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Russian top diplomat comments on US, EU policy in Balkans

The top diplomat slams anti-Russian policy in the region

MOSCOW, February 19. /TASS/. The United States and the European Union are apparently seeking to build their policy in the Balkans on anti-Russian elements, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Serbia’s Beta news agency on Monday.

According to the Russian top diplomat, globalization removes all obstacles on the path of development of mutually beneficial cooperation between countries. "And what matters most is really sincere drive to implement concrete projects to mutual benefits rather than to merely indicate one’s presence in the region against anyone," he stressed. "We see the United States and the European Union seeking to introduce anti-Russian elements into their policy in the Balkans."

He drew attention to the European Union’s requirement that Serbia build its foreign policy on the basis on Brussels’ approaches with anti-Russian elements. "It is sad and regrettable. I hope those who pursue this policy will finally see it," Lavrov said. "Such policy runs counter to all our joint post-cold-war statements that no one’s security can be enhanced at the expense of security of others."

"And this is what they are seeking to do by luring the Balkans into the policy of division lines, the policy of encircling Russia with NATO’s infrastructure in flagrant violation of the gentleman’s agreements once reached between comrades and gentlemen," he noted.

Unlike its Western partners, Moscow is conducting an open policy geared towards cooperation with the countries of that region and countries that want to work here on an open and constructive basis.

"Over entire history of the Balkans, Russia has never sought to bring confrontation to the region, on the contrary, it has always been trying to do away with it, to help the Balkan nations defend the interests of their statehood, ancestors, spiritual, religious, cultural and civilization roots," Lavrov stressed. "Now, we are following this very logic when we develop our cooperation."

"We are interested in the presence in the information space of countries that are friendly to us and are often linked with us by centuries-long relations. If you look at the statistics - I don’t know it in detail, but I am confident that the figures regarding the shares occupied by Russia and by the western media in the Balkan information space will be rather convincing," the minister said.

"In order to have a diversity of opinions which our partner, the West, is supporting, it would be useful for our Balkan radio and TV audience and social media users to have an additional point of view," Lavrov added.

Relations with Serbia

Building relations with Russia and the European Union is a choice and responsibility of the Serbian leadership, he went on.

Commenting on a journalist’s remark that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will have to make a choice between Moscow and Brussels, Lavrov stressed that "this will be the choice of the Serbian leadership." "I’m sure that this will be done with full recognition of responsibility before the Serbian people."

"If the demands made by the EU are supported by the Serbs, this will be their choice. Certainly, the president, like any other leader of a state, should express the mood of his people," Lavrov said. "I think Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic fully recognizes this responsibility."

The Russian foreign minister noted that Vucic, who earlier mentioned that Serbia’s priority was to join the EU, had never said this would be done at the expense of Russia. "On the contrary, he stressed that the Russian vector of foreign policy and cooperation will remain very important for Serbia. I’m convinced that this meets the interests of the Serbian people," Lavrov noted.