AP Interview: Serbian minister says good ties with Russia are not harming OSCE chairmanship

Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic says his country's close ties with Russia are not hampering Belgrade's chairmanship over the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe which has a key monitoring role in Ukraine.

Dacic told The Associated Press in an interview Friday that Serbia's close-knit relationship with Slavic ally Russia "most certainly is not a handicap" when it comes to remaining unbiased in the Ukrainian crisis.

Dacic said "even the Ukrainian foreign minister told me ... they see it as an advantage if it is used for de-escalation" of hostilities.

Serbia took over the OSCE chairmanship in January amid some concern in the West because of Belgrade's refusal to impose Western-backed sanctions against Moscow over its role in Ukraine.