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The Serbian president said his country will continue to arm itself with Russian, Chinese and other weapons despite fears that the recent military build-up in the Balkan country could lead to more tensions in the region.

BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbia will continue to arm itself with Russian, Chinese and other weapons, its president said on Tuesday, despite fears in the region and in the West that the recent military build-up in the Balkan country could lead to more tensions in a part of Europe which is still reeling from the wars fought in the 1990s.

Opening an arms fair that coincided with a two-day summit marking the 60th anniversary of the first conference of non-aligned nations, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Serbia was a “free and independent nation” that would not seek a outside opinions on its sources. weapons.

“If anyone thinks that we should ask the US or the EU to decide our weapons, let’s abolish our state,” Vucic said at the arms fair that is taking place at the same time as the summit commemorating the 1961 conference in the Serbian capital, Belgrade.

Serbia is widely accused of triggering a bloody rupture of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s with its nationalist policies. Lately, the country has mainly armed itself with Russian and Chinese warplanes, drones and anti-aircraft systems.

“We are a free country that wants to deter potential aggression,” said Vucic, adding that although Serbia is “on the way to the European Union, it wants to cooperate with everyone”.

Despite officially seeking EU membership, Serbia has refused to align its foreign policy with the 27-nation bloc and instead strengthened its alliance with Russia and China.

Serbia has often been accused of working with the Slavic ally, Russia, to destabilize its neighbors, Bosnia, Montenegro and Kosovo. To join the EU, Serbia needs the support of all EU member states, but the government has maintained icy relations with fellow Balkan compatriot Croatia, the latest new member admitted to the bloc.

Vucic said that the holding of the summit of nations not formally aligned with NATO or another power bloc with the arms fair in the same location was only a “coincidence.” Critics said the events were timed to provide arms to non-aligned developing countries.

Vucic said they could buy weapons at “a bargain price”.

The non-aligned movement was founded 60 years ago to counterbalance the power wielded by the Soviet Union and the United States. It lost much of its influence after the end of the Cold War.

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ABC News

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