“A senior European Union official on Wednesday urged Serbia, a candidate for EU membership that is also Russia’s key ally in Europe, to keep up its bid to join the bloc.

“I came here with a clear message,” European Council President Donald Tusk said, speaking in Serbian during a joint press conference with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic.

“The European Union is and wants to remain the most reliable partner of Serbia and the Western Balkans,” Tusk added.

Tusk visited Belgrade as part of his weeklong tour of Western Balkans to prepare for the May 17 summit in of EU and regional leaders.

Countries in the region — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, as well as Serbia — are aspiring to join the EU. Russia though is vying for influence, particularly in Serbia, a Slavic and Orthodox Christian nation with which it maintains strong historic links.” (Washington Post)