EU tells Russia to keep Balkans out of Ukraine crisis

5th December 2014, Comments 0 comments

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called on Russia Friday not to involve the Balkans in tensions between Brussels and Moscow over the Ukrainian crisis.

"Obviously, between the European Union and the Russian Federation at the moment we have some tensions, but I think it is common interest (of) both... to find and develop ways of cooperation and not confrontation," Mogherini told reporters during a visit to Sarajevo.

"And for sure, it would be a good idea to keep the Western Balkans out of this kind of dynamics or thinking," she said.

"I would expect everybody in (the) Russian leadership to consider the same way," Mogherini added.

All countries of the western Balkans, composed of states that emerged from former Yugoslavia and Albania, want to join the European Union -- including Serbia, the main Russian ally in the region.

Moscow sees Serbia -- as well as the Serbs comprising one of the three main ethnic groups in Bosnia -- as a precious ally in Europe because of its refusal to back EU sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukrainian conflict.

Since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine in November 2013, Serbia has been trying to tread a diplomatic tightrope between meeting its obligations towards the EU and maintaining good relations with Moscow.

Serbia launched accession talks on EU membership in January.

During a visit to Belgrade in October aimed at strengthening Russian influence in the country, President Vladimir Putin said Serbia was Moscow's "closest ally."

© 2014 AFP

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