Serbia's deputy prime minister has denounced her Russian counterpart for suggesting Serbia should be careful about its EU membership bid.

Russian deputy premier Dmitry Rogozin said during his visit to Serbia this week that if it harmonizes its foreign policies with the EU during the bidding process, "you will have another Cologne here." He was referring to New Year's assaults against women in the German city that have been blamed largely on foreigners.

In a rare spat between Russian and Serbian officials, Serbian deputy premier Zorana Mihajlovic said Wednesday that Rogozin "should take care of his own country and we will take care of ours."

Serbia, a traditional Russian ally, has officially sought EU membership, but has been struggling to overcome strong opposition from Kremlin-backed nationalists.