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'Serbia not to be forced to choose Russia or EU membership'

Serbia And Montenegro,Diplomacy, Tue, 29 Apr 2014 IANS

Belgrade, April 29 (IANS) Catherine Ashton, the European Union's (EU) foreign policy chief, has assured Serbian officials that Serbia will not be pressured to choose between Russia and EU membership.

Ashton Monday praised Serbia's progress towards EU accession, estimating that the process would not last long. However, she did not specify a timeframe.

The high representative of the EU for foreign policy and security met newly-elected Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic Monday. She told President Nikolic that the EU would not interfere in Serbian international relations, Xinhua reported.

"We're not asking you to be against your historical, economic and any other partnership with Russia. Be sure that we see Serbia as part of the European family," Ashton was quoted as saying in a written statement.

After meeting Ashton, Vucic told a press conference that Serbia would ask the EU to open negotiations on chapters 23 and 24 of the EU enlargement process that deal with topics such as the judiciary, freedom and security as early as next year.

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