President Aleksandar Vucic told retired US Lt. General Frederick Ben Hodges in Belgrade on Tuesday that Serbia will maintain its military neutrality but is prepared to respond to common security challenges, a press release from the president’s cabinet said.
Vucic told Hodges, a former commander US Army Europe who now holds the Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), that Serbia is prepared to contribute to maintaining the peace and stability of the region, the press release said adding that they also discussed problems in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.
According to the president, Serbia will continue strengthening its cooperation with the Ohio National Guard as well as all other forms of bilateral military cooperation with the US.
„President Vucic explained the reasons for the break in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and Serbia’s intention of continuing the dialogue after Pristina revokes the unlawful and anti-civilizational tariffs,” the press release said.
It quoted Hodges as saying that long-term stability requires reconciliation and good neighbor relations and lending full support to efforts to resolve the crisis peacefully with respect for international law and regional agreements. “NATO is no just a military alliance but an alliance of countries that share and defend common democratic values,” the press release quotes him as saying.
The press release said that Hodges is on a two day visit to take part in a conference on Serbia-NATO relations and added that he laid flowers at a monument to children killed during the NATO air campaign of 1999.