February 18, 2012
It is a well-known geopolitical fact that from 1914 to this day, Serbia has received military support or security guarantees from Russia. The latest such support was in evidence during NATO’s intervention in Kosovo, when Russian troops were present in the province in order to make sure Serbian interests were being respected by the Western coalition.
Serbia’s deputy premier and Interior Minister Ivica Dacic has recently declared that if his country is not going to be recognised as an EU candidate-state in March, Serbia might be pushed into a closer alliance with Russia than it has been the case until now. That might involve the option of allowing the Russians to establish military bases in Serbia, a fact that could adversely affect the fragile geopolitical balance in the Western Balkans.
According to Professor Predrag Simic from Belgrade, Serbia has always been forced to perform a balancing act between the Western powers and Russia in order to preserve or promote its own national interest and geopolitical agenda. Whilst the possibility of having Russian military bases in Serbia does seem rather remote for now, EU officials should, however, be mindful of the fact that thwarting Serbia’s EU membership aspirations could ultimately lead to such an outcome.
To his credit, Dacic is a supporter of closer ties with both the US and Russia. He points out that Germany, too, enjoys a good working relationship with both powers, and that provided the US gave more consideration to Serbian interests in Kosovo, he sees no problem for Serbia in adopting a similar foreign policy approach. During his tenure as Interior Minister, Dacic has lifted visa requirements with Macedonia and Albania and has signed a number of cooperation agreements on police matters with most countries from the Western Balkans and beyond, based on his conviction that cooperation is the key to fighting organised crime. (sources: Deutsche Welle, www.setimes.com, www.tanjug.rs )Florian Pantazi