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DASH: Serbia's agreement with Russia, wrong, contradicts European aspirations
A spokesperson for the US State Department told VOA that the US believes no country should expand cooperation with Russia while it continues its aggression in Ukraine.
On Friday, Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic signed the agreement for mutual "consultations" on foreign policy issues with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The agreement was signed while the two ministers were in New York to attend the session of the United Nations General Assembly, where most Western delegations avoided the Russian top diplomat because of Russia's aggression in Ukraine.
"The news of this agreement signed with Russia was surprising and in complete contrast to other constructive meetings in New York with Serbian officials. Further rapprochement with Russia is a step in the wrong direction and contrary to Serbia's stated European aspirations," said the State Department spokesman.
On Monday, the American ambassador in Belgrade, Christopher Hill, said that during the work of the UN General Assembly, the United States held "fruitful talks" with the delegation of Serbia on global issues and other issues, and then found out about the agreement of which provoked reactions from the politicians of the European Union.
Serbia, a candidate for European Union membership, depends on Russia for its natural gas supplies and has refused to join Western sanctions against Moscow over its aggression in Ukraine.
The Kremlin supports Belgrade in its continued opposition to the recognition of Kosovo's independence, which was declared in 2008 with the support of the United States and major Western countries.
"The United States continues to strongly support Serbia's bid for EU membership. Russia clearly does not support EU membership for the countries of the Western Balkans and only seeks to sow division in the region. The future of the Western Balkans lies squarely within the EU and its enlargement promotes peace, stability and long-term progress across the region. "Serbia must accelerate steps to advance its European path, including diversifying energy sources to reduce its energy dependence on Russia and aligning its foreign and security policies with the EU," the spokesman said. of the State Department.
Serbia tried to play down the importance of the agreement with Russia and on Wednesday Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said that "a bureaucratic document, without any essential importance... was used by the media to attack Serbia".
Members of the European Parliament said that "the EU cannot continue Serbia's membership negotiations unless it is brought into line with EU sanctions against Russia", warning that this position will be part of the next report on enlargement of the block./ VOA