World Bulletin/News Desk
In his address before the UN General Assembly, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic expressed his hopes for the opening of accession talks with the EU in January 2014, and that negotiations would not last "too long."
"Serbia is looking forward to EU membership," said the Serbian President, expressing the hope that he will in the next session of the UN General Assembly on the progress of these negotiations.
However, he referred to the agreement the EU mediated between Belgrade and Pristina this spring. The fulfilment of the obligations from this agreement is a main precondition for Serbia and Kosovo to move towards the EU.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
The agreement, Nikolic said, does not mean that Serbia will accept Kosovo as a UN member country "in any circumstances."
Noting that Serbia supports the activities of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and that the mission should maintain a neutral approach, Nikolic has appealed that the mandate of United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) remain unchanged with the same number of its members in order to strengthen its activities.
The president requested the support of the UN in finding the truth regarding the kidnapping and killings of Kosovo Serbs.
Nikolic has reiterated his stance on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), stating that its activities did not help the process of reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia and that it discredited the idea of international criminal justice.
Referring to the requirement that the ICTY has previously refused, Nikolic again asked the UN and the ICTY to allow Serbian convicts to serve their sentence in Serbia, primarily for their easy re-socialization.
"We do not want to go into the essence of the judgments and we do not try to relativize the crimes these individuals have committed," said Nikolic, explaining that Serbian authorities would like to see them living in the community after serving their sentences.
He said that "Serbia in its history has never led an aggression," and that the weapons made in the country were used "only for defense."
Speaking about the fight against terrorism, Nikolic said that Serbia "as a victim of terrorism very well understands the needs of regional and wider cooperation in the field of anti-terrorist activities."
"In addition, Serbia has never been a threat to anyone and did not possess weapons for mass destruction," said Nikolic, referring to the threat of terrorism in the world.
"Symbolically and substantively, we have shown that we want to reconcile with the people who live near us. These acts, I am convinced, will significantly contribute to reconciliation and correct the harms of the past," he said.
Nikolic expressed Serbia's readiness to continue its activities and participation in peacekeeping missions according to the UN charters.
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Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said Monday he hopes to clinch a reunification deal laying out a new security blueprint for the divided island during a crunch summit in Switzerland this week. Anastasiades will attend United Nations-backed talks at the Alpine Crans-Montana ski resort Wednesday with "complete determination and goodwill... to achieve a desired solution", he said in a statement. He said he hopes to "abolish the anachronistic system of guarantees and intervention rights", with a deal providing for the withdrawal of the Turkish army. The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup seeking union with Greece. Turkey maintains around 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. The so-called guarantor powers of Turkey, Britain and Greece retain the right to intervene militarily on the island. Greek and Turkish Cypriots are at odds over a new security blueprint, but their leaders are under pressure to reach an elusive peace deal. "I am going to Switzerland to participate in the Cyprus conference, with the sole aim and intent of solving the Cyprus problem," Anastasiades said. Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is also set to attend the summit, which is expected to last at least 10 days. Greece, Turkey and Britain will send envoys along with an observer from the European Union. UN-led talks on the island hit a wall in late May after the sides failed to agree terms to advance toward a final summit. Unlocking the security question would allow Anastasiades and Akinci to make unprecedented concessions on core issues. But they have major differences on what a new security blueprint should look like. Anastasiades's internationally recognised government, backed by Athens, seeks an agreement to abolish intervention rights, with Turkish troops withdrawing from the island on a specific timeline. Turkish Cypriots and Ankara argue for some form of intervention rights and a reduced number of troops remaining in the north. Turkish Cypriots want the conference to focus on broader issues of power-sharing, property rights and territory for the creation of a new federation. Much of the progress to date has been based on strong personal rapport between Anastasiades and Akinci, leader of the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. But that goodwill has appeared frayed in the build-up to their meeting in Switzerland. The Greek Cypriot presidential election next February has also complicated the landscape, as has the government's search for offshore oil and gas, which Ankara argues should be suspended until the negotiations have reached an outcome.
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