01 May 2009, 23:10
Serbia refuses to take part in NATO exercises in Georgia
The government of Serbia has made a decision not to send its soldiers to NATO exercises in Georgia to take place from May 6 to June 1; this is reported by the Serbian cabinet of ministers as a result of its regular sitting.
Earlier, a decision not to take part in NATO exercises in the territory of Georgia was also made by Moldova. Still earlier, Latvia and Estonia made similar decisions, and Kazakhstan. Now, Serbia has officially joined them.
The statement of Serbian government gives no reasons of the refusal, however, earlier this week a possibility not to take part in the exercises was reported to journalists by Vuk Eremich, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, as the "Gazeta.Ru" writes.
"Neither our militaries, nor observers, and in general, nobody from Serbia will take part in these NATO exercises in Georgia. The reason is in Russia's statement that the exercises are a threat to its security," the "Echo Moskvy" Radio quotes the head of Serbian MFA.
The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that Dmitri Medvedev treated the NATO military exercises known as Cooperative Longbow 09/Cooperative Lancer 09 to be held in the territory of Georgia within the programme "Partnership for Peace" as "a frank provocation." Russia's MFA believes the NATO exercises in the territory of Georgia are a "support of the aggressor." Officials of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have also expressed their indignation with the planned exercises, having reminded that the August 2008 conflict burst out right after this sort of joint military exercises.
Russia, acting through Dmitri Rogozin, its permanent representative at the NATO, asked NATO to cancel its exercises in Georgia. However, the US Department of State has expressed its confidence that NATO exercises in Georgia are no threat to Russia and noted that the exercises were planned long time ago. The NATO has also reiterated that the exercises will not be cancelled, in spite of the resolute Moscow's protests, and has offered Russia, being a member of the programme "Partnership for Peace", to join them.