During his two day visit to Serbia on October 12-13 NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General James Appathurai stressed the value of partnership with Serbia and underlined that the Alliance’s respect for the country’s military neutrality.
While addressing the panel ‘Ten
years on: Serbia, NATO and the Partnership for Peace’ at the Belgrade Security Forum together with Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Defense Minister Zoran Djordjevic,
Appathurai stressed that NATO’s objective in regards to Serbia is a strong
partnership, practical cooperation, and political dialogue. "This aim is shared
with the Government of Serbia. NATO membership for Serbia is not relevant as
long as Serbia does not change its firm position on that topic,” he added.
Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic,
with whom the NATO official also had an official meeting, expressed hope that
NATO’s strong presence in the region will continue to contribute to
peace-keeping and stability, especially with regards to Kosovo. He specifically
singled out the crucial activities provided by KFOR that are guaranteeing the
implementation of the Brussels agreement and securing the Serbian population.
On October 12, the Deputy
Assistant Secretary General took part in the opening ceremony for the new Trust
Fund project in TRZ Kragujevac in which Allies and partners will donate 3.7
million euros to have the facility upgraded so that it can safely destroy up to
2,000 tons of dangerous surplus ammunition.
He also had discussions with the
Chief of the NATO Military Liaison Office, Brigadier General Cesare Marinelli, about the Alliance’s assistance to Serbia’s defense reform and various practical
channels of cooperation.
In addition, Appathurai engaged
with several media outlets, including the NIN weekly, whose interview is
available in the below PDF (in Serbian).