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Belgrade Media Report 14 August

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LOCAL PRESS

Brnabic: Serbia will not stop seeking justice for the killed Serbian children in Gorazdevac (Tanjug)
Vucic: we will take part in talks in White House (TV Pink/Tanjug)
Djuric: Essential for Serbia to have a populous and influential state like India on its side in international arena (Tanjug)
Dacic: Arrest of Hasanov internal matter of Azerbaijan (RTV/Tanjug)
Vulin: No Serbian soldiers injured in Lebanon (Beta)

REGIONAL PRESS

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Dodik: B&H does not have a foreign policy, there is one policy conducted by SDA (Srna)
Field and CEC President Bakalar discuss elections (Nezavisne)
Cikotic tells one thing to public, SDA does another (EuroBlic)
Montenegro

PACE won’t monitor the elections (CdM)
Sehovic: We will never enter into alliance with deniers of Montenegro (Dan)
“Resolutely for Montenegro” coalition has the highest rating (CdM)
Mugosa: Montenegro opens its borders to Serbia tomorrow (CdM)
Republic of North Macedonia

Pendarovski: If no one forms a government, and parliament doesn’t dissolve itself, Spasovski will be interim prime minister (Republika)
Milososki: Instead of the Constitution, Pendarovski chose Zaev, who does not have 61 signatures from MPs (Republika)
VMRO-DPMNE freezes relations with President’s office (MIA)
Zaev-Ahmeti meeting: Foundations have been laid for progress (MIA)
US Ambassador Byrnes congratulates Zaev on mandate to form government (Republika)

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES

Azerbaijani ambassador to Serbia detained as suspect (Trend)
Trump White House Will Host Talks for Leaders of Serbia, Kosovo (Bloomberg News)
US concerned about Serbia’s intention to buy Chinese weapons (InfoBrics)

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LOCAL PRESS 

 

Brnabic: Serbia will not stop seeking justice for the killed Serbian children in Gorazdevac (Tanjug

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Thursday, on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of the crime in Gorazdevac, that Serbia will never forget the murdered children, nor the level of cruelty of this crime and will never stop seeking justice for these children and their families.

“In the village of Gorazdevac, on 13 August 2003, 17 years ago, one of the lowest, dirtiest, most terrible and most unreasonable crimes was committed – children were shot while playing and swimming in the Bistrica River. Pantelija Dakic, who was only 12 years old at the time, and Ivan Jovovic, aged 19, were killed, three boys were wounded – Marko Bogicevic, Bogdan Bukumiric and Djordje Ugrenovic, and one girl – Dragana Srbljak, all aged 13 to 20. And, as the father of the murdered Pantelija Dakic once said, ‘this is not an ordinary crime’, to shoot 78 children at children bathing in the river. Nothing more than this speaks of the degree of inhumanity and hatred, but also of the feeling of arrogance and confidence that such a crime will not be punished and that the murderers will not be held accountable in Kosovo and Metohija, which was under an international administration for years and where peace and security are ‘guaranteed’ by international forces. Serbia will never forget these children, nor the degree of cruelty of this crime, and we will never stop seeking justice for these children and their families,” said Brnabic.

Vucic: we will take part in talks in White House (TV Pink/Tanjug

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated that Belgrade will participate in the talks in the White House, which were announced for 2 September by the US Presidential Special Envoy Richard Grenell. Vucic stated that he had talked with Richard Grenell and that the topics of the meeting in Washington on 2 September would be economic, which, he says, are important topics for Serbia. “Serbia is not in a position, and it would not be good if it was in a position to refuse talks,” Vucic told TV Pink. He added that the question as to why Grenell used the term “negotiations” was an issue for the US diplomat. “The other day, they said that they support the negotiations under the auspices of the EU. But, I should not interfere into their relations. We are too small to be able to afford that,” said Vucic. He added that the US, as well as the majority of the EU and the Brussels administration, would always view the dialogue as a dialogue between two independent countries. “Our position is difficult, Kosovo is an independent state for the US and most of the EU,” said Vucic, but also pointed out that Belgrade will never treat Kosovo as an independent state, neither in the negotiations in Washington nor in Brussels. “They (Kosovo Albanians) come to the negotiations for several reasons, and the first is to get the opportunity to present themselves as an independent state. We will not treat them like that in Washington or Brussels,” Vucic explained, adding that he would not say that later, but before the event.

