Ivica Dacic has announced an initiative with the PM to solve the diplomatic status of the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center (RSHC) in Nis, southern Serbia.

“This issue needs to be solved, one way or the other. I have special responsibility because (Russian Defense Minister) Sergei Shoigu and I formed that center,” the Serbian foreign minister told the daily Politika.

Dacic said that an agreement on the conditions of the personnel’s stay, privileges and immunities has been on hold since August 2014.

“Western countries have their objections, although they received the same, and more, through agreements with Serbia,” he said.

Dacic then reminded of the fact that Serbia’s former President Boris Tadic and then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2006 signed an agreement on the protection of the status and access to infrastructure in Serbia that grants members of the US army and civilian staff of the Defense Department a status equivalent to that of the US embassy’s administrative and technical staff.

An agreement with NATO members and other Partnership for Peace participants, confirmed in the Serbian Assembly in 2015, contains similar formulations, while NATO’s Military Office essentially enjoys diplomatic immunity, Dacic said.

“What, then, is the problem with the center in Nis, which is not even military but civilian and humanitarian, and joint Serbian-Russian? The draft agreement states almost the same formulations,” he said, and asked whether the problem was is this being about Russia.

Dacic pointed out that the situation has been causing problems for the center’s functioning for a third year, considering that Russia is not spending the money it earmarked because of the unsolved status of the RSHC.

“This issue has to be solved, or the center should be shut down. Serbia must look after its own interests, if it has bilateral agreements with other countries, then it should have them with Russia,” Dacic concluded.

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