U.S. ambassador: We were right to impose sanctions on Serbia

U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby has said that there was "pressure" on Serbia to join western sanctions against Russia.

Source: Tanjug, N1

But that does not mean that something must be done, he remarked during an interview for the N1 broadcaster.

"This pressure means that we talked, but it is not the same as having to do something. This does not automatically mean strong pressure," he explained.

Kirby remarked that he believes the West "acted correctly" when they "many years ago" introduced sanctions against Serbia.

"I believe that in Serbia there are people who do not like to hear about sanctions against anyone. Russia voted for sanctions against you, only China and Zimbabwe opposed it, many years ago," said Kirby.

He then that Serbia, "due to the specific history has a specific vision of sanction" - because "people suffered."

Asked whether Washington was "sympathetic" toward the Serbian position and attitude towards Russia, the U.S. ambassador said that there was "understanding" and that he "knows where that position of Serbia comes from."

"But we believe that we made the right decision when we introduced sanctions against you," he repeated, adding that he was aware it was "difficult for citizens who are still trying to recover."

"We understand history, but I also think that sanctions are sometimes necessary because of the nature of things that people do," Kirby was quoted as saying, and adding that "friends can sometimes disagree."

Commenting on the media scene in this country, he said it was "difficult to make an economically viable" media outlet - "because there are many in the race for not such a big amount of money."

"If you look at the number of newspapers in Serbia you'll see there are many, especially in comparison with America," Kirby observed.

As for media freedom, he said he knew it was viewed as "a major problem," but that he himself was not up to date with the issue, because, as he noted, he is a diplomat.

Kirby also pointed out that he was pleased that the dialogue with Pristinahad resumed, and that the Serbian government was "serious about moving closer to the European Union and improving relations with its neighbors."

He said that many laws had been passed that are now in the process of being implemented, and that he was glad there was a deal with the IMF and a step forward toward the World Bank.

According to the U.S: ambassador, Vucic and his government made "difficult economic decisions necessary to restart the Serbian economy, instead of returning to the old."

"They're trying to lay a new foundation," said he.

According to Kirby, Serbia moved "full steam ahead" in "repairing relations with neighboring countries." He added that relations with Croatia were now "better," and with Hungary "better than before."

He also noted that Vucic's first trip abroad after he took over as prime minister was to Sarajevo, and that there was "controversy with the (Greater Albania) flag and Albanian PM Rama," but that he soon after arrived in Belgrade "for a successful visit."

Kirby then said that there was also the ongoing dialogue with Kosovo - so relations "with neighbors" have been strengthened.

The U.S. ambassador added that it was "very important" that Serbia has taken over the chairmanship of the OSCE.


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