Stable Serbia is the key to progress in the region
Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin has met today with the Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command Naples, Admiral Michelle Howard. Minister Vulin expressed condolences to Admiral Howard on the tragic death of 16 members of the Marine Corps in the fall of a military transport aircraft in the state of Mississippi. Vulin also conveyed the personal greetings of the Supreme Commander and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić to Admiral Howard.
The Minister of Defence pointed out at the meeting that Serbia remained consistent with military neutrality, but also that it was determined to further strengthen its cooperation with NATO, primarily through the implementation of Partnership for Peace activities.
"Strengthening our military capabilities is a priority of the Ministry of Defence, and exercises with NATO partners certainly contribute to this, as well as exercises with partners who are not members of this military alliance. In this way, we are building capacities for participation in the peace-keeping operations of the European Union and the United Nations thus becoming a credible partner for contributing to regional and global security, which is in line with clear foreign policy priorities of Serbia such as the EU membership", the Minister of Defence said.
Vulin stressed that Serbia is sincerely committed to preserving regional stability fully respecting and considering the Euro-Atlantic orientation of its neighbours, as it expects neighbours to respect the path chosen by our country.
"We are not ready to be part of any military alliance and we are firmly committed to the policy of military neutrality. On the other hand, the Serbian Armed Forces actively participates in exercises with NATO member states that surround us. We see this as an opportunity to strengthen confidence among the countries of the region, which is crucial for its stability", the defence minister said.
He emphasized that, considering the importance and the area of responsibility of the NATO Command in Naples, an open and sincere dialogue and maintenance of regular contacts at the highest level is a precondition for the promotion and strengthening of partnership cooperation. The Serbian Armed Forces and KFOR have an especially positive form of the cooperation, the Minister said.
"KFOR is currently the most responsible factor in maintaining peace and security in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, and it is therefore crucial that KFOR stays in Kosovo for as long as necessary. The position of Serbia is that the announced transformation of the so-called Kosovo Security Forces to the so-called Kosovo Armed Forces constitute a gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and certainly does not contribute to the establishment of lasting peace and security in the region. Political agreements must be respected and cannot be changed", Minister Vulin said.
Admiral Michelle Howard agreed that the stability of the region is the key to its overall progress, especially for Serbia's relations with its neighbours and its accession to the European Union. She also highlighted the good communication between the Serbian Armed Forces and KFOR and excellent cooperation on the operational and technical level, which was confirmed through regular meetings of the Chief of General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces and the KFOR Commander, as well as a large number of joint activities.
The Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command Naples reaffirmed the importance of sustained political dialogue and exchange of information, especially with regard to security challenges such as terrorism, organized crime or the migrant crisis faced by the Western Balkan region, as well as the whole of Europe.