Serbian and U.S. armies sign agreement

The Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement regulates the exchange of products and services and military cooperation.

The agreement was signed in Belgrade by U.S. Army European Command deputy director General William Ward and Serbian defense minister Zoran Stanković. The agreement is seen as another step toward improved cooperation between the two countries.

General Ward said he looked forward to Serbia’s future role in maintaining the stability and security in the region.

“I look forward to Serbia’s role as a partner state to take part in peacekeeping and stability efforts around the world”, General Ward said.

Zoran Stanković said the agreement represented a significant improvement of the U.S. – Serbian diplomatic relations.

“From the bilateral military cooperation point of view this agreement increases our ability of joint deployment, and the exchange of logistical support in joint exercises or peacekeeping operations”, Stanković explained.

The defense minister also said he hoped for a Partnership for Peace invitation from the forthcoming NATO summit in Riga.

“This will depend on the level to which Serbia has fulfilled its international obligations and met the political criteria”, Stanković said.

U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Michael Polt said the agreement constitutes for the latest achievement in the process of developing relations between the two countries.

“I hear Minister Stanković’s message that Serbia wishes to join Partnership for Peace loud and clear. This is in the interest of all NATO member states. Apart from one political action and decision, Serbia is ready to join Partnership for Peace”, Ambassador Polt said.

The ACSA agreement is the third significant military agreement signed with the United States in 2006.

Military analyst Zoran Dragišić says the agreements have contributed to a softening of NATO’s policy toward Serbia, which could result in Belgrade being invited to join the PfP even before Mladić’s arrest and extradition.

“That said, I don’t expect Serbia to get the invitation from Riga. I think the U.S. at this point has a very positive attitude toward Serbia, but NATO decisions are reached through a consensus. I’m sure there are countries that will not be overly interested in seeing Serbia join PfP before it fulfils its Hague obligations”, Dragišić says.

NATO HQ representatives say the Alliance’s policy toward Serbia remains unchanged, i.e., that full Hague cooperation remains the condition for joining Partnership for Peace. However, VOA reports that its sources have confirmed consultations now underway ahead of the Riga summit might lead to new decisions and a change of policy.
Source: B92

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