Saturday

10th Dec 2022

Serbia pressured to join EU sanctions on Russia

Listen to article

Serbia ought to join Western sanctions on Russia if it is serious about future EU membership, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said.

"It's important [Serbia] is aligned with our foreign and security policy. Joining the EU in the end, this means sharing our values," she said alongside Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade on Friday (28 October).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

She spoke after a tour of Western Balkan capitals, which the EU is trying to pull closer in the face of Russian aggression in Europe.

All the EU hopefuls in the region have mirrored EU blacklists and economic sanctions on Moscow over the past seven months, but Vučić has maintained friendly ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Vučić restated Serbia's support for Ukraine's territorial integrity. Serbia also voted against Russian annexation of Ukrainian territories at the UN on 13 October.

But Vučić made a prickly remark about Western support for Kosovo independence, in a hint of underlying tensions.

"Sometimes we ask ourselves, why hasn't Serbia's territorial integrity been respected?," he said on Friday.

Serbia and Kosovo are currently embroiled in a dispute on car number plates and on autonomy for Serb municipalities, in a nervous security environment in the region.

Von der Leyen urged them to resolve their differences via dialogue. "I'm deeply convinced this is both doable and possible," she said.

Russia sanctions aside, Vučić did pledge to align Serbia with EU visa-free policy following European complaints on immigration.

EU countries had warned Serbia's visa perks could be suspended after it was found letting people from Burundi, Cuba, India, Turkey and Tunisia come to claim asylum in Europe more easily.

Von der Leyen visited Belgrade after speaking in Sarajevo earlier the same day.

"The door of the European Union is open, please seize the opportunity and use this invitation, and it is up to you now," she said in Bosnia.

The EU Commission has recommended member states grant Sarajevo EU candidate status in December — a landmark legal step on its EU journey.

Political and ethnic divisions in Bosnia have held back progress in terms of EU reforms, amid threats by the Bosnian Serb entity to break away as well as disputes on electoral law reform.

Opinion

Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin himself is somewhat suspicious of Serbia's leader, as are most who deal with the opaque Aleksandar Vucic. The Russian president has preferred to keep his Serbian counterpart compliant, via a tight rein of annually-reviewed gas pricing.

Opinion

A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail

As a result of my peaceful civil activism, I have been arrested 13 times, undergone five trials, and been sentenced to 34 years of imprisonment and 154 lashes in total. I am currently in Evrin prison, without the slightest regret.

Opinion

No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU

The European Commission has asked the member states' leaders assembling in Brussels next week for the customary end-of-year European Council to approve EU candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Doing so would be a mistake.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos

Latest News

  1. EU Commission silent on Greek spyware sale to Madagascar
  2. A plea to the EU from inside Tehran's Evin jail
  3. EU lets Croatia into Schengen, keeps Bulgaria and Romania out
  4. Energy crisis costs thousands of EU jobs, but industrial output stable
  5. Illegal pushbacks happening daily in Croatia, says NGO
  6. No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU
  7. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  8. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us