Serbia defies EU pressure to join sanctions against Russia

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said in a statement that "pressures on Serbia to, diplomatically speaking, align its foreign policy with the EU... to impose sanctions against Russia, are absolutely unacceptable"  (AFP Photo/Sergei Gapon)

Belgrade (AFP) - Serbia protested Wednesday against what it said was European Union pressure to impose sanctions against Russia, calling it "absolutely unacceptable."

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said in a statement that "pressures on Serbia to, diplomatically speaking, align its foreign policy with the EU... to impose sanctions against Russia, are absolutely unacceptable."

EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini presented on Monday the 28-member block's 2016 common foreign and security policy report that said Brussels "will continue to call on Serbia to progressively align with the EU Common Foreign and Security policy."

Although Serbia has opened negotiations to join the EU, it remains Moscow's closest ally in the Balkans and has refused to join Brussels-imposed sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

"Serbia wants to join EU, but it will never do anything against its national interests... We want good relations with everyone but we should not work against our own" interest, Dacic, also Deputy Prime Minister, said in the statement.

He indirectly confirmed local media reports that Serbia was also joining Russia in sending humanitarian aid to Syria, saying "we will send aid to Syria if someone else proposes it to us as well."

Cable television network N1 reported earlier Wednesday that Serbia would join countries such are Belorussia, China, India, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in sending humanitarian aid organised by Russia.

Serbian security analyst Zoran Dragisic told N1 that sending humanitarian aid under such circumstances "could be understood as taking Russia's side in Syrian conflict."

According to local media, the aid will be sent by Russian planes that would take off from the airport in Serbia's southern town of Nis.

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