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Serbia’s accession to NATO would justify alliance’s 1999 atrocities - Russian envoy

The West "don’t believe at all that Serbia could have the freedom of choice, namely in orienting itself towards Russia", Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said
NATO Headquarters in Brussels EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ
NATO Headquarters in Brussels

BELGRADE, September 15. /TASS/. The North Atlantic Alliance has been pushing for Serbia’s accession since this would justify all NATO’s atrocities in the country, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said in an interview with Serbian daily Politika published on Sunday.

"Yes, we hear that Serbia has a choice and shortly after this we hear a statement by another official who speaks about a "Euro-Atlantic prospect" for Serbia and they [the West] don’t believe at all that Serbia could have the freedom of choice, namely in orienting itself towards Russia. For a Euro-Atlantic seizure of this region Serbia is a stumbling block and everything what they have done to Serbia, failed to produce the designed effect: Serbia and the Serbian people have not gone down on their knees, the country is seeing renovation and its potential is strengthening. Why do you think they are so insisting that Serbia should join NATO? That’s because Serbia’s accession to NATO would justify all atrocities that NATO had committed here," the Russian diplomat said.

Kosovo issue

Speaking on Kosovo and Metohija, the Russian diplomat recalled Moscow’s stance that the problem should be solved through dialogue and compromise, relying on the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1244. The ambassador stressed that Russia was not against moving the consideration of the Kosovo and Metohija issue to Brussels, since this was Belgrade’s wish.

Commenting on Russia’s participation in the Kosovo issue, the envoy said Moscow needed Belgrade’s invitation, highlighting that the concept of such talks should be outlined beforehand.

When asked to comment on Germany’s position, which opposes a possible split of Kosovo and Metohija, warning that this would "create a precedent," the diplomat noted that Russia did not back this idea or any other option.

"But we cannot understand the statement that Kosovo’s split would set a precedent in Europe. The former Yugoslavia was divided in all possible ways. And then it turns out that neither the split of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia nor the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro was a precedent, but Kosovo’s split would be a precedent. These are very strange statements," he said.

Russian-Serbian relations

According to the ambassador, Russian-Serbian relations were seeing an unprecedented height at the moment. "The best balance has been reached between a Euro integrational and Russian vector without any damage for both," Botsan-Kharchenko said. Besides, Russian companies are ready to fulfill strategic projects in Serbia, most notably in energy. The diplomat also recalled that the construction of Turkish Stream’s part in Serbia from the Bulgarian to the Hungarian border has been very robust.

In total, Russian companies have invested more than $4bln in Serbia. The investment by Russia’s third largest oil producer Gazprom Neft has exceeded $3bln, and by 2025 the company plans to pour another $1.4bln. Lukoil has allocated $345 mln, and investments by Russian Railways have also shown serious dynamics.

"We are seeking to become number one in terms of investments in Serbia, and this also concerns trade turnover. Our goal is to bring this number from $3.5 bln to $4 bln per year," the Russian diplomat said.

Another important stage in bilateral relations will be the signing of a treaty between the Eurasian Economic Union and Serbia on October 25, the envoy said.