What should the EU do about Serbia?

While the states of the European Union are trying to present a united front vis-à-vis Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, EU accession candidate Serbia is backing out. Belgrade is avoiding joining the sanctions front and relying on good relations with Moscow. Commentators call for clear statements from Brussels.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Not tempted by carrots

The constant policy of appeasement towards Serbia has not done any good, says Der Standard:

Vučić is successfully and intelligently playing with everyone. The assumption that he will fundamentally change the attitude towards Russia or the West is just naïve wishful thinking. ... In the EU there are still those who believe that Serbia can be lured into the EU. However the Serbian government has shown in recent years that it does not want to join the bloc. This must be respected. Nor has the war against Ukraine led to any major changes in this respect. ... Vučić doesn't want a liberal democracy. Like his colleague, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, he wants an autocratic cronyism that secures power for him and the party.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Don't saddle Europe with a Trojan horse

Brussels must talk turkey with the Serbian government, writes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:

“It's clear that the Kremlin is trying to use Serbia as leverage to weaken Europe's defences. ... The key to a successful European strategy lies in Belgrade, where Aleksandar Vučić does pretty much as he pleases. ... The Europeans should speak plain words to Belgrade now. Because the last thing the EU needs is a Trojan horse in the Balkans that opens up a second front for Putin. Brussels must set clear and binding conditions. Those who benefit from EU funds as accession candidates must stop sitting on the fence and take part in the sanctions against Russia.”

France Inter (FR) /

The Balkans must be stabilised now

The European Union must rise to the challenge in the contest with Moscow for influence in the Balkans, urges Pierre Haski in his column on France Inter radio:

“Emmanuel Macron last month proposed a European political community to offer the Balkan countries, as well as Ukraine and its neighbours, a host structure within which they can wait until the EU's door is opened to them at a later point in time. The proposal met with considerable reserve, but this idea or others will be essential to stabilise this region that has been neglected for too long.”