Dacic: Serbia-NATO cooperation important

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Wednesday that cooperation with NATO is important but that the country’s military neutrality is not in doubt.

“Cooperation with NATO is based on clear premises and on respect for Serbia’s policy of military neutrality without the condition of our country becoming a member of the Alliance,” he told a conference during the 7th Belgrade NATO week.

The Foreign Minister said that Serbia is open to promoting the political dialogue and specific cooperation with NATO in all areas of mutual interest. “The policy of military neutrality, as the basis for our policy not just towards NATO but also towards every other military alliance, is not in doubt,” Dacic said.

He said relations with NATO remain delicate because of the 1999 bombing campaign. “I regret to remind you that NATO intervened in 1999 without UN Security Council authorization which for us was an act of aggression on a sovereign country… We can’t forget those events and we will always remember the people who died,” he said and added that all those involved in the events of 1999 have an obligation to cooperate to keep the peace in the region, despite different views.

Dacic said that Serbia understands its neighbors’ decision to join NATO and expects understanding for its contacts with non-NATO countries. Dacic said the situation in Kosovo is an important part of cooperation with NATO since Kosovo is the biggest political and security challenge facing Serbia. “We expect the Alliance to show understanding and support for our priorities, especially in regard to Kosovo. We believe that a compromise solution reached through the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue with international community support is the only way to secure a lasting peace and stability. There is no reason why something agreed by both sides should not be acceptable for any third party,” the foreign minister said.

He said that Serbia expects KFOR to prevent any further deployment of the Kosovo Security Forces in the north of Kosovo.

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