BELGRADE – Sweden respects the position of Serbia, which aspires to join the European Union while maintaining its military neutrality, as Sweden itself is a part of the European bloc but not a NATO member state, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Loefven said on Tuesday.

“Sweden, like Finland, is an EU member, but not part of NATO. We respect such a position and will continue to stick to it, because it is important for stability,” Loefven was quoted as saying in Belgrade by the Tanjug news agency.

Loefven, who arrived in the Serbian capital on Monday evening, stressed that Sweden “will contribute to the strengthening of the EU while maintaining neutrality.”

Serbia’s military neutrality is enshrined in a 2007 parliamentary resolution. However, in February, the country passed a law to cooperate with NATO through an Individual Partnership Action Plan.

The European Union granted Serbia candidate status for membership in 2012, making accession to the bloc conditional on Belgrade implementing a number of reforms as well as recognizing Kosovo as an independent state.