You are either with us or against us. Serbia plays with its future in the EU – EURACTIV.cz

In recent days it has become clear which European countries have a close relationship with Putin’s Russia. One of them is Serbia, which did not support anti-Russian sanctions, and thus risks complicating its “European future”.

russian president Vladimir Poutine in recent years, he managed to build up a group of friendly politicians in European countries. After the invasion of Ukraine, many of them turned their back on him, including the Czech president Milos Zeman or the “eternal” candidate for the presidency of France and a representative of the extreme right Marine Le Pen.

Hungary and its Prime Minister are now also acting very cautiously Victor Orban, left a few weeks ago for Moscow where, despite the escalation of tensions on the Ukrainian border, he negotiated the supply of gas to his country. At present, Hungary “does not want to interfere in the Ukrainian-Russian war” and has thus opposed the transit of “lethal weapons” for Ukraine through its territory.

Russia still have a relatively reliable supporter in Serbia, even if it’s a complicated relationship. President Aleksandar Vucic before the total invasion, he said he was ready to condemn Russia for recognizing the independence of the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, but only if his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky condemns the NATO aggression against Serbia in 1999. Subsequently, the Western Balkans refused to add anti-Russian sanctions, while supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine and promising aid to refugees and the supply of humanitarian and medical equipment.

Serbian gambling

Serbian “schizophrenia” did not go unanswered. The European Parliament in its new resolution “Deeply regrets Serbia’s failure to comply with the EU sanctions imposed on Russia, which jeopardize its process of joining the EU”.

EU enlargement expert says reluctance to join West could Michala Vit of the Metropolitan University of Prague for Serbia “means de facto the end of the accession process”. Together with Montenegro, it is precisely this country which is furthest along the road to the EU.

However, not all experts see the same thing. Jana Juzova from the EUROPEUM think tank recalled that Serbia has constantly oscillated between the EU and Russia over the past decade, so the current position is nothing new. According to her, the relationship with Russia has long complicated the alignment of Serbian foreign policy with the common foreign policy of the EU, which is one of the chapters of the accession negotiations.

MEPs also drew attention to this problem in the resolution. Od Candidate countries (to) awaits not only alignment with the EU acquis (Union primary law, red note.), but also with the common foreign and security policy of the EU”.

“At the same time, however, it must be said that there are other very problematic points in Serbia’s accession process, in particular the question of Kosovo, but also serious shortcomings in the field of democracy and of the rule of law. I do not consider the current crisis to be revolutionary in the relations between Serbia and the EU, as it is part of the long-term trend of Serbian foreign policy. In my opinion, the process Serbia’s accession to the EU will not affect this, at least not until Serbia has made progress in all other areas,” Juzová said, adding that disagreements on foreign policy should eventually be resolved.

The future of enlargement

Of course, it’s not just Serbia with its ambiguous leadership on the “waiting list”. Even the other Western Balkan countries, which have decidedly more pro-European governments, have not budged for a long time. They encountered criticism from specific member states that blocked their progress, as well as widespread reluctance and reluctance to accept new members. Moreover, the EU solved a number of its internal problems, leaving no time for the Western Balkans.

“Ukraine’s application for EU membership and a generally positive response from EU officials and member states could signal a turning point in enlargement policy. The current crisis has drawn unprecedented attention from the part of the EU neighborhood and, with some optimism, we can expect that this awareness of closeness and dependence will be transferred to the future of the Western Balkans,” says Juzová.

Michal Vít also agrees. According to him, the door to the EU could now open for North Macedonia and Albania, which “have been waiting for more than a decade in the room”.

With regard to Ukraine, experts agree that although its accelerated EU membership is unrealistic due to the complexity and complexity of the accession process, the current situation could provide new impetus cooperation with Eastern Europe.

Juzová called it a huge breakthrough that the long-questioned prospect of EU membership for the Eastern Partnership countries, or at least the so-called associated trio (Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine), has given them was opened overnight.

“So far the possibility of future EU membership has only been promised to the Western Balkan countries, in the case of the Eastern Partnership there was a lack of political will on the part of the EU. EU and such proposals have been blocked by some current developments in member states will certainly bring new dynamism to EU enlargement and accelerate the ongoing process.

Concretely, Georgia, which became the target of Russian aggression in 2008, followed Ukraine on Thursday 3 March and also addressed itself to the EU. Moldova has decided to take the same step. Thus, things, at least symbolically, are set in motion.

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