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Expert: Brexit will slow down Serbia’s integration into EU and revitalize its ties with Russia

Pyotr Iskenderov. Photo from his personal social network account

The talks on Serbia joining the EU will be frozen in the near future under initiative of both sides. This is caused by both negative attitudes of most Serbian people to the idea of joining the EU and the crisis inside the union itself, Pyotr Iskenderov, senior researcher at the Institute for Slavonic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has told EADaily’s correspondent on July 6.

Simultaneously, the EU crisis increasers Serbian chances for pursuing a policy of military neutrality, the expert says.

“I think, chances have increased that Serbia will be able to continue the policy of military neutrality, taking into account the crisis situation in the European Union after UK’s decision to exit from the union and the general crisis in the relations between the U.S. and Europe, as we know that Great Britain is one of key countries in the Euro-Atlantic axis,” Iskenderov says.

According to him, recently, Serbia has been showing proactive interest in developing the relations with Russia and China both in trade and economy and in the military field.

“Half a year ago, the chances that Serbia could become a NATO member in a foreseeable future were high enough, but now the issue has faded away from the agenda of the Serbian leadership. The task of accession to the EU still remains. However, it is clear now that after the Brexit referendum, EU’s extension to the east will be frozen as well,” believes the expert.

Thus, he says, one can expect not only that Serbia will remain neutral, but stir up its contacts with Russia in the military field, in particular, implementation of the project to buy Russian weapons and develop the emergency prevention center in the town of Nis.

“There are certain circles in the Serbian leadership that find it necessary to sign contracts with Russia on buying its S-300 systems,” Pyotr Iskenderov notes.

“One needs to understand that the relations of Serbia and the EU do depend on the situation in the union, which is eager to freeze further expansion and programs that were previously aimed at preparing Balkan countries and former USSR republics for the accession. The only action plan that can be implemented is to involve Serbia into the migrant issue settlement. It is known that the EU leadership has been secretly developing plans to establish in South-Eastern Europe (particularly in Serbia) a center for those migrants who cannot be allowed to the EU. The project was nicknamed as migrants reservation area in Serbia, where the EU will be sending potential terrorists and criminals. This project has significantly decreased the popularity of the EU integration ideas. If two years ago about two thirds of the country’s population supported the integration ideas, more recent polls have shown the idea is popular among less than half of the population,” the expert continues.

He thinks the referendum on EU’s integration is hardly possible in Serbia in the near future.

“We know what the position of the Serbian leadership is. The last referendum held in Serbia was about a new constitution and the key issue there was the Kosovo question. The Serbian leadership has never promised to hold a referendum on the EU integration,” Iskenderov states.

When most of the people do not support the idea, there will be no referendum, he says. “Evidently, the talks on Serbia joining the EU will be frozen soon under initiative of both parties, Belgrade and Brussels,” Pyotr Iskenderov concludes.

To remind, in early July Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic while commenting on a statement that Russian President Vladimir Putin is applying his pressure in Serbia in order to make the referendum take place said that there will be no referendum. He said that recent parliamentary elections showed that Serbia’s goal is to join the EU.

A coalition formed under the aegis of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party led by Alexander Vucic promotes the idea of soonest integration of Serbia into the EU while preserving partnership relations with Russia.

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