Many EU countries in ‘direct war’ with Russia – Serbia
Many EU states are in “a direct war” with Russia and are “angry” with Belgrade for refusing to go along with sanctions, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday.
Speaking at a press conference two days after attending a meeting between the 27 EU leaders and six heads of government from the West Balkans, Vucic claimed the Balkans “were not important that day” for the EU, as the bloc is “completely at war with Russia” and its priority was to provide Ukraine and Moldova with EU candidate status.
“[Hungarian Prime Minister] Viktor Orban said that in the economic sense, Serbia and Montenegro are much more ready to be part of the EU than some other countries. But who cares?” Vucic remarked.
He explained that Serbia is now in a difficult position due to the pressure to join EU members in imposing sanctions on Russia. The president stressed he is aware of “how angry many of them are” over the issue.
“Many EU countries are in a direct war against Russia. They send howitzers, planes, S-300s to Ukraine, and how do you think they will treat us? They are not in our shoes as we are not in theirs, and that is why our position is extremely difficult. Will it be easier? Well, it won't,” Vucic said.
However, he pledged that Serbia will continue to pursue its EU path as “there must be a rational and pragmatic approach in politics, which takes the interests into account.”
He noted that in Serbia, 300,000 people work directly and 500,000 indirectly for foreign companies, two thirds of which are from the EU.
“If you do not understand how important the EU is to us, I cannot change that,” he said, while claiming the West fails to appreciate how important it is for Serbia to refrain from anti-Russia sanctions, and to maintain good relations with both Russia and China.
Addressing the economic situation in Europe, Vucic gave a gloomy forecast, saying if the conflict in Donbass does not end with a truce, the world will face “a worse world war than the previous one.”
“A little man from the Balkans says that. I hope that they will start peace negotiations, otherwise we will all go,” he added.
On Thursday, the day when Ukraine and Moldova were granted EU candidate status, Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin said a military conflict with Russia appears to be the condition for fast-track accession to the European Union.
Pointing out that Ukraine falls short of the standards which are “so carefully applied to Balkan countries,” the minister claimed Kiev's “participation in the war was enough to start negotiations” on its EU membership. He added that if getting into war with someone is the only way to speed up Serbia’s accession to the EU, then “it is not worth it.”
Earlier this month the interior minister said his country was not interested in diminishing its “closeness and cooperation” with Moscow, and that by trying to force Belgrade to impose sanctions on Russia, the West simply seeks to “absolve” itself of its own crimes. His remarks came soon after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Serbia to follow the EU’s lead in sanctioning Russia, and recognize the breakaway province of Kosovo as an independent state if it hopes to join the bloc.