Serbian Defense Minister pushes for NATO debate in 2010

Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac said that Serbia will be working within the framework of NATO, “even if it does not become a member-state”.

He mentioned Austria as an example of this, and added that he hopes a debate will begin on this topic in 2010.

“We will have to start talking about taking Serbia into its European integration, which includes a European value system, which includes Euro-Atlantic security policies,” Šutanovac said.

“Serbia needs to take several steps as far as the Partnership for Peace is concerned, therefore there are no talks of NATO membership right now,” the minister continued.

“Serbia must take advantage of Partnership for Peace membership and then there will be discussions of joining NATO at a later date,” he was further quoted.

As the vice-president of the ruling Democratic Party (DS), Šutanovac said that he believes that the current, DS coalition-led government will serve out its full mandate.

“The regrouping of the opposition does not lead me personally to think about elections, that cannot cause breaking points in the government,” he said.

The minister added that he “deeply believes” that the government’s policy is that presented in the election campaign, and that visa liberalization and the unfreezing of the interim trade agreement with the EU “show that what was promised in the elections is being achieved”.

Šutanovac said that it is good that the opposition Serb Progressive Party (SNS) – which is even in the polls with the Democrats – has changed its rhetoric, because it contributes to the stabilization of the political situation in Serbia.

“I am glad to hear that SNS would not organize a rally if Ratko Mladić was arrested. We will have time to confront our political arguments and see what they did better and what we were more successful at,” Šutanovac said.

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