Interview with presidential front-runner Tomislav Nikolic

Nikolic is acting leader of the hard-line nationalist Serbian Radical Party.

Serbian presidential front-runner Tomislav Nikolic, the acting leader of the hard-line nationalist Serbian Radical Party, spoke to the Monitor this week (see related story).

How would a Serbia under Nikolic respond to a declaration of independence by Kosovo?

I'm expecting Kosovo to declare independence. If they declare, we'll stop Kosovo Albanians coming to Serbia. We'll stop them traveling through Serbia. We won't recognize their passports ... we'll cut off the supply of goods to Kosovo.

What if the European Union deploys a mission in Kosovo?

[T]hat would be unacceptable. We're members of the UN. We're not members of the EU. Only the UN can make decisions on borders. The EU can't decide an issue outside of its own borders The situation is that in the UN Security Council we have members who will veto any change to Serbia's borders.

What about countries that recognize Kosovo's independence?

[That] will place a burden on their relationship with Serbia. The independence of Kosovo has no base in international law. We won't take diplomatic action against any country that supports and respects the UN Security Council.

Will you cooperate with The Hague war-crimes tribunal?

I think at present Serbia's co-operation with the Hague tribunal is at its lowest level yet. The current government does not respond [to The Hague] ... yet everybody asks if I will cooperate if I win. Everything in respect to The Hague will stay the same.

Are people like Ratko Mladic criminals in your view?

It's not for me to decide whether he's a criminal or not – only a court can decide that. I am certain Ratko Mladic is not in Serbia – if he was, he would be in the Hague by now. There's nowhere in Serbia that someone could hide for that long. Maybe he's dead. I don't know. If we wait 80 years, we can be sure he's dead.

Would you aim to lead Serbia into the European Union?

For seven years, we have been under the influence of Western Europe. We have done all that was asked of us by the West. That was our mistake. But the EU also made a mistake. They should have given us full membership straight away. Now we have a situation where the Russian Federation is recovering very well, and the EU is depending on Russia for gas. I think Serbia should be the place where Russian and Western power is balanced....

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