Consultation plan signed between Moscow and Belgrade angers the EU

There are very few countries at the moment that are willing to sit down at the table with Russia because of its aggression against Ukraine and nuclear threats, and Serbia is one of them.

The foreign ministries from the two countries have signed a consultation plan in front of the cameras in New York. Bearing in mind that Belgrade consistently refuses to impose sanctions on the Russian Federation, the signing of the document caused alarm in the EU. As soon as the document was signed, the official Brussels reacted and sent a warning to Serbia, threatening to freeze the EU accession negotiations.

While state officials and media close to the Serbian government have been praising Aleksandar Vučić’s speech at the UN General Assembly session for days, Serbin Foreign Minister Nikola Selaković and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov signed the Consultation Plan for 2023 and 2024. In addition to not yielding to pressure to impose sanctions on the Russian Federation, Serbia is now also promoting cooperation with a country that is labelled an aggressor against Ukraine and threatens to use nuclear weapons.

The signing of the document with the Russians provoked strong reactions from some officials in Brussels. Viola von Kramon, a member of the European Parliament, assessed that Belgrade’s move was as a “serious scandal” and warned that it could be a signal to freeze accession negotiations with Serbia. “EU membership does not go via Moscow,” she said. Vladimir Bilčik, the EP rapporteur for Serbia, sees the news of the planned consultations between Serbia and Russia as ‘a blow to the accession process in the Western Balkans’.

The interlocutors of Nova agree that, at this moment, official Belgrade cannot afford to sign anything with Russi that does not have to do with gas and energy products.

Duško Lopandić, a former diplomat and member of the SRCE movement, explains that the Consultation Plan, signed by the two foreign ministers, is a kind of technical agreement that is concluded from time to time, although now the context is completely different. “Every agreement with the Russians, if it does not concern gas and energy products, has political and other implications, especially if we look at who signed it and where. In any case, in the context of war, Russian aggression and nuclear threats, I really think it is quite unusual, not to say irresponsible, that this kind of agreement is being concluded and published at this time,” Lopandić said for Nova.

He emphasises that the signing of this document can only harm Serbia. “For a long time, our policy has been conducted in a way that causes us great harm, especially when it comes to the EU enlargement process. Will this cause a stronger and more concrete effect? I think not, but in general, it leaves a bitter impression when it comes to Serbia’s actions. We don’t have that luxury like, for example, Turkey does,” Lopandić adds.

Asked if this is a sign that Serbia will not impose sanctions on Russia, he says that ‘with our policy, you never know’. “Things change daily. I would not rule out either option. If we have established that our strategic interest is to join the EU, we cannot pursue a schizophrenic foreign policy that will take us who knows where,” warns Lopandić.

(Nova, 26.09.2022)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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