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A Yugoslavian Fantasy: 24th versus 149th Place

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A Yugoslavian Fantasy: 24th versus 149th Place | New Eastern Outlook

Author: Phil Butler

In an alternative universe, what if Yugoslavia still existed? NATO’s expansion, the Cold War still being waged, the so-called democratic western nations destroying freedoms in the name of democracy, we’re already living World War III. At this crucial juncture in history, it’s absolutely imperative that we examine what has transpired the last 25 years. Yugoslavia and western intervention there, is perhaps the best place to begin. This article calls to question the peace that might have been. More importantly, it calls to question whether or not peace was ever a democratic goal.

Can you imagine Europe today with Yugoslavia as a key player among nations? I can. Yugoslavia was in fact, one of the greatest cultural and human experiments in history. Formed in the crucible that was the conflict in between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, Yugoslavia melded together people’s of both cultures, and in ways not seen since the time of Alexander the Great’s assimilation of peoples after immense conquest. The experiment, if I may call it that, lasted a little over half a century. The ideal was, to form a single state for all southern Slavic peoples. While Yugoslavia’s creation was partly a geo-strategic move on the part of Britain and France, in order to restrain or block Germany, the underlying idealism was sound and just. The provisions of the so-called “Corfu Declaration” called for what amounted to a constitutional monarchy not unlike England’s. Rights and suffrage, and core principles of something known as the Illyrian movement, were promising aspects of early Yugoslavia. Even though King Alexander would eventually suspend the constitution and elections, the melding of ethnic groups and cultures still showed promise. War, political machinations, internal and external pressures preyed heavily always on this fledgling world power. As has been the case in many such experiments, ultimately authoritarian rule became the necessity, even desirable.

To end the history lesson, when the national hero turned Dictator and world celebrity, Josip Tito was firmly in control, Yugoslavia played on the world stage. Then when his power waned, opposing forces found their foothold. No scholars or politicians speak of it today, but Tito’s part in establishing the Non-Aligned Movement of nation states was magnanimous and extremely significant, especially for the people who now live in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and the other former Yugoslav regions. I’ll get into this further along, but for now it seems important to outline this Non-Aligned Movement’s ideals.

The NAM’s foundations were built in Belgrade in 1961 by the initial ideas of Tito’s Yugoslavia; India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru; Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno; Egypt’s second president, Gamal Abdel Nasser; and Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah. To be concise here, maybe reflecting one of NAM’s greatest proponents, Cuba’s Fidel Castro. In a speech given during the Havana Declaration of 1979, Castro laid out the real purpose behind NAM, saying the movement should strive for:

“The national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, racism, and all forms of foreign aggression, occupation, domination, interference or hegemony as well as against great power and bloc politics”

So essentially, the NAM was to be an independent movement of nations in between the great powers, with the idea of negating the Cold War was in novel and interesting one. Of course the major powers engaged in this new political and idealistic warfare had at their core strategy, the inclusion of every one of these fledgling independents. As we see today, the battle goes on to fragment, divide and render powerless, countries and peoples everywhere on the globe. This can be seen most easily in the carving up of the former Yugoslavia, and in the fact the resulting states have shown no inclination to be part of NAM now. Instead, the EU and NATO have been the gravitational pull that moves Croatia and the others. We see the prevalence of “Cold War” strategy in the fact Belarus and Azerbaijan are the only two members of the Movement in Europe, Azerbaijan and Fiji being the most recent entrants, having joined back in 2011. However, the 2012 NAM Summit saw higher attendance than any previous year, a bit of a sign of our crisis time now, I expect. With a declared purpose of “world peace”, and fundamental rights and integrity as its dogma, NAM was and is a valid theoretical mediating framework. But let me return to the fantasy case for Yugoslavia now.

