Serbia will not be able to secure its future economic, political and military development without relying upon a geopolitical bloc, a Serbian expert in international relations, Srdjan Perisic, has told EADaily.
As the expert noted, the clearly articulated intention of Serbia to become an EU member has not resulted in economic prosperity for it. On the contrary, global economic centers are drifting to the East. The European Union has neither capability nor willingness to support the Serbian economy. As Perisic says, Serbia is seen as a market for European goods only.
“That is why there will be no Serbia’s accession into the EU, nor will it happen for the so-called Western Balkans. The Western Balkans are considered as a stronghold that is supposed to protect Europe from Russia and China. All this says Serbia’s economic prospects with relying upon the EU are gloomy,” the analyst says.
According to Perisic, apart from that, they claim that Belgrade ceases its economic cooperation with Moscow and Beijing. Serbia’s military balancing between Russia and NATO cannot last forever, especially taking into account that NATO relies upon Albanians and Croats, he warns.
“Albania and Croatia are key West’s levers in the Balkans. There is no room for Serbia here. On the contrary, Serbia and Serbs are given the role of a permanently divided and controlled territory, and Albania and Croatia are used for this purpose. One should not forget about Bosniaks. So, the only solution for Serbia is to strengthen economic and military ties with Russia and economic ties with China,” Srdjan Perisic says. He believes this would give Belgrade a chance to save the Republika Srpska and show to Montenegro citizens that Russia has not left the Balkans.
“Whether Serbia will establish closer military contacts with Russia, will depend on correct understanding of its situation by the authorities. Russia must also offer an opportunity of a deeper economic cooperation to Serbia, up to opening a [Russian] military base,” the expert notes.
According to him, a Russian military base would strengthen both Serbia and Russia’s security, especially if new Russian air defense systems are deployed in the Serbian territory. Serbia would become a security factor, while Russia would get effective protection in the south-western direction, Perisic says. The military base could boost Serbian economic growth, as Serbia and Russia would need to tie the economic and military cooperation between the two countries into a single package, the expert supposes.
“A military base in Serbia would not be too expensive for Russia. It can be deployed at a Serbian Army facility. If Russia and Serbia decide to build it on a new site, it would not need large investments either. The Russian base would be a part of the Russian air defense system. It would not be an occupational base, so it would not need extensive infrastructure or investments, unlike for US military facilities. And it would be located in a friendly environment,” Srdjan Perisic said for conclusion.
A Russian military observer, Viktor Litovkin, believes that possibility of Russian military presence in Serbia depends first of all on willingness and initiative of the Serbian leadership and Serbian people.
“If Serbia wants, than yes. But nobody knows yet if it wants it. The Serbian president has not said anything on the issue, there has been no poll about it. So, everything is possible, but there has been no such decision, as far as I know,” Litovkin has told EADaily.
According to the Russian expert, from the military standpoint, Russia would have a base in the Balkans and could control another section of the Mediterranean. It would make sense for the military aviation, he says.
“Serbia has no exit to the sea; Moscow could help Belgrade support its independence and withstand attempts of NATO and the United States to engage Serbia in an anti-Russian alliance,” Litovkin continues.
He also stresses that that it would not be easy to organize such a base in Serbia, taking into account that the country is surrounded by NATO members. However, there are ways to overcome it.
“For instance, Greece may allow Russian planes fly to Serbia. Because Greece even being a part of NATO is playing a special role. Macedonia is not a NATO member yet, so it could also help Russia on some certain terms. We remember that when the Russian troops entered Kosovo, their supply maintenance was hampered because of certain countries. But via Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria that was not a NATO member then, we managed to supply our troops. I do not rule out that we could find a way to supply our troops in Serbia,” Viktor Litovkin says.