He stated that he also warned Avdulah Hoti about that. Vucic pointed out that the Pristina side is not coming to the negotiations prepared, while our delegation has been preparing for days and weeks. He pointed out that Pristina’s goal is not the freedom of flow of capital, goods and services, but only to reach a final solution without negotiations, and that is recognition of independence. There is no doubt there will be more provocations on their part on the ground and reminds of the intrusion into the protected zone of the Decani monastery. “They came there with machines to build the highway, despite the verdict of even their courts. What do they care about the monastery and the verdicts of even their courts. These are things that bring additional unrest and anxiety. We will fight against that in every place,” he underlined. When it comes to the EU, he stressed that one must not lose sight of the fact that when we talk about the EU, we should think of Germany first, because it is so much stronger than all the others. Vucic stressed that such supremacy in the EU has never existed in European and world history, as is the case now with Germany. “Negotiations on Kosovo are being conducted under the auspices of Brussels, but Germany is the most influential in the EU,” he said. “We have difficult conversations ahead on 2 September, the continuation of the dialogue on 7 September, we need to show the highest degree of unity and I am not asking this of political parties, not even of my own. But I am asking the citizens of Serbia to understand how difficult our political position is, and that by handling that situation well economic progress has been enabled for us, and that is why it’s important to show the highest possible degree of unity. People should not worry, there will be no difficult solutions for Serbia, without the citizens of Serbia deciding on that,” said Vucic. As he said, he would propose to his party, the SNS, and to everyone else, two concepts: one is a simple coalition with one political party, and the other, because of the overall situation and coronavirus, the global economic crisis and the Kosovo issue, would be to aim for another parliamentary election in a year and a half. “I am definitely more in favor of the first concept. Some people said that Vucic is preparing and it’s stupid to underestimate him, but we are taking things into account and taking care of everything and dealing with politics, not mathematics. We are watching what is happening in the world and in accordance with that, we will come up with a proposal that is the best for our country,” he said.

Djuric: Essential for Serbia to have a populous and influential state like India on its side in international arena (Tanjug)  

The Head of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric has acquainted the Indian Ambassador to Serbia Subrata Batacharji with the course of the political and expert dialogue between Belgrade Pristina. Djuric underlined that Belgrade is consistently committed to solving the problem through dialogue, but will not respond positively to any possible attempt at imposing a solution. According to him, the Kosovo issue is a serious and far-reaching international legal issue and it is understandable that many countries follow the political and diplomatic developments on this issue with great interest. He underlined that it is essential for Serbia to have a populous and influential state like India on its side in the international arena, because thanks to that support we can say today that the majority of humanity does not convincingly support the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo. As he said, Serbia will continue to build relations of cooperation and trust with India in the spirit of traditional friendship and to support the building of peace, stability and progress on the Indian subcontinent.

Dacic: Arrest of Hasanov internal matter of Azerbaijan (RTV/Tanjug

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has said that the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Serbia, Montenegro and B&H Eldar Hasanov was not arrested in Serbia but in Azerbaijan and that this is an internal matter of that country.

Vulin: No Serbian soldiers injured in Lebanon (Beta

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said that none of the Serbian military personnel deployed to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had been injured. “At this moment, despite the incidents in Lebanon, I am pleased to say that none of our personnel has been injured and are all healthy with no coronavirus infections. They are safe and impatient to return home,” Vulin said during Thursday’s visit to a barracks in Pancevo where troops are training for deployment to the UN peace mission. He said the new Serbian contingent to UNIFIL is training to deploy in Lebanon in February.

