Having It Both Ways: Serbia Steers Toward EU Without Abandoning Russia, China

© Sputnik / Alexey Vitvitsky / Go to the photo bankSerbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, the leading candidate in the Serbian presidential election, at his headquarters in Belgrade
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, the leading candidate in the Serbian presidential election, at his headquarters in Belgrade - Sputnik International
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Belgrade's drive to continue its course towards closer integration with the EU while maintaining its friendship with Russia and China underscores the multi-vector nature of Serbian policy, Russian expert Alexander Pivovarenko told Sputnik.

A Serbian Air Force J-22 Orao of the 241st Fighter-Bomber Aviation Squadron. (File) - Sputnik International
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In an interview with Sputnik, Russian expert Alexander Pivovarenko specifically pointed to the multi-vector nature of Serbian policy, which he said can be seen in Belgrade's push to adhere to its European course while continuing to maintain a friendship with Russia and China.

Earlier in the day, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who is a favorite in the presidential election that took place on Sunday, said that his country will continue its pro-European policy but is going to maintain friendly relations with Russia and China.

"The vast majority of Serbian citizens support the continuation of reforms, the continuation of the European path of development for Serbia as well as maintaining our traditional friendship with Russia and China," he said.

Vucic also expressed his gratitude to Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for their support.

Serbian Progressive Party supporters hold Serbian flag during a pre-election rally in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, April 21, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Commenting on this, Alexander Pivovarenko told Sputnik that Prime Minister Vucic will first of all uphold Serbian interests.

According to him, Serbia's simultaneous cooperation with the EU, Moscow and Beijing is fully in line with Serbia's foreign policy.

He recalled that "this, in general, is in sync with the current Serbian foreign policy line, which is called — the "doctrine of the four pillars."

"Serbia believes that it can build constructive and working relations with Brussels, Moscow, Washington, and Beijing. In general, Serbian policy is a multi-vector one, with Turkish and Arab investments also being in place in this policy. In other words, Serbia is at the crossroads of many vectors," Pivovarenko concluded.

According to the Serbain Central Election Commission, Vucic is winning the presidential election with 59.79 percent of votes after the processing of more than 10 percent of the ballots. The prime minister has already claimed victory in the election.

A man walks past by billboards reading Russia, left and Serbia, in Belgrade, Serbia, Friday, Oct. 17, 2014 - Sputnik International
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Vucic is the ruling coalition's candidate and the main favorite in the election. Other notable candidates are independent candidates Sasa Jankovic, Vuk Jeremic, and Luka Maksimovic (also known as Ljubisa Beli Preletacevic), as well as Serbian Radical Party head Vojislav Seselj.

The second round of election is scheduled for April 16, provided that none of the hopefuls gets 50 percent of votes or more.

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