The government of Serbia has been “invited” by the EU to join the group of countries that have imposed sanctions against those responsible for the violence in Belarus. This is a new move, following the withdrawal of Serbian soldiers from a military drill in Belarus.
Serbia has been a candidate country for EU membership for eight years and has formally started accession negotiations. However, instead of fully harmonizing its foreign policy with the Union, it has forged strong relations with Russia, China and Belarus over time.
However, in the last month, official Belgrade seems to have been exposed to greater pressure from Brussels, so Serbia joined the Declaration on Elections in Belarus, which condemns the regime of Alexander Lukashenko and his treatment of protesters, and withdrew its army from the Slavic Brotherhood military drill which took place 15 days ago in Belarus.
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Both moves were forced. After joining the EU Declaration, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that she hoped that Lukashenko would not blame Serbia for that, while after the withdrawal of the Serbian Army from the drill, Serbian Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin stated the withdrawal was done under “terrible” and “undeserved” pressure from the EU.
Now, Serbia is being put to a new test. In late August, EU foreign ministers announced that they had decided to impose sanctions on 20 senior Belarusian officials suspected of involvement in election fraud and police violence against opposition protesters following the country’s disputed presidential election. Then the media announced that 31 Belarusian officials would be blacklisted by the EU.
Serbia is expected to join the announced sanctions and harmonize its foreign policy with the one implemented by the EU, said Peter Stano, the EU spokesman, today.
Will Serbia take this step as well?
Vladimir Medjak, vice-president of the European Movement in Serbia, states that it was clear that the previous decisions regarding the Declaration and the military drill in Belarus were made under pressure.
“Serbia will try to get out of this, but the question is whether it will succeed. Serbia is expected to further harmonize its foreign policy with the EU. If we accepted the Declaration, the question is why we were planning to participate in the military drill in Belarus in the first place”, says Medjak for Nova.rs.
Srecko Djukic, a diplomat and former Serbian ambassador to Belarus, believes that it would be logical for Serbia to impose sanctions on Belarusian officials, following the EU’s decisions.
“If Serbia supported the Declaration condemning the violence against the protesters, torture and their arrest, and if it supported the statement that the elections in that country were undemocratic, then it is unrealistic not to expect it not to join the sanctions,” Djukic told Nova.rs.
This post is also available in: Italiano