"Serbia given ultimatum over Russia sanctions"

BELGRADE -- Serbia has until September 1 to decide whether to impose sanctions against Russia and so join the EU or maintain its current neutral position, a daily writes.

(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

According to the Belgrade-based Večernje Novosti, the pressure on the Belgrade authorities exerted by western countries culminated after the shooting down of a Malaysian airplane over eastern Ukraine last week.

In particular, "Euro-Atlantic powers want Serbia to publicly mark the Kremlin authorities as the main culprit for the tragedy and to impose sanctions on Russia like EU member-states have done," writes the paper.

Quoting diplomatic sources, the article continues to say that "virtually all politicians and diplomats who spoke with Prime Minister Vučić in the past days took off the gloves and decidedly insisted that Serbia must make a clear and hard stance on the issue of Russia."

As reported by this newspaper, "reading between the lines their messages mean that Brussels could put the brakes on Serbia's EU integration, or block announced investments."

"The Euro-Atlantic pressure," continues the article, "has also intensified after Vučić's official visit to Moscow," while it is estimated that it will be continued and intensified in the coming weeks, "since the visit of Vladimir Putin to Belgrade on October 19 has been confirmed."

"The West demands that, before that date, Serbia completely clears up with itself - will it stand by the side of the EU and the U.S. or will it continue to foster strategic bilateral relations with Russia," writes the daily, and adds:

"From the response of Belgrade will essentially depend the future foreign policy position and orientation of our country in the new global dealing of cards."

Responding to the report, PM Aleksandar Vučić said that "no one speaks the language of ultimatums to Serbia today."