US Ambassador in Belgrade Kyle Scott said on Monday that he was “not interfering in Serbia’s internal affairs.”
Instead, said the diplomat – who was last week advised against such practices by Serbia’s foreign minister – he was “commenting on certain goings-on in the country.”
“It’s interesting and ironic that, if I comment positively on the internal dialogue on Kosovo, there’s no reaction. Or if I welcome economic development and progress in economic reforms, then no big deal. But if I publish something critical, then the reaction is different,” Scott told reporters, responding to questions about his recent spat with Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin.
He added that he “understands the reactions to his comment about Vulin” – but would “make no further comment,” and thinks the issue had been given ” too much importance.”
“As they say in Serbia – a storm in a teacup,” Scott said.
This “storm” started with Scott’s October 11 tweet in Serbian, that linked to a Washington Post story entitled, “Serbian defense minister praises convicted war criminal”, and added the following comment: “Unfortunately, months of work to improve Serbia’s image in the US can be undermined with one statement.”
Several days prior to this, Vulin addressed a gathering in Nis to say that all those who have defended Serbia are “the bravest of the brave” – and he “had in mind also retired General Vladimir Lazarevic, who was convicted and then released after serving two thirds of his sentence in the Hague Tribunal,” Beta is reporting.
On Monday, the daily Blic wrote that the US embassy “has reasons to be angry with Serbia” – but not because of Vulin. Rather, it has to do with the decision to send Serbia’s US-trained deminers to Syria – “but (to help) the Russian side.”
Asked whether Scott’s comment amounted to “meddling in Serbia’s internal affairs,” President Aleksandar Vucic told the daily Vecenje Novosti that he “does not think so,” and added: “Scott did not say anything particularly new. These are his known views. But in our country, foreigners will not be conducting our policy.”