Serbia’s foreign minister on Sunday tried to downplay the importance of the deal with Russia after facing criticism for it being signed by the Balkans seeking to join the European Union.
Nikola Serakovic signed the deal on Friday alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The agreement, called the Consultation Plan, aims to define the relationship between the two foreign ministries for 2023 and 2024.
Most Western delegations shunned Russia’s top diplomat over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Serakovich said at a press conference on Sunday that the agreement was “technical” and concerned bilateral relations, not security issues. , Selaković claimed.
“The government could have rejected such a plan, but there is no dispute about it,” he added. “It is being criticized by people who have not seen it.”
The signing of the document in New York is the first agreement signed by the two countries since Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine in late February.
MEP denounces Serakovich move as ‘severe blow’ to Serbia’s EU path
Serbia is officially a candidate for EU membership, but the government maintains good relations with Russia and China.
Russia is also one of the few European countries that did not follow the EU’s lead in placing Russia under sanctions for the war in Ukraine, including Bosnia, Moldova and Belarus.
However, Belgrade condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and voted three times on UN resolutions to suspend it from key UN human rights bodies.
News of the deal sparked harsh criticism from the country’s pro-EU opposition and some EU politicians.
Germany’s Green Party MEP Viola von Cramon has suggested a possible moratorium on EU accession talks with Serbia.
“This is a serious scandal,” von Cramon said on Twitter. “In the midst of a bitter war, Serbia[the Ministry of Foreign Affairs]signed a plan for future cooperation with the aggressors.”
“Maybe it’s just a signal to freeze the EU accession talks, because EU accession doesn’t go through Moscow,” added von Kramon.
Another MEP of Slovakia, Vladimir Birchik of Slovakia, said the deal with Russia was a “severe blow” to the accession process of the Western Balkans.
Bilčik, a member of the European Parliament’s EPP Group, is also the Rapporteur for Serbia, who has reviewed the European Commission’s annual report on the country’s progress towards Serbia’s full accession and submitted it to Parliament for adoption. is obliged to submit to
The Serbian government has technical obligations after the latest elections in April.
Current Prime Minister Ana Brnavic has been cleared by President Aleksandr Vučić to continue in that role, and she is expected to nominate a new cabinet soon.
However, it is unclear whether Serrakovic will retain his position as Minister of Foreign Affairs or remain in government.