On November 14-17, Serbia will hold exercises of local and American paratroopers. The manoeuvres at Batajnica military airfield with the participation of about 100 servicemen from the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the US Army are to promote the expansion of relations between the countries and "enhance security and peace in the region."
The administration of Serbia, the territory of which the Americans were bombing for four months in 1999, agreed to the joint exercises to retain its power, chairman of the Russian Party of Serbia, Slobodan Nikolic, told Pravda.Ru.
"Serbian President Alexander Vučić wants to have good relations with both Russia and the United States. Figuratively speaking, he tries to sit between two chairs. The majority of the Serbian people and the Russian party of Serbia condemn this approach and this military event. Today, Serbia conducts similar exercises with NATO soldiers five or six times more often than it does with Russia.
It is worthy of note that there is a branch of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations in the city of Nis. Its specialists have cleared several hundred square kilometres of mines that NATO had planted during the bombings in 1999. This division of the Russian EMERCOM has not received a diplomatic status yet, but NATO already has a diplomatic status. NATO soldiers can move around Serbia and do what they want."
"Has Serbia forgotten those who were killed in the bombings? Why does Serbia look up to the USA so much these days?"
"The leadership of Serbia is looking for an option to stay in power. It now depends on the US and the European Union, because the country remains in a very bad economic situation. The Serbian authorities are looking for investment, they have already signed the Brussels contract. The labor force in Serbia is the cheapest - people work for 200 euros.
"Yet, we traditionally associate ourselves with Russia, as our peoples cooperate through history. We recently celebrated the "Liberation of Belgrade," then we paid tribute to the "Battle of the Danube," when the Red Army was helping us.
Our authorities claim that Serbia will never join NATO. I think that it will not happen, as the Serbian people do not want that. The probability for Serbia to become a NATO member is eight percent. The Serbian authorities try to observe balance and sit between two chairs. The USA and the EU put pressure on Serbia, forcing the country to impose sanctions against Russia and recognise the independence of Kosovo.
Interviewed by Lada Korotun
Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru