Serbia's objective is to adhere to the EU, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic told ANSA in an interview ahead of his visit to Italy tomorrow, when he meets with President Giorgio Napolitano and Premier Mario Monti.
''Relations between our countries are extraordinarily good, which doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement,'' said the Serbian president, adding that he has some ''important projects, especially in the energy sector, to propose to our Italian partners.'' Nikolic professed himself unworried about the global economic crisis and its effects on Italian investments in Serbia. ''I am sure that the flow of Italian investments in Serbia will grow, because we are creating a very favorable investment climate, and have a lot to offer our business partners,'' he explained.
While EU adhesion is Serbia's primary strategic objective, this does not mean the country will cease working closely with Russia on such projects as the South Stream gas pipeline.
''My idea has always been that Serbia has all the requisites to be a bridge between east and west. It would be a mistake not to take advantage of such a favorable position,'' the president said. ''We want to keep our country going in the European direction, but I see nothing wrong with developing business collaborations with non-EU countries at the same time.'' Thanking the Italian NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) soldiers ''who are protecting the sacred Serbian sites in Kosovo,'' Nikolic went on to say that Serbia will never recognize its independence because it has no intention of giving up territory.
''Everything else is negotiable, because sooner or later we must resolve our differences,'' Nikolic said. ''There will be many painful compromises, and it will be done peacefully. The technical part of the negotiations is over, and we now want the dialogue to be elevated to a political level, as these problems will not disappear just by ignoring them.'' The EU must help in this process when the time comes, the president said, in a fair and impartial manner.
As far as the recently banned Gay Pride march in Belgrade, Nikolic commented that ''I'm sure the interior ministry banned the march on solid intelligence. One of the priorities of the new leadership will be to create an atmosphere in which no one need fear for their safety, just because they are different. We hope that the EU recognizes Serbia's progress towards EU integration, and that this incident will not tarnish Serbia's image.''