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Serbia will get away with Russia, Stoltenberg says

Serbia will get away with Russia, Stoltenberg says
We have noticed that Russia has been trying to have an effect on political processes in the Balkan countries in more covered ways, such was the alleged Russia's involvement in the putsch attempt in Montenegro. Serbia will, I am convinced, will be able to get away with Russia in a way that will preserve country's identity, NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told to a group of Serbian journalists in Brussels.

Commenting Russian "activities" in the Western Balkans, he said that is legitimate "as long as it is an open diplomatic dialogue", Danas daily reported. Stoltenberg was talking ahead of NATO defense secretaries summit in Brussels today.

NATO respects the decisions of Serbia as an sovereign country, Stoltenberg said. "It is the right of Serbia to be a militarily neutral country and we in NATO do respect that decision. Some of our closest allies such as Sweden and Finland are militarily neutral countries", he went on adding that Serbia's dealing with the status of the employees in the Russian-Serbian humanitarian center in Nis was also on its own. "It is important to us Serbia to make its own decision alone", Stoltenberg stressed.

NATO "has no problem" with Serbia's military exercises with Russia, Stoltenberg said adding that Norway, when he was its prime minister, has had lifesaving exercises with Russia at times. Stoltenberg announced that Serbia and NATO would hold common exercises in the domain of reacting in emergency situations. These maneuvers would be organized in Serbia in 2018, as he explained.

"NATO respects the cooperation it has with Serbia. I was in Serbia recently and met Aleksandar Vucic, prime minister at the time, and I have very good relations with him; my deputy was present at his presidential inauguration. I am also looking forward the cooperation with the new prime minister Ana Brnabic", NATO secretary general concluded./IBNA

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