Looking at the breakup of Yugoslavia in retrospect, framing what is Washington geo-strategy everywhere takes solid form. The Clinton administration’s actions at that time have been parlayed and propagandized with the same Orwellian “doublethink” the public is mystified with today. Reading Washington think tank propaganda like that of the Brookings Institute reveals this. In “Decision to Intervene: How the War in Bosnia Ended” from 1998, author Ivo H. Daalder begins:

“While many have written eloquently and passionately to explain Washington’s—and the West’s—failure to stop the ethnic cleansing, the concentration camps, and the massacres of hundreds of thousands of civilians, few have examined why, in the summer of 1995, the United States finally did take on a leadership role to end the war in Bosnia.”

The truth is a much simpler reality. No one needed a think tank to discover why President Bill Clinton hesitated to intercede in Bosnia. Clinton was in fact, continuing the policies of his predecessor, George Bush the senior, to destabilize the Yugoslavian socialist success. We know now that US covertly trained insurgents played a vital role in fragmenting the region via an organization known as the Atlantic Brigade, which fought in the Kosovo war at the side of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), numbering some 400 armed fighters (Also see Christian Science Monitor 1999). There’s not space within this report to reveal the subterfuge and death dealing that came about because of US proxy wars in the former Yugoslavia. I will direct the reader to an expert.

The decorated soldier and award winning journalist, Colonel David Hackworth (November 11, 1930 – May 4, 2005) was a war hero and defender of truth for the thousands and millions blown to pieces by these wars. “Hack”, as he was often called, was one of the most decorated soldiers in history having worn; 2 Distinguished Service Crosses, 10 Silver Stars, 8 Bronze Stars, 8 Purple Hearts, and 34 Air Medals, to name a few. A journalist for Newsweek and others, “Hack” was in the former Yugoslavia at the critical moment. This piece by him shines light on the lies the American people were told about Bush’s and Clinton’s war there. Comparing US policy in the former Yugoslavia to that of Vietnam, Hackworth uses the case of Sgt. Richard Casini, a recon trooper in Kosovo who stepped on a mine. In this singular incident, we see what we know now as a “ritual” of lying propaganda to mislead Americans and the world. When the boy’s dad was notified of his son’s injuries, “Your boy is being flown to Germany on the general’s jet,” was the news he got. Unfortunately, “Hack” was contacted later by Sgt. Casini, who had lost a foot, and learned how the boy had been flown to the hospital on a cargo plane wedged in between crates.

David Hackworth is gone now, he succumbed to cancer a few years back. The legacy of “soldiers against war” goes on, only with different proponents like those at Veterans Today and elsewhere. As for Bill Clinton’s playing at reluctance in the region once known as Yugoslavia, the sordid history of genocide and graft seems endless now. Another story I found, the tale of a Frenchman who trained with the Atlantic Brigade, it calls to mind Ukraine, Libya, and Syria of late. You see “patterns” lead us to the truth more often than not, ask any criminal profiler. The ghastly killing fields of the legitimate country of Yugoslavia, the investments in carving up the pieces left over, stain the hands of US presidents, British lords, and neo-Nazi German industrialists.

In an interview with a French mercenary names “Jacques’, Jean-Luc Porte reported back in 1999 how the US backed “Atlantic Brigade” was formed up. The skin head killer of Serbs and Croatians, by his own admission, outlines for us how fascism and Nazis akin to those seen in Ukraine of late, made up a killing brigade effecting the dismemberment of a former great nation. Wounded, rethinking his service to the cause, the Frenchman who joined other multinationals in Albania bore the mark of “HOS for Ustashis,” a proud brand of Croatian Nazis who joined the Germans in World War II. Not unlike the Banderites of the Ukraine crisis, the various proxy wars in the Balkans were manned by lethal killers from abroad. And top American officials knew full well the breed of murderers they pulled the strings on in Kosovo and throughout the Balkans. Yugoslavia, you see, became the template for Afghanistan and Iraq, Arab Spring, and the current anti-Russia onslaught. The names of Madeleine Albright, Javier Solana, General Wesley Clark and others continue to reverberate. In the former Yugoslavia the friends of key players in government planned a literal carving feast of potential creditor nations and investment bonanzas. The tale of this genocide in the name of democracy is almost too awful to speak of. Most of the people of these nations were set back 200 years, into a kind of medieval existence without hope. The only glimmer of possibility for most former Yugoslavians is quite naturally, the EU and its NATO protectors.

