Belarus invites EU-hopeful Serbia to turn to Russia-led bloc

BELGRADE, Serbia — Belarus’s president has called on Serbia to establish closer ties with a Russian-led economic group despite the Balkan country’s efforts to become a member of the European Union.

Alexander Lukashenko said at a joint news conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday that he respects Serbia’s proclaimed EU goals, but if the European bloc continues with “ultimatums,“ Serbia should turn to the Eurasian Economic Union.

The EEU consists of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

France is leading a group of EU states calling for an overhaul of the procedures to admit new members, putting on hold membership hopes for Serbia and other Western Balkan countries. That has raised fears of increased Russian and Chinese influence in the region that was at war in the 1990s.

The Associated Press