The climate has changed in Europe, the situation in the world has never been this complicated, not even before the First World War, says Aleksandar Vucic.
The Serbian president in this way commented on rigid Dutch and French stance regarding EU candidate countries opening new accession negotiation chapters in June, and Serbia’s position and chances in that context.
“It’s not like I’m prejudicing something, but it wasn’t like this even before the First World War,” Vucic remarked in conversation with journalists in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he is on an official visit.
However, Vucic insisted on his assessment that circumstances in Europe and globally are “very complicated and complex – there are many dangers surrounding us.”
“In that situation, we are better off preserving peace and stability and working on developing our economy,” he said.
In that sense, he added, Macedonia and Albania are in a fairly unenviable position – “I guess they’ll commend them in June, so they don’t say it’s a proper catastrophe and that they got nothing, but I don’t think they will be allowed to open any chapters.”
Asked whether “the 2025 date is still valid for Serbia’s membership,” Vucic said that “nobody can say at this moment”:
“You think they know, anyone in the EU. But, we first must do our job, the rule of law, various freedoms, finish that, an then the hardest obstacle still remains, normalization of relations with Pristina… so – does anyone know whether it will happen and how – one can only guess.”
He added that “nobody knows under which conditions everything will happen” and that “there will be a new wave of refugees, certainly from Syria, perhaps two, three times bigger than the previous one.”
Vucic also mentioned “great pressure on Turkey” because of which Erdogan decided to hold early elections, and added that he was “convinced Turkey and the Turkish people will know to defend themselves.”
When it comes to opening new chapters for EU candidate countries, Vucic said one should wait and see what will happen in June, but remarked that it was clear in Sofia (during last week’s EU-Balkans summit) that this would “not go easy.”
“Simply put, there is a different atmosphere in Europe, both France and the Netherlands have a somewhat more rigid stance regarding chapters and new members, other countries somewhat more liberal,” he said.
“You saw (Lega Nord leader Matteo) Salvini’s statement, and they will now represent the Italian government. That was also one of the main topics at the European People’s Party meeting in Sofia recently, and that now represents the biggest problem in Europe… namely, they are announcing they will do everything opposite to what the previous government did, and may even leave the eurozone – we’ll see,” Vucic said.
We, he added, should in all this preserve peace and stability and develop the economy.
“To continue this way, now we are taken into account in the world, we will be in a much better position than we used to, but also in a better one than the countries that were in front of us. Let us pass on conflicts, have growth of more than four percent this year, 4.5 next year, and slowly to enable a safe and better future for our citizens,” he concluded.