VIDEO | Andonovic: Belgrade changes course, introduces sanctions against Russia, one of the key demands of the European ultimatum?

Analysis with Dejan Andonović / Morning Press, January 26, 2023 / Graphics: Sloboden Pechat.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic hinted for the first time that Belgrade could change course and impose sanctions against Russia, which is one of the EU's key demands for Serbia to advance in its membership negotiations.

In an exclusive interview for "EUraktiv Srbija", Dacic said that Serbia, a candidate for the EU since 2012, was primarily guided by the assessment that is in its best interest.

In the statement, he repeated that Belgrade condemns the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, and thus Serbia voted for it in international bodies.

"Whether we will introduce sanctions against Russia is another question. It is not a matter of time or deadlines, it is a matter of our political and economic interests," he told "EURaktiv Serbia".

The introduction of sanctions against Russia is one of the key requirements in the recently published Franco-German draft text, according to which both Serbia and Kosovo must fulfill certain compromise solutions to prolong the dialogue and resolve the decades-long Kosovo issue.

In addition to the obligation for Belgrade to stop blocking Kosovo's efforts for membership in international institutions, Serbia was also required to introduce sanctions against Russia.

The seriousness of the latest ultimatum went so far that, yesterday, the EU's special envoy for the region, Miroslav Lajcak, clarified that both Kosovo and Serbia are obliged to accept the points of the new European proposal. If one side does not accept it, it will face the suspension of European integration and automatically all support will go to the other side that will accept the agreement.

Serbian President Vucic himself, in the explanation of the new European ultimatum, reminded that Serbia is facing a difficult period. But he did not fail to emphasize that Serbia has the largest trade exchange with EU countries and that the investments it is proud of are precisely from the relationship with the EU. Hence the warning that if he does not implement the latest provisions of the European ultimatum, he will face sanctions and new economic and then social instability.

Guided by this and last night's statement by Lajcak, Belgrade will most likely have to give in and finally, as the last country in the region that did not introduce, impose sanctions on Russia. It remains to be seen what reaction Moscow will have, but above all the large number of pro-Russian sympathizers in Serbia, who, unlike the course towards the EU, want closer relations with Moscow.

After the final presentation, part of the political media and civil society has already accused him of "selling Serbian interests in Kosovo and damaging relations with his Russian brothers" at the expense of closer relations with Brussels and the EU.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has been fiercely opposed to sanctioning Moscow over its offensive in Ukraine, often stressing that Serbia imports all its oil and gas from Russia, but is under increasing pressure from the West to change its stance. In October, he unveiled a €12 billion plan for energy infrastructure investment over six years to diversify and secure energy supplies.

But apparently something has changed with the latest Franco-German proposal for Kosovo, which Belgrade called a European ultimatum.

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