Starović: Serbia and NATO – partnership cooperation based on the policy of military neutrality

04. Jun 2021.
Today, State Secretary Nemanja Starović opened the conference "Serbia and NATO – Partnership for the Future", organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in Belgrade, as the "contact" embassy for cooperation of the Republic of Serbia with NATO in 2021-2022, the Council for Strategic Policies, as well as the NATO Military Liaison Office in Belgrade. The conference was opened, on behalf of NATO, by Baiba Braže, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy.

In his introductory speech, Starović emphasized that the Republic of Serbia has positioned itself on the international scene as a responsible, predictable and credible partner that promotes peace and security in the region, but at the same time shares responsibility on a wider scale in promoting peace and security challenges.

He pointed out that one of the important elements of the state policy of the Republic of Serbia are efforts to keep the region permanently stable, as well as to develop partnership relations with NATO, based on clear premises – a partnership cooperation based on military neutrality, without aspirations for Alliance membership, but at the same time, openness to further enhance the political dialogue and practical cooperation with NATO in all areas of common interest.

He emphasized that the intensive dialogue at the highest level between the President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, and NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, especially contributes to the improvement of cooperation, as evidenced by their recent conversation at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.
Starović reminded that the relations between Serbia and NATO are specific because of the legacy from the past – NATO bombing of the then FRY without the authorization of the UN Security Council, which for us is an act of aggression against a sovereign country in times of world peace, with huge sacrifices and material destruction. Although Serbia and NATO still have different views on the events of 1999, even after 20 years, both sides, as they have repeatedly confirmed, have a responsibility and obligation to do everything to ensure lasting stability in the region, where everyone must bear their share of responsibility in achieving this goal, which can only be achieved by strengthening cooperation and mutual trust.

The State Secretary pointed out that the Republic of Serbia supports and highly appreciates the engagement of the International Security Forces KFOR in the Province, as the only legal military formation in the Province, in a strict, complete and impartial implementation of the mandate established by UN Security Council Resolution 1244.

He expressed confidence that the cooperation between NATO and Serbia has its future and potentials through further development of the partnership, which can be further expanded and improved in each individual area in the interest of achieving common goals – above all, security and stability. He reminded that at the end of this year, it will be 15 years since Serbia became a member of the NATO Partnership for Peace program, which is a jubilee that will be marked in an appropriate way.

Ambassador Dijana Ivančić, Acting Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Security Policy also participated in one of the panels of the Conference, together with Brigadier General of the Italian Armed Forces, Tommaso Vitale, Head of the NATO Military Liaison Office in Belgrade, and Ambassador Asya Davidova, Director of the Directorate for Security Policy in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria. This confirmed the determination of the Republic of Serbia that foreign and security policy, especially when it comes to relations between Serbia and NATO, are to be transparent and understandable to the general public, as well as that there will be no hidden agendas that would create doubts or ambiguities.