Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac said that Serbia’s entrance into NATO is not being discussed currently, and won’t be any time soon.
“No one is setting NATO as a condition for joining the EU, although, all countries who have become member of the European family recently were first members of the political-military alliance,” he said.
Šutanovac said that Serbia would finally have a fully professional, non-conscript army by the end of the year.
“In the coming months, we will employ about 4,500 professional soldiers, which will end one of the largest societal reforms in the country,” he said.
“One of our priorities was to ‘cleanse’ the military of scandals and restore the image it deserves. Unfortunately, there are still parts of the defense system which are not immune to crime and corruption,” Šutanovac said.
He said that he has given orders for intensifying the work of the Military Security Agency (VBA), the military police and inspectorate, adding that the public would be informed of some of the progress made in the coming days.
The minister also said that Serbia should have opened a NATO mission office in 2006 when it joined Partnership for Peace, because assistance programs were then available in many fields, including health, science, telecommunications, adding that the country’s foreign policy position would have benefited from such a move.
Asked whether it was the citizens who should decided by way of referendum whether Serbia should join NATO, Šutanovac said that the issue was not even on the agenda currently, and would not be in the coming years.
“There is time for a referendum,” Šutanovac said.