ISSN 2330-717X

Serbia Supports Ukraine’s Sovereignty But Opposes Sanctions On Russia

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By Sasa Dragojlo

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Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said at a press conference on Friday evening that Serbia stands for peace and respect for international law – and also considers it wrong to violate the territorial integrity of any country, including Ukraine – but will not impose sanctions on Russia, because it is protecting its own interests.

Serbia fully supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and regrets everything that is happening in Eastern Europe, Vucic said, adding that Serbians see Russians and Ukrainians as brotherly nations.

“Serbia unfailingly respects international legal norms because that is the best way to protect the country and its interests… Whatever anyone may want, Serbia looks after its national interests, but also respects its traditional friendships,” he underlined.

Vucic said he is aware that no one will be completely satisfied with Serbia’s position, but called it the “best possible decision for our country”.

“We consider this serious and responsible behaviour. We did not hurry, but we responded in the most serious and responsible way possible in these difficult and challenging times, knowing that will not completely satisfy everyone,” he said.

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Vucic also read out a series of conclusions adopted after a Serbian National Security Council meeting held before the press conference, in which he detailed Serbia’s stance on Ukraine. He particularly emphasised the sixth of these points, which stated that “Serbia is permanently committed to preserving peace in the region” and that “preserving peace is a vital interest for the Serbian people”.

He said “Serbia has taken part in many wars and lost many people: that is why we desperately need peace, and that is why we have highlighted peace as a special point and that means we will have even greater permissiveness towards certain irresponsible statements from the region.”

The Serbian head of state added that the country will respect the principle of military neutrality, adding that all the Serbian Army”s scheduled activities with foreign partners will be cancelled.

Bilateral relations between Serbia and Ukraine are traditionally good. However, Serbia has much stronger ties with Russia, not only historically, but also politically and economically, especially with regard to its heavy energy reliance on the larger country. Like Russia, Ukraine does not recognise Kosovo”s independence: however Russia, unlike Serbia, holds the power of veto in the UN Security Council.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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