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Monday, December 5, 2022

Former Foreign Minister Rupel: Slovenia should strongly reject two statements by Serbian politicians

By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv.si

Former Foreign Minister Prof. Dr Dimitrij Rupel is convinced that Slovenia must strongly reject two statements by Serbian politicians, namely the statement by Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin that the civil war in Yugoslavia started because of the idea of the right of Slovenians to self-determination, and the statement by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić that Slovenia violated Serbia’s territorial integrity and that by recognising Kosovo it violated international law, the UN Charter, and UN Security Council Resolution 1244. It is also problematic that President Borut Pahor does not recognise the threat to peace in the attempts to abolish the Republic of Srpska and change the Dayton Agreement, while he sees a problem in the idea of a Serbian world.

Let us remind you that the President of the Republic Borut Pahor met with his Serbian colleague Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade a few days ago, and they talked about the European perspective of the Western Balkans and the peace, stability, and development of this region. Vučić answered a journalist’s question if Serbia will join the European sanctions against Russia due to the attack on Ukraine: “How can I explain to the citizens that we will introduce sanctions against Russia, which did not violate the territorial integrity of Serbia, but not against Slovenia, which did it.” At the same time, he also said that Slovenia, like e.g., France, Germany and the USA recognised Kosovo, which, according to Serbian belief, is a violation of international law, the UN Charter, and UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Even before that, Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin stated that no one died because of the idea of ​​a “Serbian world”, while the idea of ​​the right of Slovenes to self-determination until secession started a civil war in Yugoslavia, in which tens of thousands of people died.

Both President Vučić’s statement and Minister Vulin’s statement are extremely problematic, and the fact that there was no response on the Slovenian side is even more problematic. President Pahor should have already reacted, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have immediately sent a note of protest – international lawyer Dr Miha Pogačnik already commented yesterday that speed is essential in this case – in the extreme case, tacit consent can also be presumed. The diction that Slovenia seceded is not correct, among other things, it is clearly stated in the succession agreement that Yugoslavia has disintegrated – which was also signed by the Serbs. In reality, the rhetoric of Serbian politicians, according to former foreign minister Dr Dimitrij Rupel reminds us of the rhetoric of Belgrade’s perpetrators of the Yugoslav crisis and is in contradiction to all the documents and agreements that were adopted with the aim of solving the Yugoslav crisis and that democratic Serbia also agreed to after the fall of Slobodan Milošević. The question is why this rhetoric is emerging at this time. “The answer lies in the division of Serbian politics between the Scylla of the European Union and the Charybdis of Putin’s Russia. Although Slovenia must respect the decisions of the sovereign state of Serbia, it must at the same time realise that there is a deplorable gulf between these decisions and Slovenian politics,” explained Rupel.

  1. just as Janez Drnovšek and Borisav Jović concluded first in Brioni, and then at the meeting of the Presidency of Yugoslavia on July 18th, 1991, that Slovenia has the right to defend its national interests and establish an independent state; and that Serbia does not want to object to this;
  2. just as France Bučar, Dobrica Ćosić and the author of these lines agreed on August 14th, 1991, in Belgrade that Slovenia must defend its national interests and recognise the national interests of Serbia;
  3. as it was ultimately concluded at the Hague Peace Conference in the fall of 1991;
  4. just as on November 29th, 1991, the Badinter Arbitration Commission established the dissolution of Yugoslavia and confirmed the statehood of Slovenia and Macedonia;
  5. just as on January 15th, 1992, the European Union unanimously supported the independence of Slovenia and Croatia;
  6. just as is stated in the Vienna Agreement on the Succession of the SFRY (June 29th, 2001);
  7. just as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague decided on July 22nd, 2010, that the declaration of independence of Kosovo (2008) does not conflict with international law;

“… it is, of course, completely clear, obvious and in accordance with international law that both Slovenia and Serbia have the right to defend their national interests, and that in doing so both countries must act in accordance with international legislation and in accordance with the tradition of European civilisation.” Rupel emphasised.

