"The statement of [US Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs] Bryan Hoyt Yee is the heaviest act of public and non-diplomatic pressure on our country and on our right to make autonomous decisions. I do not know how President Aleksandar Vucic will react and respond, but I am sure he will be able to cope with the pressure as he did it before," Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said, as quoted by the Tanjug news agency.
He accused Yee of lacking respect for Serbia and pointed out that "Serbia will make its decisions itself regardless of how great those who would make decisions on our behalf are."
Serbian officials have repeatedly stressed that despite the country's aim to join the EU, the country would itself decide on the relations with its foreign partners; in particular, Belgrade has refused to join the anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the bloc.
Moreover, in accordance with the 2007 parliamentary resolution, Serbia is a neutral state. While Belgrade is ruling out membership in NATO, the country’s Parliament ratified a document on logistical support for the alliance. The Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) for Serbia entered into force in March 2015 implying developing educational and technical cooperation, holding joint drills and the creation of a positive image of NATO in Serbian society.
At the same time, in 2013 the Serbian Parliament gained observation status in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an alliance comprising Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.