By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade
The crisis in Ukraine and Crimea prompted the debate on the position of Serbia toward the conflict. Jelko Kacin, European Union envoy for Serbia, insisted that Belgrade should follow Brussels policy. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkic has been informed by EU and Russian Federation ambassadors in Serbia on positions of their respective capitals with regard to ongoing events. On Thursday, Serbia refrained from voting in UN General Assembly while the majority of member states adopted the resolution which states that annexation of Crimea by Russia has been illegal. Media reports that Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) leader Aleksandar Vucic is under strong pressure by foreign diplomats to take necessary steps in order Serbia to support Western sanctions to Russia. Vucic will undoubtedly take PM position, after his party won landslide victory on March 16 elections promising country’s joining to EU as the main priority.
In the interview for IBNA, Zivadin Jovanovic, president of Belgrade Forum for the World of Equals and former FR Yugoslavia Foreign Minister, said he has no doubts that Serbia is faced with pressure from the West. However, Jovanovic believes that Serbia should not sacrifice its own interests and good relations with Russia for the “so called European path” in return.
How do you assess the current position of Serbia toward the crisis in Ukraine?
“I think that Serbia took the neutral position. This is the expression of the policy of the neutrality which has been adopted by the National Assembly. Considering historical experience but also the changes in Europe and in the world characterized by the fall of unipolar world ant the rise of the multipolar one, Serbia should protect its friendship and alliance with Russia. At the same time, I think that Serbia should be prudent with regard to so called European path; Serbia should not sacrifice any national interest and let down the traditional alliance with Russia for the sake of this European path that has uncertain outcome”.
Do you have any information about the pressure of the West on Serbia and Vucic? Do you think Serbia is under pressure?
“I do not put into question that there are pressures, but I also think that Serbia should not succumb. In the end of the day, Serbia has already paid very high price to get closer to EU. This is reflected in the so called Brussels agreement (on normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Pristina) which, in reality, represents the dictate by United States, United Kingdom and Germany rather than agreement. The time has come Serbia to slow down sacrificing its interests under the pressure of the West. It is also the right moment for Serbia to reconsider suing NATO member states and demand war reparations, 15 years after the aggression that inflicted Serbia with the enormous human and material damage. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has recently admitted that Western countries and EU member states among them had breached the international law by aggression against Serbia”.
Do you really believe that Serbia would sue NATO and EU member states? After the elections held on March 16 Serbia got its own “European Parliament” given the fact that all the parties that have secured places in the National Assembly are firmly pro-European.
“There will be further elections. There is no statute on limitation with regard to war reparations. If this (demanding reparations) is not possible now, at least there’s a need to make this issue a matter of the dialogue. The conditions will be established for Serbia to obtain its right in one way or another. It is not responsible to praise the EU for alleged 3 or 4 billion dollars total assistance in 15 years and, at the same time, hide the fact that EU countries and United States in Serbia caused a damage of at least 100 billion dollars during NATO aggression. And what is the profit of the West obtained by cheap purchasing of Serbian best industrial enterprises in the meantime? Serbia owes nothing to the West, but has its claims toward the West. It is not true that Serbia needs EU more than EU needs Serbia. It is rather the opposite. What is true and responsible is that Serbia needs all the others in the same level they need Serbia, no more, no less.”
After March 16 election in Serbia, the official of German ruling coalition praised the victory of pro-European parties and said that Brussels agreement on normalization of the relations between Belgrade and Pristina should lead to Kosovo’s recognition by Serbia. Do you think Serbia will be ready to accept such scenario?
“From the very beginning (of the Belgrade-Pristina negotiations) it was clear that the Western countries have been urging Serbia to gradually give up from Kosovo and Metohija, the part of its own territory that West needs as a basis for a jump to Caspian region and Russian frontiers. The West needs it as an amnesty for the crimes committed in 1999. Any serious government of Serbia must not even consider both direct and formal or indirect and factual recognition of Kosovo and Metohija. Europe is now in the whirl of its own mistakes. The firmer and clearer Serbian position against the recognition of Kosovo secession would be of the best help to the strayed European policy”.
The comparison between Kosovo and Crimea made by Russian President Vladimir Putin has attracted significant attention both in Serbia and in the world. In your opinion, what Putin wanted to say? Some interpretations suggest that Kosovo secession from Serbia was used by Russia in order the same principle to be implemented in Crimea and the other territories of the post-Soviet area.
“First of all, it is very illustrative for the relations in the Europe and the world that Barak Obama now demands the respect of international law with regard to Ukraine and Crimea. On the other hand, he believes that Western policy that supported the secession of Kosovo and Metohija was adequate. The level of hypocrisy demonstrated by the West is incredible and I think this is also the expression of the weakness of the West, including EU, NATO and United States. I cannot comment what Putin thinks. I believe that Crimea, by the will of its people, has returned where it always belonged – to its mother country. The same should be with Kosovo and Metohija. I think that Serbian policy needs long term vision and that our politicians should better understand the trends in the Europe and in the world. There is no more unipolar world, neither commanding from Washington or Brussels.”