Addressing the UN General Assembly, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic assessed that this year’s General Debate is held in terms of undermined world peace, to the extent that has not been seen ever since the World War II and since the establishment of the United Nations. The global challenges we are facing are threatening to radically change international security architecture and jeopardize the established international legal order. Such complex times demand a lot of wisdom and unity, in order to preserve peace as the absolutely most important heritage woven into the foundations of the United Nations Organization, said Vucic.
The Serbian President said he would speak about five key challenges, which are returning to peace and preservation of global stability, preservation of territorial integrity and sovereignty of internationally recognized UN members, energy security in terms of the global crisis, financial safety of the poor and developing countries and food supply in terms of global supply chains interrupted by war.
Injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere, and these words are a reminder and a warning to us all, said Vucic stressing that, in spite of the consequences of the gross violation of basic provisions of international public law, Belgrade will keep advocating consistent observance of the principle of inviolability of borders.
We consistently advocate respect for the principle of sovereignty and integrity, said Vucic, adding that Serbia respects Ukraine’s integrity.
The Serbian President said none of the interlocutors provided a rational answer to the question regarding the difference between the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, which was grossly violated.
“We could hear from many speakers the stories about aggression and violation of territorial integrity of Ukraine. Many say that this was the first conflict on the European soil after the World War II. But, the truth that the territorial integrity of a country in Europe – Serbia as a matter of fact, which did not attack any other sovereign country, was violated is constantly unspoken. We ask for a clear answer to the question I’ve been asking my interlocutors, leaders of many countries for years – what is the difference between the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia, which was grossly violated, and for which you provided international recognition and legitimacy? Nobody has ever provided a rational answer to that question,” said Vucic addressing the United Nations.
He noted that Serbia has not set foot anyone else’s territory, or endangered the territorial integrity of a single sovereign state so that anyone might intervene or carry out an aggression against it, the way it was done in 1999.
“Nevertheless, this did not prevent NATO from attacking a sovereign country without the decision by the United Nations Security Council. The signing of the Agreement with NATO – upon termination of the armed conflict – whose provisions envisaged the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1244, and which confirmed and guaranteed partial sovereignty and full territorial integrity of Serbia, did not prevent many western countries from unilateral recognition of independence of the so-called “Kosovo” and from violating, once again, the territorial integrity of our country and of the UN Charter,” said Vucic.
He said that, precisely due to such developments that Serbia experienced and that is has been experiencing, he was convinced that he is fully entitled to quote the words of great Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere”. “These words are carved like a reminder, but as a warning to all of us,” stressed Vucic.
“Regardless of the fact that we still feel the consequences of the gross violation of basic provisions of international public law, we do not give up on the United Nations foundation principles. We shall keep advocating consistent observance of the principle of inviolability of borders, respect for sovereignty and integrity of all other UN member states. Despite such position of ours, many in this room have issues with respecting territorial integrity of Serbia. You wonder why? Because they have the power in their hands, and in their eyes, we are small and weak. However, as you could hear, we do have the strength to tell the truth here,” said Vucic.
The Serbian President said Belgrade will continue negotiations with Pristina under the auspices of the European Union (EU) because “it is better to negotiate for a hundred years, than to wage war for a single day.”
I hope that we will reach a mutually acceptable solution, based on compromise, because this is the absolutely only way to reach our goal, which is long-lasting peace and prosperity for both Serbs and for the Albanians, as well as for the entire region, said Vucic.
The policy of sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation cannot bring good results for anyone, assessed President Vucic, stressing that Serbia will continue to be a factor of stability in the Balkans.
He said a hybrid war and a dirty campaign in a part of international community is waged against Serbia, adding :”It would be enough just to remind you of the quotes and allegations of world media that Serbia would attack its neighbors and that Serbia was a threat to regional stability.”
“Serbia was featured as a potential destabilizing factor in the region, only to be prevented from telling the truth – that the principle of inviolability of borders must be equally applicable to all. Serbia was and will be a factor of stability in the entire region,” said Vucic, stressing that, despite the many untruths that could be heard, Serbia supports the Dayton Peace Accords.
The President said Serbia owes “special gratitude to all those UN member states – and they currently constitute majority at this Assembly, who support the territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia, particularly in the space and territory of Kosovo and Metohija.”
“It is additionally encouraging that the number of countries who support Serbia’s position increased in period between two sessions, which is a trend that must continue, because it is of utmost importance to remain loyal to basic principles woven into the UN Charter, such as the principle of inviolability of borders,” said Vucic.