At the same time, the former foreign minister, who served in this role twice, emphasised that it follows from everything that has been said that Slovenia must strongly reject two statements by Serbian politicians: the statement by the Serbian Minister of the Interior, Aleksandar Vulin, that “due to the idea of ​​the right of Slovenians to self-determination, the civil war in Yugoslavia began, in which there were tens of thousands of victims”, and above all the argumentation of this statement that “it is the natural need of the Serbs to be united and to live together, as e.g. Germans”; that Borut Pahor “does not recognise the threat to peace in attempts to abolish the Republika Srpska and change the Dayton Agreement”, while “he sees a problem in the idea of ​​a Serbian world”; and the statement of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić that Slovenia has violated the territorial integrity of Serbia and that by recognising Kosovo it has violated international law, the UN Charter, and UN Security Council Resolution 1244. We sent questions to the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday, but we have not yet received answers by the time the article was published.

In his response, Pahor emphasised that we have completely “different views” on certain issues

The office of the President of the Republic subsequently sent us a response that President Pahor responded to the words of Serbian President Vučić already during his visit to Belgrade: President Pahor emphasised in his response that we have completely different views on some issues, but that we strive for the best possible relations, which is what all his meetings with Serbian leaders are aimed at. The entire press conference is available here, and below is a verbatim transcript of the Slovenian president’s response:

“Now I remember my first visit to Belgrade, after Slovenia and Serbia did not have relations for many reasons, not least because of the war in the Western Balkans, but especially because of Slovenia’s decision to recognise Kosovo. I came here as Prime Minister to normalise these relations and ever since then I have been listening to such and different questions as you have raised regarding our decision to recognise Kosovo and the reasons that led the vast majority of EU member states to recognise Kosovo. Whenever I speak with the president and my friend, it is always clear that we have completely different views on this matter, but as you can see, I persistently come here, as the Prime Minister, as the President of the Republic and increasingly as a friend of Serbia, regardless of this open dispute, or a question to which the two countries have different answers. I came today in this sense as well, as someone who stands for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and wants the war there to end and to end it in a just way. And that peace and security would once again reign in Europe, knowing that this might not happen again so quickly. I say this because there are so many open questions in the Western Balkans, so many dangers that the situation could worsen, also because of the war in Ukraine, that we must sometime, regardless of the fact that we have different views on some things and precisely because of them, that there is even an emphasis, precisely because of them, to conduct a dialogue and look for the smallest possible compromises. I know it is not easy for Serbia, it is not easy for Slovenia either, because it is a friend of Serbia, it is a friend of Kosovo, but we are trying, we are looking for ways through dialogue to get through this dangerous period, especially now this year and maybe in the time to come, when somehow for the sake of the peace and security of our people, President Vučić, I, all the leaders in the Western Balkans and its vicinity are responsible for them, to try to find solutions through dialogue that will be in favour of our people. We are trying, it is not easy, but we have to move forward somehow, with all the different opinions on some issues.”

The office also added that Slovenia and Serbia have excellent mutual bilateral relations. The President of the Republic notes that these are at their highest point since the two countries established diplomatic relations. Of course, excellent relations do not mean that the two countries have the same views on all issues in the international community. The case of Kosovo is an issue where we do not share the same views, which the Slovenian president also made very clear at the press conference. Serbia considers that Kosovo is part of the territory of Serbia and that the recognition of the independence and sovereignty of Kosovo is an encroachment on the integrity of their country. Slovenia recognised Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state and does not share this opinion. The President of the Republic visited Belgrade in light of the preparations for the 11th summit of the leaders of the Brdo-Brijuni Process initiative, which he will host on September 12th, 2022, in Brdo pri Kranju. This time, the meeting of the leaders of the Brdo-Brijuni Process initiative will be an opportunity to assess the current situation in the region, and above all to call on the members and institutions of the European Union to speed up the expansion process. The leaders will also be able to exchange views on other current issues in an informal atmosphere, they added.

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