Blair hired to advise Serbia: PM Vucic ‘needs some kind of PR coup’

Tony Blair  (Reuters / Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
Serbian Prime Minister Vucic may present Tony Blair’s new advisory role for Serbia as a public relation success, and that Blair “will do wonders”’ for the country’s ‘European path’, foreign affairs analyst Srdja Trifkovic told RT.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be an advisor to Serbia’s PM Aleksandar Vucic, who was on the opposite side in the Balkan conflict 16 years ago. According to Serbian officials the deal was paid for by the United Arab Emirates.

RT:The chief proponent of NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia could now advise a Prime Minister who was once himself an outspoken critic of Tony Blair, what do you make of this?

Srdja Trifkovic: We have a government here in Belgrade which is almost desperate to continue what is euphemistically called the ‘European path’. They want to join the EU even though the benefits of doing so are rather moot. And there are some major obstacles including the determination of Germany to demand Serbian recognition of Kosovo’s” illegal independence” as a precondition. What is bizarre is that Tony Blair has never expressed any regrets about his support for the bombing of Serbia in 1999. Even though his justification for joining the US-led bombing campaign was as false as his reasons for joining Bush in the war against Iraq, in fact, his government and he personally claimed that it was the objective of Serbia to create an apartheid society and to ethnically cleanse Kosovo of the Albanians, which was simply not true. But what is even more bizarre… I mean one might imagine that Serbian PM Vucic would want a former foe on board because he wants to influence the powers that be in Western Europe. But what is particularly bizarre is that they seem to be blissfully unaware of Tony Blair's low standing in his own country, where he has been under fire primarily for his role in the Iraq war.

Let’s not forget that his government published two false reports, one in September of 2002 which claimed that Saddam Hussein had plans for the use of chemical and biological weapons deployable within 45 minutes of an order to use them, which was complete rubbish. And then later on in February 2003 his team published a second dossier called “Iraq: Its Infrastructure Of Concealment [Deception and Intimidation]” …

RT:Do you expect any negative political fallout inside Serbia if Blair takes up the advisory job?

ST: I think it will do nothing for PM Vucic’s credibility and popularity. Especially since the role of the United Arab Emirates in the whole affair is not transparent. We don’t really know who is paying for this and obviously whoever it is, is expecting something in return. This is all very hush-hush. And in addition to Tony Blair's very low reputation in Serbia I think that the government is effectively shooting itself in the foot, because this is going to be a liability at home and abroad, it will achieve absolutely nothing because as I said Tony Blair’s credibility in either London or Brussels is close to zero.

RT:Where do the United Arab Emirates fit in all of this?

ST: You see Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has close contacts with some prominent personalities there and they were instrumentally putting together a project called Belgrade Waterfront which is supposed to be a multi-billion dollar investment into a complete transformation of Belgrade into of sort of Abu Dhabi on the Danube. Personally I don’t think anything much will come out of this. But with all sorts of failures on the economic front in recent months, not least yesterday’s decision not to sell the major steelworks to a US-based company, I think Vucic needs some kind of PR coup. He will probably present it through the media, and the media in Serbia are very closely controlled by the government even though they are nominally free, that this is yet another major public relations success for Serbia and that Tony Blair will do wonders for Serbia’s European path. All of that is just a smokescreen for the fact that this government is actually in deep trouble. Their economic indicators are abysmal. And I think that a beleaguered government meeting a former politician whose credibility is pretty low is a pretty nice fit in fact.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.