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Russia never puts it like “with us or against us” to the Balkans: ministry

Interaction with the Balkan countries as well as with the EU countries is intrinsically valuable for Russia, Spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova has said at a briefing on February 8, asked by reporters to comment on the EU expansion strategy for the Western Balkans published by the European Commission this week.

Zakharova stressed that Russia is developing its relations with the countries as well as with the alliances they are member to .According to her, Russia’s position on it has always been very clear.

“Undoubtedly, we take as a premise that they are EU embers and have certain commitments to the EU, at the same time we support harmonic development on several tracks both in bilateral format and in the format of the alliance. As for those countries that are not EU members and are thinking of the EU membership or a closer interaction with the union, we see no obstacles for development of our relations with them and have never put it as ‘with us or against us.’ We have always supported harmonization of the relations. We believe that practice and experience have shown that such way is possible,” Zakharova noted.

On February 6, the European Commission passed “A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans,” a document that envisages EU membership for several Balkan countries in 2025. The strategy says that Serbia and Montenegro have moved further than the others on their way to EU membership. It also says that before the mentioned date Serbia needs to sign and implement a legally binding treaty on “normalization of the relations” with the separatists Kosovo. Besides, according to the European Commission, Albania and Macedonia are taking significant steps towards the EU, while Bosnia and Herzegovina can become a candidate for the membership, if it makes sustainable effort.

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