ISSN 2330-717X

Serbia Expressing More Interest In Russia

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By Igor Jovanovic

Serbia President Tomislav Nikolic met with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, twice in just a month. Belgrade is asking Russia for a railway loan, assistance in overcoming the severe economic crisis, has high hopes concerning the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline and expects to find an investor for the Smederevo Zelezara steelworks.

During his stay in Russia, Nikolic told the media that he was “a great Russophile,” adding, “the only country I love more than Russia is Serbia.” His comments fuelled talk in Belgrade of whether the new government was abandoning the road to the EU and turning to Russia.

Russia - Serbia Relations
Russia – Serbia Relations

Former Serbian Ambassador to France Predrag Simic said it was not certain if Belgrade was making a strategic turn toward Moscow, or if this was just a tactic due to the economic crisis and pressure from the EU over Kosovo.

“The EU itself is in crisis and further integration is losing popularity in Serbia. On the other hand, pressure regarding Kosovo primarily from Germany has increased since the election of the new government. That is why it is somewhat understandable that it is addressing Moscow, which can help in solving economic problems,” Simic said.

Aleksandra Joksimovic, head of the Belgrade Centre for Foreign Policy, said it was normal for Belgrade to turn to Russia for economic aid because some EU member states, such as Cyprus, were doing the same.

“But the EU will not tolerate any sort of preferential access given to Russian companies in Serbia. That is why it is important that Russia, because of its support for [Serbia’s] Kosovo policy, is not given privileged access to the sale of Serbian companies, as that is something that definitely would not be approved of in the EU, which is still Serbia’s chief trade partner,” Joksimovic told SETimes.

Aleksandar Mitic of the Centre for Strategic Alternatives, said now is a good time for Russia to fortify its position with Belgrade and the Serbian people in general.

“That requires Russia to lead a much more proactive policy in Serbia and the Balkans,” Mitic told SETimes.

Russian officials do not hide their satisfaction with developments.

“The prospect of our co-operation is immense. But everything will depend on the readiness of the parties involved to realize that prospect fully, which I hope everyone involved in the work will do,” said Alexander Konuzin, outgoing Russian ambassador to Belgrade.

Erhard Busek, former co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, said Serbia’s relationship with Russia is cause for concern.

“I have a feeling that Serbia, and particularly its politicians, are constantly waiting for Europe to adjust to Serbia, instead of the other way around,” he said. “One can see the new government turning to Russia, which I think is not good, because Serbia belongs in the EU.”

SETimes

The Southeast European Times Web site is a central source of news and information about Southeastern Europe in ten languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, English, Greek, Macedonian, Romanian, Serbian and Turkish. The Southeast European Times is sponsored by the US European Command, the joint military command responsible for US operations in 52 countries. EUCOM is committed to promoting stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.

5 thoughts on “Serbia Expressing More Interest In Russia

  • Avatar
    October 2, 2012 at 1:59 pm
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    The EU is biased toward the NATO created entity of Kosovo by hiving off a province of Serbia.

    So with EU/NATO increasingly seen as bankrupt in devices to truly help former Soviet dominated countries these countries are waking up to the reality of SELF HELP.

    I.e. the problems in Hungary, Bulgaria left over from prior to 1990s have not magically gone away with EU membership; as per Ukraine, Albania, and Russia itself there is structure work to be done inside or outside any political economic or military entities.

    Russia is seen by some as one alternative to the EU; let their hope not be raised too high, lest disappointment be too great.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    October 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm
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    When you need money, you have to shop around for the right rates and lenders who are even willing to supply. Just look at the U.S. and Canada now. Both have normally cold relations with China however now they are both competing for business from China. No differet than what Serbia is doing. Tough times.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    October 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm
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    Nothing new. Russia and Serbia alwayes have been strong allayes, throughout history. Not only Serbia, but all orthodox slavic people. Some exceptions did not last long. Like Yugodlavia between Two World Wars, or today Montenegro.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    October 3, 2012 at 11:10 am
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    I agree. It is true in this cases Serbia followed mother Russia

    Reply
  • Avatar
    October 3, 2012 at 11:17 am
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    Yes. In both cases, like alwayes in modern historh, Serbia followed mother Russia.

    Reply

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