If the war in Ukraine persists, the post-election period will most likely see Serbia have to choose between one of the two chairs that it’s occupying. Whatever choice it makes, there could be major unintended consequences
When this article is published, it will surely contain the statement that it won’t stand the test of such a short period of time between writing and appearing before readers. Everything depends on whether the whole thing will end with the negotiations that have been held in continuity since Russia launched its aggression against Ukraine and the agreement on Ukraine’s military neutrality, with appropriate international guarantees of its security (as currently calculated) or whether Russia will find itself bogged down in an enduring war, like America did in Vietnam during the 1960s.
If the first variation works out, there will be a renewing of the doctrine of limited sovereignty that applied during the time of the Soviet Union, which should instil fear in all the independent countries that formed in the wake of its collapse. This would also, in a way, represent a defeat for Zelensky, because it would raise the question of why he didn’t reach such an agreement before the aggression, when it was first offered by Russia. But it would also be a defeat for the West, which encouraged Zelensky to oppose Russia’s hegemonic plans without clear guarantees of Ukraine’s accession to the EU, and even less so to NATO.
Such a result would strengthen Russia, but also its imperialist appetites, while it would cause significant damage to the Western alliance’s credibility on the global political stage.
It’s highly unlikely that all western Balkan countries will accede to the European union in a package, under an urgent procedure. It’s more likely that the policy of sticks and carrots will continue to be applied, though this time there might be more carrots to further distance the countries of the region from Russian influence
In the second variation, Ukraine would, with Western support, ultimately emerge victorious, but lasting sanctions would completely change the picture of the world and have immeasurable ramifications not only for Russia, but also for those who imposed them, which is already evident in the form of supply shortages and high energy prices, which cause other price hikes and lead to shortages of basic essentials. Europe is currently more united than ever, precisely because of its resistance to Russian aggression, but the question is whether that would remain so in the case that enduring sanctions damage their economies and cause dissatisfaction and even protests among dissatisfied citizens.
When it comes to the region, it is proposed that Russia’s further malignant influence be prevented by all Western Balkan countries acceding to the European Union in a package, under an urgent procedure. I think such a scenario is unlikely, because the EU has already been burnt once – when it welcomed some former socialist countries into its ranks, in the first decade of this century, without having them first fulfil basic criteria for membership, primarily related to corruption and the rule of law. I’m of the opinion that the policy of sticks and carrots will continue to be used here (though this time there might be more carrots, in an effort to further distance the countries of the region from Russian influence). Perhaps the possibility that the crisis could spread to encompass the Western Balkans will encourage Western countries to accelerate the negotiation process between Belgrade and Priština, but also to present a clear plan of how to finally turn Bosnia-Herzegovina into a stable and functional state at the service of all its citizens.
With regard to Serbia, if the war in Ukraine persists, during the post-election period Serbia will most likely have to finally choose between one of the two chairs that it’s occupying. Whatever choice it makes, there could be major unintended consequences. If it chooses the EU, Serbia will be resented by Putin, particularly given that he considers us as being indebted to him for many reasons. If we opt for Russia, we should forget about EU membership, but also rich European funds. We’ll see that we would have been better off if we’d chosen one stable chair in the first place, and cultivated good relations, but not special ones, with all others.