Macedonia, Serbia not to jump on EU's Russia sanction bandwagon

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 16, 2014
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Macedonia and Serbia, both candidate countries of the European Union (EU), reiterated on Monday that they would not implement the EU's sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia and Serbia, Nikola Poposki and Ivica Dacic, stressed that the two countries had to consider their own economic benefits when deciding whether to join the sanctions against Russia after they met today in Skopje.

"We will approximate our policy, but we will take our own economic interests into consideration. Even Ukraine does not respect EU's sanctions towards Russia. Also Russia's import ban applies to the EU, but not to Ukraine. It seems to me that they can be in war and trade among themselves, and we are all left over to pay for the price," Dacic said.

Serbia has started EU accession negotiations from the beginning of this year. Still, Dacic said that it is very early for the country to align completely with EU's foreign policy.

Macedonia's prospects to join the EU are even vaguer, since the country is a candidate to join the Union since 2005 and is still not allowed to start negotiations, mainly due to the unsolved name issue with Greece.

"In the foreign policy issues we align ourselves to the EU. But the main difference is that the EU member-countries take part in creating these policies, while the ones that are outside the EU are only requested to implement them," Poposki said.

Risto Nikovski, a retired Macedonian diplomat, thinks that both Macedonia and Serbia are currently facing a fierce pressure from Brussels to join the sanctions against Russia.

"The pressure on Serbia is even higher since this country has started the EU negotiations. But it is a known fact that EU itself does not have neither will have in near future fully unified foreign and security policy. This leaves some space for maneuvering and allows some countries to choose not to comply with the policies drafted in Brussels," Nikovski told Xinhua.

Maya Kocijancic, spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the EU led by High Representative Catherine Ashton, has recently admitted that the EU expects the candidate countries to follow the foreign policy measures adopted in Brussels.

"The EU as a rule calls on third countries to harmonize with its positions, especially when it comes to sanctions. This is particularly true of candidate countries and potential candidates who are bound through the Association Agreement to increase their compliance with EU foreign policy issues - their progress is also assessed in view of that.But the final decision is on those third countries," Kocijancic stated.

Macedonia and especially Serbia are among the countries that expect to benefit from the Russia's trade ban for EU. Since they are not yet EU members, they can export their goods freely to Russia and are expecting an increased trade volume with this huge trade partner. Enditem

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