The United States administration is reportedly losing patience with Serbia because of its refusal to harmonize its foreign and security policy with that of official Brussels and enforce sanctions against Russia.
“Serbia must urgently decide whether its future is in Europe or with Putin’s Russia, which is responsible for war crimes and atrocities in Ukraine. Is Serbia harmonizing its foreign policy with an essentially aggressive tyrant responsible for major atrocities? Is that the best Serbia can do? I think the State Department is absolutely right in pointing out that this is not the way a country should behave and pretending to want to become a member of the European Union,” said former State Department official Daniel Fried.
Fried also believes that because of Russian extremism and violence, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić cannot stand between the West and Russia and that the U.S. is losing patience with Belgrade, including on the frozen Serbia-Kosovo dialogue. “When Kosovo Prime Minister (Albin) Kurti visited Washington, he was not allowed to meet with all the officials he wanted. I think they (the US administration) did that on purpose, to emphasize that both sides need to do more to re-start a dialogue,” reveals regional director for Europe at the International Republican Institute, Paul McCarthy, adding that Vučić had not yet been invited to visit Washington, which probably brought some relief to Belgrade.
“However, if you look at how PM Kurti was received in Washington, you would say that patience with Belgrade is running out,” McCarthy said, adding that the U.S. administration does not have many tools at its disposal, but that the matter is mostly in the hands of Brussels. “The United States is focused on many priorities, and the Balkans is not one of the top ones. Washington wants to play the role of mediator, to help Brussels when it comes to reaching the final goal, which is for the countries in the region to become EU members,” McCarthy added.
McCarthy expects Vučić, who he says is in a difficult position, to nonetheless take small steps to get closer to Brussels when it comes to the sanctions against Russia. “Maybe he could endorse just some aspects of the sanctions, maybe not the whole package, but some parts of it. I’m not an expert on that, but some enforcement of sanctions against Russia is a fundamental condition,” McCarthy points out.
Fried says that the danger is that Serbia will fall into the trap of wanting to help Russia evade sanctions, which would be a bad idea that would not go unpunished.
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