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Analysis/ Serbia's place-number movement
Boshko Jakšič / Politika newspaper
Serbia's foreign policy can best be described with the phrase of the famous Sicilian Tomaso di Lampeduza: "Everything must be changed, in order to change nothing."
"Serbia has continued with the same format of harmonization with the foreign and security policy with the EU as in 2022", it is stated in the Analysis of the harmonization of Serbia with the measures and declarations of the foreign policy of the European Union: "Report for the half first of 2023", which was made public by the Center for International and Security Affairs (ISAC fund) and also made public in the Serbian language by the "European Western Balkans" portal.
Regarding the war in Ukraine, Serbia still continues to maintain an ambivalent position, thus through staying in the country and (not) aligning with the Western punitive measures against Russia in 2022, reached the alignment figure at 48 percent – the smallest figure among all candidate countries for membership in the EU from the Western Balkans.
Only thanks to the slow European pace of imposing new sanctions packages against Moscow, Serbia managed to increase the harmonization rate to 52 percent this year, but even this is ten points lower than in 2021, before the outbreak of war in Ukraine, which hegemonized Europe leaving Belgrade to rethink.
"However, there is a perception that the pressures from Brussels are smaller and that the EU prefers more stability in the region, which cannot exist without Serbia, the message from the EU is completely clear. The non-harmonization with the sanctions against Russia can have long-term consequences in the membership process, but also in the formation of the attitude of the EU states towards Serbia", says Igor Novakovići, one of the authors of the report, for EVB.
For the sake of truth, Serbia, at the beginning of March 2022, harmonized with the statement of the High Representative Jozef Borell, which condemned the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine. It was nevertheless an important decision considering that Serbia until then had not accepted any statement from the EU that could have any implicit connotations against Russia. Belgrade agreed that the political text of the declaration should not contain sanctions packages. Then he also voted for the UN General Assembly Resolution condemning Russia. Despite the illogicalities, everything that has been done is the result of the awareness that otherwise Serbia would violate the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity with which it protects Kosovo, while it has closed its doors to the West.
In the April report of the European Parliament on Serbia, the reporter Vladimir Bilcik joined the constellation of European politicians who criticize Serbia as the only country in the region and, together with Belarus, the only ones in Europe, that have not imposed sanctions on Russia. Vučić managed to oppose the sanctions for more than a year and a half, he faced the pressure even in front of the local public and can boast of this fact, but how to measure the invisible damages that this attitude brings because the West tolerates but does not forgive.
But the punitive measures against Russia are not the only point of disagreement of Serbia. They are essentially critical, the authors wrote last week in the ISAC study report. They are related to security issues of direct importance to the EU, and as a result, the member countries carefully follow the harmonization with the key issues for the Union's position in the world and its announced foreign policy goals. Because Serbia, as a rule, refuses to join any declarations and measures against Russia and China, which it has declared as key allies in the defense of Kosovo. Aleksandar Vucic, as the main creator of Serbian diplomacy, does not want to hinder cooperation with his "friend" Vladimir Putin and his "brother" Si Gjinping. He does not give up friendship with the East, convinced that the West will continue to tolerate his "black sheep" orientation.
Serbia has approved 31 recent statements and measures, but has not agreed with 31 points; 13 relating to the war in Ukraine, seven to Iran, four to the EU's global human rights sanctions regime and one to Belarus (about the fraudulent presidential election although in 2021 it condemned ), Moldova, Syria, Mali and terrorism. All of these, except Iran, are linked to the Kremlin or to entities and individuals from Russia.
The way out of the "balloon of untruths", as Vučić himself once called it, is naturally only related to the attitude towards the Ksoova issue, but not to the ties with Russia and China, which are the main obstacles to harmonization with the policy of outside the EU and with the West as a whole.
Vuçiçi mbështetet në këshillat e kryeministrit hungarez Viktor Orban, ndërsa në politikën e jashtme mbështet Moskën deri në kufinjtë e irritimit të Brukselit. Orbanit i lejohet. Hungaria është antëare e BE-së dhe kësisoj Unioni e ka shumë të vështirë të përjashtojë Hungarinë, megjithëse edhe për këtë mundësi po diskutohet. Edhe Vuçiçit gjithashtu mund t’i lejohet, por ama me çmimin e largimit nga anëtarësimi. Retorika e tij anti-BE në vë përpara dilemës nëse vërtetë synimi është që Serbia të hyjë në BE apo bëhen vetëm lojëra fjalësh që reduktohen në shfrytëzimin e donacioneve dhe investimeve për zhvillimin e vendit – gjë e cila është e nevojshme vetëm për forcimin e pozitës personale të Vuçiçit dhe të partisë së tij në radhët e zgjedhësve.
Këtu nuk ka asgjë të rastit. Nga Vuçiçi mund të dëgjohen mirënjohje për investitorët europianë dhe falenderime për kreditë me të cilat paguan rritjen e pagave dhe të pensioneve, por kush ka dëgjuar që presidenti të flasë për vlerat euroipiane: demokracinë, lirinë e mediave, institucione të forta dhe të pavarura, media që duhet të bëjnë punën e tyre.
Serbia i ka hapur bisedimet per antarësimin në BE në muajin janar të vitit 2014, anëtarësimi në BE është shënuar si proritet shtetëror, por propaganda antieuropiane vazhdon që prej vitesh dhe secili e ka të qartë se tabloidët e rregjimit janë megafonë të pushtetit. Ndërsa glorifikohen Rusia dhe Kina, mediat që veprojnë me telekomandë merren me komplotet e Perëndimit kundër presidentit, pushtetit dhe vendit në tërësi. Kërkesat për harmonzimin me BE-në interpretohen si “shantazhe dhe presione të papara” të “armiqve” të deklaruar të Serbisë. Rezultati është i pritshëm; rënie e ndjeshme e entuziazmit të opinionit publik për integrimin europian.
Russia's influence remains a problem even in Belgrade, they know this best. What can be expected when the head of the information service declares himself an open pro-Putinist who couldn't wait to go to Moscow? The same path has been warned for the head of diplomacy Ivica Dacic - at a time when many others avoid such open provocations.
How can one expect a substantial rapprochement with the Union, voluntary harmonization with its foreign and security policy? The Union continues to be far from Serbia, more than the government talks about it. And exclusively thanks to the power itself.
*Translated by: Jelal Fejza