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Serbian foreign minister recalls Belgrade's envoy to Kiev for consultations

November 09, 1:08 UTC+3 BELGRADE

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry earlier recalled the Ukrainian ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Alexandrovich, following his anti-Serb and Russophobic declarations

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BELGRADE, November 9. /TASS/. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic on Wednesday has withdrawn the ambassador to Ukraine, Radet Bulatovic, for consultations on pressing issues of relations with Kiev, the Foreign Ministry said in a report.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry earlier recalled the Ukrainian ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Alexandrovich, in the wake of his anti-Serb and Russophobic declarations that had whipped up a diplomatic storm.

"Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has recalled the ambassador to Ukraine, Radet Bulatovic, for consultations in the wake of pressing issues on relations with Ukraine," the report said. "Diplomatic missions in other countries have the task of establishing better bilateral relations".

"Serbia is committed to building relations with Ukraine based on the principles of mutual respect but it will not let anyone turn it into a victim of collateral damage in international relationships, to which it has no connection," the ministry said.

The statement said Serbia had repeatedly stressed since the beginning of the crisis and during the course of its rotating presidential term in the OSCE that it respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Also, Belgrade took a range of important steps to investigate the activity of Serbian citizens who had taken part in armed conflicts abroad, including Ukraine. In this way, it demonstrated its respect for its international legal commitments.

"With that in mind, the Serbian Foreign Minister pointed to the participation of Ukrainian mercenaries in the crimes that the Croats had committed against the Serbs in Croatia, but unlike Serbia, Ukraine never condemned them," the statement said.

On November 2, Serbia’s Foreign Ministry commented on numerous anti-Serb and anti-Russian remarks made by ambassador Alexandrovich, saying they were inadmissible and obscene. The ministry’s State Secretary Ivica Toncev issued a special statement in connection with Alexanrovich’s allegations and urged the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and cabinet of ministers to point out the flaws in his behavior.

Alexandrovich claimed in a number of scandalous interviews that Serbia was not conducting an independent foreign policy and that it operated as a ‘tool’ for Russia, which was destabilizing the entire Western Balkans and thus destroying Europe.

The scope of these unsubstantiated claims he had made included statements on the ‘destabilizing Serbian factor’ in Macedonia, on fanning tensions with Croatia and on Serbian ‘extremists’ interference in a coup attempt in Montenegro, among many other things.

Alexandrovich went as far as to speculate about separatism in Bosnia and Herzegovina and lunged at the opportunity to support a vociferous statement by US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Brian Yee that that Serbia “cannot sit on two chairs at the same time, especially if they are that far apart".

"It was a lucky chance that the interview [with the Ukrainian ambassador - TASS] did not last longer, or otherwise Serbia would have been charged with triggering World War II - in collaboration with Russia, naturally," the Serbian Foreign Ministry said.

Ambassador Alexandrovich had kept churning out claims that nobody in Serbia took seriously, but President Vucic had to come up with a strongly worded statement after Kiev’s envoy had said Belgrade was doing nothing to stop Serbian citizens from fighting in East Ukraine on the side of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics.

"I’d like others to stay away from preaching morality here and especially those who deprive their ethnic minorities of the right to use native languages," Vucic said. "To say nothing of those who […] pass laws on criminal procedures against the people taking part in other countries’ wars."

The Serbian public that was outraged by ambassador Alexandrovich’s allegations and welcomed reports on his departure with enthusiasm. Comments buzzed throughout Serbian social media such as, ’please keep him there as long as you can!” and “It would be good if he stayed put in Kiev for the sake of our mental health, which he violates…’ were rife.

It appears, however, that the consultations between Minister Klimkin and Alexandrovich at the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry concentrated mostly on ways of stirring up new tensions. They raised Belgrade’s contacts with Crimea and the presence of Serb volunteers in Donbass.

"Key attention during the consultations was focused on the problem of Serb mercenaries and on the importance of Serbia’s compliance with its international obligations in the sphere of the war on terror," the ministry said in a commentary. They also voiced concerns about contacts between Serbs and Crimean representatives.

Klimkin tweeted that Ukraine would go to its "European friends and partners" for consulations on the matter.

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