If we were to rely on impressions alone, we could easily conclude that American and Russian ambassadors are on the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić’s side but if we dig a little deeper, we can see that their interests are geopolitically different and that they dominate over principles.
The most impressive message of American Ambassador Christopher Hill in his first address after the December 17 elections and the post-election crisis was that he was looking forward to cooperating with the new government, while after the opposition’s attempt to enter the Belgrade Assembly building and the police intervening, he again surprised the opposition-minded public by saying, among other things, that violent protests have no place in democratic societies.
Russian Ambassador Botsan Kharchenko is also looking forward to working with Vučić and reveals that divulged that, at a meeting, Vučić told him that Western powers orchestrated the riots in front of the Belgrade Assembly.
Jelica Minić, president of the European Movement in Serbia, says that if we rely on impressions alone, then the hypothesis in question could be confirmed.
“However, there are different nuances to both messages. The State Department, especially after the conflict with the police, which was most likely staged by the police in front of the city hall, issued a very harsh statement. Much harsher than what Ambassador Hill said about the elections. The State Department requested that all remarks and conclusions of the OSCE and its election observation mission should be analyzed. Numerous shortcomings, such as attacks on public officials, misuse of public resources, irregular ballots, bringing unregistered voters to vote and false registrations of residence were analyzed. The State Department considers violence against journalists, electoral bodies and accredited observers to be unacceptable,” says Minić.
She also mentions an interview with the former American ambassador to Serbia, Michael Kirby, who gave a more detailed analysis.
“Mr. Kirby said something that reflects the general attitude of the so-called West and that is that we don’t have a sufficient critical mass in Serbia that is ready to practically overthrow the government of Aleksandar Vučić and that, despite everything that has happened, his party will remain the most popular. The assessment is that we don’t have a strong enough opposition in Serbia, which is why the current opposition is not being helped or supported. Simply, the West seems to choose Vučić as a more reliable partner,” she points out.
Russia threatens the opposition
According to Minić, Europe has several different views about the whole situation as there are differences in opinion between democrats, socialists, greens or liberals. In Europe, we see a much more serious consideration of the problem of electoral irregularities in Serbia and condemnation of those irregularities.
When it comes to Russia and its official approach, Minić says that Russia was one of the first to congratulate President Vučić on his election success and rejects all irregularities. She adds that Russia identifies the situation in Serbia as it draws parallels to the situation in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, where the opposition is trying to change the government via violent means.
“So, indirectly, Russia is actually threatening the opposition in Serbia. Still, Russian and American interests are far from identical and it seems that, in their case, interests dominate over principles,” Minić says.
When asked what those interests are, she replies that it is in Russia’s best interest that Serbia is currently a disruptive factor in the Balkans, because it diverts attention from Ukraine.
Branka Latinović, former ambassador to the OSCE, says the support is obvious and that there are obvious interests at play, but America and Russia obviously don’t have the same geostrategic goals.
“The Russian ambassador’s statement is primarily of a protective nature with the aim of shielding Serbia from the danger of “a new Maidan Uprising happening”. The use of this term and the context in which it is mentioned has a destabilizing potential in the next stage of relations with the West. Ambassador Kharchenko’s statement, given to the Russian media, is inappropriate and unbecoming of an accredited ambassador. He openly criticizes and discredits those political parties and their voters who gave their vote to someone who is not part of the ruling political establishment. In other words, he is biased,” states Latinović.
According to her, the USA, that is, the West, does not want any more surprises in this part of the world, but peace, security and stability, which can very easily become fragile.
“The State Department’s statement, on the other hand, emphasizes the need to clarify all detected irregularities in cooperation with the ODIHR/OSCE Monitoring Mission. This is not accidental because the USA, since the 1941Atlantic Charter, has attached special importance to elections, while on the other hand, the ODIHR/Office for Free Elections and Human Rights, as a special institution of the OSCE, is an American idea, because they proposed the formation of the ODIHR office at the Paris OSCE Summit in 1990”, Latinović concludes.
This post is also available in: Italiano