Serbian PM Vucic: We've learned from our mistakes
Aleksandar Vucic says Serbia is "ready to be part of the European solution to the refugee issue, whether it's about closing borders or the quota system."
Speaking for BBC late on Wednesday, he added that "Europe should say what this comprehensive, common solution is."
Asked what would happen if Germany at some point closed its border, which would mean a build-up of migrants in Serbia, Vucic said:
"We work closely with Germany and other European countries, we will do what is a European decision. If they tell us that borders are being closed we will close them, even though I do not think this is the best solution. But, if they say that this is the best solution and a common European solution, we will do so. We just need to hear what it is the comprehensive, common European solution."
Vucic noted that he on several occasions in Brussels spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European leaders about the problem of migrants.
"The thing we were unhappy with is the fact that Europe has not been able to find a comprehensive solution to the migrant crisis. We said that we will act in accordance with what is agreed. And all the time we have been a country that has treated these people in a humane, human way. In Serbia, you could not see tear gas, batons, all sorts of other things. Only in Serbia," stressed Vucic.
The prime minister, who is in London for a Syria donor conference, stressed that Serbia accepted migrants because 20 years ago it had a similar situation.
He added that Serbia is even ready to participate in the quota system and to accept 5,000 or 10,000 people "if they want to stay."
"Five, ten, fifteen thousand, whatever we agree. Keep in mind that Serbia is a small country, if we accepted so many then Poland, which is much larger, would have to accept, for example, 70,000-80,000 refugees," Vucic believes.
When the journalists said there had been many harsh words between the countries of Europe's East and West, and that Western Europe blames Eastern of not acting in solidarity, Vucic said, "This is not just about migrants, but also about collecting political points in domestic politics."
"We do not do that, I do not care about collecting cheap political points at home. We acted in a European way. There will be elections in Serbia in two or three months, but I am not catering to anyone. I am not scaring people by saying the country is endangered, that some foreigners will settle there," he stressed.
When the journalist said that "Serbia, too, had a strong demagogic rhetoric," Vucic replied:
"We have learned from our mistakes, that's the best way to learn. Maybe we could have avoided that sometimes, but we did not succeed."