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News 02 Nov 17

Serbia Slates Ukraine Ambassador For BIRN Interview Attacking Russia

Serbia's Foreign Ministry has accused Ukraine's ambassador of seeking to wreck Serbia's warm relations with Russia with his strongly worded BIRN interview.

Maja Zivanovic
BIRN
Belgrade

Ivica Toncev. Photo: Wikimedia/Leo1982serbia

After the Ukrainian Ambassador to Serbia, Oleksandr Aleksandrovych, told BIRN in an interview that Moscow was “using Serbia” for its battles elsewhere, the State Secretary in the Foreign Ministry, Ivica Toncev, has accused the ambassador of undiplomatic behaviour.

“The fact that Serbia maintains a balanced, correct and consistent foreign policy ... appears not to suit everyone, and encourages certain ambassadors to be extremely undiplomatic,” Toncev said, the Serbian news agency Tanjug reported on Thursday.

Toncev said that the main role of ambassadors is to "do everything to improve bilateral relations, primarily political and economic ones, but also all other forms of cooperation”.

The same official added that Aleksandrovych’s own activities, however, were “all directed to frustrating attempts to disrupt Serbia's relationship with the Russian Federation”.

Toncev urged the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and government in Kiev to point out to the ambassador “his inadmissible behaviour, so that we are not forced to take the usual steps in such cases”.

Aleksandrovych told BIRN that Serbia was not doing nearly enough to stop Serbs from travelling to Ukraine and fighting on the side of pro-Russian forces in the east.

The ambassador said that Russian propaganda and its secret services had played a huge role in attracting Serbian and other foreign mercenaries to Ukraine.

He also accused Russia of playing a highly damaging role in the Balkans.

“Russia trains Serbian mercenaries to kill Ukrainians. Russia used Serbian extremists to make a coup d’etat in Montenegro. Russia encourages Serbian separatism in [the Serb-dominated Bosnian entity of] Republika Srpska to destabilise Bosnia and Hercegovina," he said.

"Russia uses Serbian factor to destabilise Macedonia. Russia plays an active role in putting Serbian Kosovars against Albanian Kosovars. Russia sells its airplanes to Serbia to create tensions with Croatia,” he added.

The head of the right-wing nationalist Serbian Radical Party, Vojislav Seselj, called for Aleksandrovych to be expelled from Serbia during Thursday's session of parliament.

BIRN asked Serbia’s Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy to Serbia to comment on Aleksandrovych’s statements, but they did not reply by the time of publication.

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