REGIONAL PRESS 

 

Dodik: B&H does not have a foreign policy, there is one policy conducted by SDA (Srna

Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency member Milorad Dodik has said that B&H does not have a foreign policy, but that there is only a policy conducted by the SDA by way of its people and current Foreign Minister at the Council of Minister Bisera Turkovic. “This only speaks of the failure of B&H. We are searching for evidence that B&H does not make sense, and this is best seen in foreign policy where the current minister is very selective and is even bypassing embassies where there is Serb personnel or is trying to devastate the status of Serb ambassadors with the aid of people in these embassies,” Dodik said. He told reporters in Ribnik that this tells us that B&H does not make much sense, which is seen every day in this field as well. “But, our foreign policy is important to us, our RS and its development,” Dodik concluded.

Field and CEC President Bakalar discuss elections (Nezavisne

UK Ambassador to B&H Matthew Field said after a conversation with President of the B&H Central Election Commission (CEC) Zeljko Bakalar that he is happy that citizens of Mostar will have a chance to elect on December 20 their local representatives after 12 years, adding that this is an important indicator of B&H’s commitment to basic rights. Field and Bakalar welcomed adoption of the budget which enables the CEC to organize holding of the local elections on 15 November and the local elections in Mostar on December 20 which they assessed as an important step towards the Euro-Atlantic road of B&H. Field emphasized that there are no bigger democratic right and responsibility than voting in elections.

Cikotic tells one thing to public, SDA does another (EuroBlic

Minister of Security of B&H Selmo Cikotic recently visited the Una-Sana Canton (USC) and announced that he has a plan on solving of the migrant crisis with seven priorities, 21 measures and 116 activities. The daily asked the Ministry to deliver the entire plan to the paper but received no reply. However, Cikotic addressed a press conference and presented some of details from the plan: “We will try to strengthen the capacity and capability of the work of the Border Police of B&H through the first plan, i.e. we will improve the control of the eastern border. We will insist on better cooperation of all police agencies in the country, we will try to improve financial support through domestic and international funds. We will reconsider activities and

responsibility of individual institutions in charge of border control, foreigners’ affairs and asylum. Simply, we will try to distribute the burden of the migrant crisis on the entire B&H and enable citizens of the USC feel safer in their homes”. Deputy Chair of the Join Commission for Defense and Security of the parliament of B&H Dusanka Majkic state that he has no high expectations from Cikotic or his plan because “he personally said that he is making an assessment based on how much he managed to get informed about the problem in couple of days. Secondly, he said that he has some kind of a plan, but I also know this plan depends on what his party will think of it. We know very well how SDA coped with the migrant crisis and how former minister of security of B&H (Fahrudin Radoncic) left. He was practically forced to leave because he saw he has no support for returning of migrants to their countries of origin. When it comes to the contact of B&H with Europol, we also had a chance to see that the Minister will not approve anything that has not been approved by SDA”. Commenting on Cikotic’s plan to acquire money for solving of the migrant crisis from international funds, Majkic said that this is merely a story as “the international community has not been working hard to assist BiH solve the migrant crisis so far”. Finally, Majkic assessed that Cikotic will solely make sure that goals of SDA, and not of citizens of the country, are fulfilled.

 

PACE won’t monitor the elections (CdM

Montenegrin parliament speaker Ivan Brajovic received a letter from the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Rik Daems in which he informs Brajovic with regret that Parliamentary Assembly won’t be able to carry out observation mission of monitoring parliamentary elections in Montenegro due to epidemic situation and limited travels to Montenegro. Daems pointed out that they would take into account recommendations of earlier observation missions and called for close cooperation and exchange of information on the election process in our country.

