BELGRADE – Serbia’s European integration course is destructive for the republic, which should instead seek closer military and economic ties with Russia, an acquitted leader of the far-right Radical Party and former Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia said Thursday.

“European integration is a wrong and destructive course for Serbia. We are now, after signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement [in 2007], bearing losses and our industrial and agricultural powers are being destroyed…That is why the path toward the European Union is a path toward a wolf pack, an enemy camp, and it is bad for Serbia,” Seselj told RIA Novosti.

He commented on the current Serbian leadership’s goal of gaining EU membership while maintaining good relations with Russia and China.

“The policy of wearing two hats is absurd. Serbia under the current leadership is a country of absurdity in general. The Serbian government’s dependent vassal attitude toward the West while trying to keep some balance with the East is prevailing. We in the Serbian Radical Party hold clear positions: integration with Russia, military integration with the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization] and other Eurasian integration, including BRICS,” Seselj stressed.

The European Union granted Serbia candidate status for membership in 2012, but requires Belgrade to implement a number of reforms as well as effectively recognize Kosovo as an independent state.

Sucessive Serbian governments have pledged the country will never recognize Kosovo. The current government maintains that its relations with Kosovo should not be a factor in EU membership negotiations.

Serbia opened two of the 35 chapters needed for accession to the European Union on December 15, 2015, including one on normalizing ties with Kosovo.