There Can Be No European Army 'Without NATO's Blessing' – Serbian General

In an exclusive interview with Sputnik Serbia General Ljubiša Diković, the Chief-of-Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, talked about Serbia’s relations with Russia and the imaginary threat the recent Slavic Brotherhood joint military exercise allegedly poses to NATO.

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During his race to the White House Donald Trump said that if the European countries want NATO to defend them, they should start contributing more to the alliance’s budget. Many in the EU then started talking again about establishing a European Army.

When asked about the prospects of such an EU armed force ever appearing, Ljubiša Diković said that it was just an “illusion” as the majority of EU countries happen to be NATO members and this whole security architecture will remain under NATO’s “umbrella,” no matter what.

“I can hardly imagine a situation where Europe starts setting up a military structure of its own without NATO’s blessing,” General Diković told Sputnik Serbia.

Commenting on the Slavic Brotherhood military exercise Serbia recently conducted with Russia and Belarus, the General said that Serbia’s neutral status does not rule out its defense cooperation with other countries.

“Right now we are cooperating with more than 60 countries, above all with Russia and also with the US and China. Our joint drills with Russia are not aimed against anyone; we are just building up our defense potential and friendship,” Diković said.

He added that Slavic Brotherhood was essentially an antiterrorist drill because terrorism is one of the three biggest threats to global peace.

“No country is able to deal with the terrorist threat alone, that’s why we are working with other countries and insist that all regional countries should act as one against this scourge,” General Diković emphasized.

Still, the Slavic Brotherhood exercise caused a great deal of concern to Serbia’s neighbors with a Croatian newspaper publishing an allegedly classified NATO document, which said that the alliance was ready to wade in in the event of any conflicts flaring up in the Balkans.

General Diković said that the military exercises Serbia conducted with Russia, the EU or NATO posed a threat to no one.

During his recent visit to Belgrade Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reportedly discussed, among other things, the sale of combat aircraft and other weapons to Serbia.

Sputnik Serbia discussed the issue in an exclusive interview with General Ljubiša Diković, the Chief-of-Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces.

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General Diković said that Russian-made weapons accounted for nearly 80 percent of the Serbian arsenal, and that cooperation with Russia was a longtime tradition based on the two countries’ shared views on the world and global security.

“We have made our choice and decided to enlist Russia’s help in modernizing our armed forces, above all the Air Force, and upgrade our fleet of MiG-29 fighter jets. Russia came up with a very good offer to provide us with everything we possibly need,” General Diković told Sputnik Serbia.

When asked whether this is a sign of Serbia preparing for war, as claimed by some of its neighbors, Ljubiša Diković said that the Serbian armed forces threatened no one.

“The only reason why we are doing this is to ensure our security and stability,” he added.

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