“It is not realistic to expect that the concept of military neutrality should be incorporated into the Serbian Constitution. War and any other types of neutrality are not only a matter of state decisions, but also circumstances on the international stage”, sources close to the government said for the Danas daily, commenting on the conclusions of the recently held meeting on the new NATO strategy that the Constitution should include military neutrality as a permanent category, modeled after Austria, with the UN internationally verifying the neutrality.
Certain security experts, point out that “military neutrality is Serbia’s determination,” but do not rule out the possibility that our state “changes its opinion about it in the long run” and joins NATO.
“Bearing in mind the variability of the situation on the international scene, it is almost entirely possible that the concept of neutrality will not be included in the Constitution, as part of the announced amendment of the highest legal act. At this moment it is unrealistic that Serbia will join the Alliance, but who knows what will happen in the coming years,” the sources say.
On the other hand, Sanda Raskovic Ivic, the deputy leader of the People’s Party, says that the concept of military neutrality should be defined by the Constitution.
“Parliamentary majority may declare neutrality, and some other majority may overturn it. That is why military neutrality must be more strongly defined”, she believes.
The president of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Milos Jovanovic, told Danas that “Serbia’s status as a military neutral state was determined by the National Assembly Resolution from 2007, an act that can be easily changed by the will of the majority in the parliament and therefore the Democratic Party of Serbia considers that Serbia’s military neutrality should be regulated by its legal system”.
“With that aim, a year ago, the DSS submitted to the National Assembly a draft bill on the military neutrality of Serbia, which was not put up for a parliamentary debate, which raises the question of the sincerity of the ruling parties when it comes to their determination to respect Serbia’s military neutrality. Although military neutrality can be determined by the Constitution even better, we think that at the moment, it is sufficient to pass the systemic law, and then launch a diplomatic action to allow global superpowers, which are friends of Serbia, to recognize its military neutrality and thereby provide protection in the event of this neutrality being jeopardized”, Jovanovic says.
Sasa Jankovic, leader of the Free Citizens Movement, told the Danas: “I do not think that the Constitution should ban our nation to decide on military neutrality, but rather give it a right to decide on the matter via a referendum, and after a serious analysis has been conducted and conflicting arguments in the public and professional circles taken into account. This does not mean that I am a priori for joining any military alliance.”
Igor Novakovic, research director at the ISAC Fund, points out that in “one can put whatever they want into the Constitution, if the relevant procedure is respected, but the real question here is what neutrality means, or what kind of policy does it entail.”
“In our case, neutrality means “just not in NATO”, as it is currently defined. So, this status means that nobody is allowed to make Serbia join NATO behind the Serbian citizens’ back, although it is quite clear that such a scenario is impossible. On the other hand, neutrality is an external policy strategy that refers to cases of a direct attack by another state. The security challenges that Serbia faces are different, primarily asymmetric, like for example, migration. And this is solved through cooperation with our closest neighbours and partners”, Novakovic says.
Novakovic also notes that neutrality implies that the country has no possibility to be easily drawn into a future conflict, “while Serbia is a guarantor of the Dayton Agreement, which in itself entails giving certain security guarantees for the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. “So, the country can be neutral only if there are no prospects that it can be easily drawn into a future conflict. Any kind of guarantee, such as the Dayton Agreement, is not compatible with the neutrality status,”, Novakovic concludes.
During a recent meeting with the US Ambassador, Kyle Scott, Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic said that “Serbia strongly protects its neutrality” and that “our country wants to talk to everybody and have friendly relationships.”
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