Europe

Serbia prime minister warns support for EU crumbling

  • Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a panel “The Future of Albanian-Serbian Relations and the Stability of South East Europe” at the Sixth Belgrade Security Forum, in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

    Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a panel “The Future of Albanian-Serbian Relations and the Stability of South East Europe” at the Sixth Belgrade Security Forum, in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)  (The Associated Press)

  • Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a panel “The Future of Albanian-Serbian Relations and the Stability of South East Europe” at the Sixth Belgrade Security Forum, in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

    Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a panel “The Future of Albanian-Serbian Relations and the Stability of South East Europe” at the Sixth Belgrade Security Forum, in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)  (The Associated Press)

  • Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a panel “The Future of Albanian-Serbian Relations and the Stability of South East Europe” at the Sixth Belgrade Security Forum, in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

    Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a panel “The Future of Albanian-Serbian Relations and the Stability of South East Europe” at the Sixth Belgrade Security Forum, in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)  (The Associated Press)

Serbia's prime minister has warned that support for European Union integration is crumbling in the Balkan country in favor of stronger ties with traditional Slavic ally Russia.

Aleksandar Vucic says that EU membership remains the strategic goal of his government, despite widespread support for a bigger presence of Russia in Serbia. But he warns that the atmosphere has changed and "in a way, we are losing ground."

Serbia formally wants to join the 28-nation European Union, but Russia's influence remains strong and Belgrade has refused to impose Western-backed sanctions against the Kremlin for its role in the Ukrainian crisis.

Moscow has backed Serbia in its dispute with the West over Kosovo, a predominantly ethnic Albanian former province whose 2008 declaration of independence Serbia has refused to recognize.