Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has warned the European Union that trying to force Serbia to distance itself from Moscow in return for closer relations with Brussels would risk recreating the divisions that have plunged Ukraine into crisis.
In an interview with Euronews, Lavrov said that the EU's position was that Serbia would have to join its sanctions against Russia, imposed following the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, in order to join the bloc.
"To try to demand from the government in Belgrade to make a choice: whether you are with Russia or you with the West well, it is to step on the same rake as in the Ukrainian crisis, when Ukrainian society was torn apart."
Asked to clarify whether he foresaw a scenario like that which has happened in Ukraine, where a conflict between rebel fighters in the country's Russophone east are locked in a conflict with the pro-Western government, Lavrov replied:
"I hope that in the West, which played this scenario out, has already become sober"
Another condition imposed by Brussels for Serbian membership of the EU is the recognition of Kosovo, Lavrov said. Kosovo is today celebrating the 10th anniversary of its independence, but is not recognised by either Serbia or Russia.