BELGRADE – The majority of Serbian citizens and the country’s President, Tomislav Nicolic, consider Russia its major ally, and the Serbian government will never support anti-Russian sanctions despite pressure from the West, the Serbian president said in an interview with the Portuguese daily, Diario de Noticias, in the run-up to his visit to Portugal.
When asked whether he continues to regard Russia as Serbia’s main ally, as he said during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Belgrade on October 16, 2014, Nicolic said, “I continue to think so, and most Serbian citizens think so too. This is not just a question of emotions. Serbia has received considerable assistance and support from Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin, in many issues that are important for it, such as the protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are grateful to them for that, just as all other countries that support us in this regard.”
When asked how Belgrade can maintain balance between relations with Russia and the process of joining the EU, the Serbian president noted that “it’s not easy.”
“The biggest problem facing Serbia is constant pressure from the EU and demands to coordinate its foreign policy with the European Union’s policies. That means that we should have imposed sanctions on Russia, something we will never do,” Nicolic stressed. He explained that this would adversely affect Serbia’s economy and vital national interests, while the country would be left “without its major ally and the numerous challenges it is facing, such as the need to protect the Serbs’ interests in Kosovo.”
In October 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a large-scale parade to mark Belgrade’s liberation from Nazi invaders. President Nicolic said at that time that Serbia considers the military parade held in Belgrade in the presence of the Russian leader a symbol of the two countries’ unity.