Serbian president wants to open “new chapter” in relations with USA

Madrid, – Serbian President Boris Tadic said in Madrid today that he wants to open a fresh page in relations between Serbia and the United States, adding that he was sure that he would soon be meeting with the new US president.

“I am sure that I will soon be meeting with President Obama to discuss not only our bilateral relations, but also the region’s prospects,” Tadic told the New Economy Forum in Madrid’s Ritz Hotel.

“We need to open a new chapter in relations with the United States. We need the best possible relations with the United States because, without cooperation with the United States, there will be neither peace nor democracy in the Balkans,” the Serbian president added.

Tadic went on to say that the year 2009 is crucial for Serbia’s European integration, adding that he hoped that the country would pass “the point of no return,” that is, put up its candidacy for EU membership during Spain’s EU presidency in the first half of 2010.

The only obstacle on this road is the Netherlands’ inflexible position over Belgrade’s cooperation with the Hague tribunal [International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia – ICTY], Tadic said, adding that the reason for this attitude on the part of the Netherlands is an “unclear conscience” over the failure to prevent the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

“The Netherlands considers itself responsible for the tragic events in Bosnia-Hercegovina, which is why it is punishing democracy in Serbia,” he said.

Speaking about Kosovo, Tadic repeated that Serbia would never recognize the province’s unilaterally declared independence.

Refuting the argument that Kosovo is “a unique case,” Tadic warned that a ruling by the International Court of Justice that would declare Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence to be in conformity with international law would set a dangerous precedent for other countries with “similar problems.”

If the court rules that Kosovo’s independence is incompatible with international law, there will be two options: stubbornness or a restarting of negotiations, which is the only solution that would contribute to peace and stability, Tadic added.

Tadic further said that, 10 years after the NATO air strikes, Serbia is beginning to come closer to the member-states’ governments, adding that the question of Serbia’s accession to the Western military alliance would have to be put to a democratic debate.

“Only the people of Serbia could decide in a referendum whether Serbia should join NATO,” he said.

During the debate at the New Economy Forum, Diego Lopez Garrido, Spanish secretary of state for the European Union, repeated that Spain should continue to support Serbia in both its attitude to Kosovo and its process of rapprochement with the European Union.

Tadic met in Madrid today also with representatives of the Employers Union and ends his two-day visit to Spain in the afternoon with a meeting with Congress Speaker Jose Bono Martinez.

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