Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Nov. 13 that cooperation with NATO is important for Serbia and that Serbia wants it to be even better, but that the country’s military neutrality is absolutely not in question.
“Cooperation with NATO is based on clear premises and rests on the respect for Serbia’s military neutrality, without any conditions requiring it to become a member of the Alliance. At the same time, Serbia is open to further advancing of the political dialogue and concrete cooperation with NATO in all areas of common interest […] The policy of military neutrality, as the foundation of our policies not only regards NATO, but all other military alliances, is not being brought into question,” Dacic said at the opening of the Seventh Belgrade NATO Week in Belgrade.
According to him, Serbia understands the decision of its neighbors to become NATO members and, therefore, expects their understanding for Belgrade’s contacts with countries that are not NATO members.
Dacic also said that the situation in Kosovo is an important part of cooperation with NATO and that Kosovo is the biggest political and security challenge for Serbia.
“We expect the Alliance to see and support our priorities with understanding, especially where Kosovo and Metohija is in question. We believe that only a compromise solution, reached through a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, supported by the international community, can ensure a lasting peace and stability. There is no reason that something agreed by two parties should not be acceptable for any third party,” the head of Serbian diplomacy added.
He reiterated that Serbia is against the transformation of “Kosovo security forces” into the “Army of Kosovo,” adding that this is in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 1244 and is endangering regional and wider stability. These and other Pristina’s unilateral moves, Dacic said, are a continuation of the fait accompli policy, tacitly supported by a part of the international community, among them a number of NATO members.
“Establishing of an artificial balance in responsibility when it is completely clear who is responsible for the interruption of the dialogue is not contributing to the resumption of the Belgrade-Pristina talks,” the Serbian foreign minister added.
The minister also said that Serbia expects KFOR to prevent any future entry of Kosovo security forces in northern Kosovo.
Dacic added that relations between Serbia and NATO, despite their upward trend, remain delicate due to the 1999 bombing of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
“I recall with regret that in 1999 NATO had intervened without the authorization of the U.N. Security Council, which for us represents an unambiguous act of aggression against a sovereign country, resulting in a huge number of casualties and material destruction. We cannot forget these events and will always remember those who have perished,” Dacic said.