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    Big Brother's Watchful Eye: Will US Spy on EU From Serbian Humanitarian Hub?

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    The EU plans to invest in the construction of a humanitarian center at the Ponikve airfield in Serbia, and the United States is reportedly considering taking part in the project.

    The Serbian newspaper Danas quoted its source as saying that Washington is expected to participate in an EU project to build a humanitarian center at the Ponikve airfield in Serbia.

    Experts said this center may be built as a response to the Serbian-Russian Humanitarian Center in the city of Nis in southern Serbia.

    The Nis center is seen by Washington as a spy hub, according to US State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Yee. 

    Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center
    © Photo: mchs.gov.ru
    Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center

    For his part, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic  recalled that the Unites States already has a base on Serbian territory — Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, which Belgrade still seen as part of Serbia. Kosovo's de facto independence has never been recognized by Moscow, the BRICS countries or a number of other influential international players.

    "We want to have our own centers," he told reporters, adding that he had not heard anything about the United States getting any permits for building a base at Ponikve and that no one had asked Serbia when they built Camp Bondsteel, which appeared in Kosovo after the NATO incursion into then-Yugoslavia in 1999.

    Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo
    Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo

    Serbian security expert Milan Mijalkovski told Sputnik Serbia that the matter is all about the drive of NATO and the EU to call the shots in Serbia, rather than Washington's push for a response to the  Serbian-Russian center in Nis.

    "When it comes to humanitarian centers, a dozen such facilities could have been built in Serbia. [On the other hand], I'm confused about the site of the construction. It is the Ponikwe airfield which was almost destroyed by NATO in 1999. And now they plan to appear there with a humanitarian mission. In a psychological and ethical sense, this is absolutely counterproductive," he said.

    In contrast, Belgrade-based political analyst Aleksandar Pavic said that Serbia does not need the Brussels-Washington center because the Center in Nis has yet to operate at full capacity.

    "If we proceed from the assumption that Serbia balances in accordance with its policy of neutrality, then the question arises why we conduct far fewer military exercises with Russia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) than with NATO. Another question is why there is no initiative to open a base that would be on a par with Camp Bondsteel, located on Serbian soil," Pavic said.

    Meanwhile, speculation is rife that the US and NATO may use the Ponikve airfield for espionage activities, which will, in particular, include launching drones to monitor Eastern Europe's territories right up to Russian borders.

    Serbian media quoted Ponikve Airport Director Sasa Savic as saying that an EU delegation and the US embassy were earlier interested in the construction of the humanitarian center at the Ponikve airfield.

    "They came from the US embassy and liked this idea, and it was agreed they would come again after New Year 2017. This project was then suddenly suspended by the EU delegation to Serbia. I suppose this happened because of information that Arabs wanted to invest money in the Ponikve Airport," Savic was quoted by the Inserbia news website as saying.

    Related:

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    Serbia's Vucic Says Good Ties With Russia Not Obstacle for EU Accession
    Tags:
    base, facilities, mission, center, construction, EU, NATO, United States, Serbia
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