IBNA/Interview: Vucic’ “clever politics” – playing the Russian card

IBNA/Interview: Vucic’ “clever politics” – playing the Russian card

Belgrade, October 27, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Milos Mitrovic

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is very well aware that Brussels is not at all amused with Serbia’s “balanced” politics between Moscow and the EU, but he is using the contacts with Russia as a political tool vis-à-vis Brussels, Dr. Franz-Lothar Altmann, Associate Professor at Bucharest University and Member of the Board of Southeast Europe Association, Munich, said in the interview for IBNA.

Do you think that the current protests in Montenegro are influenced by Russia, as is claimed by the government of Milo Djukanovic?

Russia certainly has interest in jeopardizing Montenegro´s NATO accession, but I assume that in particular the pro–Serbian forces in Montenegro, which anyhow are anti-EU and and anti-NATO oriented, find the reinforced power policy of Russia supportive for their actions.

Montenegro is to be invited to join NATO, but can the current political tensions jeopardize its accession?

The protests and clashes of the last days can make it more difficult for the government to proceed with its NATO accession policy. It will be interesting whether a simple majority in the Parliament is sufficient or whether Djukanovic will call for premature elections or even for a referendum.

The Serbian government is cautious considering the political situation in Montenegro and recently it refrained from strong reactions on Podgorica’s decision to support Kosovo’s UNESCO bid. Was this surprising?

Considering the intensive propaganda war which Serbia has performed over the last weeks in its attempts to block the positive voting for Kosovo’s UNESCO membership the cautious reaction of Belgrade indeed is at first glance surprising. However, Serbia has swallowed previously that Montenegro has recognized Kosovo because it needs Montenegro’s open access to the Adriatic Sea, and this remains so.

Serbian PM Vucic starts his three days visit to Moscow where strengthening of the bilateral political cooperation will be discussed. The EU is to open the first chapters in accession negotiations with Serbia by the end of the year. Do you expect changes in serbian foreign policy?

Prime Minister Vucic is very well aware that Brussels is not at all amused about Serbia’s “balanced” politics between Moscow and the EU, but he is using the contacts with Russia as a political tool vis-à-vis Brussels hoping that the latter´s interest in bringing Serbia closer to the Euro Atlantic structures is strong enough for upholding or even accelerating the positive momentum towards opening the membership talks. However, not all members states full-heartedly support the opening of the negotiation chapters at this time, which might in the end endanger Vucic´ “clever politics” of playing the Russian card too obviously!