Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) A senior German official noted that Serbia must decide whether to join the EU or improve cooperation with Russia.
Days before the Berlin summit aimed at improving relations with Western Balkans countries, the official pointed out that Serbia has to make a decision and pick a side, according to The Guardian reporting on Tuesday.
“The need for a decision is coming to a head,” the official stressed and added “the relationship with Serbia is complex – there is light as well as shadows… Serbia’s relations with Russia are certainly part of the shadows.”
According to the official, the German government was “surprised and disappointed” when Serbia signed a consultation agreement with Russia last month.
According to the agreement that then Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Selaković signed with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, the two countries will consult on foreign policy.
Serbia’s EU path
Serbia became an EU candidate country in 2012 and has been trying to balance its EU aspirations with traditionally close ties with Moscow. The war in Ukraine exacerbated tensions as many Serbs are closer to Russia than the EU.
The German official stressed that Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić can count on “support from the EU as a whole and from the German government if he takes the path to Europe.” “Should he choose the other path, it will have ensuing consequences,” the official added.
Germany’s warning comes as Serbian Minister of Defence Miloš Vučević announced the country’s military was on high alert due to rising tensions in Kosovo.
“We cannot be relaxed and we stand for dialogue,” he stated and added that the Armed Forces are prepared to “protect all citizens of Serbia, including the Serbs in Kosovo, and no one should doubt that.”
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo are rising as Pristina announced last week it was delaying plans to confiscate vehicles of local Serbs who are still using registration plates from before 2008, when Kosovo declared its independence.
Kosovo’s attempts to make drivers switch to new plates have been met with fierce resistance from local Serbs, with Western countries including the EU warning that the move would exacerbate tensions.
Last week, the EU pointed out that Kosovo has the right to phase out old registration plates, but called for a longer transition period.