Minister Dacic holds a press conference

First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic held, today, a press conference where he gave an account of the Foreign Ministry’s activities so far.

Minister Dacic underlined that he participated, at the beginning of February, in the 65th Prayer Breakfast, in Washington D.C., where he talked to the new United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and invited him to visit Serbia. In Washington, Minister Dacic also met U.S. Senators Ron Johnson, Chris Murphy and Roger Wicker, as well as other representatives of the new U.S. Administration and members of the Congress.

This month, Minister Dacic played host in Belgrade to Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Lubomir Zaoralek, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the Kingdom of Belgium Jan Jambon, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Madagascar Jean Max Rakotomamonjy, as well as Director for South and Central European Affairs at the Department of State Matthew Palmer. An important official visit was also paid by the delegation of Montenegro, headed by Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, on 3 February 2017.

In the coming week, Minister Dacic will host Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria Sebastian Kurz, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway Borge Brende on 14 February, and before the end of the month the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia, Sven Mikser, who will arrive in Belgrade on 21 February. The visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia will provide a good opportunity to discuss Estonia’s plans for its EU Presidency, primarily with regard to the continuation of Serbia’s EU accession process, problems facing the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, as well as regional cooperation issues, Common Foreign and Security Policy and the migrant crisis.

In February, the Serbian Foreign Minister will participate in the 53rd Munich Security Conference, as one of the major international meetings and activities, to be held from 17-19 February. The Conference will be attended by a large number of participants, including: Heads of State or Government, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence, as well as senior officials of international organizations. According to the number of confirmations received so far, the MSC will be attended by 30 Heads of State or Government, and some 80 Foreign and Defence Ministers.

“At the Conference, I will meet Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn. The key topics anticipated for discussion will be continuation of Serbia’s accession process and the situation in the region. Meetings were also arranged with ministers of foreign affairs of Italy, South Sudan, Romania and EC Commissioner Hahn.

At the invitation of the Slovenian Foreign Minister, I will pay an official bilateral visit to Ljubljana, on 22 February 2017, where I will have meetings with the highest Slovenian officials – the President, Prime Minister and President of the National Parliament.

EC Director General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Policies Christian Danielsson will visit Serbia from 23-24 February 2017, and have talks with a number of Serbian officials.

I will be representing Serbia at the regular UNSC session, on 27 February 2017, which will discuss the UN Secretary-General’s quarterly Report on the work of UNMIK. I will take the opportunity to present Serbia’s assessment of the current situation in Kosovo and Metohija, UNMIK activity, and other issues of interest to the Serbian community in Kosovo and Metohija. Participation at the UNSC session will offer an opportunity also for meetings with the UN Secretary-General and representatives of UNSC Member States”, underlined Minister Dacic.

At the press conference, Minister Dacic further emphasized that there was no visa requirement for entry and stay in the Republic of Serbia for holders of ordinary passports of 72 countries, whereas the visa requirement continues to be in place for nationals of 122 countries. As regards nationals of Serbia, there is no visa requirement for their travel to 64 countries, while visas are still required for 130 countries.

Minister Dacic pointed out that the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on Mutual Abolition of Visas for Holders of Ordinary Passports was signed on 5 November 2016, and entered into force on 15 January 2017.

The Serbian Foreign Minister further underlined that proposals had been made for conclusion of agreements on the abolition of visas on ordinary passports with the Republic of India; for all types of passports with Armenia; for all types of passports with Malaysia; for ordinary passports with Georgia; for ordinary passports with Azerbaijan.

Minister Dacic drew particular attention to the fact that rehabilitation of the past in terms of committed crimes and genocide cannot contribute to the promotion of relations between Serbia and Croatia.

Responding to the statement by Croatian Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stir in reaction to the criticism levelled over erecting a monument to Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac, the Serbian Foreign Minister said that he understood Stir’s reaction and the reasons underlying Stir’s disturbance by the fact that Dacic was opposed to rehabilitation of war crimes and collaborators of occupying forces, and particularly rehabilitation of the Independent State of Croatia.

“No one like Stir will stop me from doing this. I cannot turn away from my anti-fascist past, for my relatives fought against fascism, while his grandfather was an Ustashi colonel”, Dacic stated at the press conference.

Showing a photograph from 1944 depicting decoration of Stepinac by Ante Pavelic, Dacic said that Stepinac was not decorated for being an “angel of peace”, but for assisting genocide and crimes against Serbs, Jews and others.

“For the Germans, Hitler was a symbol of evil, and it is therefore unfathomable that Pavelic and Stepinac could be seen as symbols of peace and heroism. We will never accept that. If that is a precondition for dialogue with Croatia, they will not find anyone in Serbia for such a dialogue.

No one can choose either the time or place of birth. This must not be an obstacle to our relations, and we must all focus on the quest for togetherness and all that can take us forward. Rehabilitation of matters of the past that are related to crimes and genocide can, by no means, help us to move on”, Minister Dacic underlined.

The Serbian Foreign Minister stated that Serbia was ready to move on, but that it was not expected to applaud to the rehabilitation of Ustashi policy.

“A question for Croatia is whether it wishes that we address problems together or compound them further”, stated Dacic.