Monday 13 June 2011
by Tom Mellen
Hundreds of Serbian citizens burned a Nato flag outside the offices of President Boris Tadic in Belgrade today as Nato officials gathered in the city for a conference that aims to draw Serbia closer to the Western military alliance.
Protesters shouted: "Boris, kill yourself and save Serbia" and "Ustashi," referring to a Croatian fascist outfit that collaborated with the nazis in World War II.
Others hung a huge banner reading: "Never Join Nato" in Cyrillic from the old Sava Bridge in the city.
Mr Tadic's pro-Western administration is bidding for European Union membership and has stepped up co-operation with Nato, joining the "Partnership for Peace" programme that seeks to draw former socialist states into the Nato camp.
Serbia's Defence Ministry said in a statement at the weekend that the Strategic Military Partner Conference aims to "exchange experiences and opinions on major strategic issues of common interests."
Participants would focus on "effective capacity-building, international military co-operation and access to global common training, partnership and assistance," it added.
The decision to host the conference has caused anger in Serbia, where at least 61 per cent of the population say that they are opposed to joining the Western military alliance, which bombed the nation in 1999 in support of secessionist militants.
Around a thousand citizens rallied outside Belgrade university on Sunday under the slogan "This is not a Nato state."
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