Which president would treat Serbia better – Biden or Trump?

The first TV debate between the two candidates for the new/old American president – Donald Trump and Joe Biden – has further heated up the atmosphere, even though there are still more than four months until the election. Analyses and predictions about who is the favourite to win the presidential elections and what consequences the victory of either candidate will bring have already begun.

On our “micro level,” specifically in Serbia and the region, this issue is relevant because there’s no need to elaborate on the significant influence the USA has on events in the Western Balkans.

Stefan Surlić, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences, says that the Serbian government has established proper communication with the Biden administration in recent years, “despite the traditional belief that American Democrats are against Serbia.”

Four good moves by Biden’s administration

According to Surlić, Biden’s administration has made a series of positive moves for Serbia in the recent period, even though there are several US politicians who were active in the Balkans in the 1990s and have re-emerged lately:

  • they have a favourable stance towards Serbia
  • the US government is the only Western government that is critical of Pristina
  • they advocate for a compromise solution between Belgrade and Pristina
  • the US government is the only Western government advocating that recognition of Kosovo’s independence is not a prerequisite for Serbia’s entry into the EU

On the other hand, he says that regardless of whether Biden or Trump wins, the USA will not change its stance on Kosovo’s independence.

“That’s why I believe that for Serbia, it might be more important who wins the elections in Germany next year than in America in November, because the German government, through the Green party, has been pressing Serbia hard to recognize Kosovo’s independence in recent years. They have also looked favourably on all of Pristina’s unilateral actions, which have led to the escalation of the situation in Kosovo”, Surlić explains.

According to him, it would be best for Serbia if the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) took the lead role in Germany.

Four positive aspects of a Trump victory

Surlić also mentions the positive aspects of a potential Trump victory in the elections:

  • Communication with Washington will be as good as it was when US envoy Richard Grenell was mediating it
  • The Trump administration will likely exert more pressure on Pristina in the event of its unilateral actions
  • It will revive the discussion about the partition of Kosovo and the exchange of territories
  • More creative solutions will be possible since Trump is more inclined towards them

However, he said that the Trump administration will not give up on Kosovo being independent, even in the case of partition or territory swap.

“Biden maintains integrity, Trump is different”

Daniel Serwer, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, says that “we are all very aware of Biden’s and Trump’s stance on the Balkans.”

“Biden maintains the integrity of states. Trump is different. He negotiated with Thaçi and Vučić about the partition of Kosovo. But it’s not just about the partition of Kosovo. If Kosovo were to separate, Bosnia would be in danger, as well as Montenegro, and even Macedonia,” claims Serwer.

“Much will depend on the global order”

Aleksandar Popov, the director of the Center for Regionalism, expects far greater pressure from Washington on Belgrade and Pristina regardless of who wins the American presidential elections.

“I think that America will insist on the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement or on the postponement of the dialogue because the EU and the USA have tried to do that several times without success and are losing credibility over time”,  Popov adds.

Vučić: “Biden should not be underestimated”

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić spoke yesterday about the American elections and reactions to the first presidential debate, pointing out that “only a fool can underestimate Biden”.

“Trump will not support any Serbian territory, nor does anyone ask him to, but maybe Trump would support a policy of not being anti-Serbian. I’m not a political analyst, but I watched the debate with great attention… Of course, Trump was certainly much more convincing. But that is not the end of the election, not even close. I don’t think Biden will retire easily, because it’s uncharted territory for the Democrats. There is a strong lobby of financiers at the moment who do not want to fund the Biden campaign. But don’t underestimate either Biden himself, or Obama, or all those who want, not so much the victory of the Democrats, as the defeat of Trump. The day after the TV debate, Biden looked much different and incomparably more energetic. I won’t go into reasons for that. I have spoken with Biden several times, as well as with Trump. Biden is not a man to be underestimated and only fools can underestimate him. I believe that this will be a very difficult game on which the future of the world will depend”, the Serbian president said.

(Blic, 01.07.2024)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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