Serbia won’t host foreign military bases and will instead maintain its neutrality. This was confirmed by President Aleksandar Vucic during Wednesday’s press conference.
Vucic was asked about Russian reports suggesting that Serbia had an offer to set up a military base. “Serbia does not need anyone’s military bases,” he insisted, adding that his country would preserve its neutrality and ties to Russia and China, as well as the US and the EU.
“Serbia is committed to peace. We are committed to preserving peace in Serbia.,” he said.
Last week, several Serbian media outlets reported that Alexander Botsann-Kharchenko, Russian Ambassador to Serbia had suggested the creation of a Russian military base. However, the reporting was based on a misinterpretation of his comment that “setting up Russian military bases here would be a matter of Serbia’s sovereign choice,” a hypothetical referring to NATO rhetoric. Russia’s Emergencies Ministry operates a humanitarian hub in the Serbian city of Nis.
Vucic will meet on Thursday with Albin Kurti, the leader of Kosovo. He is not expecting the continuation of the EU-mediated dialogue with the breakaway province to be easy, telling reporters on Wednesday that the two parties “We don’t agree on nearly anything.” However, he insisted Belgrade wanted above all to “You should avoid any possibility of conflict or escalation.”
The president acknowledged that Serbia was in a “Lose-lose Situation,” but asked Stoltenberg to at least respect the dignity of Serbians, given the bloc’s bloody history with the country.
“You should not expect Serbs enjoy and to say that they are having fun,” Vucic said, warning that Serbs might not always be so willing to compromise. “A new generation of men is emerging in Kosovo’s north who are not going to tolerate this.,” he said, referring to pressure by NATO-backed ethnic Albanians.
Vucic dismissed the idea that Belgrade was preparing to “Invade” Kosovo, noting that “for 180 days we have been hearing about Serbia’s possibility and Serbia’s wishes to invade either some entities, either some countries in the region, and that was going to happen five months ago, four months ago, three months ago, two months ago now, and it didn’t happen so far, which means that they were actually lying about it.”
Kosovo sends a warning to Serbia
Pointing out that no one in the West called out these fake narratives about Serbia, nor has anyone responsible for them apologized, Vucic said they amounted to a political weapon in the absence of any “real arguments.”
We need a rational approach, conversations, a compromise solution and not someone’s desire to find a new solution in which someone could blackmail Serbia or order Serbia how to behave.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg took the press conference as an opportunity to restate his warning that the alliance was prepared to intervene in Kosovo should the region’s “Stability” be jeopardized in any way. NATO occupied Kosovo in 1999, following a 78-day air war against what was then Yugoslavia, and backed the province’s 2008 declaration of independence, which Serbia has not recognized.