European Western Balkans

ISAC: No major improvements in Serbia’s alignment with EU measures and policies over 2019

Aleksandar Vučić; Photo: European Union

BELGRADE – Serbia aligned with 52 of the 91 declarations published in 2019 by the European Union with which partner countries were requested to comply, which comes to an alignment rate of 57%, shows the Analysis of Serbia’s alignment with the European Union’s foreign policy declarations and measures in 2019, published by the International and Security Affairs Centre (ISAC). The analysis was conducted by ISAC analysts Igor Novaković, Natan Albahari, and Jovana Bogosavljević.

European Western Balkans reminds that in 2015 Serbian harmonization with the EU’s foreign policy declarations was 65 percent – a result Serbia has failed to achieve ever since.

In the vast majority of cases, note analysts, Serbia did not comply with declarations aimed at the entities and/or citizens of countries that did not recognize Kosovo.

According to the analysis, Serbia has a much lower rate of alignment with EU declarations than its fellow candidate countries Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania. Only Bosnia and Herzegovina have a slightly higher percentage. From the countries of the Eastern Partnership, only Moldova and Ukraine have a higher percentage of compliance than Serbia, it is stated in the analysis. EWB reminds that this represents a continuation of the trend in the previous years, when out of four candidate countries for the EU membership, Serbia has the lowest alignment of foreign policy with the European Union’s foreign policy declarations and measures.

Russia, world crisis and chemical weapons

Of the declarations that Serbia did not align with eleven relate to Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian crisis and related events, nine are devoted to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, three each cover the ongoing Hong Kong issue and Iran, two each concern Myanmar/Burma, Syria and Nicaragua, and finally, one declaration each is related to Belarus, Guatemala, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, Burundi, Transnistria and sanctions against persons suspected of using chemical weapons.

Analysts note that when the declarations on Syria were not connected in any way with Russia’s involvement in the crisis in this country, Serbia did align with EU declarations.

This happened on four occasions, indicating that Serbia is willing to follow the positions of the EU when it does not hamper its position vis-à-vis Russia.

Other declarations Serbia did not align with, the analysis shows, also have an element of a country strengthening ties with countries on which EU adopted declarations, but Serbia did not align them.

This the case of EU declarations related to Nicaragua and Burundi. Over the past few years, analysts note, Russia deepened relations with these countries, particularly in the field of military cooperation,  arms trade (Nicaragua) and economics (Burundi).

Venezuela and the Russian Wind of Change

According to the analysts, the most interesting case of 2019 Serbia’s alignment is the EU foreign policy declarations on Venezuela.

Ever since the Venezuelan crisis started, Serbia did not align with the EU declarations on the situation in this country. However, in the first half of 2019 Serbia showed some progress in the alignment. With the first four declarations, Serbia did not align, but it did with the following five, all of them being “political” in nature, and not imposing or renewing restrictive measures against natural or legal persons in this country.

However, since July 2019, Serbia again stopped to align with the declarations and in total it failed to do so with all five declarations that the EU issued in this timeframe, out of which three renewed and/or amended the existing restrictive measures against this country.

While it seemed that at the beginning of 2019 Russian support to this country is decreasing, remind analysts, China stepped up and provided international support to president Maduro’s regime. This might be the reason why Serbia again stopped to align with the EU declarations.

The harmonization with declarations and measures are one of the crucial elements to closing Chapter 31 – Foreign, Security and Defence Policy in Serbia’s EU accession process.

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