EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has finally made it clear that Serbia’s non-alignment with the EU’s foreign policy is “no longer” compatible with the country’s ambition to join the union.
On Monday, during a press conference following a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Borrell reiterated calls for Serbia to commit to European values and its foreign policy.
“[…] the Ministers expressed their clear expectation towards the partners as future Member States, to commit to European values and to the European foreign policy. Those who have not yet done so – and Serbia is one of them – should, as soon as they can, step up their alignment and implement sanctions,” Borrell said.
Serbia continues to dismiss EU calls to impose sanctions on Russia since the 2014 invasion of Crimea.
After the invasion of Ukraine this year, Serbia first decided not to condemn the aggression, but then was pressured into voting in favor of UN resolutions that did exactly that. However, at home President Vucic downplayed the vote, and maintained a rhetoric praising Russia and its President Putin. Belgrade is the only capital in the world to have held rallies in favor of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, while the government-controlled Serbian media praises Russia’s war on a daily basis.
“For me, it is clear […] that to maintain close ties with [Vladimir] Putin’s regime is no longer compatible with building a common future with the European Union. Both things at the same time are not compatible. Being neutral today, with respect to the Ukrainian war, is a false concept,” Borrell stated on Monday, clearly targeting Serbia.
President Vucic has softened his resistance against imposing sanctions on Russia in the last couple of weeks. Whereas before he vowed to not impose sanctions, he now promises to fight till he can to resist the EU and US pressure.
“Everyone would say that Vucic is announcing the introduction of sanctions. No, we will fight as long as we can to maintain our policy and we are pursuing that policy not because we gain something from not imposing sanctions,” Vucic said on Monday, adding that sanctions on Russia would bring big economic loss to Serbia.
It remains to be seen when and if Vucic will give in and announce sanctions on Russia, which most probably will be reasonably minimal given the EU’s own lenient approach towards Serbia.