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27 Mar, 2022 14:28

President calls his people last ‘free tribe’ in Europe

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic says he’s proud his country is implementing its policies without international intervention
President calls his people last ‘free tribe’ in Europe

Serbians are the last “free tribe” of Europe, President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday, comparing the country to the village of “indomitable Gauls” from the iconic French comic series ‘Astérix’. The president made the pop-culture reference while addressing a campaign rally in the eastern Serbian city of Pozarevac.

“I’m happy that, like in the comic book about Astérix and Obelix, there’s one small tribe of Gauls that holds out and protects its freedom on the territory of Europe. And I’m proud that this small tribe is the citizens of Serbia, and our country, which conducts its policy independently and on its own,” Vucic stated.

Serbia has faced mounting pressure from its neighbors since Russia launched its offensive in Ukraine last month. The country is the only European state to have maintained a neutral stance in the conflict, refusing to swell the wave of anti-Russian sanctions, despite the EU’s efforts to “harmonize” its position on Ukraine with the bloc’s.

While Serbia has seen massive pro-Russian rallies, Belgrade has officially adopted a neutral position. The government has announced it will stop military cooperation with both Moscow and NATO amid the conflict, and Vucic has vowed to punish Serbs seeking to join the conflict as volunteers on either side.

Moscow attacked its neighbor last month, following a seven-year standoff over Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.

Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.