14:13 GMT +3 hours27 June 2016
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Protesters holding a banner that reads: Serbia is not NATO during a protest against NATO in downtown Belgrade, Serbia, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016

Serbian President Says Belgrade Not to Join NATO

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Serbia is part of the NATO's Partnership for Peace program, however, Belgrade has no intention of stepping into the ranks of the military bloc itself.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Belgrade is not going to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic told Sputnik.

"We won’t do this," Nikolic said in an interview with the news agency.

Serbia has great opportunities for cooperation both with the military bloc and other entities, such as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), he stressed.

"At the time, I personally insisted on the fact that we should send a delegation to the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly. The Russians did not demand this, though our delegation had already attended meetings of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly," the president noted.

Russia believes that Serbia is not seeking NATO membership, according to Nikolic.

"Russia as a serious state does not calculate on how many percent we are linked with Moscow, and on how many — with NATO. Russia knows that Serbian citizens do not want their country to join the alliance," he outlined.

Serbia is part of the NATO's Partnership for Peace program alongside other former Yugoslav republics. Its Individual Partnership Action Plan entered into force in January 2015.

Serbia has also been a CSTO observer state since April 2013. In 2007, Serbian lawmakers adopted a resolution upholding the republic’s neutral status toward military alliances.

The deterioration of relations with Russia is unacceptable, Nikolic told Sputnik.

"The deterioration in [our] relations with Russia is unacceptable to me. Firstly, there is no reason for it, [and] secondly, we need Russia."

The Serbian leader also offered his insight into the current EU migrant crisis. According to the president, the crisis has made it obvious that at least half of the EU members do not have a coherent migration policy.

"Some build fences, some do not. I have always said that Europe is borderless, but if you travel now, you will see police, customs officers, everyone has again taken their place on the border, there are newly introduced controls — it is as if the European Union never existed," he added.

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NATO, Tomislav Nikolic, Serbia
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