Serbian mass media have once again caused a stir in public with the news that the defense ministry plans REGEX-2018 military exercises in Serbia next year. The NATO presence in the country is a painful issue for most Serbians who still remember the Alliance’s aggression of 1999. The defense ministry was the first to respond to mass media reports. In an official statement published on the ministry website on August 9, Minister of Defense Aleksandar Vulin says that REGEX-2018 will not be a “NATO exercise”, but a “regional initiative” launched in 2013. “So far, this regional initiative has been implemented in Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Jordan, and next year it will be here,” he says in the statement.
Recalling that Serbia is a neutral country, Vulin says, “We will exercise with everyone from whom we can learn something, both with NATO and with CSTO, we will work bilaterally with the US Armed Forces, we will work bilaterally with the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and will learn from everyone we can learn something from.”