As I write this American, Brit and German planners are already carving up Syria. This Rand Corporation plan is not surprisingly clinical, even matter of fact, about partitioning a sovereign state. For those unaware, Rand Corporation is the Big Brother of all hegemonic think tanks. If you see it in print from these guys, the US military industrial complex invested money in it – period. Certainly there was genocide on both sides of the Albania-Kosovo conflict, as well as the other wars in the Balkans. This is not the point really, for the totality of catastrophe is what I am focused on. First of all the people of the united Yugoslavia no longer have any real voice. Secondly, the breakup of that nation has led to the death or dislocation of millions now. This is another story. But my “fantasy” Yugoslavia should be an eye opener. Let me conclude.

Yugoslavia was built on an idea that Southern Slavs would not remain a weak and divided people. A united nation of Yugoslavia was not easy prey for imperialist intentions like we see taking place today. It is a fact, that after World War II, socialist Yugoslavia became something of a European success story. Between 1960 and 1980 the country had one of the most vigorous growth rates in the world: a decent standard of living, free medical care and education, a guaranteed right to a job, one-month vacation with pay, a literacy rate of over 90 percent, and a life expectancy of 72 years. To my knowledge, not one of the Balkans states that were created can claim half this prosperity. It was this prosperity which caused western interests to want to destroy Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia’s multi-ethnic citizenry also had affordable public transportation, housing, and utilities. The not-for-profit economy was mostly publicly owned, not exactly the poster child for western democratic love obviously. The county could not be allowed to compete with Germany, France, and especially Britain, and the London and Luxembourg bankers could not extract their billions in a socialistic system. Yugoslavia had to die, and the Reagans, Bushs, and Clintons helped make it happen. Award winning author, political scientist, and Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., Michael Parenti has outlined the Yugoslavia disaster many times. According to Parenti, the U.S. goal has been to transform the Yugoslav nation into a Third-World region:

  • incapable of charting an independent course of self-development;
  • a shattered economy and natural resources completely accessible to multinational corporate exploitation, including the enormous mineral wealth in Kosovo;
  • an impoverished, but literate and skilled population forced to work at subsistence wages, constituting a cheap labor pool that will help depress wages in western Europe and elsewhere;
  • dismantled petroleum, engineering, mining, fertilizer, and automobile industries, and various light industries, that offer no further competition with existing Western producers.

Does this strategy sound familiar? Remember the Rand Corporation plan for Syria. Were Ukraine, Donbass, and Crimea understood before the Euromaidan? What is the plan for Russia? This is where the metal meets the meat my friends. In the Balkans catastrophe the West demonized the Serbs. In Libya it was Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, in Syria it is Assad, and the pattern goes on with Vladimir Putin as the biggest trophy head to put on some banker’s den wall. If that sounds contrite, I am sorry, this is the world we live in now. By the power of sleeping American citizens drugged stupid with worthless trinkets of super-capitalism – the world is being taken over by tyrants.

But what if Yugoslavia had survived? What if the great ethnic-socialist experiment had worked? It’s safe to say our world would be totally different today. For one thing, the EU with the Non-Aligned Movement of nation states (NAM) operating within its current boarders would be less potent, far less influential geo-politically. All of Europe might have led to Belgrade, and from there into the six republics now fighting for crumbs from Brussels. To galvanize how my fantasy Yugoslavian nation might look, I’ll leave you with the relative economic situations of current Balkans states, and the Yugoslavia GDP in 1991, positioned at 24th among world nations. As former President Ronald Reagan used to say; “Are you better off?”