Sehovic: We will never enter into alliance with deniers of Montenegro (Dan

Social Democrats (SD) of Montenegro say what they have already proven – with our politics everyone knows where they stand. While others were clashing, we were working hard. With results we have achieved, we can guarantee future, said Damir Sehovic, vice-president of SD and candidate for MP in the parliamentary elections. In the interview with Dan, Sehovic said they expected twice as much support and thus greater space for making decisions.

What are key messages of your party for the forthcoming elections? What will you advocate for?

Sehovic: I think one should express straightforward view in terms of ideological questions, but one should never allow anyone, especially not those who call themselves civic opposition, to conduct deceitful, hypocritical policy and try to betray Montenegro as in 2016. They were promising strong country back then too, only to attach it to the altar to those who celebrate Montenegro’s elimination, for a handful of local self-government in Herceg Novi, Budva and Kotor. To their misfortune, and luckily for Montenegro, we decide. SD established its ideological determinant – civil left-center party, uncompromisingly defending interests of this country – three decades ago, and five years ago under this name. We don’t need to show off in every presentation and performance because our actions speak louder than words. We are the only party that has never calculated with Montenegro or its civil character which is the best guarantee of its eternal duration. Therefore, we say: educated and diligent people should be on positions and they should make decisions; a progressive taxation system should be established so that richer population can bar greater tax burden; apartments for young people should and must be built and rented with privileges or. At least, they should be provided with purchase under more favorable conditions; youth centers should be open in the majority of municipalities, so that young people can make decisions; we need stricter penalty policy for polluters; export-oriented small and medium enterprises should be granted loans; those who own insolvent companies and open new ones should be punished; digitization in education should be resumed and construction of 38 agreed capital projects in the area of education should be finished… These are our promises to citizens. Or as we have said in our campaign: every vote for SD is an agreement, as we are going to decide and influence the direction of state policy more than it has been the case so far. Decently. In a civil way. This is a small country and there are so any things we must deal with. There are so many economic and social topics ahead of us, we can’t squander our precious time quibbling.

What’s your comment on the fact that a number of local functionaries of Plav have abandoned SD only a month before the elections? Do you think it will have an impact on election turnout?

Sehovic: We wish our counterparts all the best. With nine councilors instead of ten, and with considerable number of new faces, we keep moving forward even stronger. We are aware that our uncontrollable growth in Plav and in Montenegro bothers many.

It can be heard in public that representatives of governing political parties, including SD, are abusing state functions for their party ends. Do you think it’s correct, to work for personal interests through functions all citizens pay for?

Sehovic: A multi-million digitization in the education area has been initiated, free studies for all students have been introduced, Fund for Quality and Talents has been established, reconstruction of 38 education facilities has been agreed. Education and healthcare staff pay has been increased, over 300 specializations have been granted and €15 million has been invested in medical equipment. In 2019, Airports had €15 million profit. Number of visitors to national parks has doubled in only couple of years. The same is in the Hydrometeorological Institute, Agency for Environment Protection etc. These are some of the results of state and local departments and subjects managed by SD staff. Of course, accusations are always expected in politics, regardless of who is governing and whether these accusations are justified or not. We let our results speak. Sometimes those who tell empty stories are louder that the results, but that’s the path we have chosen: more difficult path, more gradual path, but also a stable and unstoppable path.

Are you ready for pre-election coalition with opposition parties?

Sehovic: Unlike the majority of other parties, our election program is not just a dream but something we won’t give up on not even a millimeter, every citizen can take a look at basic determinants of our program and everything will be clear. Vote for SD will never end up at deniers of Montenegro! Every citizen knows that. As usual: if you feel like you need to prove yourself constantly, then you are likely to be very unstable in that area. We are ready for the coalition with those who share our fundamental principles and state values. Because if a specific party has coalition with parties that have diametrically opposed views on crucial topics, then you are incoherent and unprincipled. Finally, you are a hypocrite. And citizens who voted for you don’t know what to expect from you. That’s not the case with SD and it will never be. Our consistency is our key characteristic.

Education system is getting ready for regular start of school year

As Minister of Education, do you agree that school year should start regularly?

