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NATO says it will not leave Serbia outside military bloc

NATO has insisted that it cannot leave Serbia outside the military bloc, saying that the country is a very important, if not the most important country in the region,  daily Vecernje Novosti reported on Monday.

“Jaap de Hoop Scheffer holds that NATO can’t allow itself the luxury of leaving Serbia outside the bloc,” James Appathurai, the General Secretary’s spokesman said in an interview with the Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti, published on Monday. He added that the Partnership for Peace membership into which Belgrade has already signed itself insured that Serbia would stick to its road of Euro-Atlantic integration, and wouldn’t opt out the alliance as it has threatened. However, Appathurai said that it is up to every single country to decide whether they want to be in or out of NATO. “If Serbia wants to join NATO, it is fine with us; if not, that’s also OK,” Appathurai said, adding that there were a lot of countries in Europe which do not want to join NATO, Austria for one.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica told his Democratic Party of Serbia last Saturday that he opposed Serbia’s NATO membership and that the country should stay militarily neutral. Kostunica pointed out that this stand was based on the belief that Serbia should keep its full military neutrality and that it should not join any military alliance because this was in the interest of the state. “How can Serbia join the military alliance which first bombed us, then, bypassing the UN security Council, sent its military forces to Kosovo, and threatens to recognize Kosovo’s unilateral independence?” the prime minister asked. (Xinhua)