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The Battle for Belgrade continues

The Battle for Belgrade continues
Фото rts.rs
On 20 October, Belgrade celebrates the 73rd anniversary of the liberation from the German fascist invaders. The Russian Defense Minister arrived in Serbia, solemnly handed over six MiG-29 aircraft to the Republic. Washington is wary of Moscow's activity in the region, since no less are interested in the Balkans

So, what angle to go?

Washington is extremely interested in the Balkans, the leading Senator-Democrat Ben Cardin said in the interview with the Serbian «Voice of America». The states wants the integration of Serbia into the European community, and are not intrested in the rapprochement between Belgrade and Moscow.

«We are quite sure that the way [of development] of the Balkans will be closer to cooperation with the West than Russia, but we are definitely watching what is happening,» he said.

Cardin added that Washington is aware of Moscow’s activity in the Balkans, that is why the situation is «closely monitored», and in the region «now» there are partners along the NATO line.

The senator stressed that Russia is one of the most discussed topics in the US. Taking the opportunity, Cardin spoke about the investigation conducted by Democrats in the Senate, about alleged Russian interference in the election of the US president. «It will not be finished soon,» he said, explaining that the information is constantly being updated.

Washington will be protected from alleged Russian cyber attacks by «money and budget processes»:

«We also provide funds to combat propaganda that attempts to influence public opinion. We recognize that Russia is extremely active and will not stop. That’s why we need to defend ourselves, and Congress pledged to protect our security interests, «Cardin said.

According to him, the US presence in the discussion of North Korean problems is caused by fears that Washington will leave the world scene in this direction, and China and Russia will occupy the liberated niche. In Congress they are convinced that the global community depends on the leading role of the States, therefore they take steps to prevent the loss of the zone of influence.

Yugoslavia and NATO

NATO partners are obviously Montenegro. On 19 October, Dusko Markovic, Prime Minister of the country, speaking at the opening of the Global Citizen forum in Sveti Stefan, called Montenegro «one of the safest countries in the Mediterranean», which, as a member of the North Atlantic Alliance, is ready to maintain stability in the region.

In addition, according to local media reports, Markovic is in talks with Cherie Blair, the wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The government reported that during the meeting the interlocutors discussed the cooperation of local authorities with the Cherie Blair Foundation, which specializes in legal issues. The Fund’s staff will work to strengthen the capacity of Montenegrin public administration institutions.

The former commander of the Joint Armed Forces, US General Wesley Clark attended the Forum. He told reporters that, he «sees progress» by comparing the situation with the 90s, when there were wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Wesley Clark remembered how much time he spent talking with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

«I spent a hundred hours talking to him, and he always told me that this is a big country. Yugoslavia was a great country with many talented people, but alas, people could not agree on this system,» Clark said.

Clarke commanded NATO forces in Kosovo from 1997 to 2000. It is Clarke who is credited with an oral order for the destruction of Russian paratroopers who took the airfield in Pristina in 1999, and is accused of many war crimes committed by NATO members in Yugoslavia. In 1999, under his command, a «humanitarian-peacemaking action» was conducted: military intervention, air strikes and the further de facto separation of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia.

«Then, in 1999, it was necessary to prevent another ethnic cleansing among the Serbs, which would kindle a fire in the Balkans, and then both our missions would suffer a failure, in Bosnia and in Macedonia. Therefore, yes, it is justified. Looking back in the past 11 years ago, I’m completely «for» — we did the right thing,» Clark admitted in an interview with journalists of Radio Liberty in 2010.

Then, seven years ago, Clark believed that Bosnia occupied «too little space on the map of Europe», so its entry into NATO will not affect the situation in the region, and local people have no economic prospects. Bosnia needs to move forward, he concluded, in order to achieve stability, as in Hungary, Croatia, Romania and Albania. The retired general said that Serbia and Bosnia needed such political leaders and institutions that would correspond to the ideals of the EU and NATO. «This work is now going on,» he said.

