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December 05
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The European Union on Monday condemned Serbia's decision to hold foreign policy consultations with Russia, saying it raises questions at a time when Brussels is telling countries seeking to join the bloc not to continue doing business as usual with Moscow, Reuters reported.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic signed a document called the consultation plan on Friday.

Selakovic said the plan includes consultations on bilateral and multilateral activities, although there is nothing in it about security policy. Serbian opposition parties have criticized the document.

Serbia, which was bombed by NATO two decades ago and now aspires to join the European Union, has long struggled to find a balance between historically close ties with Russia and a desire for economic and political integration with the West.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Monday, Peter Stano, a spokesman for the EU executive commission, noted that a new document on Russian-Serbian consultations was signed just days after Moscow announced mobilization for war in Ukraine and began voting on the annexation of territories it had seized.

The agreement between Serbia and Russia was a very clear sign of their intention to strengthen their ties. And that raises serious questions, Stano said. 

He said the EU has made it clear to countries wishing to join the EU that relations with Russia cannot be business as usual in the current circumstances. Serbia has declared EU accession a strategic priority, which implies alignment with European policy, including on foreign policy, he added.

He says they take it very seriously and are following developments..

In a statement, Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin called the memorandum signed with Russia a technical document and said EU officials do not want to allow Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to pursue an independent policy.

Serbia previously refused to join sanctions against Russia.

On Sunday, Selakovic said Serbia would not recognize the results of referendums in parts of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow.

That would be against their national interests, a new N1 TV channel quoted him. Serbia still refuses to recognize the independence of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008.

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