Serbia’s president found mid-November Aleksandar Vucic Time for a special guest: Envoy Turko Daudov, speaking on behalf of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, assured that today Russia is defending “spiritual, traditional and family values” against “the foreign ideology” of the West. Vučić thanked Kadyrov’s envoy, who according to human rights experts is responsible for massive crimes both in Russia and now in the Ukraine war, and reiterated that Serbia’s relationship with Russia “cannot be destroyed under any kind of pressure”.
In fact, the connection to Moscow is one of the strongest constants in Aleksandar Vučić’s life – although at the same time he insists that he wants to lead Serbia into the EU. The 52-year-old Vučić has already undergone a number of political metamorphoses: from propaganda minister under Serbia’s autocrat Slobodan Milošević and tough nationalist, first to alleged reform politician, now back to neo-nationalist populist. Vučić has been determining Serbia’s politics for over a decade: first as speaker of parliament, then deputy prime minister, prime minister, and since 2017 as president. Like Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Vučić rules in an authoritarian manner. Only a few independent media report even on tangible scandals.
So became Vučić’s 24-year-old son Danilo repeated – last in 2021 – photographed in the company of suspected mafia leaders. Veljko Belivuk, accused along with other gang members of murder, kidnapping or drug trafficking in Belgrade, said recently in court, he met Aleksandar Vučić personally, was passed on to the interior minister and for years “served the needs of the state”. Vučić denies any affiliation with the mafia.
If Vučić really wanted EU membership, the accession negotiations, which have been dragging on since 2012, would probably have made progress: But Vučić would have to limit his power in the EU. Talks with Kosovo are just as fruitless as the talks with Brussels. Vučić and his electorate continue to claim that Kosovo belongs to Serbia.
Serbia is linked to Russia through history – and control over oil and gas companies
After political skirmishes over Kosovo license plates and a mass protest by Serbian local politicians in Kosovo, which was controlled from Belgrade, Vučić called Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti a “terrorist scum” and initially canceled his participation in an EU-Western Balkans meeting in Tirana on Tuesday, before he finally flew there.
But the biggest elephant in Serbian politics under Vučić is Russia. It is linked to Serbia not only by history and religion, but also by control over Serbian refineries, oil and gas companies. The EU turned a blind eye until the Ukraine war; for months, however, Vučić has been under pressure to accept EU sanctions against Moscow.
Even after the start of the war, Vučić reiterated verbosely that he wanted to lead Serbia into the EU. He has now had his Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić announce that Serbia will now take on more of the EU’s foreign policy. Vučić would then have to support all EU sanctions. But the facts speak against it: Aleksandar Vulin is a close confidante of Vučić – and Serbia’s most prominent anti-European and Russia ally. Vulin is said to be with Moscow jointly planned how best to prevent democratic revolutionsn. True, Vulin had to resign as Minister of the Interior. But Vučić has now made him head of the powerful BIA secret service. Also plans for an oil pipeline to bring more Russian oil from Hungary to Serbia, or one recently announced close cooperation with the Russian airline Aeroflot, which is banned in the EU show that Aleksandar Vučić would rather back Moscow than the EU.