Serbia continues efforts to join EU, maintain good relations with Russia

On Sunday, March 26, the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić said that Serbia is determined to become a member of the European Union and that Serbian society wants to follow the most developed Western countries. However, Vučić also wants to maintain good relations with its traditional ally – Russia.

Vučić's rhetoric comes only a couple of days before the first round of elections for the new Serbian president in which Vučić is considered the front-runner. The European Union is currently seeking a greater involvement in the Western Balkans and in the future wants to expand further into this region. However, the current dispute between Serbia and Kosovo complicates their accession process. The latest flare-up was sparked by efforts to transform the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) into a national army, which is criticised by the Serbian minority in Kosovo, Serbia itself, as well as the West. After a six-month boycott, Serbian deputies returned to Kosovan parliament in order to try to prevent this transformation.

Many Serbs remain sceptical towards the West after the Alliance intervention, which is a reason why Serbia remains a loyal ally of Russia in the Western Balkans. Russia is also a long-term critic of integration of local countries into Western structures. A few days ago, Vučić also said that Serbia will never enter NATO. Regarding security, Serbia prefers close cooperation with Russia, whose influence in Serbia grows stronger, and support for pro-Russian nationalism rises. Therefore, aside from disputes with Kosovo, issues of balancing relations between the Western and Eastern blocs are another obstacle to Serbia's EU membership.

About author: Tomáš Krajňák

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