“It is a difficult process, it has been lasting for more than ten years, but we see no alternative to it. It is better to negotiate for hundred years, than to wage war for a single day. I hope that we will reach mutually acceptable solution, based on compromise, because this is the absolutely only way for reaching our goal, which is a long-lasting peace, as a prerequisite of prosperous life for Serbs and Albanians in our region. We have exhausted all other options and, and speaking for Serbia, at least, we do not even dream about going back to the paths of conflicts and bloodsheds,” said the Serbian President.
The Balkan region could not stand another conflict, said Vucic.
“I rely on good will and understanding from our international partners, because they know well that some earlier decisions by their governments had been bad and that they had not been acting in favor of the future of our region and world peace. Belgrade is running this process under very complex circumstances with elements of hybrid war and dirty campaign in part of international community against our country, in different fields. It would be enough just to remind you of the quotes and allegations of world media that Serbia would attack its neighbors and that Serbia was a threat to regional stability. Of course, it never happened. And it was only one among numerous lies against the Republic of Serbia,” said the Serbian President.
Five key challenges
President Vucic said that, due to limited time, he would skip the burden of formality, courtesy words, greetings of those who are present in this room or absent, and instead speak directly about the essence of why the gathering is taking place.
“I have been so many times in these premises. The seriousness of the present moment obliges me to share difficult, but true words with you. Everything we are doing here today seems impotent and vague. Our words make a hollow and empty echo comparing to the reality we are facing. And that reality is such that no one is listening to anyone here, no one strives towards real agreements and to resolving problems, and almost everyone takes care only of their own interests, breaching often along the way the basic principles of international law; throwing away the UN Charter and other documents this Organization is founded on. It is neither the fault of Antonio Guterres nor of anyone from UN, but of those powers who take care of nothing else but of meeting their own political, economic and unfortunately military goals,” Vucic told the UN General Assembly, the Serbian state TV (RTS) reported.
He added that we are witnesses that the age we live in is featured by the complexity of the global geopolitical situation.
“Our General Debate is being held in terms of undermined world peace, to the extent that has not been seen ever since the World War II and since the time the United Nations had been founded. Global challenges we are facing are threatening to radically change international security architecture and jeopardize established international legal order. Such complex times demand a lot of wisdom and unity, in order to preserve peace as the absolutely most important heritage woven into the foundations of the United Nations Organization,” said Vucic.
The Serbian President spoke about the five key challenges that the world is faced with at present day.
1: Returning to peace and preservation of global stability;
2: Preservation of territorial integrity and sovereignty of internationally recognized states, members of this Organization, as a key principle of international public law and relations between the countries;
3: Energy security in times of global crisis;
4: Financial safety of the poor and developing countries;
5: Food supply in terms of global supply chains interrupted by war;
“The current global developments remind as more and more often that the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes has no alternative. This principle is outstanding today more than ever before and it is best described in the UN Charter Preamble which reads as follows – “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors”. Denial of use of force and peaceful resolution of disputes are the pillars of world stability; but they must be accompanied by principles such as non-selective observance of the UN Charter, implementation of mandatory UN Security Council Resolutions and basic principles of the applicable international public law,” said the Serbian President.
The principle of inviolability of borders must equally apply to all
Vucic added that Serbia was featured as a potential destabilizing factor in the region, only to be prevented from telling the truth – that the principle of inviolability of borders must be equally applicable to all.
“Serbia was and will be a factor of stability in the entire region. Despite many untruths and forgeries, Serbia supports the Dayton Peace Accords, the territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the integrity of Republika Srpska within Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Vucic adding that this is why it believes that the policy of sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation cannot bring good results for anyone.
He noted that, on the other hand, “We are convinced that the nations of the Balkans do have the capacity to continue their lives in the future as friends and partners with a common vision of membership to the united Europe.”
“I know this well, because we have already surpassed many barriers that had been standing between our nations for years and that cost us thousands of lives and wasted future. Serbia and Albania, for example, today have the closest and the friendliest relationship in the entire several centuries long common history in the space of the Balkan Peninsula,” stressed the Serbian President.
All it took was clear-headed and pragmatic discussions about our future, not about our past, to talk about how to resolve problems that were bothering our people, our companies, workers, students and entrepreneurs, said Vucic.
“We discussed a lot and reached, by ourselves, numerous solutions that have already cancelled barriers that existed between us for no rational reasons. First of all, in economy, trade and flow of people and capital. Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia have been implementing for three years the “Open Balkan” Initiative, which has a clear vision – to open the region for the people, goods, services, capital and companies, in order to create the space which would be permanently liberated from tensions and conflicts,” Vucic said.
