Starović: Belgrade to remain committed to the Brussels dialogue

10. Jun 2022.
State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nemanja Starović stated that Belgrade should remain committed to the dialogue under the auspices of EU as a mediator mandated by the UN General Assembly to negotiate comprehensive normalisation of relations, regardless of the US positions and a recently changed Germany's view regarding Kosovo and Metohija.

When asked about the messages sent by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Starović said on the Radio Television of Serbia that Serbia had not reached an agreement on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, but that it did not mean that it needed to sulk because of that and leave the negotiation process in Brussels. 

“On the contrary, we should remain committed to the dialogue process,” Starović said, emphasising that he believed there would be a smallest common denominator, even on those topics on which Serbia could not agree, especially the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, which could represent a common position and action to at least maintain peace and stability in the region, which would mean discouraging Priština's unilateral moves the administration of Albin Kurti was very prone to. 

According to him, an unpleasant novelty for Serbia was the statement heard in Priština earlier in the day, which showed that Germany had joined the United States for the first time in abandoning the principle of constructive ambiguity, which characterised the Brussels negotiations from the moment they began 11 years ago.

“President Vučić's comment at the press conference was indeed responsible, courageous and stately in every sense,” Starović emphasised.

The State Secretary of the MFA said that some of the theses and attitudes of Chancellor Scholz were indeed very unpleasant for our ears, but that was not unexpected, and that it should not discourage Serbia as regards the current goal to be set in front of Serbia, i.e. to embrace all possibilities, if and when they open up, for a new energy in the EU accession process. 

Starović said he believed that a high level of trust has been established regarding that topic and Serbia could expect some serious progress already this year, and stressed that it was up to Serbia to recognise and embrace those opportunities if they open up, to actually make progress on the European path, as well as not to miss another opportunity if it was presented to it, of course, not at the cost of renouncing our territorial integrity. 

“That will not happen. I hope that at the time we find ourselves at the door to full membership, there will be a change in the attitude of key member states that will allow repeating what is constantly being repeated in Europe, because the history of the EU is a history of compromise, a history of creative and asymmetric solutions, and that such possibility will be left for our country as well. If, on the other hand, it fails to happen, if we face a binary choice of either/or, the decision will be made in accordance with the democratic will of the citizens”, said State Secretary Starović. 

Asked about Chancellor Scholz's expectations regarding the imposition of sanctions on Russia, Starović said that Scholz himself had repeatedly said that, from his point of view, sanctions against Russia must be harsh and strong, but may not do more harm to Germany than to Russia. 

He added that in such case at least the argument of equal standards applied by Germany towards itself could have some effect.

“It is clear to everyone that any sanctions that Serbia would eventually inflict on Russia would do much more damage to Serbia than to Russia,” said Starović. 

The State Secretary said that Serbia, as a country in the EU accession process, had an obligation to gradually harmonise its foreign policy by the day it became a full member and achieve full harmonisation. 

Starović stated that it was problematic for several reasons to introduce a novelty again, requiring that countries already in the accession process, but far from full membership, were to fully start implementing the common foreign and security policy, as someone who merely implemented decisions without participating in their creation. 

“Such linking of full harmonisation with the progress in the process of European integration cannot be justified considering our neighbours, for example North Macedonia and Albania, which have fully harmonised their foreign policy with Brussels, and have absolutely no progress on the path to the EU,” Minister Starović said.