Sehovic: Ax we have said earlier, coronavirus crisis has shown that long-term predictions and promises should not be given. Education system is getting ready for the regular start of school year and parents and children should be doing the same. We must be ready for every scenario, so lessons for the first trimester will be recorded, as a backup plan.

Teacher-student direct contact can’t be replaced and that’s clear. At the same time, top priority is health. We’ll do our best to provide both.

Better result in the elections

What result do you expect in the elections?

Sehovic: We expect better representation in the government and parliament. It’s not surreal pre-election optimism, we have a stronghold in the last local elections. While some were telling empty stories, we were working and when they start dwelling on their failure, we will be celebrating our growth.

“Resolutely for Montenegro” coalition has the highest rating (CdM

According to the research carried out by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM), forecasts for the turnout in the elections is 66%. Coalition “Resolutely for Montenegro! DPS – Milo Djukanovic” has the highest rating with 35,3%. It’s followed by “For the future of Montenegro” coalition (24,7%) and “Peace is our nation” (16,6%). The research has shown that the best ranked politician is Zdravko Krivokapic, holder of the list “For the future of Montenegro”. President Djukanovic comes second while Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic is in the third place. CEDEM director Milena Besic explained at the press conference that results of this research “do not represent the forecasts for the elections, but rather citizens’ view”. Program manager of CEDEM Marko Pejovic pointed out that citizens’ trust in political institutions was declining. According to the results of the research, great number of citizens are not satisfied with the government of Dusko Markovic. The research was conducted between 5 and 12 August 2020 and it encompassed 1037 citizens. The methodology used in the research was standard – face to face survey.

Mugosa: Montenegro opens its borders to Serbia tomorrow (CdM

Director of The Institute for Public Health Boban Mugosa said today that Montenegro will open borders to Serbia tomorrow. “Tomorrow Montenegro will open borders to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and WB countries,” Mugosa announced.

He said that electronic session of the National Coordination Body would be held today and it would discuss manners of entering Montenegro. The decision to open borders to these countries was rendered following the request of tourism economy.

 

Pendarovski: If no one forms a government, and parliament doesn’t dissolve itself, Spasovski will be interim prime minister (Republika

President Stevo Pendarovski said at Thursday’s press conference that if no one forms a government and the parliament does not dissolve itself, Oliver Spasovski will be the interim prime minister for the next four years. Even if the government is not elected, we can go on like that for months. If the only condition stipulated in the Constitution is not met, which is 61 votes for self-dissolution of parliament, which means that Oliver Spasovski will be interim prime minister, said Pendarovski.

Milososki: Instead of the Constitution, Pendarovski chose Zaev, who does not have 61 signatures from MPs (Republika

Two weeks ago, President Pendarovski claimed that according to the Constitution, he would give the mandate only to the one who would present 61 signatures from the MPs. Today, Pendarovski himself devalued himself by giving the mandate to MP Zaev, who does not have 61 signatures from MPs, but is the president of the SDSM party that nominated Pendarovski. He usurped the mandate, forgot the Constitution, says the MP from VMRO-DPMNE, Antonio Milososki. He pointed out that according to this constitutionally-disputed logic, Pendarovski could also have given the mandate to Afrim Gashi, MP and party president.

VMRO-DPMNE freezes relations with President’s office (MIA

VMRO-DPMNE freezes relations with President Stevo Pendarovski and will review the policies towards the President’s office, said the leader of VMRO-DPMNE Hristijan Mickoski on Thursday following the meeting with the President together with several MPs to ask for proof why he gave the mandate to the leader of SDSM Zoran Zaev without a secured parliamentary majority. Pendarovski told him that Zaev had assured him that he would secure a parliamentary majority, but according to Mickoski, that was not enough proof for giving him the mandate. As arguments, the President said that the parliament was constituted, citing the examples from 2006 and 2016 and that he was assured that Zaev would secure a majority, said Mickoski, who at the meeting did not tell Pendarovski directly that he was freezing relations with his office. According to him, Zaev has captured the negotiations for the formation of the government and the mandate, according to him, buys him time for an agreement for securing a majority.

