Jovic: Serbia is seriously approaching the US, it could become the main partner in the Balkans

Serbia could have two main potential benefits from the Washington agreement. The first one is related to something that is not there – there has been no recognition of Kosovo. The second benefit is that it is potentially possible for Serbia to become the main partner of the US in the Balkans through Israel. That is why involving Israel and directly mentioning Hezbollah was a good thing for Serbia. It is especially favorable for Serbia that after this agreement, Kosovo was identified as a Muslim country and placed in the Middle East context, a political scientist from Zagreb, Dejan Jovic said. „Serbia is seriously approaching the United States,“ he added.

In his guest appearance on the“Dan Uzivo” talk-show on N1 TV, Jovic also talked about whether the signed document in Washington will have far-reaching consequences or whether it will only serve President Trump’s campaign.

He said that it depends on whether the parties will recognize that in the letters of intent they signed „both sides have enough elements to not only be satisfied but also to strategically change their position in relation to the previous position. I believe that this is possible for both sides, including Serbia.“

On the other hand, Jovic warned that if Belgrade and Pristina do not recognize the advantages of the potential agreement they signed, even if it was done on separate papers, then „things will be hanging up in the air“.

„In that case, their positions would not only remain as they are, but could also worsen because it could turn out that they are not respecting the promises they made, even though this is not a formally binding agreement. As you know, in international politics, words must have weight, and if you sign something, and there are witnesses of it, you must respect that,“ he said.

The advantages for Pristina, if it were to implement the agreement, would include international recognition from Israel – which is a very important country, Jovic noted, adding that this would also bring about the cessation of a series of un-recognitions that seriously jeopardized the process of Kosovo being recognized as an independent state, and at the same time further distanced it from the UN and other international organizations.

Serbia has agreed not to lobby for new recognitions, Jovic recalled.

According to him, even if Serbia does not follow through with this:

„The very fact that it signed something with Kosovo, as it is now being presented, will encourage some countries to recognize Kosovo. Also, parts of the agreement signed by Serbia will encourage some countries to recognize Kosovo.“

„It represents a loss for Serbia because Kosovo not asking for recognition does not mean that it will not get it. Many countries now think in the following manner: Kosovo and Serbia have agreed on something, so they have made some peace, there is the United States, why should we delay recognition. So, I expect that there will be even more recognitions,” he also said.

Speaking about Kosovo’s potential membership in the UN, Jovic said that „Russia and China are still there“, while also alerting of the possibility that these countries may be offended by parts of the agreement, especially by the points on the diversification of energy sources and the 5G network. He said that it remains to be seen whether Vladimir Putin will visit Serbia in November, as well as what Serbia will offer Russia during the „straightening of relations“ – which was also seen in the example of Maria Zakharova’s actions. Tensions in relations with Russia have existed for a long time.

When it comes to advantages for Serbia, Jovic emphasized that the „main thing“ Serbia got from this agreement is the change of its image.

„To stop the process of stigmatization and start the process of destigmatization,“ he pointed out.

„The fact is that the US president is now speaking favorably about Serbia. A reinterpretation of the 1990s is now possible. The US president now speaks of Kosovo as a Muslim country. This could mean that in the future they could label Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bosniaks as such. The Albanians in Kosovo and Albania or Bosniaks are certainly not happy with that label – a Muslim country.“

According to Jovic, the relocation of the Serb embassy to Jerusalem will give the impression that Serbia has done a great deed for Israel. Having Israel on its side is advantageous for Serbia because Israel will stay there, regardless of whether Trump wins or loses the elections. No US president will go against Israel, he explained.

The most important thing for Trump is to show that he is a peacemaker who did not start a single war in the world, but who ended one which has remained unresolved for 21 years.
It would be a good thing for Serbia for 1999 to be identified as a year of problems and not as a year of solutions.
It is catastrophic for Albanians because for them 1999 is a year of solutions, not problems.
But there is absolutely no uncertainty that both sides will use the chance that has been provided to them.
Serbia should seriously consider its strategy and take advantage of this opportunity.

Jovic also stressed that he expects an increase in pressure on BiH to move its embassy to Jerusalem – something about which Milorad Dodik had already expressed a positive stance.

„If it refuses, that is, if Bosniaks refuse, then maybe the US attitude towards Serbs and Serbia will be better than towards Bosniaks in BiH. This could strategically and tectonically change Serbia’s position in the Balkans, especially because Croatia – another competitor in Balkan politics, is currently not in a very good place with the United States and Israel.“

When it comes to the consequences of Serbia relocating its embassy to Jerusalem, especially when it comes to the EU, which Serbia aspires to join, Jovic wondered how realistic it is for Serbia to join the EU and how ready the EU is to accept Serbia. He also warned that the EU is making a mistake by hesitating on the matter.

„Both Serbia and Kosovo are dissatisfied with Brussels, which offers them nothing. For many years now, I have been critical of the European enlargement policy that has stopped. I think that the EU made a fatal mistake there because it opened the space for other actors. And here they are now – other actors! We now have not only Russia and China but Israel as well, which is far stronger in the Balkans, we also have Britain, we have five actors who are much more present and interested in undermining the concept of the EU on the sidelines. Therefore, the EU is to blame. The EU got a hot potato in its hands, and that is the political solution to this problem. The United States did not deal with that, they said, let it go, we are only interested in economic interests and Russia said that it was interested in economic interests in the Balkans, but it does not have the strength to offer greater economic investments, China is trying out something, but it does not have that strength. We will see what the economic part of this agreement actually entails.“

Although the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is highly critical of his predecessors, Jovic notes that he actually inherited Vuk Jeremic’s foreign policy – Serbia’s reliance on the „four pillars“.

That was partly the answer to the fact that Serbia was stigmatized by the US, but the question arises as to whether such a policy will be able to be maintained.

The formula for reconciling the peoples of the Balkans is „to talk as little as possible“ (cf. political marketing).
„Or at least to talk as little as possible about the 1990s and to move away from that war and respect the victims who died there, but to live as little as possible in cemeteries and not reduce our political activity to reminding people of the 1990s on a daily basis, because that can have very large counter-effect. People have to get out of the ’90s, and if they really want to have peace, they have to build it and not just talk about the war.“

 

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