The Serbian Foreign Ministry (MFA) said on Tuesday it remained committed to overcoming disagreements and enhancing bilateral relations with Ukraine.

This comes despite the insistence by Ukraine’s ambassador to Belgrade on the stance that Russia is using Serbia to create chaos and provoke a war in the Balkans, Tanjug reported, citing a press release issued by the MFA.

The ministry said it was reacting to Ukrainian Ambassador Oleksandr Aleksandrovych’s statement for b92.net and TV O2, when he said that relations between Serbia and Ukraine had been undermined by Serbia voting “against Ukraine” – i.e. against a resolution on human rights in Crimea, and that he had been waiting for an audience with Serbian FM Ivica Dacic for 14 months.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to point out the following facts,” the press release said, and continued:

“During the voting on membership of the so-called Republic of Kosovo in UNESCO 2015, the delegation of Ukraine stayed out of the room, which was directly contrary to the vital interests of the Republic of Serbia. Also, Ukraine supports the proposals of Western countries to change the mandate of the UNMIK mission in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as the dynamics of the UN Security Council sessions devoted to UNMIK’s work, which is strongly opposed by Serbia.”

“The Republic of Serbia and Minister Dacic personally, during the OSCE chairmanship, demonstrated their commitment to a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine, which Minister Klimkin praised,” the MFA added.

“The ambassador of Ukraine (to Serbia) has been continuously, from the very start of his mandate in the Republic of Serbia, making undiplomatic and unacceptable assessments of Serbia’s foreign policy and of its officials. As the latest examples, we cite an interview with Radio Free Europe from October 28, 2016 (“Serbia cannot be on several chairs”), with Blic from November 16, 2016 (“Putin will sell you out”), as well as a recent interview about Russia using Serbia in order to create chaos and provoke a war in the Balkans,” the statement said.

The ministry added that “one of the usual measures in diplomatic practice, when foreign representatives step outside the framework of the Vienna Convention, is to lower the level of contacts to the working level” – and that, “accordingly, during this year, the ambassador of Ukraine has been received at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the level of assistant minister and deputy assistant minister.”

“A commonly accepted diplomatic principle is also the rule of reciprocity. Given that the ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to Ukraine, Rade Bulatovic, has never been received by the head of Ukraine’s diplomacy, Klimkin, and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine responds to receptions hosted by the embassy of the Republic of Serbia at the level of the head of the protocol, the Republic of Serbia has no obligation or cause to act any differently,” the statement said.

The MFA concluded by “noting with regret the statement made by Ambassador Aleksandrovych about the stance of his ministry being ‘almost the same’ as his own – but nevertheless remains committed to overcoming disagreements and improving bilateral relations.”

B92