Vladimir Bilcik, the European Parliament (EP) rapporteur for Serbia, has said that he would never bring into question Serbia’s actions as it has a sovereign right to freely make its choices. He added that it is important, however, to point out that some of those actions may have consequences for the country’s EU perspective.
“Serbia is a country that is building relationships with countries outside the EU as well. We in the EU also have military neutral members, but no EU state is conducting military exercises with Russia and Belarus,” Bilcik told Radio Free Europe (RFE) on June 16.
Commenting on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic saying that Bilcik has no right to dictate who Serbia will have military exercises with, the EU rapporteur replied that his statement from few days before needs to be put into context. On June 13, Bilcik had said that the Slavic Brotherhood 2021 military exercise Serbia was having along with Russia and Belarus was not helping that country on its EU path.
“This week [we] are discussing sanctions targeting the Belarus authorities following the act of state terrorism they have committed by abducting an EU plane flying between two EU states. My statement was made in light of that [and the fact] that while we are discussing an important conference between Serbia and the EU, its participation in this military exercise with Russian and Belarus forces, in Russia, is a sign that a number of EU member states will not look favorable on,” Bilcik explained.
He said that he had tried to openly convey the “atmosphere in Brussels” on this matter. “My task, as the EP rapporteur for Serbia, is to work openly and constructively on [building] relations between Belgrade and Brussels, Serbia and the EU institutions. My comment was a friendly message, which emphasized that this is an important issue,” he added.