The political and business ties of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, are unclear to Serbian citizens, even after his visit to the two countries last week.
Social media were rife with speculation that Vučić’s visit to the UAE is of semi-private nature, i.e. that he went there to celebrate the birthday of his friend, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan.
Zoran Vuletić, president of the Građanski Demokratski Forum (Civil Democratic Forum), told Danas daily that, taking into account the non-transparent cooperation with the Arab countries so far, especially around the Belgrade Waterfront development, which was more damaging than beneficial to Belgrade and Serbia, he does not expect that the new partnership will bring profit, even when it comes to vaccines.
“I still can’t understand why he (Vučić) has been announcing for two consecutive days that Serbia would produce several million doses vaccines,” Vuletić adds. „Then we have Minister Popović prancing around also announcing the arrival of a million doses of Russian vaccines. All of this confuses the citizens. Remember the story about Mubadala Development Company from the UAE which was supposed to give a huge amount of money to Serbia, so the IT sector would be completely revamped, but, in the end, nothing happened, I don’t see how the new partnership will bring profit,” Vuletić says.
Miroslav Parović, president of Slobodarski Narodni Pokret (People’s Freedom Movement), also has doubts, explaining the news from the United Arab Emirates that first a joint venture for the production of Chinese vaccine has been agreed and then, instead, we hear that a large regional warehouse for storing the Sinofarm vaccine will be built in Serbia by October.
He also disagrees with Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, who says that vaccines are not a geopolitical issue.
“The facts indicate that there is a real geopolitical war going on around the vaccine, and it is not wise at all to build a large warehouse for “Chinese weapons” in the middle of Europe. Especially because, apart from Aleksandar Vučić’s personal interest in being an authorized dealer of Chinese products, there are no other national interests and advantages,” Parović believes.
When asked if this is exactly the case, i.e. if Serbia will not have an advantage in the packaging and production of vaccines, Parović again cites examples of past cooperation with the United Arab Emirates.
“What profit can we expect from a warehouse? And especially if we have in mind the profit of Etihad, Belgrade Waterfront and Al Dahra. Vučić and a couple of people around him have only profited from these projects, while the state budget has been damaged. Vućić’s Arab contacts are in fact Blair’s (former British PM) so he is also profiting from them”, Parović underlines.
The vice-president of the People’s Party, Miroslav Aleksić, also talks about the private ties between the Emirates’ Sheikh and Vučić.
“The Vučić family has obviously developed a long-term private business relationship with partners in the UAE. This might not be a problem if they were not to the detriment of Serbia and its national interests. Starting with the Belgrade Waterfront project, which has been shrouded in secrecy and is probably the largest money-laundering endeavour in the EU, through to Air Serbia to PKB. The regime in power is making semi-private deals that directly harm the state and benefit others. I would not be surprised if even after this visit, another lex specialis (special law) is drafted just like after the previous Vučić’s visit,” Aleksić adds.
This post is also available in: Italiano