‘The EU is behaving like a hypocrite towards Serbia’

The EU is discriminating against Serbia when it chooses which countries of the former Yugoslavia will be closer to it, and which will be kept at a distance, says leader of the Serbian Progressive Party Tomislav Nikolic.

RT: What are the main differences between your party and President Boris Tadic’s party?

T.N.: There are a lot of differences. Boris Tadic wants to join the EU at any price. His election slogan was ‘Europe has no alternative’. And I am primarily for an intense co-operation with the Russian Federation, but I also know that we need to cooperate with Europe. Europe and Russia are also cooperating. Boris Tadic’s party has been in government too long. It hasn’t been changed for eight years. That government has been corrupted and criminalised. And Boris Tadic hasn’t proven himself to be a politician that you know what to expect of him. When he goes to America he puts a watch on his wrist with a picture of Bush, and when he goes to Russia he puts on a watch with Putin’s picture.

RT: Do you think Serbia should enter the EU?

T.N.: It is really a very difficult question. I would really love for Serbia to be a part of the European Union but under conditions that Serbia can fulfil. Serbia cannot be a part of the EU if Kosovo and Metohija get full independence, because that means that the EU would violently take away a part of our territory. Serbia could fulfil all the other conditions. The EU is a project which gives hope to small and poor countries, but the EU is in crisis now. Maybe we will only be a member for a short period of time but we shouldn’t refuse to join.

RT: Why after the bombing by NATO, and losing Kosovo to the west, do you still want Serbia to go to the EU?

T.N.: Why are France and Germany cooperating? They have always been at war with each other throughout history. The citizens of Serbia forgave the EU on the 5th of October 2000 when they brought European protégés to rule the country. So all those who were opposed to the government in which our party was in, that defended Kosovo and Metohija, like Djindjic and Kostunica, came into the government. So if the citizens forgave the EU, France or any other country for the sins they did to Serbia, there is no reason why the politicians wouldn’t do so.

And what would it mean for us to stay forever mad with the EU and to insist it pays us for the damages it did during the bombing? And what if the EU doesn’t want to do that? From 2000 till now we have completely given our finances, economy, banks, and insurances to the EU. We have sold a lot of our factories for a ridiculous amount of money to investors from the West. We have raised the prices of everything to the level of the EU. And it is impossible to break the bond now.

RT: Greece is the only Balkan state that is in the European Union, but if we look at the violence that is currently happening in Greece, does this not perhaps suggest that the European Union is not for Balkan states?

T.N.: Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary also belong to the Balkans and they are already in the EU. The EU is punishing the former Yugoslavia by excluding states that can be members of the EU from those that cannot. Slovenia is a member. Croatia is a candidate state under very difficult circumstances, because it won’t accept dealing with the genocide it carried out in the two military operations during the war. Promises have been made to Macedonia and Montenegro for the security of their borders and entrance into the EU. It’s only Serbia and the Serbian people who still do not have a relationship with the EU that could be final. The EU is behaving like a hypocrite towards Serbia and it has blackmailed us for too long.

RT: If Serbia were to join the European Union, what does this mean for Serbia’s relationship with Russia?

T.N.: I am in continuous contact with the representatives of the Russian Federation, with the Russian ambassador in Belgrade. And the Russian Federation has a clear stand – we are to decide if we want to be in the EU, and under which conditions. Russia would not stop us. Russia’s biggest partner is the EU. I see no problem there. On the other hand, Russia has not made any kind of alliances. So if I can humbly make a suggestion to Russia, the triangle between Russia, China and India could be a big rival to the EU, not only as a source of resources, but also as a source of ready goods. Why they are not doing it, I do not know. Saint Sava, one of our biggest saints, said a long time ago: “Serbia is East in the West, and West in the East.”

RT: You were very opposed to the recent arrest of Radovan Karadzic. If Ratko Mladic had to be arrested now, would you be as opposed as you were to Karadzic’s arrest?

T.N.: Of course. I am against the arrest and deportation to The Hague of any citizen of Serbia and, because I was for a very long time in the defence team for Vojislav Seselj, I saw what kind of justice it has. There is no justice. All those people that have been accused are already indicted. The only thing they are doing there is formalising a process so they can formally charge them. In the end, all of them will get indicted and all the Albanians, Muslims and Croatians will be freed. The Hague has prepared Karadzic and Mladic for convictions of genocide. It would mean that the Republic of Serbia could disappear. The fates of millions of people depend on the two of them. They should decide for themselves what they are going to do.

RT: Why give your own people over to The Hague. Why not deal with them here in Serbia yourself?

T.N.: Because the European community doesn’t trust the Serbian justice department. And Serbia has never even tried to make such a condition. Unfortunately, all of our governments have been a kind of office for the Hague Tribunal. We have a Special Prosecution Office for the War Crimes under the control of the Tribunal. The Hague wants to have the exclusivity of judging big politicians and great generals and people that have meant a lot to our people. All the smaller cases, they let the Serbian justice department have them. We have held some trials for war crimes and we have indicted people, but we get the ones where it is easy to prove they are criminals.

RT: Do you have any hope of getting Kosovo back or do you see this as a done deal?

T.N.: I have no hope that it will be returned but I also think that it is not over yet. My suggestion to the European Union was to accept Serbia now with Kosovo and develop Kosovo later. We would have given Kosovo the autonomy – only without the flag of the UN. Kosovo would have everything it has now, but it would be in Serbia, and nothing more. The standard of living would have risen to a very high level – and here also. There wouldn’t be any story of us being together or apart. We have a hard job in front of us, but luckily by our actions a lot of political parties in Serbia are saying it is not over yet.

RT: It looks like you’ve lost Kosovo, and Macedonia is slowly becoming a country with a Muslim majority. If you do not take your fate in your own hands, do you not see a future where you will be living in a region dominated by a Muslim population in which you will be a minority?

T.N.: I think the EU knew that when it helped the independence of Kosovo. Half of Macedonia is threatened. Greece is threatened. Montenegro also. Serbs are becoming an old nation, just like a lot of European nations. We have a small number of children. A lot of our women are looking for a career. A lot of people are saying they are too poor to have children. The problem is very serious. In Serbia 80 per cent of our population is already voting. That means that there are no children under 18. In Serbia you have a lot of towns where schools are closing, not villages, but towns. So it is obvious that we are getting old as a nation. The Albanians and the Muslims do not have that problem. Their cities and villages are full of children. And of course we will have problems if we do not have good relationships with these people. So, we as Serbia will have problems, but it is a problem that Europe will also have. The state is not solving these problems in any way. It is certain that this problem will one day break Europe.

RT: Thank you very much for joining us here on RT.