The President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolić, attended the opening ceremony of Serbia’s Honorary Consulate in St. Petersburg on Wednesday. After the ceremony, Nikolić gave an exclusive interview to TASS Russian media agency – discussing the nation’s ties with Russia and his views on Serbia’s EU and NATO integration.
In an interview made by TASS Russian media agency, titled : “Tomislav Nikolić: Serbia cannot be ordered who to choose as friends,” published on October 13, the Serbian president discussed bilateral relations with Russia, his standpoints on EU membership talks and regional stability in the Balkans.
“Serbia and Russia have almost always had friendly ties”
When asked about the history of relations between Serbia and Russia, and as well on the current status of the bilateral ties, Nikolić answered: “Whenever Russia was in crisis, Serbia was in crisis. Whenever Russia was doing well, we were good as well. Serbia never belonged either to the West or to the East; we never joined any of the blocks. But we almost always have had great ties with Russia – a country which greatly supports Serbia today. And I’m thankful to Russian President Putin for the help and the efforts he put to defend Serbia’s interest.”
While explaining Russian support to Serbia, Nikolić referenced the Russian veto in UN Security Council on the Srebrenica genocide resolution and Russian lobbying against the Kosovo’s candidacy for membership in UNESCO.
“Serbia will never become an EU member if in exchange it is asked to recognize the independence of Kosovo”
When asked about the priorities of Russian-Serbian bilateral relations, Serbian President said the exporting produce is the priority.
However Nikolić referenced and the statements made by some EU officials who raised concern about the increasing influence of Russian media in Serbia. “Many of them speak about some danger from Russia to Serbia. Just recently some of the representatives of Western nations presented me with their concern about the increasing influence of Russian media organizations in Serbia.”
“I asked them why nobody complained about CNN and the BBC – which are financed by them?” Nikolić added.
Nikolić explained to the TASS interviewer his country is surrounded by the EU member states and that obliges Serbia to meet the EU standards on issues like sexual minority rights and migrant crisis.
“Serbia will never become an EU member if in exchange it is asked to recognize the independence of Kosovo and Metohija,” Nikolic said. “But they do not hear us and keep putting forward this precondition again and again.” Serbian president added.
“Serbia will never join NATO”
While answering the question about the role of the Russian humanitarian center for emergencies which was established in the city of Niš, Nikolić mentioned the criticism from the EU officials. “EU should not be the one who chooses friends for Serbia. The EU spoke against the Russian-Serbian humanitarian center – that is another effort to destabilize our ties with Russia.”
“Also, Serbia will never join NATO. Serbia doesn’t need a military alliance,” Nikolić concluded.
(Writing by Dejan S.; Editing by Robyn Hunter & Ashley Moody )