By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said today he was surprised with the US ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby’s words on Belgrade’s stance considering Ukraine.
Earlier today Kirby said that Serbia respects the territorial integrity of all internationally recognized countries, but that Serbian officials have never said that Ukraine in whole of its territory was included by such approach.
In the interview for the Beta news agency, Kirby underlined that “United States respect traditional friendship between Serbia and Russia, but the world will not praise failure to condemn threatening to Ukraine’s territorial integrity”.
Vucic reacted by informing “public and US ambassador who is otherwise great friend of Serbia” that he had “in several dozen occasions supported Ukraine’s territorial integrity, clearly and unequivocally” adding that this stance was applied “even to Crimea”.
Earlier this month – Vucic’s cabinet recalled – in the interview to German daily Die Welt premier has stressed that Serbia respects territorial integrity of Ukraine, but does not support sanctions against Russia alike those imposed by European Union countries.
The same position has been reiterated in PM’s interview to another German newspaper, Handelsblatt, followed with his explanation that Serbia cannot impose sanctions to Russia because such move would be contrary to country’s political and economic interest.
Almost the exact statements Vucic gave to Serbian daily Vecernje novosti as well as to Swiss newspapers Bildt and Blick. In his reaction to Kirby’s remark he concluded: “I will formulate this in this way: from the very beginning we have supported the territorial integrity of Ukraine including Crimea”.
After Vucic’s reaction, US Embassy in Serbia expressed its regret “over the wrong comment by ambassador Michael Kirby regarding Serbian position on Ukraine’s territorial integrity”, Radio-Television of Serbia (RTS) reported.
“The fact is that Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic have supported in their statements the territorial integrity of all countries which are UN members, especially confirming Serbian support to the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea. We do praise such statements”, US Embassy stated.
“We are sorry for the mistake”, the Embassy added.