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Senator warns 'soft EU integration' may push Serbia to choose between Moscow and Brussels

April 03, 13:31 UTC+3 MOSCOW
"If Europeans continue their current policy towards Russia based on sanctions and isolation, Serbia’s leadership will be faced with a dilemma," the Russian senator said
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Local resident at the polling station after voting in presidential elections, Nis, Serbia

Local resident at the polling station after voting in presidential elections, Nis, Serbia

© EPA/Djordje Savic

MOSCOW, April 3. /TASS/. The choice by new Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in favor of "soft integration" with the EU could present that country with a dilemma between further development of ties with Russia and closer cooperation with Europe, Konstantin Kosachev, head of Russia’s Federation Council (upper house of parliament) International Affairs Committee, said in an interview with TASS.

"Vucic does not conceal his commitment to soft, but consistent integration into the EU while maintaining friendly relations with Russia," the senator said commenting on the outcomes of the Serbian presidential election. "If Europeans continue their current policy towards Russia based on sanctions and isolation, Serbia’s leadership will be faced with a dilemma. It is just a matter of time," Kosachev added.

He recalled that there are different opinions within Serbian society regarding ties with the EU, as the older generation remembers the aftermath of the bombing of Belgrade. The senator called the Kosovo issue one of the main stumbling blocks on Serbia’s way towards European integration. "The region’s separation was neither smooth nor inconspicuous. For Serbs, this is still a sore point, and without tackling this issue integration into the North Atlantic structures will not be full-fledged," the senator explained.

He noted though that Russia has never forced the issue - either you are with us or against us - point-blank. "We believe that it is possible to maintain good relations with all key players in Europe. "Another thing is that this view is not shared by some of our European partners and opponents who believe that the policy aimed at rapprochement with the EU and NATO implies a decision to sever ties with other partners," Kosachev said. "However, this approach to Serbia’s situation is fraught with problems, primarily for Serbia itself," he added.

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