Belgrade and Brussels have been partners for decades, but the credit of those relations has been spent. The U.S. remains on the Western side of Serbian foreign policy, which continues to control its levers, bringing to an end the remaining “hotspots” in a way that tells Serbia that Washington doesn’t want Belgrade to remain an enemy in the Balkan milieu.
The pandemic and Serbia’s foreign policy have been shown to have a strong mutual connection. Specifically, Serbia’s foreign policy hasn’t been directed one-way for a long time, nor is it linked to the European ship and European values. That policy has for many years been three-pronged, and those prongs are not of equal length. China’s arrival in Serbia changes its foreign policy vector. China is becoming what the EU was supposed to be – ubiquitous, present in every economic, financial and defence segment of the country. On the foreign policy scale, it has been pushing against the European Union, which has officially been Serbia’s “first foreign policy priority” since 2000. It is also leaving in its wake our “fraternal” Russia, demonstrating just what Chinese money can do! It is like Serbia is again overlooking the Berlin Wall.
The Chinese economic boom in Serbia has not been able to bring to the country European democratic and political standards, as the required value system. It found itself in a fierce conflict with them, with the EU, in regressing away from EU membership. This cannot help but be strikingly reflected in the reports of the European Parliament, and other reputable institutions around the world, regarding the catastrophic state of democracy and freedoms in Serbian society.
Chinese soft diplomacy in Serbia, or Russian, is the fruit of the daily work of the Serbian side and the creation of the positive mood of public opinion in favour of China and Russia
Stumbling on the European path, Serbia has not had the opportunity to expend its patience. It doesn’t show the least bit of enthusiasm, commitment and urgency with the aim of gaining membership in the Union as soon as possible. Serbian polices are de facto leading to fruitless disputes and discussions with Brussels on key issues related to membership, seeking a kind of privileged status on that path. Belgrade and Brussels have been partners for decades; they are not at the beginning of mutual relations, and the credit has been spent.
On the western side of Serbian foreign policy, the U.S. is decisively regulating the post-Yugoslav space, continuing to exert control with its levers, bringing to an end the remaining “hotspots”. The U.S.’s reasonable and gradual treatment of Serbia demonstrates that Washington doesn’t want Belgrade to remain an enemy in the Balkan milieu. That’s how we should read the political, economic and other messages coming to Belgrade from across the ocean. On the other hand, American “soft diplomacy” has not received adequate support and promotion. However, that’s a matter of Serbian presentation and not just an American issue.