Serbia is a sovereign, independent country and NATO respects its position not to join as a member, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said.
According to him, this is no obstacle to strengthen mutual cooperation.
“There are no talks about Serbia joining NATO and the reason is that Serbia has clearly stated that they don’t want membership in NATO. And NATO fully respects that decision of Serbia,” Stoltenberg said in response to a question posed by a Serbian reporter during a news conference on Monday.
Asked to comment on the Russian humanitarian center in Serbia, he again recalled that Serbia is a sovereign country.
“I know that Serbia conducts military exercises with Russia, but they also conduct military exercises with NATO troops. We respect the sovereign decisions of Serbia because Serbia is a sovereign nation and we welcome the strong and close partnership with Serbia,” the NATO chief said.
“Serbia has decided they would like to stay a neutral country, they are aiming for membership in the EU – we respect that and we welcome progress in Serbia’s efforts to join the EU. But at the same time, Serbia is a sovereign, independent country, and Serbia has decided that they don’t aim for membership in NATO,” Stoltenberg said, and added:
“It is important to understand that for NATO it is absolutely possible to have good, friendly working partnership with countries that don’t aspire for membership in NATO. We have excellent cooperation with countries like Sweden, Finland, Austria, and other neutral countries.”
Stoltenberg also remarked that he has met with Aleksandar Vucic several times, and said NATO and Serbia “continue to strengthen our partnership.”