24. May 2017

Vucic denies that visiting US official "represents nobody"

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has commented on speculation that US State Department official Hoyt Brian Yee does not represent the current US administration. Vucic did this after meeting with Yee in Belgrade on Wednesday. When a TV Prva reporter posed a question to the US official about him belonging to the former US administration and not discussing his trips to the Balkans with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Vucic responded, saying that "some analysts from that TV 'advised' him not to talk to Yee because he allegedly represents the former Washington administration." "This is nonsense. With full responsibility, because I represent citizens of Serbia, I received Hoyt Yee, because it is important for our country, not because I like him, or because I've known him a long time," Vucic said. He pointed out that Yee is an official representative of the United States, "and to the people who think and who were persuading us that everything will change and be different after the election of Donald Trump, his message was that US policy has continuity and that he knows what will not change," Tanjug reported. Vucic also "underlined that it is important to have dialogue with the United States." "If Serbs like fairy tales, that he represent nobody and that we are all fools to talk to him, then we should vote for Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm. I'm too rational to participate in that. I was elected to lead the earthly Serbia in a responsible manner, not to tell fairy tales for Serbian tabloids," said Vucic. The fact Yee conveyed US Vice President Mike Pence's invitation to him to visit Washington "proves the absurdity of the claims that Yee does not represent the US administration," Vucic said. "Thank you, although we have different views" During a joint news conference after the meeting in Belgrade on Wednesday, Aleksandar Vucic said the US and Serbia agree that preserving peace and stability in the Western Balkans is the top priority. He said that bilateral relations between Serbia and the United States are "good" - and that it is "of exceptional importance to us" to have "excellent relations." Vucic pointed out that "we do not have the same views on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija" and "thanked the United States for the behavior of KFOR and for the presence of US troops in Kosovo, because of which Serbs south of the Ibar feel safer." He also thanked the US for "its reactions" to the attempt to form an army in Kosovo. Vucic said he conveyed to Hoyt Yee his "concerns" - particularly about the possibility of Ramush Haradinaj becoming Kosovo's new prime minister, and added that "Serbia will be dedicated to dialogue and talks with Albanians." He also expressed his gratitude for the support of the United States to Serbia's EU integration, "and to the fact that we have an unequivocal desire not to belong to any (military) pact." Yee, who serves as deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs at the US State Department, congratulated Vucic on his election as president of Serbia, stressing that this was "very important" because it gives him an even stronger mandate to continue reforms and bring Serbia closer to its goal, which is the EU and its institutions. He added that the United States remains determined to assist Serbia achieve its goal in economic terms, but also in continued EU integration. When it comes to the region, Yee said that Vucic and he exchanged views on various issues and challenges, as well as the way in which Serbia, the United States and other partners can help the region move forward and become a successful, stable, and an integral part of "the EU and Euro-Atlantic institutions." The US official said they also spoke about the continuation of dialogue and normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. "The US is happy to be able to help in this process, and in the process of reconciliation and cooperation in the region," said he. @b92

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