As of 2015, Bosnia and Herzegovina is 112th economically, and conditions are worsening. Still the poor Bosnians think joining the EU will solve all problems. Croatia is currently 76th in the world economically, but Bloomberg just named the country one of the 10 worst on Earth. Macedonia ranks 130th, with agriculture being the only real industry, unemployment in the country is above 30%. Montenegro, despite the sheer beauty of the tiny country, is 149th among world nations. Like some other former republics, Montenegro believes EU ascension will solve everything. Serbia is ranked 87th in GDP, and seems more stable in many regards than her contemporaries. Slovenia ranks 81st in GDP, and is for some a potential miracle if tourism and other industries continue to grow there.

From a personal perspective, I recall a moment of prosperity in the former Yugoslavia, the 1984 Olympics at Sarajevo. Those were the first Winter Olympics ever held in a Communist nation, as I recall. The torch relay through Dubrovnik, then Split, Ljubljana, Zagreb, and countless other Yugoslavian cities, culminated in a proud moment in Sarajevo. The names of the gold medal athletes there have become blurred in my mind now, but the little wolf mascot Vučko, created by the Slovenian painter Jože Trobec is framed in my mind’s eye for some reason. A cartoon here in Yugoslavia at the time, the little wolf represented the people of these Balkans nations well. Wolves are prominent in Yugoslavian fables, they are the embodiment of courage and strength and the also symbolize winter. And as I type these final letters, I think about what the courageous and strong people of Yugoslavia might have won had their destinies not been interrupted by outsiders? All I know is, 24th place is a far cry from 149th in the Olympics. As for Yugoslavia, that nation is gone forever.

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.



Written by Mika

28. februara 2016. at 09:28

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Is NATO sprawl aggravating a ‘Serbian Spring’?

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Is NATO sprawl aggravating a ‘Serbian Spring’?

A symbolic treaty between NATO and the Serbian government has spurred mass demonstrations and calls for an alliance with Russia. With pending elections offering a choice between bad and worse, the frustrated populace is channeling the spirit of 1941.

Last week, the Serbian parliament voted overwhelmingly to ratify a treaty with NATO’s Support and Procurement Organization (NSPO). President Tomislav Nikolic signed it into law on Friday. On Saturday, thousands of protesters marched through the capital, shouting slogans against NATO and calling on Russia for help.

Some have even compared the treaty with NATO to the old Kingdom of Yugoslavia entering the Tripartite Pact in March 1941; back then, a popular revolt against the Pact triggered a long-planned military coup and enraged Hitler to the point where he delayed the attack on the Soviet Union to “wipe Yugoslavia off the map.”

What gives? According to Serbian military experts, the agreement merely creates “logistical interoperability” between Serbia and the alliance. It is the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), signed by the previous government and ratified by this one last March, that actually allows NATO personnel free passage across Serbia and immunity from taxes, fees and prosecution. Yet the NSPO deal may be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

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Serbian outrage stems from being under NATO’s heel over the past two decades, from the alliance’s intervention in the Yugoslav wars, to the bombing of Serbia in 1999 and the subsequent occupation of its province of Kosovo. NATO powers have been at the forefront of demanding Serbia recognize Kosovo’s “independence,” declared in 2008.

“Our policy is clear,” Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic argued, “Serbia is an independent, sovereign state that wishes to cooperate with both the Russian Federation and NATO.”

The response of most Serbians to this is, frankly, unprintable. First elected on a platform of patriotism, the increasingly unpopular Vucic has spearheaded a policy of capitulating to the endless demands from the EU, US and NATO, while tempering it with symbolic gestures of friendship towards Russia. Opportunities for Serbia to profit from its neutrality by trading with Russia usually get ruined by the government’s sanctioning of fraud and dirty tricks – such as labeling EU apples as Serbian to duck the agricultural sanctions.

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Even if Vucic is some sort of genius statesman, balancing Serbia precariously between Moscow and Washington – as some cautious columnists have argued – after four years of this kind of behavior, the general public simply does not believe it any more.

