23rd Oct 2016

Nikolic: EU does not demand Kosovo recognition

  • Nikolic took power in May from EU darling Tadic in a surprise twist (Photo:

Serbia's new leader has said his country can one day join the EU without recognising Kosovo.

Tomislav Nikolic made the remarks after meeting top EU officials in Brussels on Thursday (14 June) on his first state trip after his inauguration on Monday.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"I was assured that the European Union will not demand from us to recognise Kosovo officially, but will demand from us to have better relations [with it]. That's good for us all. I don't know. Maybe you know these people better than I do. But I do believe them," he told press.

On day-to-day relations with Kosovo, he said he will screen previous agreements before deciding whether to honour them.

"I [will] support all agreements that are not against the constitutional order of Serbia and that are not harmful to Serbian citizens ... We have to have some clarifications from our negotiator in Belgrade about some critical points," he said.

The deals - on issues such as customs checkpoints or exchange of land registries - were brokered by EU diplomats and endorsed by Nikolic's pro-EU predecessor Boris Tadic.

Some details - whether Kosovar customs officers can wear national insignia, whether documents refer to "border management" or "boundary management" - are significant in terms Serbia's non-recognition of Kosovo's independence.

Nikolic came to Brussels under a cloud.

The former Slobodan Milosevic ally said in the run-up to his EU debut that the town of Vukovar in Croatia belongs to Serbs. He also said that Srebrenica - which EU institutions designate as a Serb "genocide" of Muslims - was not genocide.

On the day, he told European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso that EU membership is his top priority and that he aims to start accession talks in autumn.

For his part, Barroso said "normalisation of Serbia's relations with Kosovo remains an absolutely central condition of moving to the next step [accession talks]."

When asked what he thinks of the Vukovar and Srebrenica statements, Barroso voiced general sympathy for people the region.

"We are speaking about a part of Europe that has lived extremely painful experiences ... in the not so distant past. We have to think of the young people in this region who want to travel, who want to study, who want to work. This is the most important," he said.

The commission the same day gave Kosovo a "roadmap" of what it has to do to get EU visa-free travel in future.

The move comes amid popular feeling in Kosovo that Kosovar Albanians were the victims of Serb aggression but that EU-Serbia integration is moving faster.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity