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Serbia Doubles Down on Plan to Coordinate Foreign Policy with Russia

Serbia doubles down on plan to coordinate foreign policy with Russia. Following the signing of an agreement between Russia and Serbia on foreign policy, Belgrade’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Selaković defended the plan in the face of sharp criticism.

An agreement on consultations for 2023-2024 was signed between Selaković and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York at the weekend, eliciting sharp criticism from EU officials.

“As far as I am concerned, I think that the government had the opportunity, due to the current situation and relations, to reject such a plan. But I don’t see anything fundamental in that plan, except for an excuse to attack and discipline Serbia, especially when it is attacked by those who haven’t even seen it,” Selaković told a press conference in Belgrade on Sunday.

Asked to elaborate on the document, Selaković said the plan was something that had been repeatedly signed since 1996 and is a technical matter that, in this year’s iteration, included only bilateral and multilateral consultations related to the UN and not consultations on security policy.

No recognition from Russian referenda

Serbia’s foreign minister also commented on the referendums being organised in the four Russian-controlled regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.

Serbia, in accordance with the UN Charter and the principles and norms of international law, could not accept their outcome due to the UN Charter, he said.

“On the other hand, not doing this would be completely contrary to our state interests, our policy of preserving our territorial integrity and sovereignty, and commitment to the principle of the inviolability of borders,” Selaković told a news conference.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s Serbia Rapporteur, Vladimir Bilčik, called the signing of the plan a “blow” to the EU accession process in the Western Balkans.

“As a keen supporter of any steps towards a European [Serbia], I find the news of planned consultations between Serbia [and] Russia a major blow to the accession process in the Western Balkans,” tweeted Bilčik.

“Let’s be clear: [Russia] is mobilising to attack [EU] candidate state [Ukraine], Russia is attacking EU enlargement!” he added.

Parliament’s Kosovo Rapporteur, Viola von Cramon, went even further, calling it a “serious scandal in the midst of raging war,” noting that Serbia is signing the “plan on future collaboration with the aggressor.”

“Or maybe it’s just a signal for us to freeze the accession talks as entering the EU does not go through Moscow,” she wrote on Twitter.