Zaev-Ahmeti meeting: Foundations have been laid for progress (MIA

After a three-hour constructive and productive meeting, foundations have been laid for progress, leading to a coalition agreement for a new, European government committed to EU integration, economy, equality and rule of law, said SDSM and DUI after Thursday’s meeting. SDSM and DUI leaders, Zoran Zaev and Ali Ahmeti respectively, were accompanied by secretary-generals Ljupco Nikolovski and Artan Grubi. The parties’ secretary-generals will resume discussions over the weekend, reads the press release. The meeting took place after President Pendarovski gave Zaev the mandate to form the new government.

US Ambassador Byrnes congratulates Zaev on mandate to form government (Republika

United States Ambassador Kate Marie Byrnes has congratulated SDSM leader Zoran Zaev on the mandate to form a new government. Congratulations to Zoran Zaev on the mandate to form a government in Macedonia and we look forward to working with the new government once it is formed. As a new NATO member we support the country’s dedication to democratic principles, the rule of law and its European future, tweeted Ambassador Byrnes.

 

INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES 

Azerbaijani ambassador to Serbia detained as suspect (Trend, 13 August 2020) 

BAKU, Azerbaijan – Head of the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry’s Office of Affairs and Chairman of the Tender Commission Farhad Mollazade, Head of the ministry’s Consular Department Faig Bagirov and others were held criminally responsible, Trends reports referring to the website of Azerbaijani State Security Service on August 13. As earlier reported, the criminal case was raised by the service in connection with abuse of power, embezzlement, bribery and numerous illegal acts causing damage to the interests of the state which are protected by the law committed by several ministry officials. According to the report, during criminal investigation, new information was obtained about the embezzlement of budget funds allocated for the activities of the ministry. Based on the collected materials, a comprehensive audit of financial and economic activities was planned by a relevant decision. As was discovered in the course of financial inspections, solid suspicions arose that Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina Eldar Hasanov misused significant budget funds and committed other offenses.

On the grounds of the conducted investigation, Hasanov was detained as a suspect. At present, investigative-operational measures on the criminal case are underway. Additional information will be provided to the public.

Trump White House Will Host Talks for Leaders of Serbia, Kosovo (Bloomberg News, by John Harney, 14 August 2020) 

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo will try to resolve their longstanding dispute at the White House next month, a Trump administration official said on Thursday night. Richard Grenell, the special envoy for the two countries and a former ambassador to Germany, made the announcement on Twitter. He said that the negotiations would begin on Sept. 2. The Trump administration tried to play the role of mediator in the conflict earlier this year. Plans for a White House meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovar President Hashim Thaci fell through when prosecutors at the Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague accused Thaci of involvement in nearly 100 murders and other atrocities. Kosovo’s ethnic-Albanian majority is demanding recognition as a sovereign state after unilaterally declaring independence in 2008, almost a decade after a NATO bombing campaign led by the U.S. forced Serb troops from its territory. Serbia has vowed to never relinquish what it considers its historic heartland, which includes ancient holy sites of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It also demands autonomy for the 100,000 Serbs still living in Kosovo. Both countries are interested in joining the European Union, and the conflict must be resolved before they can attain membership.

Grenell’s tweet about the talks came hours after President Donald Trump announced an agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that would lead to normalization of relations between their two nations in exchange for Israel suspending further annexations in the West Bank.

