Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic says his country “does not want to even think about a black scenario like a possible conflict between Russia and NATO.”
Dacic told a joint news conference in Belgrade on Tuesday with Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser that he believes “a policy of easing must follow – because the alternative is total war, which I think is far from anyone’s mind.”
Asked to comment on a statement by Austria’s defense envoy that his country intends to be only an observer and does not wish to be involved in such a conflict, if the relationship between Russia and NATO worsens, Dacic said:
“Our hope is that relations will warm and that there will not be great conflict and war operations.”
Speaking about the military neutrality of Serbia, the minister said that there are reasons for the country’s decision not to join any military alliance, something that is in Serbia’s case regulated by a parliamentary resolution.
According to him, it is also possible that this policy will be included “in some new Constitution.”
Dacic said this is different from Switzerland’s internationally recognized policy of neutrality.
The minister then said that Serbia has had bad experiences “with the West and the East” – citing as examples NATO’s 1999 bombing of the country, ” but also the Stalin era.”
“Our policy is not to join any military alliance, but we want good cooperation and partnership. In this respect, we nurture good relations and use all opportunities for cooperation in the framework of cooperation with NATO,” said Dacic.
According to him, Serbia has reached the highest level of cooperation that a country that does not want to join NATO can reach.
“Now we need to use all these resources,” he said, noting that, “on the other hand,” Serbia also has good relations with the Collective Security Treaty Organization CSTO.
As an example, he pointed out that there are two joint exercises with Russia and Belarus per year, and 16 with Western partners.
“All this shows our policy of military neutrality, while what the Austrian military official said, that is a topic that is important to Austria,” Dacic said.
Sven Mikser said that internal reasons should not create any obstacles to the EU.
“If a country decides to move towards the EU, the this is a relationship between that country and the EU, if a country decides to go to NATO, it is the relationship between NATO and this country,” the Estonian official said.
He said he believes that it is the sovereign choice of each country.
“In our neighborhood, the Baltics, we have countries that are members of the EU and those that are not. We have NATO member countries and states that have chosen different security arrangements and we fully respect and accept this,” said Mikser.
According to him, there are countries that have made a political decision not to join, but can benefit from various forms of partnership with NATO.
“We fully respect the decision of this kind and we believe that NATO can be beneficial to the reform and modernization of security structures of a country even if it is not a NATO member and does not want NATO membership,” he said.