Serbia and Russia will Coordinate their Foreign PoliciesRussia | September 25, 2022, Sunday // 11:01| views
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (right)
Serbia has signed an agreement with Russia for mutual "consultations" on foreign policy issues, the country's media reported.
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic signed the agreement alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, where most Western delegations shunned Russia's top diplomat over the invasion of Ukraine.
The consultation plan is expected to last two years, the Serbian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Serbia is officially a candidate for membership in the European Union, but the government maintains relations with Russia.
Although Serbia has said it supports Ukraine's territorial integrity, the government has repeatedly refused to join Western sanctions against Moscow. Aligning foreign policy with the EU is one of the main conditions for joining the 27-member bloc, but Serbia has increasingly resisted calls to do so.
Media in Serbia and Russia reported that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with Lavrov in New York and the two "underscored the joint focus on the further dynamic development of Russian-Serbian relations."
Representatives of the pro-Western opposition in Serbia said the signing of the latest agreement with Russia was a sign that Vucic, a former ultranationalist, had given up on the Balkan country's EU membership and was moving it closer to Moscow's camp.
The centrist opposition SSP party said it was "unbelievable" that, at a time when most of the world was watching Moscow's actions with alarm, Serbia had signed a consultation agreement with a country "that directly violates the UN Charter and intends to annex the (Ukrainian) territory".
Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, Vucic's unofficial spokesman, said that "expanding cooperation with Russia is not a matter of respect for the past, but a responsible decision aimed at the future."
Serbia is important to Russia as a way to destabilize the Balkans and potentially shift some of the world's attention away from the war in Ukraine.
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