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13 Sep, 2022 19:04

EU threatening Serbia – president 

If Belgrade tells off Brussels over Kosovo it may lose EU investments, President Vucic told lawmakers
EU threatening Serbia – president 

The EU is threatening to withdraw investments from Serbia unless Belgrade continues its commitment to the bloc, President Aleksandar Vucic told the parliament.

During a heated debate about the breakaway province of Kosovo on Tuesday opposition MPs questioned Serbia’s official pro-EU policy, since Brussels has made recognition of Kosovo a precondition for eventual membership.

“There is nothing good associated with any visit of mine to Brussels,” Vucic said during the long and often acrimonious parliamentary debate, responding to an opposition MP who called Serbia’s EU aspirations “a fairy tale.”

“I don’t believe in fairy tales. I believe in a realistic and rational approach. How can we say we don’t want the EU? Who will protect us? Do you know how many people work for German, French, Czech and Polish companies in our country? Do you think we haven’t heard threats about them withdrawing investments if we don’t recognize Kosovo’s independence? Do we have to sacrifice all that so we could tell someone they’re a ‘fairy tale’? We can’t be driven by emotions,” Vucic said.

A thousand years of negotiations is better than a single day of war.

The president, whose Progressive Party holds 104 seats in the 250-member legislature, faced criticism from both the pro-EU Democrats and the eurosceptic Oathkeepers (Zavetnici). The leader of the latter, Milica Djurdjevic Stamenkovski, wondered why the ruling party keeps painting a picture of gloom and doom.

“We keep hearing that the EU is making demands and ultimatums to Serbia, but I don’t see how you’ve responded,” she said. “What exactly are we asking for that’s not rightly ours, what are the unrealistic and maximalist demands you keep talking about?”

The parliamentary debate comes after special envoys from the EU, France and Germany visited Belgrade last week, following up on the August visit by the US envoy. All have argued that Belgrade absolutely must recognize Pristina as independent, even though five EU member states haven’t yet done so. 

In a televised address to the nation on Saturday, Vucic claimed the West is leaning on Belgrade because of the conflict in Ukraine, with Serbia again being “collateral damage in the conflicts of great powers,” but vowed he would never recognize Kosovo and “will fight for respect for international law.”

NATO occupied Kosovo in 1999, after a 78-day air war against what was then Yugoslavia. The province declared independence in 2008, with Western support. While the US and most of its allies have recognized it, Serbia, Russia, China and about half the UN members have not.