Interview of Minister Selaković for "Vecernje novosti" on the occasion of one year of work of the Government

27. Oct 2021.
Behind us is a year in which Serbia, as a small but proud country, determined to jealously guard its political independence and military neutrality, was forced to fight for its interests in a complex and problem-laden political environment.

However, we have managed to do a lot at the international level: to fight for our word to be heard and for our state and national interests to be respected as legitimate. We have strengthened and renewed many old friendships, and with some countries, with which we have not always had a harmonious relationship in the past, we have laid the foundations for building better cooperation. Special attention was paid to the relations in the region, and our response to the provocations were economic initiatives of regional connection that can bring good to everyone. Serbia will continue to act as a successful state and as a pillar of stability and the locomotive of the region's economic development.

This is how the head of Serbian diplomacy, Nikola Selaković, summed up the results of the ministry he heads in an interview with "Novosti", ahead of the first year of work of the Government, during which he recorded as many as 354 meetings with foreign officials, including 16 presidents, 10 prime ministers and 110 ministers of foreign affairs.

Are we entering photo-finish in terms of the pressure on Serbia to recognize Kosovo and is there room for maneuver for our country?

- Anyone who thinks that he can solve the Kosovo-Metohija problem by "twisting Serbia's arm" and forcing it to recognize the unilaterally declared independence, is grossly mistaken. Nor will it solve that problem, nor will Serbia ever do something like that. No matter how narrow and small the room for maneuver for our country is, our determination will be that much bigger, to fight with all our strength for the protection of state interests in Kosovo and Metohija, for the rights of Serbian and other non-Albanian peoples, the rights of the Serbian Orthodox Church, for preserving our religious, cultural and historical heritage.

Is the information correct that the great Western powers, especially the United States, want the Kosovo issue to be completed by the end of 2022?

- Everything that someone considers a solution, implies the consent of official Belgrade. Our position on that issue was very clearly stated by President Aleksandar Vučić, and we, members of the government and the Prime Minister, follow that position. Some may think that a compromise solution is the one in which we will accept something as a resolved status – but that is neither a compromise solution, nor a solution at all. And we do not agree to that.

Is the new American ambassador Christopher Hill coming to Belgrade to finish what was started in the 1990s – to finally separate Kosovo, and drown the RS in B&H?

- We will see how Hill will act when he takes office. But neither are these the 1990s, nor are the people who were in power then still in charge. Today, Serbia is not only one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, but also an anchor country, a pillar of stability in this part of Europe. It is important for Serbia, in addition to remaining on the European path and cultivating and promoting old friendships and partnerships, to raise relations with the United States to a higher level. Our 140-year-long diplomatic relations are a pledge for the future and the hope that such relations can be created.

How much of an obstacle to that are our good relations with Moscow, which we constantly being resented for by Washington?

- Serbia pursues an independent and autonomous policy, and all decisions are made in Belgrade. Of course, not everyone likes such a policy. We will continue to jealously guard and promote this multi-vector foreign policy, and I do not see why it would be an obstacle to cooperation with anyone.

Will Belgrade ask Moscow to get directly involved in the negotiations on Kosovo?

- Any solution that would be reached must be passed by the UN Security Council. And there are also representatives of Moscow and Beijing there, who, unlike Western countries, have different views on this issue. Now, the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is under the auspices of the EU, as the main guarantor that what will be achieved by the agreement will also be fulfilled.

Will Pristina try to become a member of UNESCO or some other international organization again?

- We act at all times as if they will do it tomorrow. We have to be ready for such a surprise factor, and then, in accordance with that, take appropriate measures and make moves.

Does this mean that the un-recognition of Kosovo will take place? It is speculated that at least 10 countries are ready for that step...

- I think that there are many more countries that are willing to reconsider their positions on Kosovo and Metohija. We will not make the first move, because we would be declared provocateurs immediately. Moreover, we were ready to continue the moratorium on lobbying for recognition and un-recognition agreed by the Washington Agreement, but there is no good will in Pristina to respect any agreement.

You recently visited the Vatican. Will the Pope be able to visit Serbia soon?

- The Holy See determines the foreign policy agenda regarding visits of its head, on the basis of communication with the dominant Christian communities in certain countries. This means that the realization of the Pope's visit to Serbia is closely related to the voice of the Serbian Orthodox Church. I am convinced that the two churches will communicate and talk on that issue. It is important for us that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Holy See, Archbishop Gallagher, with whom I spoke at the Vatican, is coming to Belgrade on 22 November. They have a principled attitude of non-recognition of Kosovo separatism as a statehood, and their support for Serbia means a lot to us.

How do you view the accusations, especially from the region, that the celebration of the anniversary of the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement in Belgrade is in the function of creating a "Serbian world"?

- I really do not see what this has to do with each other. We are proud that we managed to organize probably the largest multilateral gathering in Europe this year, during the pandemic. President Vučić invited the presidents of all former Yugoslav republics to attend the gathering, and I invited all foreign ministers. Three deputy ministers came from Slovenia, Croatia and Northern Macedonia, while there were no representatives at that level from B&H and Montenegro. Everyone had a chance, and in my opinion, it was a great chance, to be in one place, and not in New York, with 37 heads of diplomacy from countries from distant parts of the world.

You said that in the constant attacks on President Vučić and Serbia, there is also illegal foreign interference. Who did you mean?

- Vučić is a nuisance because Serbia is no longer on its knees, but today it is an incomparably more politically stable, legally regulated and economically stronger country, which is the driving force of the region's development. And as such a state, without any dilemma, it can only answer to itself and the Serbian people, wherever they live. The one to whom such a Serbia does not suit, will do everything he can to overthrow the one who is the main reason why Serbia is as it is today, and that is President Vučić.