In the last ten days, the Serbian government has received several slaps on the wrist from America and Germany.
The BIA director Aleksandar Vulin being blacklisted by the US administration is the last figurative slap on the wrist and certainly the most severe, while those coming from Germany are warning signs which signify the end of Germany’s “soft” policy to which the Serbian regime became accustomed during the Angela Merkel era.
To remind, the US Treasury’s Office for Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) blacklisted Vulin, explaining their decision to Vulin’s alleged involvement in corrupt activities, primarily in the spread of Russian malign influence in Serbia, but also in the arms and narcotics trade.
Although Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić tried to convince the public that the reason for Vulin being sanctioned by the US Treasury is his close relations with Moscow, American Ambassador to Serbia, Christopher Hill, claimed that the US Treasury’s decision is not a reflection of the relationship between Belgrade and Washington, this is still a serious blow to our country.
In the last few days, Germany expressed its support for Serbia against Violence protests, in addition to accusing Vučić of undermining EU principles and subtle threats that German investors might “change their minds” (about investing in Serbia). And that is something that Aleksandar Vučić fears the most and often talks about.
After Vučić himself said that the German Green Party is financing the protests in Serbia, followed by the statement made by the Serbian Interior Minister, Bratislav Gašić that Germany is protecting Oliver Ivanović’s assassin, several reactions followed. Firstly, the German Embassy in Belgrade and then the German government demanded an urgent explanation from Gašić, followed by the European Parliament rapporteur and the co-president of the Green Party, Viola von Cramon, questioning whether German companies were willing to invest in Serbia.
Commenting on Vučić’s and Gašić’s statements, she said: “We will not allow them to blame us for something that has nothing to do with the truth. As a standing rapporteur for Kosovo, I follow the situation both there and in Serbia, and for me, it is something that requires an explanation. This will be on my agenda the first time I return to Belgrade. Let me remind you that German companies directly employ 80,000 people in Serbia. Investments are still coming in, but don’t think those things won’t affect it. German companies don’t want to be in a country that sides with Russia at the UN or anywhere else or have a government that accuses Germany of protecting someone’s murderer. President Vučić knows all this very well and I believe that he also knows how unacceptable it is for us”.
She also said what Germany expects from Serbia:” Improve your democratic standards, allow media freedom, respect critics and non-governmental organizations, protect journalists, prosecute everyone involved in affairs from Jovanjica to Savamala, get involved in a constructive dialogue with Kosovo… But if you fire prosecutors just because they discovered corruption schemes in EPS or the REM that remains deaf to what Pink and Happy TVs are doing, then we have a fundamental problem with the basics – media freedom and the rule of law”.
Three days later, German Bundestag deputy Josip Juratović voiced his support to Serbia against Violence protests.
“We did not give to Serbia just for the current regime to develop into what it is today. Media are not free, journalists are attacked, people are blackmailed, there is no democracy and we are aware of it all. And this is where our political friendship ends. A government that blames German foundations is rather pitiful. In our country, the chancellor or the president address the public only on Christmas while Vučić is on air all the time. It means that he is afraid. People in Serbia must organize themselves in order to free themselves from the government that is leading them to ruin.”
Then, on July 8, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag and a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP), Michael Roth, openly criticized Vučić and the Serbian government on his Twitter page.
He published photos from the press conference of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić on Kosovo and Metohija. More precisely, he published screenshots of 12 TV stations which simultaneously broadcasted Vučić’s address.
“The European Union and the United States are late in reshaping their strategy regarding the Western Balkans and Serbia. President Vučić undermines EU principles, fuels nationalism and hatred,” Roth wrote and added: “What we really need is courageous leadership that will foster reconciliation, the rule of law and democracy.”
This post is also available in: Italiano