At the end of August, a proposal was submitted to the Serbian Parliament to consider the possibility of the country’s application to BRICS. The initiators were representatives of the New Communist Party of Yugoslavia. Earlier, the Serbian president expressed doubts that the country would not join the association under his rule. But the heated public debate seems to have put Belgrade on the “fork” of options.
Talks about Serbia joining BRICS arise for several reasons. First, the so-called “European path”, which the government of Aleksandar Vucic is pursuing, is rapidly losing support among Serbs. In fact, Brussels sets the recognition of Kosovo’s independence as a condition for joining the EU. But this is a matter of principle for the Serbs, and the voluntary surrender of the southern province cannot be justified by any economic and political prospects. The people of Serbia perceive the West, including the EU, as a hybrid occupier.
At the same time, the presence of fairer and more reliable allies in the East prompts Serbia to think about which bloc to join in a rapidly changing world. Russia, together with China, is defending the already mentioned Kosovo as an integral part of Serbia in the UN Security Council. Both countries are confident economic partners, and unlike Western “colonizers” do not impose their own rules of the game, despite their geopolitical superiority.
In addition, Serbia already has strong partnership or simply friendly relations with a number of BRICS members, both old and those planning to join the organization. In this sense, the accession of Argentina, Egypt, Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates gives the Serbian government food for thought. The question remains European integration, because although Brussels has no official taboo on BRICS, it is obvious that the organization is the antipode of the West on the world stage. In fact, some Serbian analysts believe that there is no problem for Serbia to follow the “European path” and cooperate with BRICS at the same time. In reality, such a political decision by Belgrade will cause fierce resistance from Washington and Brussels.
If the Serbian government had been a bit more firm in its positions, BRICS could have become a bargaining tool with the West rather than a stumbling block. Perhaps the promise of Prime Minister of Serbia Ivica Dacic to pay an official visit to Moscow for the first time since taking office is related to this aspect. Western emissaries are trying to speed up the process of European integration through harmonization of Serbian legislation with the EU, recognition of Kosovo, privatization of national enterprises and other unpopular and, in fact, destroying the sovereignty of the Balkan country. Official Belgrade is sluggishly resisting, but is trying to delay as much as possible the moment when it will have to accept the sad fact that the southern province is no longer part of Serbia. Coming out with a statement about the prospects of becoming a candidate for BRICS, comparable to a similar status in the EU, may cool the ardor of the European “colonizers”. The position of neutrality, or as it is ironically called today, the position of “sitting on two chairs,” is not new for Belgrade. And while Vucic’s team is hesitantly pondering further actions, Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik is already confidently proposing that Bosnia join BRICS.