Vucic himself has a habit of praising the “Protestant work ethic” and telling the Serbs to “be more like Germans.” It does not help that his “reformation” from a Radical to a Progressive – literally, as those were the names of his parties – was midwifed by the US, and that he is widely perceived as but the latest in a long line of stooges at the helm of Serbia, ever since the October 2000 coup that served as the template for all “color revolutions” thereafter.

In the upcoming general election in April, Serbians will have a choice between Vucic and those who think he is not capitulating to NATO fast enough. The few parties that oppose the country’s slow digestion by the NATO-EU Leviathan could not even get into parliament. They have alleged voter fraud, but even if there was none, almost all the media in the country are owned by pro-NATO interests, and blast their messages accordingly.

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One of the more cynical arguments in favor of the latest pact is that Serbia “needs NATO to protect the Serbs” in Kosovo. Critics swiftly countered that it was NATO who delivered the province to the terrorist KLA, causing the exodus of a quarter of a million non-Albanians; it was NATO who failed to protect Serb villages, churches, and cemeteries, desecrated or dynamited or torched by the hundreds since 1999; and it was NATO that for three days in March 2004 failed to stop the 50,000-strong mob from rampaging across the province. Were it not for NATO, the residents of Kosovo would not need ’protecting’ from the KLA to begin with.

Allying with Russia would make Serbia a target, NATO partisans argue, adding that the country needs to join NATO to avoid another 1999. “We’re either at the table, or on the menu,” says Vuk Draskovic, once considered a nationalist and now a fervent member of the NATO cult.

Many Serbs point out the same reasoning was used by the government that tried to capitulate to Hitler in 1941. “We were never a Russian client, yet we’ve been in NATO’s sights for over two decades now,” wrote one dissident blogger. “I can’t see how it could get any worse.”

Friday’s killing of two Serbian diplomats – held as hostages by Islamic State terrorists in Libya – by US bombs only underscores this insane logic of insisting that one’s tormentor is really a benefactor, which the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman rightly compared to the “Stockholm syndrome.”

So, Saturday’s protest was not about a minor administrative treaty, but about a decades-long train of lies and abuses. It was a cry for help from a people who believed the seductive lie that the 1990s were their fault and that NATO, EU and “liberal democracy” would fix everything, only to realize that everything they touched turned to ash. These people have watched with horror as the West used Serbia’s surrender to justify the invasions of Iraq and Libya and support fanatics in Syria and Ukraine. But the latter two examples also showed them that resistance is not futile – not anymore.

Nebojsa Malic, for RT

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Written by Mika

24. februara 2016. at 09:55

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Why Serbia is Strengthening its Alliance with Russia

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Why Serbia is Strengthening its Alliance with Russia

On January 11, 2016, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitri Rogozin announced Moscow’s intention to arm Serbia with sophisticated weaponry, including S-300 surface-to-air missiles. Belgrade’s decision to deepen military cooperation with Russia caused controversy in Brussels, as Serbia in recent months has taken tangible steps towards accession to the European Union.

Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic has insisted that Serbia’s strengthened alliance with Russia will not compromise its EU membership aspirations. But difficulties in balancing relations between the increasingly hostile European and Russian blocs, and long-standing tensions over Kosovo’s status are significant roadblocks to eventual Serbian EU membership.

Serbia’s contradictory foreign policy strategy of simultaneously expanding linkages with Russia and the EU can be explained by two main factors. First, Serbia’s views on state sovereignty align more closely with Russian perspectives than the Western consensus. This normative synergy caused Belgrade to implicitly support Russian conduct towards Ukraine and Turkey. Second, Russia, to combat its international isolation and to partially offset the breakdown of relations with Turkey, is offering Serbia the opportunity to bolster its economic and military development, without the conditions typically imposed by Western economic institutions.

