Experts, citizens debate Serbia's relationship with Russia, EU


Serbia seeks to remain neutral on the Ukraine situation, but experts said the strategy could hamper its EU accession.

By Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Belgrade -- 30/05/14


EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule (left) met with Serbia Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on May 5th. [AFP]

Although the EU said it respects Belgrade's decision not to implement sanctions against Russia, experts said Serbia's neutrality on the Ukraine situation could hurt the country's Union bid.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule came to Belgrade earlier this month and met with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Fule said the Union is aware that Serbia is a sovereign country, and respects its decision regarding Ukraine.

"I asked that Serbia [be able] to maintain its own attitude, which is not to impose sanctions on Russia," Vucic said after the meeting, adding that he respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine and all other UN member states.

But Jelena Milic, director at the Belgrade Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies, said Serbia's neutrality and refusal to implement sanctions on Russia will negatively influence the country's EU bid.

"The Copenhagen criteria, which was adopted in 1993, should be respected not only by member states but also by states that are candidates for EU membership. The criteria says that states must respect the politics of the EU in cases when the Union imposes a foreign political plan. Meanwhile, Chapter 31 in the EU negotiations says that in cases when the Union imposes economic sanctions, they have to be accepted on all levels," Milic said.

Although Serbia has not yet opened Chapter 31, the country's decision to not impose sanctions could be a stumbling block when the chapter is opened, Milic told SETimes.

"One day, this will be a subject of debate. The EU will be totally legitimate in asking where Serbia was during the Ukriane crisis," she added.

Aleksandra Joksimovic, president of the Centre for Foreign Policy in Belgrade, said Serbia should maintain positive relations with Russia because energy stability is important.

Related Articles


"The best solution for Serbia is to remain neutral, but it is questionable how long it will be able to keep that pose," Joskimovic told SETimes.

Many citizens said the Russian connection is not as strong as it is being made out to be.

"The EU is our supporter and partner. Serbia has to choose the EU if it wants to achieve progress," Slavisa Vukicevic, a 44-year-old doctor in Belgrade, told SETimes.

How will the Ukraine situation affect Serbia's EU bid? Tell us your thoughts below.

This content was commissioned for
  • Email to a friend
  • icon Print Version
  • Share/Save/Bookmark

We welcome your comments on SETimes's articles.

It is our hope that you will use this forum to interact with other readers across Southeast Europe. In order to keep this experience interesting, we ask you to follow the rules outlined in the comments policy. By submitting comments, you are consenting to these rules. While encourages discussion on all subjects, including sensitive ones, the comments posted are solely the views of those submitting them. does not necessarily endorse or agree with the ideas, views, or opinions voiced in these comments. welcomes constructive discussion but discourages the use of copy-pasted materials, unaccompanied links and one-line slogans. This is a moderated forum. Comments deemed abusive, offensive, or those containing profanity may not be published.

SETimes's Comments Policy

Focus on Ukraine


Region, Turkey optimistic about new EU leadersRegion, Turkey optimistic about new EU leaders

Regional officials say the recent personnel changes in the EU will have a positive impact on their countries' relationship with Brussels.

SETimes logo

Most Popular



Should Greece change how it handles illegal immigrants?

I don't know