"Under the accession negotiations Serbia legally obliged to gradually align its position with the EU regarding difficult issues such as sanctions against Russia. This is very important, and we expect this obligation from Belgrade," said Hahn in the interview for the Belgrade newspaper Evening News published on Thursday, November 20.
European Commissioner said that he understood the historical ties of Serbia and Russia, and the EU "does not compel Belgrade to make a simple choice," however, he said, Belgrade proclaimed accession to the EU as its strategic goal.
"Your country marked the accession to the EU as a key strategic goal which Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic confirmed during the recent visit of President Vladimir Putin to Serbia. We expect the representatives of your authorities to continue demonstrating your commitment to the key strategic goal of joining the EU", the Austrian politician said.
On Thursday, Hahn will visit Serbia, which is an official candidate for EU membership. On Tuesday, November 18, the Commissioner made a statement contrary to what he had said in the interview. He said that the European Commission did not bind the accession negotiations with non-alignment of Belgrade to impose sanctions against Russia. Then Hahn said that Serbia is a "sovereign state", and it needs to "make a decision on its own".
Serbia received the official status of a candidate for EU membership on March 1, 2012. Earlier this year, Belgrade began negotiations on signing the agreement. Earlier, the authorities of the country have declared that they were ready to fulfill all the conditions for joining the EU, but would not take anti-Russian position due to the Ukrainian crisis.
Russia and Serbia are implementing several joint projects, including the construction of trunk section of South Stream gas pipeline, the development of Oil Industry of Serbia, the reconstruction of Serbian railways on account of the Russian export credit in the amount of $ 800 million with the participation of RZD International. Since 2000, these two countries have had free-trade agreement.
In October, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Serbia. In Belgrade, he was greeted with fanfare. The continued strengthening of cooperation between the two countries has not gone unnoticed in the West.
Recently, the Western media and politicians have expressed fears that Putin would initiate a new conflict in the Balkans after the Ukrainian crisis or in parallel with it. According to the experts, the Russian leader will take advantage of the fact that the Balkan countries are politically and economically dependent on Moscow.