Serbia will maintain ‘military neutrality’, says president | News from the European Union


Aleksandar Vucic says it is in “vital interest” that Serbia continue on the path to the European Union, but reiterated that it will not join NATO.

Serbia does not plan to join NATO and will maintain its military neutrality, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told a meeting of parliament.

Serbia has been a candidate to join its main trading and investing partner, the European Union, since 2012. It is militarily neutral but maintains ties to NATO and has purchased weapons from its member states.

In the Balkans, Serbia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are the only countries that have not joined NATO.

“This morning, I heard meaningless statements from false patriots saying that we have been leading Serbia towards Atlantic integration,” Russian state news agency TASS quoted Vucic as saying on Thursday.

“We are not. We will stick to military neutrality, and unlike those who destroyed our army, we are building an army of our own,” he said.

War broke out in 1998-99 in Kosovo, then a Serb province, when ethnic Albanian separatists launched a rebellion against the Serbian government, and Belgrade responded with a brutal crackdown. Some 13,000 people died, mostly ethnic Albanians. Some 1,600 people are still missing.

The conflict ended when NATO intervened with a 78-day bombing campaign, forcing Serbia to withdraw from Kosovo. The operation gave as the reason for the intervention “the prevention of the genocide of the Albanians in Kosovo”.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by the United States and most EU nations. But Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo as a separate nation after 12 years of EU-brokered negotiations.

Serbia has had the support of Russia and China in its rejection of the independence of Kosovo, which has been one of the reasons why Belgrade has not imposed any sanctions on Moscow for the war in Ukraine.

‘We need this path’

Vucic told parliament that it is in “vital interest” for Serbia to continue with the EU accession process, but reiterated that the country will not join NATO.

His comments followed a recent Franco-German proposal for a settlement plan between Belgrade and Pristina.

Last week, Vucic announced that Serbia had received an ultimatum from powerful Western nations to normalize ties with Kosovo or face measures that would cause “great damage” to the country.

Rejection of Western efforts would result in “total isolation,” he warned on Thursday.

“You can’t function alone. They lie when they say that 43 percent of people are for [joining] The United States; it is much less, but that will not force me to say that the EU path is not good,” Serbian news website Danas quoted Vucic as saying.

“We need this path as we are surrounded by countries that are in NATO, or NATO is in them,” he said.

According to a 2020 poll, conducted by the Center for Euro-Atlantic Integration and the Center for Free Elections and Democracy, 80 percent of Serbian citizens do not support Serbia joining NATO.


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