Miroslav Antić

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Is Serbia the new Ukraine?

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Is Serbia the new Ukraine?

by

Lana Blagojević

12.12.2013 – 17:10

President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision to suspend preparations for signing an Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, for the sake of maintaining relations with Russia, caused a public outrage from Ukrainian pro-European citizens, triggering the largest protest to take place in Ukraine since Orange revolution.

Nearly half of Ukrainians feel that they need to build their future within the European Union framework, no matter how economically fragile it might be. What they see in the European Union is what Yankovich and the Soviet Union have withheld from them: democracy and greater freedom. What Yanukovich sees, on the other hand, is Russian economic power and support, which comes at a certain price.

Yanukovich’s politics and Russian economic power have an impact outside of Ukrainian borders. In the light of recent events in Ukraine and launching of Russian South Stream project in Serbia, there have been speculations in Serbian media that Serbia should consider following the same path.

A week after the protests in Ukraine began, and a few days after the launch of South Stream, Vuk Drašković, a leader of SPO party (the Serbian Renewal Movement), said: “Serbia is in great danger of becoming the new Ukraine”. The politician claims that Serbia is exposed to pressures to give up on European Union and join, both politically and economically, one “other Union”, alluding to Putin’s proposed political and economic union, The Eurasian Union.

Drašković says that the “a rising tide of this propaganda” can be seen through recent events such as the Russian Ambassador’s speech to present advantages of Eurasian Union over the European Union, as well as statements by some Serbian politicians.

Soon after the South Stream project was launched, the Russian Ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Chepurin, said that South Stream will give 10 times more than Serbia will get from any donations in the process of integration. The Ambassador said that Russia does not want to interfere with Serbia’s European Integration process, under the condition that Serbia does not join NATO or anyhow "additionally complicate its ties with the Eurasian Union, which will be created in 2015, and which considers development of relations with Serbia as very important."

To further confirm Drašković’s fears about “a rising tide of propaganda” Dačić said that “Western powers have in fact pushed Serbia closer to Russia," referring to criticism that Serbia incurred due to tightening relations with Russia. The Prime Minister said that partnership with Russia strengthened mostly due to West’s (the EU’s) disinterest in building relations with Serbia, so Serbia had to turn to Russia.

While Dačić has never explicitly expressed preference of Eurasia over Europe, Nenad Popović, Vice-President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and President of the Economic Council of the DSS (Democratic Party of Serbia) clearly stated that he does not see a point anymore in joining the EU, and that the Eurasian Union offers better opportunity for Serbia: “The EU is in a major economic decline and this trend will continue. On the other hand, we have paved the way for future cooperation with the countries of the Eurasian Union, where our country, thanks to the duty-free agreement, has the ability to export more than 95 percent of domestic products duty free.”

Of course, Popović’s view should be taken with reserve, especially since the President of the Economic Council of the DSS assesses only the economic factors of these relations, while not taking others in consideration. Also, although Dačić’s statement could be interpreted as “pro-Russian”, the Prime Minister said “I don’t doubt that our path is to the EU”. Dačić pointed that the Eurasian Union is not an option for Serbia because Serbia does not belong there geographically, but will continue maintaining close partnership with Russia throughout the process of European integration.

Beyond the parallels brought up recently between Ukraine and Serbia where Russia plays the main role, another important parallel between the countries could be drawn: the transitional history parallel: they are both communistic countries that came to existence after a federal break up, although communism in Serbia was much more liberal.

They both worked on achieving democracy, and one of the turning points happened in 2000, when both countries changed Milosević and Kuchma, the presidents that were involved in numerous corruption scandals and restricting freedom of expression, especially media.

Thus, both countries need to break up with the communist ties from the past and ensure at least different, if not better future. In that case, The Eurasian Union, often considered as a nostalgic recreation of the Soviet Union, is not the answer.

http://www.neurope.eu/article/serbia-new-ukraine

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Written by Mika

12. decembra 2013. u 16:25

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