Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is paying a three-day visit to Ankara and Moscow starting today, accompanied by members of his cabinet and Serbian businessmen. The goal of the visit is to further strengthen Serbia’s political and economic ties with Russia and Turkey.
This the first time that the Serbian Head of State is making such a diplomatic and political move – visiting Ankara first and then Moscow. Serbian media considers this a new development in the interactions within the newly created triangle of Serbia-Russia-Turkey. It seems the closest friend of Serbia, Russian President Putin, is the intermediator in helping establish closer links between Belgrade and Ankara.
These visits come at a crucial moment for the Western Balkan region. The EU has not yet decided to open its doors for all Balkan members, increasing pressure for reforms to be made and creating the image that it is still too early for the West to accept conflictual Balkan countries. On the other hand, Russia, Turkey and China continue to extend their influence in the region through investments, but also through political support, as in the case of Russia with Serbia.
It looks like Serbia is trying to challenge the EU and the United States, establishing a new geopolitical equilibrium in the region. Belgrade is expected to join the EU, amidst the shift of Serbia from East to West.
According to analysts, Vucic’s visits to Ankara and Moscow indicate he is playing double cards-on one hand, preserving his everlasting relations with Russia and establishing new ones with Turkey, because of geostrategic and national security reasons. On the other hand, the move also presents a hard blow to the EU and US, as long as they are not sure whether to embrace the Western Balkans or not.
It remains to be seen if the Serbian President’s visit to both countries is merely courtesy or there will be important agreements signed contrary to Western interests. Serbia still seems undecided which side to take and the pressure on the EU is increasing. The EU will probably lose the Western Balkans, unless they open doors for their integration.
According to the Albanian media point of view, Vucic’s visit is putting a pressure on Kosovo as well. This is the moment when Belgrade is expecting a new agreement with Pristina. Maybe Vucic is asking for Russian, Turkish support to help them with their plan to divide Kosovo. Albanian analysts think that now even relations between Albania-Kosovo and Turkey need to be re-positioned. As Ankara gets closer to Belgrade and Moscow, the further away it goes from Tirana and Pristina.