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Serbia supports Canada’s bid for UN Security Council seat in 2020

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globalnews.ca

Serbia supports Canada’s bid for UN Security Council seat in 2020

Mike Blanchfield

OTTAWA – Canada has won the support of Serbia in its bid for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2020, even though Canada went to war against it 17 years ago, says the country’s foreign minister.

The Security Council campaign is a key pillar of the Trudeau government’s foreign policy and the international politicking is in the early stages. But it is clearly under way.

The public endorsement by a European country, albeit a small one, is important.

Canada is running in the 2019 election for a two-year term starting the following year.

Canada lost its last Security Council bid in 2010 to Portugal – a loss that was at least partially attributable to what many analysts viewed as the solidarity of the European countries voting in a bloc for one of their own.

READ MORE: Excitement from international community with a more activist Canada: Rudd

Canada competes in the Western European and Others Group of the UN, and will face stiff competition in 2019 from Ireland and Norway.

“Serbia will certainly support it, support their candidacy,” Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said in an interview Tuesday during his first visit to Canada.

“We wish to have better relations with Canada. Canada is a very important partner of ours.”

The visiting foreign minister demurred when asked whether Serbia would try to influence European neighbours, saying it is a small country.

Serbia is on a track to join the European Union by the end of the decade and its ambassador to Canada, Mihailo Papazoglu, suggested his country would not be averse to trying to convince some of its neighbours in the Balkans and elsewhere on the continent to support Canada.

READ MORE: Reality check: Is securing a seat on the UN Security Council necessary for Canada?

Dacic was a on a two-day trip to Canada, where he had meetings with Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion and Immigration Minister John McCallum.

The minister, who spoke through a translator, said Serbia wanted to move on from its troubled past and has no hard feelings against Canada, which went to war against his country alongside NATO allies in 1999.

Canada joined the 78-day NATO bombardment of Serbia to support persecuted ethnic Albanians in the province of Kosovo, which has since formed its own country.

Canadian CF-18 jet fighters dropped 10 per cent of the NATO bombs that pounded Serbia, including its capital, Belgrade.

READ MORE: Canada will bid for 2021 seat on UN Security Council

“It’s obvious that many countries participated in the bombing of Serbia, but we cannot live just remembering the past,” said Dacic. “We have to try to find the common interest.

“The administration in Canada changed and everywhere in the world. We have to work with these new people, to find new friends.”

Dacic also pushed for Canada to lift a visa requirement for Serbian travellers, an irritant in Canada’s relations with the EU members Bulgaria and Romania as well.

He said the two countries also finalized an air travel agreement that will pave the way for direct flights between Canada and Belgrade.

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Written by Mika

16. novembra 2016. at 07:42

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Serbia: War of spies or public relations debacle?

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dw.com

Serbia: War of spies or public relations debacle? | Europe | DW.COM | 31.10.2016

Deutsche Welle (www.dw.com)

Last week’s events overwhelmed even the Serbian public, which is accustomed to hearing scandalous rumors. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (pictured at top) often holds dramatic press conferences broadcast live by pro-government media outlets. Sometimes he just lashes out at Kosovo, sometimes at political rivals – then, the supposed economic boom that lies ahead is announced. But this time, Vucic touched on some hot topics: espionage, a thwarted coup and the story of a small, but unyielding Serbia that is supposedly being harassed by "Eastern and Western powers."

Coup attempt in Montenegro?

The reason for this was that while citizens of the neighboring Republic of Montenegro were casting their ballots during parliamentary elections in mid-October, the arrest of 20 Serbian citizens attracted a great deal of media attention. They had allegedly planned a coup against outgoing Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic because he wants to lead the small Adriatic nation to NATO membership.

The putschists apparently wanted to help the opposition, supposedly backed by the Kremlin, take power. It is no secret that Russia is critical of NATO’s expansion. The Western military alliance’s growing reach is painful for the Kremlin, not only because Montenegro is traditionally pro-Russian but also because with the admission of the small nation to NATO, the alliance will have secured the last piece of the Adriatic coast it was missing.

After his party’s parliamentary election victory, Djukanovic surprisingly said he would step down

The pro-Western Djukanovic won the election by a narrow margin. The arrests on election day were decisive for his win. Now, his Serbian counterpart insists that a coup in Montenegro had been orchestrated in Serbia. The Serbian prime minister did not provide details, and people are speculating whether Russian intelligence agencies are involved. Many observers feel that this incident was a public relations debacle. Vucic only noted that Serbia would not allow itself to become the puppet of world powers.

"An unclear situation is ideal for populists," said Milos Vasic, an experienced journalist from the weekly paper "Vreme." He is surprised that the government was talking about spies without anyone having been arrested in Serbia, and says everything is a show to divert attention from the real economic problems and intrigues.

"Whenever the government has no arguments, it likes to talk about foreign spies, local traitors and alleged foreign agents," Vasic told DW.

Mysterious visit paid by Patrushev

Musings over a "war of spies on the Balkans" were officially fed when Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Nikolai Patrushev visited Belgrade to strengthen cooperation of the two countries. However, many different Serbian papers reported consistently that Patrushev flew three exposed Russian spies out of Belgrade. This was done to avoid a public scandal – that was also written in the Muscovite newspaper "Kommersant." The Serbian minister of the interior and Russia’s Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov denied the reports. Officially, relations between the Orthodox nations are still good.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is a popular figure in Serbia

"Because we have so little reliable information, we have been forced to interpret the prime minister’s words," Sofija Mandic, of the Belgrade Center for Security Policy, told DW. "If foreign intelligence agencies are planning terrorist attacks in Serbia or Montenegro, then one must ask why is this being discussed publicly without it leading to criminal proceedings. And if some Russian citizens really have been deported from Serbia, why where they not arrested?"

If that was not enough: Last week, it was said that a high-ranking former justice official has been selling confidential information to the CIA for a long time now. The Belgrade paper "Blic" published names and details.

Spy stories lend themselves to the invention of conspiracy theories – a popular pastime in Serbia. "These are the dreams of Serbian nationalist," said journalist Milos Vasic. "The only geopolitical importance of our country is the fact that important traffic routes run here. We should try to establish better train connections instead of wasting our time with these fabrications."

Weapons find

On Saturday, things got even hotter. Police seized a weapon stockpile buried not far from Prime Minister Vucic’s apartment. It contained a missile launcher, four hand grenades and ammunition. Vucic seemed nonchalant about it, and the weapons likely came from the wars in Bosnia and Croatia in the 1990s and had nothing to do with the present situation. Yet the tabloids were already outlining a potential attack scenario. "This is the alley where they wanted to blow up Vucic with a missile," was the headline on the pro-government newspaper "Informer." It seems like the PR debacle is far from over.

Written by Mika

1. novembra 2016. at 08:36

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