EU, US question Serbia’s EU commitment after Russia deal | European Union News

The West questioned Belgrade after signing an agreement with Moscow, committing to long-term consultations on foreign policy.

The European Union and the United States have questioned Serbia’s declared commitment to join Europe’s 27-nation bloc after Belgrade signed an agreement with Moscow pledging long-term “consultations” on policy issues. foreign policy in the context of Russia’s participation in the war in Ukraine.

Serbian officials signed the agreement Friday in New York with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, where most Western delegations alienated the top Russian diplomat over the invasion its Ukraine strategy.

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic signed the document dubbed the “consultation plan”. He said the plan envisages consultations on bilateral and multilateral activities, although there is no content on security policy in it. Opposition parties in Serbia criticized the document.

The Serbian Foreign Ministry sought to downplay the significance of the signed agreement, saying it was “technical” and concerned bilateral relations and not security issues.

Although Serbia has said it supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity, its right-wing government has repeatedly refused to join Western sanctions against Slavic ally Russia. Linking foreign policy with the EU is one of the main conditions for joining the bloc, but Serbia increasingly defies calls to do so.

News of the deal sparked harsh criticism from both EU and US officials.

European Commission spokesman Peter Stano on Monday warned that Serbia’s relationship with Russia cannot be “business as usual” under the current circumstances when Moscow is violating the United Nations Charter with its forces. their armed forces committed atrocities in Ukraine.

“It is a very clear sign of their intention to strengthen relations, to further strengthen relations between Serbia and Russia and this raises serious questions,” he said. “We are taking this very seriously and we are monitoring this.”

US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher R Hill said “further alignment with Russia is a step in the wrong direction and contrary to Serbia’s stated European aspirations”.

“The United States believes that no country should expand its cooperation with Russia while it continues its war of aggression against Ukraine,” Hill said in a statement to the Associated Press.

“The news of this agreement being signed with Russia was a surprise and was in stark contrast to other constructive meetings in New York with Serbian officials.”

Under the 10-year rule of Serbian populist leader Aleksandar Vucic, a former extremist, Serbia has gradually moved away from the declared EU goals and established close political ties with Russia. .

Ivana Stradner, an adviser to the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said on Twitter that the consultations between Belgrade and Moscow were “one of the few.” Vucic’s balance game between Washington and Moscow“.

“Did he also tell them about the NATO exercise next week?” Stradner said.

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