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EU: Policy for Western Balkans. Janjic (political analyst), “Belgrade feels Russia’s heavy influence”

“The EU is indebted to the Western Balkan countries, because in the last five years the European countries did not have one single opinion about accession, and the Balkans have not only been left out, it seemed that no one in the West cared about what happened in the region”. This was stated to SIR by Dusan Janijic, political analyst of the Forum for Inter-Ethnic Relationships and founder of the European Movement in Belgrade. Yesterday, the European Commission presented a strategy for Western Balkans, enthusiastically received by the Serbian authorities. Janjic’s words are in agreement with the picture provided by the Commission’s document: “hot unsolved issues in Kosovo and in Bosnia Herzegovina, outstanding divisions, and rampant corruption”. As to the date that has been mentioned for potential accession, i.e. 2025, the political analyst agrees with the strategy, which defines it as an “ambitious goal” for Serbia, believing that “Belgrade will not be ready until then”. However, the expert warns about “Russia’s deep influence on Serbia, which is felt in public life, in the media and in business, while China, a key factor in Serbia’s infrastructure, is also making itself more and more deeply felt”. Janjic also shares the need that is expressed by the strategy, that of showing the European process as a final choice: “the authorities must place strong emphasis on the European integration process by explaining how important it is for Serbia, because many political leaders and intellectuals are not so sure about that, and there are anti-European people even within the Serbian government”.

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