The leader of Austria’s most influential opposition party, the Freedom Party (FPO) Heinz-Christian Strache, criticized the EU pressure on Belgrade during the dialogue with Pristina, and stressed that it was not in favor of a sustainable solution.
How do you assess the agreement reached in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue?
It is clear that the EU and the U.S. for a long time are exercising enormous diplomatic pressure on Serbia, and it was particularly strong before the deal. The EU has promised Serbia that, if it accepts the agreement, accession negotiations will begin. It is, however, pretty vague. It is known that, after the accession of Croatia, in the long run, there will not be new accessions and it should be clearly stated. When it comes to the agreement itself, it should be clearly said that Resolution 1244 has never been changed. If we want a sustainable solution, Russia needs to be included in the talks. The position of the Serbian Orthodox Church should be also considered, which is that Kosovo’s fate should be voted at a referendum by citizens. Autonomy, similar to the case of South Tyrol, should be provided for the Serbs in northern Kosovo.
The agreement has already been reached, is it possible now to look for a different solution?
The agreement in Brussels is only one step, but not internationally binding until there is Resolution 1244. Many people in Serbia were disappointed mainly because of the pressure exerted on that state. One needs to take into account the history of the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, then the fact that there were more than 150 attacks on churches and monasteries, and that there was a crime under international supervision. I understand that Serbs in the north fear that they could be left in the lurch by this agreement.
Why is the EU so, as you say, on the side of Kosovo Albanians?
There are a number of factors, including that NATO base has geo-strategic interests. Also, the development of South East Europe was related to the artificial creation of Islamic states in Europe. The question is which additional strategic interests exist. From the Serbian history I understand their fear, because they felt how it looks like to be oppressed for 500 years by the Ottoman Empire. Which nation on the planet has survived five centuries of oppression. This shows how strong the Serbian people are, and how they managed to preserve their identity. Because of this, I have a huge respect for the Serbian people.
Do you believe that Serbia could reject the agreement?
Various interests were reflected in the agreement, among them economic and social. Serbia is part of Europe, has always been and will remain. The Serbian nation is the greatest nation in southeastern Europe, and without the Serbs there is no sustainable and lasting peace in the Balkans. That should be taken into account and it is necessary to act without pressure and blackmail.
What do you think about the apology President Tomislav Nikolic gave on war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
I think it’s a great and important gesture, and it is necessary that all nations confess crimes. However, none of the parties could be ruled out, and crimes were on all sides.