Serbia is performing a delicate balancing act between its European aspirations, partnership with NATO and its centuries-old religious, ethnic and political alliance with Russia.
Belgrade is being wooed by the West which has sought to bring it into the fold since the fall of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. Serbia is now a European Union membership candidate and the bloc is its top trade partner and benefactor.Belgrade is also quietly moving towards NATO despite the reservations of most Serbians but it is wary of damaging its loudly proclaimed friendship with Russia that wants to boost its influence in the region and which is hostile to the military alliance.
"Serbia cannot entirely turn to NATO, it will maintain the maximum level of cooperation with it, without changing its (membership) status," said Genady Sysoev, Balkan correspondent for Russia's Kommersant newspaper and an expert on Moscow's policy in the region.
"Serbia cannot turn to Russia because ... no Serbian leadership would risk losing Western investment and aid."
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