Serbia will have to decide between EU and Russia

Almost every single move by the Serbian government or the president has been recently interpreted in the light of the increasingly strained relations between the U.S. and EU, on one side, and Russia, on the other.

It seems that Serbia’s responding positively to the Russian plight to join in the humanitarian aid efforts in Syria came at a very inopportune time and did not sit well with the U.S. and EU officials which, at the same time, were debating about extending sanctions towards Russia.

According to the Western sources, the official Washington and Brussels demanded an urgent meeting with the Serbian authorities in order to clarify the said humanitarian campaign since the Western power centres deem Russia as the most responsible for the war crimes in Syria. Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic pointed out on several occasions that sending blankets, medication and food to Aleppo had no political connotations, adding that he acknowledged all external pressures, and that he was not either worried or scared. Still, political analyst Dusan Janjic thinks that the Western reaction to Serbia and Russia jointly sending the humanitarian aid to Syria is actually a trap set up by those who oppose Serbia joining the EU.

“I don’t think there is a problem with Serbia helping the citizens of Aleppo. I think this is more about the Russian official policy changing. Earlier, the Russian Ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Chepurin said that Serbia would jeopardize its relations with Russia if it joined NATO, and now there have a problem with Serbia becoming an EU member. Simply put, both the West and the East have felt that there has been this internal insecurity in Serbia and have, hence, increased their pressure”, Janjic explains.

Political expert Vladimir Goati says that the humanitarian campaign is certainly not the reason for the confrontation with Washington and Brussels, adding that it is about time for Serbia to stop with the “EU or Russia” dilemma.

“Such policy has become obsolete long time ago. Today, the global constellation of power has changed a lot. You simply cannot be sitting on two chairs that are in different buildings. We are energy-dependant on Russia and have been traditionally nurturing strong emotions towards the Russians, but we have more interest in joining the EU. The fact that the American national GDP is eight times higher than the Russian, as it is the EU’s GDP, should clearly show us from which side we could expect more assistance and money. The EU is an elite club that has certain rules which we need to stick to in order to join. Nobody is forcing us to do that”, Goati underlines.

“The EU and U.S. have been tolerant of Serbia refusing to impose sanctions on Russia because they consider us the factor of stability in the region. However, the latest moves by the official Pristina demonstrate that the American and European patience with Serbia is running thin” – says Aleksandar Popov from the Centre for Regionalism, and adds that the Kosovo government will make a move only if America and the EU agree with it.

(Blic, 24.10.2016)

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