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Serbia to strengthen relations with Russia, China, says president

May 22, 2018, 16:26 UTC+3 BELGRADE

Serbia’s foreign policy envisages friendly relations with Russia and China, says the president

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BELGRADE, May 22. /TASS/. Belgrade plans to move forward along the path leading to EU membership, while strengthening relations with Russia and China, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said during his visit to Azerbaijan, as cited by Serbia’s RTS broadcaster.

"Our policy is focused on the EU, but it also stipulates strengthening and developing friendship with our traditional friends and allies such as Russia and China," Vucic said. "This policy is defined by Serbian state institutions and it will not be changed by some Serbian politician," he added.

"When I took the oath as prime minister, I clarified what Serbia’s policy was, which is a policy based on friendship and respect for friends, we will not impose sanctions on Russia and will move forward along the European path. I reiterated that after becoming president. This is Serbia’s policy and the wishes of one individual or five people cannot change it. I am not ready to listen to the Europeans and the Americans when they speak about imposing sanctions on Russia or relations with China. We place Serbia’s interests first," Vucic pointed out.

While commenting on a statement made by head of the EU delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi, the Serbian president noted that he saw "nothing controversial" in it as Kosovo truly was "a major problem." Last week, Fabrizi said that the recognition of Kosovo was crucial for Serbia’s EU membership. Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin, in turn, said that if Brussels put forward demands that could not be met, then Belgrade needed to consider changing foreign policy priorities. After that, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic stated that EU membership remained the country’s priority, while Minister Vulin had the right to a personal opinion.

According to Serbian analysts, Brnabic has been facing opposition from both the pro-Western and patriotic forces recently. According to some Serbian news outlets, Brnabic has already tried to step down from her office but President Vucic refused to accept her resignation. Experts say that taking into account the West’s growing pressure aimed at making Belgrade recognize Kosovo’s independence, tensions in Brnabic’s cabinet will continue to escalate.

At the same time, Serbia’s foreign policy envisages friendly relations with Russia and China, as well as the development of ties with the United States. Belgrade intends to remain militarily neutral, refraining from joining NATO and other military blocs. Brussels objects to such a position, making it clear that EU integration is only possible if Serbia recognizes Kosovo and severs friendly ties with Russia, particularly closing the Russian-Serbian humanitarian center in the city of Nis.

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