Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has lauded Serbia’s vote at the UN General Assembly in favor of Russia’s suspension from the UN Human Rights Council.
On Thursday, 93 countries voted for Russia’s suspension from the main human rights body following the U.S. proposal, while 24 counties voted against, and 58 abstained.
“Russia’s suspension from the UN Human Rights Council is a strong refusal of the brutal violation of all freedoms and rights and the heinous war crimes in Ukraine. Serbia’s alignment again with the West in this new wave against Russian aggression is good news for the region,” Rama tweeted.
The UNGA vote comes after brutal massacres in Ukraine’s Bucha and Irpin towns, where hundreds of civilian bodies were found in mass graves and lying on the streets following Russian troops retreat last week.
It is unusual for a country leader to praise another country’s vote in favor of condemning massacres against civilians, which in this case were decried by most countries in the world, including “non-Western” ones.
Russia denies any accusations related to civilian massacres, claiming everything was staged by Ukrainians and the West. These are similar to claims by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic about one of the most horrific Serbian massacres in Kosovo’s Recak village in 1999, which he claims was staged by Kosovo soldiers and WIlliam Walker, the head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo. Vucic was the minister of propaganda for the genocidal government of Slobodan Milosevic when Serbian troops killed 45 civilians in Recak.
Serbia is the only country in Europe whose leaders have not condemned the murders of civilians in Bucha and Irpin.
Although last month Serbia voted in favor of a UNGA resolution condemning the Russian aggression against Ukraine – also praised by Rama back then – neither Vucic nor any Serbian leader has done so in public. The Serbian president has instead decided not to impose sanctions against Russia, in open defiance to the lenient EU calls since 2014, while in public he stresses his strong relationship with President Vladimir Putin.
Belgrade remains the only capital in the world to have held rallies in support of Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Serbia has beefed up its military capabilities with Russian fighter jets, helicopters, tanks, armored vehicles and other heavy weapons in recent years, and conducted joint military exercises in defiance of NATO and regional countries.
It considers Kosovo an integral part of its territory and Vucic has repeatedly vowed he will never recognize the neighboring country’s independence.
Putin was the first to congratulate Vucic on winning a second term in office last Sunday, stressing that they should keep strengthening their “strategic partnership”.
Amidst this background, Rama’s claim on Serbia’s alleged alignment with the West, and its UNGA vote’s benefit for the region seems to stand on unsound grounds.
However, Rama’s insistence to keep supporting Vucic is understandable from the perspective of their Open Balkan initiative to create a free market area in the region, which has shown little progress to date, with three of the six regional countries refusing to join.