At the Forum in Sveti Stefan, he called Montenegro a part of the West, expressed his satisfaction that the country had entered NATO and is on the path of integration into the EU.

The Kosovo Front

Meanwhile, in the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, the election campaign ends. On 22 October local elections will be held in 38 municipalities, in 10 of which the population is predominantly Serbian. At midnight, a «day of silence» will be announced. For present-day Serbia, this is also important because the Albanian parties do not fight for this power campaign in these municipalities. The «Serbian list» includes 21 candidates.

In addition, on 10 February 2015, an Agreement on Justice was concluded, according to which Serbian judges residing in Northern Kosovo can work in a court in the town of Kosovska Mitrovica. The swearing-in is scheduled for 24 October, 2017. The former head of the Department for KM, Marco Djuric, noted that Pristina and part of the international community are expressing concern about the delay of 2-3 days, while the creation of the Community of Serbian municipalities has been postponed for 1643 days. By the way, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation paid attention to this problem.

In February 2017, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, noted the constructive line of Belgrade, and stated: «The creation of a community of Serbian municipalities in Kosovo has been sabotaged by Kosovars for four years with the connivance of the European Union».

In parallel, the Serbian side is preparing for the forthcoming meeting of the foreign ministers of the Balkan countries, which is to be held at the end of this year. Serbia in the person of the head of the foreign policy department Ivica Dacic is in talks with Bosnia and Herzegovina about the borders between the two countries. A number of trilateral meetings are planned at a high level in the formats: Serbia, Turkey, BiH; Serbia, Croatia and BiH.

Congratulating graduates of the Academy of Foreign Ministry of the RS, Dacic stated that Serbia has some «red lines» for which it can not cross. The country has established itself as a reliable partner, has chosen priorities in foreign policy: full membership in the EU, preservation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the establishment of bilateral relations with all countries of the world.

Among important international partners he named Russia, China, the United States and the EU.

Thanks to Moscow

To be militarily neutral and independent, Serbia should be strong in the military sphere, said Serbian Defense Minister Alexander Vulin to a guest from Moscow — the head of the Defense Ministry Sergey Shoygu, who arrived in Belgrade on 20 October. Vulin thanked Russia for the transfer of six MiG-29 aircraft to the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade from the Nazi invaders.

«As you can see, they are. I hope that the planes will become a reliable shield and a guarantor of the security and independence of Serbia,» the journalists of the Serbian RTR TV company quoted Shoygu.

In Batajnica, Shoigu took part in the presentation of the operational capabilities of the Serbian Armed Forces «Freedom 2017» — in effect, demonstrative antiterrorist exercises were held.

«Thanks to friends who came and decorated the presence of this magnificent ceremony. Today we have shown that freedom is the highest value of the Serbian society and that we are defending and will be able to protect it, and the opportunities for this now have become even greater than before. We saw the MiGs, which will become part of the Serbian aviation. I will not remind you how much they said that «MiGs» [from Russia] will never arrive, and that they are «buckets,» said Serbian President Alexander Vucic.

The aircrafts were handed over to Shoygu in a solemn atmosphere. Vucic handed him a ceremonial dagger engraved with the serial numbers of the MiGs and thanked for the friendship.

In his speech dedicated to the anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade, Vucic noted that the city has been completely torn down more than 40 times in history, «and today I can safely say that anyone who plans to destroy our city, will fail.»

Vucic called the exercise «Freedom 2017» a demonstration of «instruments of Serbian freedom», independence, peace and friendship with Russia and China. Separately, he uttered words of gratitude to the Red Army men who liberated the city in 1944.

«We are a free, independent and sovereign country that wants to work and develop. Finally, the best times have come. This country is our garden, which we are proud of We demand that no one is ashamed of our wars for freedom, which we won with our own blood, not someone else’s. That’s why we celebrate this day always together with Russian friends who with other peoples liberated Belgrade, died for our country. Thanks to Vladimir Putin, Sergey Shoygu and Russia for their help and support. And thanks to the Red Army men who, together with our soldiers, fought for our freedom. Let free Serbia live!», Vucic said.

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