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News 21 Nov 14

Russia, China Slate EU Sanctions Pressure on Serbia

Russian and Chinese officials have criticised the EU for telling Serbia to align its foreign policy with Brussels concerning sanctions against Russia.

RT, Itar-Tass
Alexey Pushkov, Russian MP. | Photo by Dmitry Rozhkov/Wikimedia

A senior Russian official has accused the EU of putting undue pressure on Serbia to join Western sanctions on Russia, related to the Ukraine crisis.

“The EU’s attempts to coerce Serbia into joining anti-Russian sanctions are nothing but blackmail,” Aleksey Pushkov, head of the Russian Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Thursday.

Pushkov spoke out came after Johannes Hahn, the EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, told Serbia that it must join the EU sanctions regime on Moscow.

“The European Union is trying to force Serbia, which is not an EU member, to join their sanctions programme," Pushkov said in Moscow.

“The problem for Serbia is that it has no prospects of joining the EU anytime soon in any case. If they join the anti-Russian sanctions now, they will simply succumb to blackmailers and no one will accept them in the EU in one year for doing this,” Pushkov added.

Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Moscow hoped that Belgrade would take into account its friendly relations with Russia when deciding whether to join the EU sanctions.

“Russia believes the sanctions are absolutely illegitimate [and] unfriendly,” Itar Tass quoted Lukashevich as saying on Thursday.

Lukashevich added that “the methods that European colleagues use, persuading and forcing other countries to join the campaign of pressures on Russia”, are unacceptable.

“This method is far from civilised, especially towards the countries that seek to join the EU,” Lukashevich stated.

Itar-Tass also quoted Zhou Li, Vice-Minister of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee, as saying that the EU was “trying to impose its values on Serbia.

“Accession to the European Union is the priority task for Serbia. By taking this opportunity the EU is trying to impose its values on Serbia and sets the imposition of sanctions on Russia as a condition for entering the Union,” he was quoted as having said.

“In essence this problem is the choice that the Serbian government, the ruling party and the opposition face,” he reportedly added.

Serbia has tried to maintain a neutral path over the Ukraine crisis, saying it respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity, but refusing to join EU sanctions imposed on Russia.

Serbia maintains that imposing sanctions on Russia would damage its economy. Tomislav Nikolic, President of Serbia, on Thursday again repeated Belgrade’s position as regards the sanctions issue.

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