BELGRADE, June 28. /TASS/. Russia and Serbia cooperate as equal partners with reliance on long-standing traditions, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the Serbian daily Kurir in an interview.
"Russia cooperates with Serbia on equitable terms and strengthens your country's industrial potential, energy industry, and infrastructures and creates prerequisites for development to the good of all people. We have never tried to act to the detriment of others or called others for this," she said. "As far as relations between Russia and Serbia are concerned, they rely on long-standing traditions, mutual respect and diversified and mutually beneficial cooperation, and are by no means targeted against anybody's interests. They may be a hindrance only to those, who try to cause harm to our countries in pursuit of their selfish aims".
About Serbia's refusal to join anti-Russian sanctions Zakharova said that it was not so much a matter of Russian-Serbian relations, as of respect for international law. "The sanctions being introduced by the European Union against Russia are unlawful. Participation in them would be tantamount to a violation of international law. Therefore it is not so much a matter of relations with Russia, as of compliance with law".
"It is also important to stress that the EU's candidate members have no obligations to unconditionally coordinate their foreign policies with Brussels' guidelines. This loose interpretation is expected to serve as an extra means to "discipline" applicants for EU membership. Examples of this are many. The hint that strict compliance with the EU bureaucrats' instructions might accelerate progress towards full membership is nothing but a cunning trick. It is enough to take a look at Albania or Montenegro. It has helped neither country," Zakharova said.
Cooperation with EAEU
In the meantime, she pointed out, relations within the Eurasian Economic Union are built on totally different principles, having nothing to do with Brussels' command policies towards the EU members.
"I cannot but recall the free trade agreement between Serbia and the EAEU member-states - Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan - which is to take effect on July 10. This agreement opens up vast opportunities," Zakharova stressed.
She described the Western sanctions as a result of inability to compete on equal terms.
"This approach is not only an indication of the West's neocolonial ideology, which is out to subjugate the territories of the Balkan countries and their resources. It is also a sure sign of utter inability to compete on equal terms. As soon as the West sees that it falls behind in fair competition, it pushes the 'button of sanctions'," Zakharova stated.