Serbia and Russia: Normative Partners on State Sovereignty

Since the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, Serbia has defied the Western consensus on state sovereignty, by arguing that Kosovo is an "integral" part of its territory. This contrasts with the 23/28 EU member states and 24/28 NATO members who have recognized it as an independent country.

Russia has consistently supported Serbia’s position on Kosovo. In 2008, Vladimir Putin warned that the legitimization of Kosovo’s declaration of independence would destabilize the international system. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described unrest in Tibet, and Albanian autonomy demands in Macedonia as pernicious consequences of Kosovo’s de facto secession from Serbia. The Kremlin’s view that the EU was violating international law and Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo, and placing ethnic Serbian enclaves at risk of violence, consolidated the long-standing Russia-Serbia partnership.

The 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea gave Serbia an opportunity to reward Russia for its resolute support for Belgrade’s position on Kosovo. Initially, however, Serbia’s position appeared unclear. Immediately after the annexation, Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic emphasized his country’s support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine. This solidarity built on the deep cultural, economic and humanitarian partnership between Serbia and Ukraine, that was highlighted by former Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko’s 2009 statement supporting Serbia’s WTO membership aspirations. Vucic’s statement matched Viktor Yanukovych’s 2010 opposition to Kosovo’s independence, to uphold international law and avoid an Abkhazia-style frozen conflict in the Balkans.

But Serbia’s refusal to impose sanctions on Russia and right-wing political leaders’ open support for Crimea’s re-incorporation with Russia diluted the credibility of Vucic’s commitment. Belgrade has provided informal military assistance to pro-Russian separatists in Donbas, with Serbian paramilitaries fighting openly in Donetsk. Many European policymakers believe that Serbia regards Crimea’s union with Ukraine after 1991 to be an illegal action analogous to Kosovo’s unilateral secession. As Russia is a vital international partner supporting Serbia’s position on state sovereignty, Serbia pledged its unerring loyalty to Moscow to reaffirm its historic alliance, even though this pact could greatly complicate its EU accession.

More recently, Serbia expressed rhetorical solidarity with Russia after Turkey’s November 2015 shoot-down of a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 plane that was allegedly flying over Turkish airspace. President Nikolic blamed the incident on Turkey, claiming that the Turkish military had frequently violated the airspace of Greece and Syria with impunity, and questioned the credibility of Turkey’s commitment to counter-terrorism.

Serbia subsequently sought to cool tensions with Turkey, by emphasizing the two countries’ economic partnership and by offering mediation assistance in the Turkey-Russia dispute. But these diplomatic overtures obscure the shared suspicion of NATO military activities between Belgrade and Moscow, which revealed itself in Nikolic’s condemnation of Turkish actions. The distrust engendered by NATO’s bombing of Serbian territory during the 1999 Kosovo War partially explains Nikolic’s unwillingness to accept NATO’s argument that Turkey had a legitimate right to self-defense against Russia, and has caused Serbia to view Russia as a more trustworthy military partner.

The Economic Foundations of Serbia’s Partnership with Russia

Since the imposition of Western sanctions against Russia in 2014, the Kremlin has tightened its economic linkages with Serbia. Serbia remains heavily dependent on Russian energy exports, as 80% of its gas imports come from Russia. Russia has exploited this dependency by charging Serbia $340 per thousand cubic meters of natural gas, a rate that is considerably higher than what Moscow charges Hungary and Ukraine. While Serbia has actively courted Western investment to improve its energy infrastructure, its lack of alternative short-term energy partners has forced it to accept Russia’s pricier exports.

To offset Serbian qualms over Russia’s dominance of the Serbian gas market, Russia has invested considerably in Serbia’s economic diversification and development. This assistance became particularly important after February 2012, when the IMF temporarily suspended its loan deals with Serbia as retaliation for Belgrade’s refusal to comply with IMF targets. After Serbia’s IMF dispute, Russia expanded investment in Serbia’s infrastructure. Putin pledged the expansion of the South Stream pipeline in 2012 and offered to lend Serbia $800 million for a railway track between Belgrade and Pancevo.

Russia’s provision of credit to Serbia during a period of tension with the Western economic establishment also extended to the heavy industry and defense sectors. Russia established a humanitarian center in Southern Serbia to facilitate Serbia’s purchase of Russian military equipment. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) regarded these deals as steps towards making Serbia a Russian corner in Europe, akin to Cyprus.

The Serbian state media’s coverage of investment flows has also benefited Russia’s image amongst the Serbian people. Substantially more attention given to Russian development aid relative to EU funds in the years after Slobodan Milosevic’s demise in 2000, caused 47% of Serbians to regard Russia as its main economic backer compared to 28% for the EU in 2014. This statistic was misrepresentation of reality, as the EU provided substantially more economic assistance to Serbia than Russia after the devastating spring 2014 floods.

The Serbian public’s increased recognition of the value of the EU assistance over the course of 2015 could explain Russia’s recent expansion of ties with Belgrade. As Moscow finds itself increasingly isolated internationally, Putin wants to entrench the idea of a Russia-Serbia special relationship at a time when an increasing proportion of Serbians believe that European integration is the ideal way forward for their country.

Russia’s strained relations with Turkey following the shoot-down crisis could also benefit the Serbian economy. The Russian state media fuelled speculation in January 2016 that Russian automobile exports to Turkey could be re-routed to Serbia. Russia could also expand trade with Serbia’s agriculture market to gain access to produce that Turkey has been banned from selling to Russian markets. As Serbia’s economy is still undergoing a recovery from a 2013-2015 recession that reduced its productivity by 10% , short-term Russian investment is very appealing for Serbian policymakers.

In light of the economic benefits associated with Serbian trade with Russia and the compatibility of the two countries on sovereignty norms, it is unsurprising that Serbia is tightening its partnership with Russia simultaneously with its pursuit of EU accession. The crises in Ukraine and Turkey have tested the viability of Serbia’s foreign policy balancing act, and Belgrade’s refusal to commit to one side during a period of hostile EU-Russia relations leaves its economic prospects hanging in the balance.

Written by Mika

20. februara 2016. at 13:38

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George Jatras – ‘US seeks new Cold War with Russia’

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PressTV-‘US seeks new Cold War with Russia’

An American foreign policy analyst says that instead of fighting common enemies such as Daesh terrorists, the United States is trying to rekindle a new Cold War with Russia.

James George Jatras, a former US diplomat and adviser to the Senate Republican leadership, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV in Friday while commenting on the US intelligence chief’s recent warning that tensions between the United States and Russia are spiraling into a new Cold War.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Tuesday that the Russians remained committed to an "assertive foreign policy," including efforts to hamper "Ukraine’s attempts to integrate with Western institutions."

"They’re greatly concerned about being contained," Clapper said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Clapper said that Russia was increasingly “paranoid” about NATO’s installation of a missile system in Europe.

Jatras said “General Clapper’s comments show a complete lack of imagination of American policy makers.”

“We hear all the time here in the United States, Daesh, Daesh, Daesh is a great threat to the United States, but where does he put it in his analysis? At number five! — after Russia, China, Iran, and other conventional actors in the international arena,” he added.

“I think this clearly shows that the American policy makers are guided by the interests of what people are calling the deep state that they’re interested in huge budgets or military procurements, more than anything related to the security of the United States, and rather than working with other powers to reduce international tensions and confront common enemies, like Daesh, and other [Takfiri] terror groups, they are focused on rekindling a Cold War again,” he stated.

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing new now. It’s something that’s been going on since the last few years. It is largely caused by the expansion of NATO and by efforts to dominate the former Soviet states,” the analyst concluded.

Relations between the US and Russia have slipped to their lowest level since the Cold War over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

The US and EU have imposed several rounds of economic sanctions against Russia over the conflict in Ukraine since early 2014.

Written by Mika

12. februara 2016. at 12:52

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