Starović: Serbia should be proud of President Vučić's appearance before the UNSC
"His appearance took place in very difficult and ungrateful circumstances. Let us mention the fact that that very session of the UNSC was convened practically on the same day when we had three second-instance verdicts against General Ratko Mladić. That very information speaks about the objectivity of the work of the Residual Mechanism, because it was as if everyone was already convinced of that and knew in advance what the second instance verdict would be", said Starović.
According to him, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, decided to personally attend and join the UNSC session via video link, unlike previous discussions before the SC on similar issues, when statesmen mostly hid behind lower officials, who were sent to participate in such sessions.
"Vučić decided to show once again how he always and in every place carries the burden that the presidential function implies in a dignified manner and that, as our national poet says, he is able to arrive and escape and exist in a terrible place", the state secretary explained.
Nemanja Starović stated that all citizens of the Republic of Serbia can be proud of the performance of President Aleksandar Vučić, precisely because of the content of his address, which was very well balanced.
"President Vučić did not leave any room for any interpretations that would indicate that Serbia justified the crimes in any way, but on the other hand, in fact, he pointed out all the inconsistencies and all the double standards that the Hague Tribunal used before", said Starović.
State Secretary Starović reminded of the fact that members of the highest military and state leadership of Serbia were sentenced to 1,138 years in prison before the Hague Tribunal, and that absolutely none of the members of the leadership of other participants in the conflicts, when we talk about the Bosniaks and Croats, but also Kosovo Albanians, did not receive a conviction.
He also pointed out that Vučić pointed out that Serbia, in accordance with its own laws, fulfilled all its obligations in cooperation with the Hague Tribunal and the Residual Mechanism.
Starović said that even today, two and a half decades later, messages are coming from the prosecution that Serbia is uncooperative, that Serbia should be punished, and that we are not allowed what other countries in the region are allowed to do, and that is to have the possibility that convicts of Serbian nationality serve their prison sentences in Serbia and that certain trials take place before domestic courts.
He said that the peak of hypocrisy, which President Vučić also pointed out, was the fact that we were required to extradite members of the Serbian Radical Party, although that was contrary to the Law on Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal and decisions of competent courts in Serbia.
"The same people who insist on the principle of the rule of law now demand that we drastically violate our legal order. Our law does not provide for the possibility of extraditing to the Residual Mechanism people who have not been charged with war crimes, and Mr. Milojević and Ms. Radeta certainly are not", Nemanja Starović explained.
Starović underlined that in two and a half decades, Serbia has shown that it was indeed fulfilling its international obligations, as well as fulfilling all its obligations in cooperation with the Hague Tribunal and now the Residual Mechanism, and that the criticism coming from the prosecution is unprincipled and unacceptable for the Serbian side.
The fact that President Vučić was allowed to join the UNSC, bypassing the usual procedures, and to give his speech as the only president of a state, speaks volumes about how much Serbia's credibility and authority on the international scene has increased, Starović concluded, emphasizing that Serbia was not left alone at the UNSC session held.
"President Vučić rightly pointed out that the B&H ambassador did not have the mandate and approval from the B&H presidency and that it is scandalous that he was allowed to address the most important UN body in any way on his own behalf. When we talk about the content of the speech of the representative of Croatia, it was absolutely scandalous. So, talking about Serbia as a sort of a devil in 2021 is unacceptable and speaks much more about those who make such accusations", said Starović, emphasizing that we must also remember Jasenovac and the camp for children in the Independent State of Croatia.
Starović said that looking to the future, Serbia wants to strengthen cooperation with its neighbors by intensifying economic cooperation.
Asked about President Biden's decree regarding the extension of sanctions for individuals from the Western Balkans, Starović said that the text of the decree uses broad formulations, and that the target of these sanctions could be individuals from the Balkans who are responsible for corruption, crime, non-compliance with international obligations, territorial integrity and various agreements that have emerged since 2000, but that the Dayton Agreement and UNSC Resolution 1244 are also explicitly mentioned.
Starović concluded that Serbia wants to believe that the US administration will be consistent in the application of this regulation and that it will really be inclined to punish those who endanger the territorial integrity of Serbia by not respecting the UNSC Resolution 1244 or those who daily try to reduce the powers and abolish the Republic of Srpska, which was established in the Dayton Agreement.