EU concerned: Serbia is frustrated, Chinese policemen patrol Belgrade streets… Where is Serbia heading at?

The Analytical Centre of the European Parliament believes that Serbia is “frustrated by the slow progress towards EU membership”.

This has opened the way for closer ties with Russia and China, thus calling into question Belgrade’s overall European perspective.

The Centre argues that, despite some progress in adjusting to the EU legislation and the rule of law, there is also a significant increase in strategic competition from global powers in Serbia, which may divert the country from the EU accession process.

The Centre’s analysis mentions that Russia is Serbia’s traditional geopolitical ally, with Moscow providing “diplomatic support, economic investment and military assistance”, and Serbia, in turn, resists EU pressure to impose sanctions on Russia for the aggression in Ukraine.

The analysis, intended for internal use, states that “Brussels has criticized Serbia’s decision to sign a trade agreement with the Eurasian Union”, noting that any bilateral trade agreement with third countries must cease after Serbia’s accession to the EU.

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“In addition, Serbia is also the founder of the 16+1 initiative, launched by China and the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. For China, Serbia is a key transport corridor and an energy centre,” the analysis says.

The same analysts in the European Parliament also mention Serbia-China cooperation in the military drone-development programme as a “cause for concern”.

It is also estimated that “Serbia’s geopolitical orientation is becoming less and less clear,” citing information about Chinese police patrols on the streets of Belgrade and the hundreds of cameras set up as part of the “Safe City” project, which is being conducted in collaboration with the Huawei Company.

“The lack of transparency regarding Chinese investments is a cause for concern when it comes to Serbia’s commitment to implementing EU competitiveness, state aid and public procurement rules”, concludes the analysis.

Analysts also point out that the 2018 Parliamentary Resolution on Serbia criticized Serbian-Russian military cooperation and called on Serbia to align itself with EU foreign and security policy.

(B92, 23.10.2019)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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