju in Slovenia.
R-L: Ivo Josipović, Tomislav Nikolić, Borut Pahor (Tanjug)
R-L: Ivo Josipović, Tomislav Nikolić, Borut Pahor (Tanjug)
He met with his French counterpart Francois Hollande on the sidelines of the informal gathering.
The meeting is being held as part of the Brdo Process, which is aimed at encouraging the states to act in concert to resolve open issues in the region and speed up the EU integration process, in the presence of the French president.

After the plenary session, Hollande said that France strongly advocates for the Western Balkans' European perspective, and stands ready to act as an intermediary in tackling open issues, and announced France's more active role in the region in the years to come.

The French president said that the Belgrade-Priština agreement that was reached in Brussels on April 19 is of "historic importance."

Nikolić also met with Croatian President Ivo Josipović, on the sidelines of the gathering.

Nikolić said on Thursday that Serbia will continue to look at Kosovo as a province with essential autonomy and will never recognize its independence.

“We will hold talks, reaching agreements - they will argue that it (Kosovo) is a country, we will argue that we see them as an essential autonomy,” Nikolić said at a press conference in Brdo pri Kranju.

He added that Serbia is ready to hand over certain executive powers to Priština, but will not sign any agreement that could make Kosovo entitled to becoming a UN member.

He said that in all the talks with EU officials, Belgrade has been seeking from Brussels not to require it to recognize of Kosovo independence or sign an agreement which would give Kosovo the right to be a member of the UN.

“Serbia simply cannot do such a thing, and I know not of any country in the world that could,” said Nikolić.

Asked whether he had a problem with the fact that Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga attended the meeting, he said that he has no right to have such a problem because Belgrade and Priština agreed about Priština's participation in regional meetings.

He recalled that the decision about the way in which Kosovo is to be represented was passed by the Serbian parliament.

"Mine was to participate here in this event so that it would not pass without Serbia present,” Nikolić explained.