Monday

21st Aug 2017

Serb leader bashes EU ahead of key report

  • Srebrenica memorial. Nikolic: "No Serb recognizes that genocide took place ... and I am no different" (Photo: Ayuto)

Srebrenica was not genocide and Serbia will not bow to demands for Kosovo recognition, Serbia's leader has said on the eve of a key EU report.

The Balkan country's head of state, Tomislav Nikolic, a former confidante of Serbia's notorious war-time leader Slobodan Milosevic, made the remarks in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Seraon Tuesday (9 October).

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"Genocide did not take place in Srebrenica. This is about individual guilt of members of the Serb people ... No Serb recognizes that genocide took place in Srebrenica and I am no different," he said.

"In case it is necessary to renounce Kosovo, then it's more acceptable for us to forget about Europe ... Now a recognition of Kosovo and Metohija is being made a condition [for EU membership]. The question is not whether we want Europe. The real question is whether they want us," he added.

The inflammatory words come ahead of a European Commission report on Serbia's progress on pro-EU reforms due out on Wednesday.

Early drafts of the paper obtained by EUobserver indicate that Brussels will not recommend a date for starting accession talks with Serbia in a snub to Belgrade.

The text does not mention Srebenica or Kosovo recognition.

It says instead that Serbia must abide by pre-Nikolic agreements to improve day-to-day relations with Kosovo and to do more about corruption and organised crime.

The commission on Wednesday is also to publish a study on signing a pre-accession pact - a so-called Stabilisation and Asssociation Agreement - with Kosovo despite the fact five EU countries do not recognise it.

Nikolic earlier in June said on TV in Montenegro that Srebrenica was not genocide.

The commission does call the event - where Serb soldiers murdered 8,000 Muslim boys and men in 1995 - "genocide," even though it shies away from the term in other areas, such as Turkey's genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915.

Commission spokespeople could not be reached for a comment on Wednesday morning.

Nikolic's latest remarks also come after Serbia last weekend cancelled a gay pride march in Belgrade in the teeth of EU complaints.

"Screw the kind of Union for which gay pride marches are the entry ticket," Serbia's Prime Minister, Ivica Dacic, said in the run-up to the defunct march.

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Kosovo's foreign minister has said the end of supervised independence should make Serbia realise it can never divide Kosovo or get it back.

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Turkish president Erdogan said he would reinstate capital punishment, for people behind last year's failed military coup. But European Commission president Juncker says the move would end Turkey's bid to join the EU.

Opinion

Overcoming the plot against Turkish democracy

One year after an attempted coup, what Turkey needs is not biased and groundless criticism but more cooperation, dialogue and understanding, writes its Europe minister Omer Celik.

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