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Top diplomat says Serbia doesn’t share NATO’s criticism of Russian policy in Balkans

BELGRADE, August 4. /TASS/. Serbia’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic said on Friday his country does not share NATO’s lambasting Russia for alleged plans to ‘destabilize’ the situation in the Balkans.

"Serbia was present at the Adriatic Charter summit in Podgorica as an observer but it doesn’t mean that we agree with everything that was said their, including allegations that Russia ‘is seeking to redraw international borders by force.’ If we speak about drawing border, it was the West who did it with Serbia," he said in an interview with Serbia’s N1 television channel, commenting on US Vice President Michael Pence’s pronouncements on Russia’s role in the Balkans.

He said his country is waiting for support to the region that has been promised by Pence. Apart from that, he said Serbia wants the United States to really admit that any country can make decisions about its future by its own.

"Serbia knows better what is best for it," Dacic stressed.

Pence arrived in Podgorica on Tuesday evening. He met over the dinner with Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, President Filip Vujanovic, Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic, Defense Minister Predrag Boskovic and parliament speaker Ivan Brajovic. On Wednesday, he had a working meeting with Markovic, took part in the Adriatic Charter summit and had a series of bilateral meetings with the leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and the self-proclaimed republic of Kosovo.

'Unpredictable country' 

Speaking at the Adriatic Charter summit on August 2, Pence accused Russia of seeking to ‘destabilize’ the situation in the Balkans and divide Europe. He called Russia an "unpredictable country that casts a shadow from the east."

"Russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force. And here, in the Western Balkans, Russia has worked to destabilize the region, undermine your democracies, and divide you from each other and from the rest of Europe," he said.

"I bring greetings from President Donald Trump, who sent me here as a visible sign of the alliance that we now enjoy through NATO," the vice president said, adding that his country rejects any use of force in the Balkans. "The Western Balkans have the right to decide your own future, and that is your right alone," he said.

Russia’s reaction

In response to Pence’s allegations, the Russian foreign ministry on Thursday called on Washington to stop vilifying Russia’s foreign policy line in the Balkans. "The U.S. Vice President has again made public a series of anti-Russian statements as he tried to scare the leaders of West-Balkan nations with the mythical Russian threat, reaching a point where he accused Russia of attempts to forcibly redraw the borders between countries in the region," the ministry said. "With much sadness, we have to state Washington is sinking deeper and deeper into the primitive ideologically-tainted formulas of the Cold War era that are a wide cry from reality."

The ministry stressed that "imposition of a destructive alternative suggesting ‘either with the West or with Russia’" will inevitably fan tensions in Europe and will destabilize the situation in the region on the whole and in separate states. Moscow recalled that it was the U.S. and its allies who crudely violated international law in 1999 and purported an illegitimately use of force to tear Kosovo away from Serbia.

"We call on our U.S. counterparts to stop vilifying Russia and its foreign policy, which is always based on respect for partners and readiness for fruitful work, as well as on the mutual account of interests," the ministry stressed.