EU sources comment on US diplomat's statements about Serbia

Recent statements made by US State Department official Brian Hoyt Yee represent "his views, that have not been harmonized with the EU."

Source: Beta
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

This is what EU sources in Brussels told Beta on Tuesday.

Yee was in Belgrade in late October when he said that that Serbia will not progress on its path toward the EU unless it gives up its ties with Russia.

The EU sources were today responding to the agency's question about "the extent to which, considering Yee's statement, the United States can influence whether Serbia can move closer to EU membership, bearing in mind that the legal and political framework for this are the negotiations on Serbia's membership."

Beta reported that it received confirmation from EU diplomatic sources that Russia also, at the highest diplomatic level, asked the EU to explain how Washington can claim the right to decide on behalf of the EU about whether or not a country will become a new member of the organization.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently said that Yee's messages represent the same type of pressure that the US and the EU exerted on Ukraine when that country was deciding whether to sign an association and free trade agreement with the EU, or maintain its close ties with Russia.

Sources in Brussels also said that Yee has in the meantime explained that his statement that Serbia "cannot sit on two chairs" and must choose either the EU or an alliance with Russia, was "not an ultimatum but merely a piece of advice."

It has also been pointed out that the European Commission delegation in Belgrade had reiterated that the EU expects Serbia to gradually harmonize its foreign policy with EU's foreign and security policy by the end of its membership negotiations, including relations with Russia and the issue of EU's anti-Russia sanctions.

Asked to explain the significance of Yee's message to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who was told that he must be "aware of the consequences" if Serbia does not respect Washington's position that Kosovo is independent, and that Serbia must not encroach on "the territorial integrity of Kosovo" - the unnamed sourced said it was "not clear what the high ranking American official meant by that."

Diplomatic circles in Brussels assesed that Yee's warnings can be understood in the context of the (internal) dialogue on Kosovo, initiated by Vucic, and of Serbian FM Ivica Dacic's statement about the necessity of finding "a line of delimitation" and reaching a permanent settlement around the issue of Serb and Kosovo Albanian interests.

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