Serbia on EU course despite calls for Russia shift, PM says


BELGRADE: Serbia’s prime minister said Monday the Balkan country’s goal is to join the European Union despite calls by the defense minister for an apparent shift in course toward Russia.

Ana Brnabic said that Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin has the right to his opinion, but “we have our course and we know that our strategic goal is the EU.”

Vulin, who is known for his pro-Russia stance, has said that Serbia should perhaps change its foreign policy goals if the EU insists on resolving the dispute with Kosovo as the prime condition for membership.

“If Kosovo is the key, let’s go our own way,” Vulin said in an official statement released by the Defense Ministry.

Serbia’s former Kosovo province declared independence in 2008, which Belgrade doesn’t recognize. Russia supports Serbia in that stand while major Western countries, including the United Sates, have recognized Kosovo’s statehood.

Serbia, Russia’s key ally in the Balkans, has been reluctantly promised a 2025 EU entry if it fulfills a number of preconditions, including making peace with Kosovo Albanians.

Serbia’s apparent path toward the EU has been hindered by political and propaganda pressure from Moscow and its goal of keeping the countries in the Balkan region out of NATO and other Western bodies.

Serbia has a number of pro-Russian ministers in the government who regularly undermine its official goal of joining the EU.