Serbia's Ultra-Nationalists 'It Is not Us but Europe that Needs to Face Reality'

The next Serbian government could include Tomislav Nikolic, the leader of the ultra-nationalists. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, he shows himself uncompromising on the question of Kosovo and even raises the spectre of a new war in the Balkans.


Tomislav Nikolic at an election rally in Belgrade on May 6.
AFP

Tomislav Nikolic at an election rally in Belgrade on May 6.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Nikolic, despite resistance in Europe, it is possible that Serbia could soon see a governing coalition made up of Radicals, Socialists and Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia. Even at this stage, no one seems to think that such a government could stay together for long. Some even think that it could lead to civil war.

Tomislav Nikolic: The European Union has divided our people into good Serbs and bad Serbs, thus destabilizing the country. Europe puts all its support behind the Democratic Party (eds. note: The Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Serbia are two different parties) of Boris Tadic, despite the fact that 90 percent of all voters have cast their ballots for parties in favor of joining the EU.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: That is a different message from the one often heard from your Serbian Radical Party.

Nikolic: Of course we are in favor of the EU. But what is the difference between our demand that the EU accept Kosovo as a part of Serbia and President Tadic, who, just after the elections, said he would never recognize the independence of Kosovo? It is clear that without this recognition, we will never become part of the EU.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The current -- and likely future -- Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica threatened to annul the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Serbia and the EU immediately after the mid-May election.

Nikolic: That is a decision for the parliament and the question is not a priority. We can wait until the agreement is ratified by all EU member-states, and that will never happen. My goal is not a dispute with the EU, but communication.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: About what?

Nikolic: Decisions cannot continue to take place over our heads. Why weren't we offered the Cyprus solution for Kosovo? Cyprus was recognized as a country despite the fact that the northern part is de facto almost independent. I feel as though I have been raped. Now, the EU wants to send a mission to occupy Kosovo. Why aren't they talking to us? Perhaps we would accept such a mission under the principles of UN Resolution 1244. I was in Kosovo two weeks ago. Chaos is rampant…

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The chaos only gets worse with Serbia establishing a parallel state and provoking violence.

Nikolic: The international community is getting what it wanted. Brussels was fully aware that we wouldn't recognize an independent Kosovo and that we would establish our own local administration there. The NATO troops of the KFOR mission can remain on the current border between Kosovo and Serbia. We won't allow a Kosovo-Albanian army there.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Doesn't Serbia realize that ignoring reality is only hurting Serbia and, especially, the Serbs in Kosovo? You as a realist should understand that Kosovo will never again be a part of Serbia.

Nikolic: Who says? We will use our veto to prevent Kosovo from becoming a member of almost all world organizations.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Which is a fine strategy to force Kosovo to become part of Albania. By taking such a step, Kosovo would automatically gain membership in those organizations.

Nikolic: Don't count on it. Otherwise there will be war in Europe. Or do you think that Bucharest will sit on the sidelines should the Hungarians in Romania demand to become a part of Hungary? It is not us but Europe that needs to face reality. For precisely these reasons, there are many countries in both Europe and elsewhere in the world which will never recognize the precedence of Kosovo.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is the Radical Party not secretly hoping that foreign territory might fall to Serbia -- that, for example, Bosnia will collapse and the Serbian part, Republika Srpska, would become part of Serbia?

Nikolic: We don't need that state nor do we need unification. But the Republika Srpska has now reached the level of a Bosnian province, without having been granted the competencies owed it according to the Dayton Accords. The population there should decide on their own future in a referendum.

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