US concerned about Serbia’s intention to buy Chinese weapons (InfoBrics, by Paul Antonopoulos, 12 August 2020) 

Belgrade’s announcement that it may purchase the Chinese FK-3 anti-aircraft missile system was enough for the U.S. to express concern about Serbia’s future, not only with Europe, but with the entire world. The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade said that “procuring military and defense equipment is a sovereign decision. However, governments should understand the short- and long-term risks and costs involved in doing business with Chinese companies. Procurement choices should reflect Serbia’s stated policy goal of greater European integration. Alternative vendors which are not beholden to authoritarian regimes offer equipment that is both capable of meeting Serbia’s defense need and comparable in quality and cost.” Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić hit back, saying “Whenever we decide to buy something, somebody has something against it,” and emphasized that the FK-3 system was not on the U.S. sanctions list against China. The U.S. Embassy’s statement gives the impression that Washington has a deep concern about Serbia’s future strategic interests and alliances, so much so that it warned Belgrade on its path towards the European Union even though the U.S. has no influence over Brussels in this regard. Of course Washington has no concern for Serbia’s interests after it sustained crippling sanctions on the Balkan country, recognizes Kosovo as an independent state, ensured that the Republika Srpska is attached to Bosnia and Herzegovina without option to reunite with Serbia, and led a deadly bombing campaign that destroyed Serbian infrastructure and killed thousands of civilians in 1999. Washington is afraid of cheaper and better-quality weapons that Serbia can procure from both China and Russia. The Americans are also frustrated that Serbia has not become a state dependent on U.S. patronage despite decades of aggression and pressure. Effectively, Washington is continuing a campaign to limit Serbia’s independent and strategic interests. It is recalled that Washington threatened Belgrade with sanctions and indirect threats when Serbia purchased the Russian Pantsir missile system and trained with the S-400 missile defense system.

A NATO official who spoke on condition of anonymity, according to Defense News, said that “defense procurement is a national decision. Serbia has the right to freely choose its political and security arrangements. NATO and Serbia are close partners and we are committed to strengthening our partnership with Serbia, while fully respecting its policy of neutrality.”

Although both NATO and the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade emphasized that they respect Serbia’s sovereign decision, Washington does not truly respect Serbia’s policy of neutrality, which is why it makes continuous threats of sanctions and indirect warnings that Belgrade is becoming too close to Moscow and Beijing. Serbian political scientist Aleksandar Pavić argues that Washington expects Serbia to buy weapons from countries that have recognized Kosovo’s independence, and that this is Belgrade’s fault as they have purchased weapons from France, and even expressed the possibility of buying some American bombers, despite both countries recognizing Kosovo’s independence. lthough Serbia is attempting to maintain a policy of neutrality, so much so that it even considers buying weapons from the U.S., the reality is that such a policy is impossible. The best Belgrade can hope for is to enact a policy of balancing the Great Powers by strengthening relations with those who support Serbia’s sovereignty and independence, and maintaining friendly posture but distance with those who still support an independent Kosovo. By Serbia buying French military equipment, despite its recognition of an independent Kosovo, and entertaining the idea of buying American bombers, Belgrade is sending mixed messages to its international partners that it can overlook the Kosovo issue. By maintaining such a policy, Belgrade is giving Washington enough leeway to comment and attempt to push Serbia away from China and Russia. Having a stronger policy against those who recognize Kosovo’s independence will give Belgrade a much clearer foreign policy and will force Washington to approach Serbia differently. None-the-less, by discouraging Belgrade from the idea of ​​buying Chinese weapons, Serbia will likely continue to buy Chinese weapons, and with even stronger intensity. Although Serbia will always prioritize its relations with China and Russia over those who weakened it and recognized Kosovo’s independence, Belgrade should now show this more strongly by ending its policy of neutrality as the West is not neutral towards Serbia. As the Balkans is heating up again as a place of conflict, Serbia cannot be neutral as much as it attempts to do so. This does not mean that it should have openly hostile relations with the U.S. and other Western States, but because Serbia refuses to sever its deep relations with China and Russia, Serbian interests will always be sidelined when it comes to Western ambitions in the Balkans. Under these conditions, Belgrade should take a stronger position and be unafraid to highlight that their interests do not align with those that the West has for the Balkans.

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