Francis Fukuyama: Serbia Sits on Two Chairs, Hesitates to Do Things Necessary for Joining the EU

“Under the rule of President Aleksandar Vucic Serbia is pretty steady towards authoritarianism and I believe that he has started using the crisis, caused by Covid-19, as a way to increase his executive power, similarly to Viktor Orban and some other leaders in the region. At one moment… and maybe we have already reached that point, any idea about Serbia’s membership in the EU would be impossible, because EU is based on the system of values, which is not supported or personified in the current regime in Belgrade”, American scholar and author Francis Fukuyama, one of the signers of the appeal of several hundred intellectuals against the destruction of democracy in Serbia and protection of Belgrade’s Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory said for Serbian service of Voice of America (VoA).

Do you think that Serbia will now go faster towards the EU, or slower, having this in mind?

“Serbia will definitively go slower, and there are several reasons for that. I believe that the government has decided that they are not so interested in the EU anyway. Things they need to do in order to fulfill the criteria for accession, they do not want to do. I really believe this process will slow done, maybe even stop or go backward.

But they say they support the EU and this is one of their foreign policy goals.

“I think Serbia is sitting on two chairs. They want to present themselves to the western public, Brussels, Berlin, and other capitals like they are still on the way towards EU membership, but also they strengthen their cooperation with Russia and China. In fact, earlier efforts to stay on the side of the West are a way to avoid criticism from the West.

Some would say that Serbia is turning towards Russia and China because of a lack of enthusiasm in Brussels and not getting green lights.

                “In case of North Macedonia, you can be very critical towards Europe, because this country has made a serious attempt to reform its government, implements good policies and they made many sacrifices to change their name and make an agreement with Greece, and then President [of France, Emmanuel] Macron shut the doors in their face and I think this is really a shame. However, I do not think that Serbia is sincere, they have not done anything similar to what North Macedonia has done, so I do not think that you can blame the EU for slower accession process.

Freedom House recently published a report in which it was stated that Serbia and Montenegro were both hybrid regimes. How can Serbia and Montenegro follow their road towards the European Union with that kind of assessment on drop-in administration, freedom of speech and media, judiciary, and elections?

“I do not think they can, I think that one of the problems of the EU has been in letting other countries of the region, such as Bulgaria and Romania, to go backward after their accession.

                “The level of corruption started growing, and part of the reason for the EU’s lack of readiness for further enlargement is, in my opinion, a feeling that they have accepted some countries too early. And when you have a country that does not even seem especially interested in joining the EU or implementing necessary reforms, it makes no sense from the European point of view.

                “As I said, the case of North Macedonia was different, because there was a government that was obviously very eager to become a part of the EU, but when you do not see this basic motivation and wish I am not completely sure why would EU expose itself to possible problems in the future, if this process should continue, and the countries go backward again”, Fukuyama said in the interview for VOA.