He explained that, in addition to the unquestionable common economic benefit that this Initiative brings, it has a broader dimension, first of all in connecting people with different cultures and in promoting diversity, which, by all means, contributes to general development of society in this part of Europe.
In this way, Serbia actually continues contributing to peace, stability and reconciliation process in the region, whereby it certainly gives a significant contribution to global security, said Vucic.
“We found the inspiration for this in the words of one of the greatest diplomats in history and a great UN Secretary, General Dag Hammerstad, that this Organization ‘wasn’t created to take mankind into paradise, but rather, to save humanity from hell,’” noted President Vucic.
The moment we curbed the global pandemic, we already faced new, unprecedented challenges for this century, said Vucic.
“While we, as the mankind, take one step at a time in accelerated technological development, there are existential problems ahead of us such as energy security, financial safety of the developing countries, but also distortions in the supply chains of the basic food provisions. Solidarity which had been necessary in fighting the pandemic is needed to a far greater extent today, when people’s basic necessities for food and energy are endangered,” said the Serbian President.
According to him, Serbia thinks of its energy security as of an inseparable part of the national security and as the key prerequisite for the continuation of the country’s economic development and progress.
“We strive to provide the continuity of energy supply, but we share the concern for current geopolitical challenges that undermine the energy stability in the world and Europe. We remain committed to finding solutions that might have the transformational strength in attempts to reach regional and European energy safety. I would like to underline that the Republic of Serbia managed to preserve continuity in energy supply during the ongoing crisis. Nevertheless, we remain vitally interested in diversifying supply sources, in additional investment in energy infrastructure, but also in faster and more efficient development of capacities based on renewables,” said the Serbian President.
He noted that it is precisely at the United Nations where the ongoing decade was named “the decade of more sustainable and resilient future, action and transformation.”
“It has to remain like that, but at a bit faster pace! Unequal development, but also financial perils in the developing countries, cause additional social layering and inevitably bring new antagonisms. Equal development must neither be limited not conditioned either geographically or politically, but it must be provided to all people regardless of ethnical, racial, cultural and religious affiliation,” said Vucic.
He noted that there was another, very important challenge ahead, “which we must overcome together, and it is finding the most efficient way to avoid consequences of the current international crisis inflicted on global food supply security.”
“Developments are highly alarming, and the reality is such that all of us, with no exceptions, are struck by them. Food supply security could be endangered in our part of Europe, and situation on continents, such as the African one, threatens to be devastating. Growing prices of food and its availability have become an additional problem. The task for all of us is to find operational and efficient solutions that will leave no one behind. It is up to us – states – as the most important international subjects, to involve individually in coordination of measures, first of all by contributing to this noble task at national levels, in order to preserve the most valuable things- human lives and their dignity,” stressed Vucic.
Lack of communication makes the situation more complex
The topic of this year’s General Debate warns us to the preciousness of a moment and relatedness of international challenges, he said.
“The crises we are facing remind us of the importance of open communication. It does not take much wisdom to conclude that challenges can be successfully overpowered only if their causes are properly observed. We are witnessing that any problem ignoring and lack of communication between the countries makes the situation only more complex. Serbia believes that it is imperative that current challenges must not deepen world divisions in any way, and that already obvious and intentional polarization at global level should make room for principles of multilateralism,” said Vucic.
He noted that Serbia is taking part in collective efforts for reaching sustainable development goals and implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
“Serbia shares the Secretary General’s vision of the future of global cooperation in a way envisaged by “Our Common Agenda” and it strongly supports inclusive, networked and efficient multilateralism as the best tool for responding to the most urgent challenges for the mankind,” said Vucic.
He noted that multilateralism, collective actions and common responsibility are “irreplaceable elements of our discussions so far”, underlining that solidarity is the starting point for each such constructive engagement.
“Finally, I would like to reiterate that the Republic of Serbia will continue being a reliable partner in achieving common goals defined within the UN framework, firmly believing that it is the best path to create the world for us and generations to come. But we must not forget that the United Nations are as strong as we respect the commonly harmonized decisions and documents of this Organizations,” said the Serbian President.
Following his speech at the UN General Assembly session, President Vucic stressed that the UN Charter is the one standard that everyone needs to follow. I hope the rules will apply to everyone in this world, said President Vucic, adding: “Long live Serbia.”