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Prime minister says Serbia refrains from joining NATO to avoid rift in society

May 22, 2017, 15:57 UTC+3 BELGRADE

In his opinion, NATO membership "would have created a deep rift in the nation that would have lasted for decades"

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Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic

© AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

BELGRADE, May 22. /TASS/. If Serbia joined NATO, it would solve many issues but it would also create a rift in society that would last for decades, as 75% of the country’s population does not support NATO membership, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday.

While addressing students, he explained that "by joining NATO, Serbia would have solved a considerable number of issues that it has been facing it but it would have been against the will of 75% of the people." "This is why we should remain militarily neutral, join the European Union and have the best possible relations with Russia and China," Vucic pointed out. "Until now, we have succeeded in doing so. We have heard (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and (Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry) Rogozin say that Russia and Serbia have never had better relations, while the United States and the European Union say that we have reached the highest level of cooperation," Vucic said. "I would not even mention relations with China," the Serbian prime minister added.

In his opinion, NATO membership "would have created a deep rift in the nation that would have lasted for decades, leading to long-term consequences." On the other hand, 70% of the country’s population, who stand for cooperation with Russia over interaction with the West, should realize whom Serbia would cooperate with in the economic field if such a decision is made, Vucic said.

Serbia’s outgoing President Tomislav Nikolic will work to develop and deepen the country’s ties with Russia and China. Earlier, the Serbian government decided to set up a National Council on cooperation with Russia and China, which Nikolic will head. The National Council is expected to be an inter-agency body supervising various fields of Belgrade’s cooperation with Moscow and Beijing.

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