Brussels, 23 Nov 2016 – Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic stated today that Serbia is militarily neutral, but that it wants to continue cooperation with NATO because without that cooperation there is no peace and stability in the region, which are a prerequisite for further economic growth and prosperity of our country.
Speaking at a joint press conference after meeting with Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg at the headquarters of the Alliance in Brussels, Vucic conveyed gratitude to Stoltenberg on respecting the decisions of Serbia and the Serbian parliament on the military neutrality of our country.
The Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to the Secretary General of NATO on his statement that he regrets for the innocent victims of the 1999 NATO bombing of Serbia. He said that the Serbian public has to know that we are surrounded by NATO countries and countries that would like to be in the Alliance, which is why we must build good relations with people from NATO if we want peace and stability, higher economic growth and better living standards.
Serbia is militarily neutral, respects the decisions of the parliament, but for rational reasons, for the sake of the future, and not the past, it wants to develop relations with NATO, Vucic stated. The Prime Minister said that he and Stoltenberg discussed all key issues, the fight against terrorism, migrant crisis and Serbia's participation in peacekeeping operations, noting that he made a request to NATO to help clear mines, especially at the Kopaonik mountain.
Vucic said that after the relaxation of the air zone in the Ground Safety Zone, the lower layer of airspace over Kosovo-Metohija was also discussed, noting that experts will meet soon and that he believes there will be positive solutions in the future. He said he is grateful for the estimates that Serbia is working on stabilizing the whole region, and reiterated that it is a condition for our progress in every other field.
We wish to continue this kind of cooperation within the framework of Partnership for Peace and IPAP. This is of great importance for the citizens and I believe that we will be able to boast about such good relations in the future because they mean peace and stability in the Balkans, Vucic concluded.
The Secretary General of NATO said that the North Atlantic Alliance respects the military neutrality of our country, and expressed regret for innocent victims of the 1999 NATO bombing of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. According to him, the Prime Minister of Serbia had an excellent meeting with representatives of NATO, which is the first meeting of Vucic with members of that body.
We had an excellent meeting with the Council of NATO, and it shows that we are working on strengthening the cooperation between NATO and Serbia. I am proud of friendship with you and grateful that you are here. We talked about a variety of issues, including our common security challenges, Stoltenberg said.
He said he is impressed by the reforms implemented by Serbia, and added that NATO and he personally commend the efforts of Serbia in the situation related to the migrant crisis. We also commend the fact that Serbia has contributed to peacekeeping missions in Cyprus, Lebanon and Africa.
Serbia is an integral part of the European family and we share the same values. I strongly believe in the potential of cooperation between NATO and Serbia, the Secretary General of NATO stated. He said that NATO supports the efforts of Serbia towards the EU, and that it is good for Serbia, and for the stability and cooperation in Europe.
According to him, the two sides are working to strengthen bilateral cooperation through IPAP, and will work on further development of cooperation and the fight against ISIS. Serbia is an exporter of stability and a close partner of NATO, Stoltenberg concluded.