“Serbia will fulfill conditions, won’t recognize Kosovo”
ATHENS — Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić has said that Serbia will fulfill all EU conditions but that it would never recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Tomislav Nikolić in Athens on Friday (Tanjug)
The president started his visit to Greece on Friday morning with a meeting with his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias.
Papoulias told reporters that geopolitical situation in the region was sensitive and that Greece and Serbia were therefore obligated to show solidarity when it comes to critical national issues as countries with historical friendly ties.
Nikolić said that protection of Serbia’s sovereignty was a national interest. Nikolić thanked Papoulias on his country’s support to preservation of Serbia’s territorial integrity and EU pathway and said that Athens could count on Belgrade’s help.
“Serbia will help Greece if it wants to solve some of its problems. We have friendship, reputation and trust so we can help people, that are in fact not fighting, reconcile,” the Serbian president said.
His Greek counterpart conveyed Athens’ official position regarding Cyprus and a name dispute with the neighboring Macedonia. He stressed that Greece supported Serbia’s EU integration and that its main policy was to preserve stability and peace in the Balkans.
“We support EU accession of all Western Balkan countries in order to achieve this common European goal and consolidate stability in Serbia,” Papoulias pointed out.
The two presidents noted that Greece and Serbia had no open issues but only friendship that “will never stop”. They said ahead of the meeting that nothing could ever separate the Serbian and Greek people because their ties had been built by their ancestors.
Nikolić and Papoulias also assessed that the two countries’ economic cooperation was also good and that a great number of Greek companies did business in Serbia.
After the meeting, delegations of the two countries held a meeting, which was attended by Nikolić, Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić, Culture Minister Bratislav Petković, president’s foreign policy advisor Marko Đurić and Serbia’s Ambassador to Greece Dragan Županjevac.
During his three-day visit, the Serbian president will meet with Greek parliament Speaker Vangelis Meimarakis, PM Antonis Samaras and representatives of top political parties.
In Athens, Nikolić laid a wreath to the Unknown Soldier Tomb with Greek Defense Minister Panos Panayotopulos and he will attend a session of the Serbo-Greek business council with Greek Development Minister Kostas Hatzidakis on Friday.
Nikolić will visit the crypt at Zeytinlik, the Serbian military cemetery near Thessaloniki, where he will lay wreaths, as well as the islands of Corfu and Vido, in commemoration of Armistice Day on Saturday.
The Serbian president and his Greek counterpart will attend a commemorative ceremony on the island of Vido, after which they will visit the Serbian Museum of Corfu, dedicated to Serbian Kingdom’s soldiers who perished there during the First World War.
He will also visit Mount Athos and the Serbian Orthodox monastery of Hilandar.
No change on Kosovo
Greek Parliament Speaker Vangelis Meimarakis underlined during the talks with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić on Friday that the Greek stance on Kosovo’s independence will not change.
Greece is one of the five EU member-stated that have not recognized the ethnic Albanian unilateral declaration, made in early 2008.
Meimarakis expressed Greece’s clear support to Serbia’s EU pathway, stressing that it is of crucial importance for the Balkan region to be stable and secure.
The Serbian president said that Serbia highly appreciates Greece’s support in terms of its European integration process and territorial integrity.
Serbia will fulfill all EU membership conditions, which were fulfilled by other EU members as well, Nikolić said, stressing that Serbia highly values the support of all five EU members, Greece included, which do not recognize Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence.