European Western Balkans

FAZ: Serbia would weaken the Union, its media spread anti-EU sentiments

Aleksandar Vučić; Photo: European Union

BERLIN – Anybody who wants to accept Serbia in the EU must know that yet another Hungary would be entering the block. A country in which fearmongering against EU is used to win elections would only weaken the Union, wrote German journalist Michael Martens in the yesterday’s issue of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Writing ahead of the Western Balkans Summit in Berlin, Martens assessed that none of the six countries is truly ready to become an EU member, and that only North Macedonia has a reform-oriented government.

Focusing on Serbia, Martens describes its relatively good economic situation, but spends most of the article analysing the pro-government media in the country, which, according to him, “use every opportunity to systematically and daily agitate against the EU”.

He names the most watched private media company, Pink, as well as tabloid newspaper Informer, which has the highest circulation in the country. According to him, “both are the decisive elements of Vučić’s rule”.

When it does not spend time libeling Vučić’s political opponents, Informer warns about the pending war against Serbia, representing the EU as an alliance of friends of Albanians and gay-lobbyists that is aiming to turn Europe Muslim. This happens almost every week, Martens writes.

On the other hand, Informer is very supportive of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. “If one is to follow the paper’s advice, Serbia should not become a member of EU, but of Russian Federation”, the article remarks.

According to surveys, support for the EU in the Western Balkans is lowest in Serbia, and it almost always tends to decline after a country enters the EU, the article reminds.

And yet, the people from President Vučić’s circles claim that there is a strong pro-Russian and anti-Western sentiments in Serbia. If these weren’t stoked by the ruling parties, others would be doing that, which would not be in Europe’s interest, Martnes writes.

“If this is true, it is a decisive argument against Serbia’s membership in the EU. Why would the EU enable political participation to a country in which fearmongering against it is an instrument of staying in power?”, Martens concludes.

Vučić: The media have their views, and I respect them

President Vučić was given an opportunity to talk about, among other things, the media situation in Serbia in another detailed text Frankfurter Allgemeine published yesterday.

“Dragan Vučićević (Chief Editor of Informer) has been my personal friend for the past 25 years. But he is openly pro-Russian. That is his position. He supports me, but not my party, which he often criticizes”, he claimed.

Asked about the derogatory articles about the EU and Kosovo Albanians published by the newspaper, Vučić responded that he is not a chief editor of any newspaper and has no intention of becoming one. He added that he respects their views.

“I am working on a daily basis to moderate the expectations of the Serbian people about what the solution for Kosovo will be. Because of this, I am labeled as “traitor” in Serbia daily”, he said, naming television N1 and Danas newspaper as the ones writing about him in this manner.

Whether this is true, FAZ added, our research has not been able to determine.

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