Frozen conflicts, which are potential sources of instability by their very nature, favour authoritarian rule. So it seems at this moment that the frozen interregnum, the state of stability alongside existing unresolved problems with neighbours, is sustainable and aligned with serbian interests. The basic problem, however, remains. The other parties will seek solutions.
Serbia’s policy over the last two decades has aimed at sustaining the current situation. The changes that have occurred in the meantime have all been a consequence of the decisions made by others. They were, again, dependent on international relations and, primarily, on the U.S. and the EU.
The influence of China and Russia has grown in the last few years, primarily for two reasons. One was Trump’s disinterest in Euro-Atlanticism, while the other is a mistaken plan for solving the Kosovo problem, based on the exchange of territories in which the EU placed certain hopes. The consequence of America’s withdrawal and the unachievable European policy is the increased influence of China and Russia. And for the first time since 2000 this made sustainable the policy of not resolving problems and an enduring interregnum.
This is also in line with the growing authoritarianism of Serbian politics. Frozen conflicts, which are potential sources of instability by their very nature, favour authoritarian rule. So it seems at this moment that the frozen interregnum, the state of stability alongside existing unresolved problems with neighbours, is sustainable and aligned with Serbian interests.
However, the basic problem remains. The other parties will seek solutions. And America’s return to Atlanticism is underway. Of course, much will depend on the European Union and its Balkan strategy. Regardless of how all that changes, the basic problem of Serbian politics remains: an unwillingness to solve problems, which will again result in decisions being made by others.
The erosion of the rule of law and additional arming cannot have a favourable impact on Serbia’s foreign policy position under the conditions of living with frozen conflicts
If we set aside the problems of stability and security, maintaining the status quo does not favour economic progress. European interests are to connect the economic space to the greatest possible extent, otherwise larger investments are unprofitable. This is at the core of all regional cooperation programmes that the EU has supported since 1999. Investments that aim at supplying the Serbian market or third markets will be limited due to the nature of things. That’s because the Serbian market is small, and there are more favourable locations when it comes to the world market. On the whole, American, Russian and Chinese investments don’t go towards the development of industry, so they cannot be a valid alternative.
Finally, successes in terms of vaccination are certainly useful regardless of how they are observed, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the damage to the public health of Serbia caused by the epidemic is very great. In terms of the number of infected and the number of deaths during the epidemic on the basis of population size, Serbia has done very poorly. Nor can it be said that this is justified by special economic successes, although that was what they strived towards. Indeed, many neighbouring countries have fared much worse, and they are unable to boast of either economic or vaccination success. This will certainly increase Serbia’s influence in the surrounding area. That is good for political stability in and of itself, and it also increases security. In contrast to that, however, the erosion of the rule of law and additional arming cannot have a favourable impact on Serbia’s foreign policy position under the conditions of living with frozen conflicts.
Overall, Serbia’s policy of a frozen interregnum is risky, which is clear from the experience of the last thirty years. It would be necessary to have a policy of problem solving, however that is not visible on the horizon.