BELGRADE – NATO respects Serbia’s decision on military neutrality and appreciates Serbia’s orientation towards being a factor of regional stability and its commitment to the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Petr Pavel said at a meeting with Serbian Deputy Parliament Speaker Igor Becic Thursday.

The basis of Serbia-NATO cooperation is good will on both sides to broaden cooperation, with no pressure on Serbia to become a NATO member, an official statement quoted Pavel as saying.

None of the agreements that Serbia has signed with NATO create any preconditions regarding membership in the military alliance, Pavel said.

Serbia has an interest to remain militarily neutral and we respect that and have no intention of pushing it to any side, Pavel told the B92, adding that NATO respects Serbia as a sovereign country.

He said that he believes that Serbia-NATO relations have been developing continuously over the past decade and that it is clear that cooperation and partnership are beneficial to both sides.

He highlighted NATO’s role in protecting the Serb community in Kosovo-Metohija.

Having an agreement on freedom of movement is a standard that NATO has with every partner country with which it has a trust fund and joint activities, Pavel said.

The agreement is necessary to implement the trust fund, he said, adding that Jordan and Austria have similar agreements.

Serbia is affected by the migrant crisis on the Balkan route, which is an issue that must be addressed urgently through collaboration of all countries in the region, the EU and NATO, said Pavel.

“As a militarily neutral country that is not aspiring to NATO membership, we want to enhance relations with NATO as part of the PfP,” Becic said.