Serbia for EU entry, but only with Kosovo, Jeremic says
(dpa) - Serbia wants to join the European Union, but it will not accept any European decision which treats Kosovo as independent, Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said Friday.
"Despite all the challenges and despite all the difficulties that we are going through, we remain committed to the path of European integration," Jeremic told journalists after an informal meeting with the EU's 27 foreign ministers in Slovenia.
Serbia is willing to sign a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) paving the way towards eventual EU candidate status "immediately ... today, as far as we're concerned," he said.
And he insisted that Serbia is already cooperating fully with international war-crimes prosecutors in the Hague, with the arrest of the remaining high-level fugitives perhaps imminent.
"Full cooperation ... is taking place, (and) I'm sure is going to lead in the very near future to the arresting, locating and handing over to the Hague of all the remaining Hague indictees, first and foremost (Bosnian Serb) General Ratko Mladic," he said.
But Jeremic gave no sign of giving ground on the most divisive issue in the relationship between Serbia and the EU - the support of almost all EU member states for the independence of Kosovo, which Serbia insists is an indivisible part of its territory.
"We continue fighting for what we believe is rightfully ours ... Serbia is not going to use force, but Serbia will not go away, diplomatically and politically, in the fight to preserve its sovereignty and territorial integrity," he insisted.
That stance has already led to a major diplomatic breach, with Belgrade recalling its ambassadors from the EU countries which have recognized Kosovo's independence. Jeremic indicated that that line was not likely to soften until at least after a UN General Assembly meeting in September.
"Whoever decided to act unilaterally with the effect of endangering Serbia's sovereignty cannot count on continuing normal relations ... We're going to work hard to make it obvious that a majority of UN members are for our point of view," he said.
But despite that hardline stance, Jeremic insisted that the Kosovo issue would not impact Serbia's European aspirations.
"Serbia views the issue of the diplomatic fight to preserve our sovereignty and territorial integrity as outside the context of the need for a speedy EU integration for the Balkans. These are two separate processes," he said.