New "slap on the wrist" of the EU; Serbia's reaction: We have never severed relations
European Union Spokesperson Peter Stano pointed out that Serbia's decision to send an Ambassador to Syria is contrary to Brussels' position.Source: Beta
He reminded that the path to EU membership implies harmonization with its foreign policy.
"The EU's position regarding the normalization of relations with the regime in Syria is clear and unchanged, and the recent elections organized by the Syrian regime cannot lead to international normalization," Stano told Radio Free Europe.
He said that sending the ambassador to Damascus implies handing over the credentials to the head of state, in this case to Syrian President Bashar Assad, "who is on the list of EU sanctions and has no democratic legitimacy as president."
"He is someone who oversaw the mass brutal violence perpetrated by regime troops against the population, including the use of chemical weapons. These are the reasons why EU member states do not send ambassadors to Damascus to hand over credentials to Assad. They have representatives there as charge d'affaires" who do not have to hand over their credentials to the head of state", Stano said.
Stating that the representation of candidate countries in Damascus is within the competence of those countries, Stano pointed out that in the case of Belgrade's decision, "it should be taken into account that the Serbian government has repeatedly confirmed that European integration is a strategic priority for the country."
He added that this includes "progressive alignment with EU foreign and security policy".
The four-year mandate of Serbian Ambassador to Syria Jovan Vujasinovic expired in 2013. After that, the new one was not appointed and in his place until now was the charge d'affaires Milan Vijatović, according to RFE.
The name of the ambassador who will represent Serbia in Syria has not been announced yet. Most European countries and the United States withdrew ambassadors from Damascus or reduced activities to the level of charge d'affaires in 2012, as the Assad regime is accused of human rights violations and war crimes. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belgrade stated that Serbia "has never severed diplomatic relations with Syria."
"Until the appointment of our new ambassador to that country, they took place at the level of a temporary charge d'affaires, which was conditioned by the security situation in that country at the time," the written statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated for RFE.