October 21, 2017 – Fort Russ News – Paul Antonopoulos
Press officer Eric Heyden told Blic that the US has received assurances from the Serbian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Serbian Army (VS) General Staff that Serbian deminers would not be sent to Syria to assist the war torn country.
Blic reported that this was one of the major reasons for hostilities between US Ambassador Kyle Scott and Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin.
“Blic correctly reported that the US government provided significant donations in money, equipment and training to help the Serbian Army get rid of the mines left over from the war, and thus make Serbia a safer place, Hayden said according to Blic.
“That is why, over the past 15 years, we have provided more that USD 20 million in aid for mine clearing operations in Serbia. During our last major joint exercise, in April 2017, the US government donated some USD 450,000 in medical and demining equipment to the Serbian Army to improve its capacities,” he continued.
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In April 2017, when the Ministry of Defense was led by Zoran Djordjevic, an announcement was made that the VS might participate in de-mining operations in Syria next year,but Heyden says the US side received assurances from the Serbian Ministry of Defense that this would not happen.
“Media reports from Russia have stated that deminers from Serbia would be deployed together with Russian forces in Syria. In the last six months, in our numerous conversations with the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and the VS General Staff, the US government received multiple assurances that this story is incorrect, and that the goal of our bilateral training was to enable members of the Serbian Army to clear the area of the former military airport in Sjenica, and to open it for use,” Hayden is quoted as saying.
“Like the Ministry of Defense, we consider it important that the entire territory of Serbia is safe for life and trade,” the US embassy representative said,
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday that “pressure is being exerted on us via the press on this issue,” and that Serbia was “doing everything possible to preserve its independence and sovereignty.”
Paul Antonopoulos is a Research Fellow at the Center for Syncretic Studies. He has an MA in International Relations and is interested in Great Power Rivalry as well as the International Relations and Political Economy of the Middle East and Latin America.