“Germany has its eye on the Western Balkans,” the director of the Nemačka Danas news service, Boris Babić, said in an interview with “FoNet”, while underlining that the urgency of Berlin’s intention to take a more significant role in the development of events in the Balkan region is quite clear.
Adding that Aleksandar Vučić’s recent official visit to Berlin received much more publicity than before in the local media, the expert noted that the West sees Russian influence in the Western Balkans as a threat to an “obviously fragile peace” and therefore wants to reduce, minimize or exclude Moscow’s influence on events altogether “especially in the Serbian sphere of this region,” Babić added.
There is little to be done, Serbia has to choose sides and “the urgency of pressure” is dictated by the war in Ukraine and Germany’s desire to exclude the threat of destabilization through Russian influence – he said and added that it was often assumed that the situation in the Balkans is such that, in the context of the worsening international situation, a new conflict may even break out in the region.
Asked about Germany’s stance that sanctions against Russia are a matter of solidarity with Ukraine and a choice between democratic values and occupation, Babić explained that official Belgrade is playing a chess game in which it is forced to make moves instead of deciding for itself what moves to make.
According to him, Vladimir Putin has succeeded in what seemed impossible and that is to practically unite the West against him, as the situation in Ukraine has forced Western countries, especially the superpowers, to bring their positions closer and organize a stronger front towards Russia, which “we can expect here as well.”
Asked how sincere Germany is when Chancellor Olaf Scholz says that Berlin supports the EU accession of the Western Balkans, mentioning Serbia in particular, he said that he is “as sincere as Angela Merkel was,” although he thinks that due to the war in Ukraine there is more pressure (on Serbia) to meet the accession prerequisites.
“Serbia is certainly on the right track to join the EU, but there are preprequisites for membership and the country knows what it has to do,” Babić specified and referred to German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s statement that “Serbia has to show its colours, which (in translation) means join us, stay here or there, choose where you want to be.” Considering that Scholz also mentioned the problems related to the rule of law, media freedom and the fight against corruption and organized crime, he believes that Berlin sent out a very clear message that the time of toleraning “obvious mistakes made by the Serbian authorities” is over and that Berlin will closely watch how the situation evolves.
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