Moscow says Serbia will benefit from EU membership but warns that Brussels will increase pressure on Belgrade to recognise Kosovo’s independence.
Aleksandar Konuzin, Russia’s ambassador to Serbia, told the Belgrade Ekonomist magazine that pressure would mount as a consequence of Moscow’s own recognition of the two Georgian breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Russia has been a staunch ally of Serbia's in opposition to the independence of Kosovo, declared in February, and has pledged to continue its backing despite Belgrade’s refusal to follow Moscow’s call for international recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
"Serbs can rest assured that Russia is ready to join forces with them in the fight against double standards... and in preserving Serbia’s territorial wholeness and sovereignty," he said. The diplomat said it was a "wrong approach to present Serbia’s ties with Europe as an alternative to its friendship with Russia".
The diplomat argued that the "price Belgrade is asked to pay" for integration into Europe was a separate issue, adding that Serbia "will benefit from [EU] membership equally as have other Eastern European countries".
Konuzin continued: “Russia looks at the Kosovo issue as an attempt to forcibly divide Serbia against the people’s will, by violating international law, including the UN Charter and the UN Security Council decision".
On Wednesday, the US former envoy to the Balkans, Richard Holbrooke, said "Russia's aggressive campaign" was to blame for the fact that only 46 countries have so far recognised the independence of Kosovo.