Serbia joining NATO would split the nation for decades and would have grave long-term consequences as the overwhelming majority of Serbs oppose the idea, Prime Minister and President-elect Aleksandar Vucic said.

Becoming a member of the alliance would solve many of Serbia’s problems, Vucic said as he gave a lecture to students of Belgrade University’s Faculty of Security Studies.

At the same time, he admitted that such a decision would go against the will of 75 percent of the population and would only “bring a deep division and discord” to Serbia, which would have long-term consequences.

He went on to say that Serbia should maintain its military neutrality instead of seeking to join any military bloc.

Vucic also said that Serbia should set the goal of joining the EU while maintaining the best possible relations with Russia and China.

This policy has so far proved successful for Serbia, Vucic said, adding that Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “Serbia and Russia have never had better relations,” while the US and EU also praised the high level of cooperation between Serbia and Western countries.

Vucic admitted that 70 percent of Serbs advocate closer ties with Russia and oppose Serbia’s rapprochement with the West. He added, however, that a policy which placated such public sentiment would be detrimental to foreign economic ties and eventually to the Serbian economy in general, as he apparently defended the idea of Serbia joining the EU.

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