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Serbia, Turkey, and Russia: alarm bells for Europe

By Alon Ben-Meir and Arbana Xharra - posted Friday, 25 May 2018

These two powers have agreed on their sphere of influence working on their agenda against their common enemy, the United States.

Ahmeti likewise said:

The so-called Shiite Semitic doctrine, Putin's pan-Slavism, and Erdogan's neo-Ottomans have devised an alliance against the EU's strategic agenda now operating in the Balkans.


Meanwhile, Serbia has managed to have it both ways, looking simultaneously toward the East and the West.

While recognition of Kosovo's independence remains the EU's key condition for Serbia's membership, Elena Guskova, from the Institute for Balkan Studies in the Russian Academy in Moscow, argues that cooperating with the Russian military is "a guarantee of safety" for many Serbs.

Vucic has sought Moscow's continued support over Kosovo and has restated his opposition to NATO membership, as he became the first foreign leader to meet Putin since the latter began his latest term as Russia's president. During his visit to the Kremlin, Vucic said:

Serbia will preserve its independence, Serbia will preserve its military neutrality and Serbia is not planning to become a member of NATO or any other military alliance.

Blerim Latifi, philosophy professor in Pristina University, told us that this 'alliance' between Turkey, Russia, and Serbia is a blow to the unity and functionality of NATO, and "any blow to NATO has negative effects on the national security of the Balkans."

Whereas Putin does not hide his animosity toward the Western alliance and tries to undercut Western interests anywhere he can, Erdogan wants to have it both ways. He wants to maintain Turkey's membership in NATO and presumably still desires to join the EU, but he is working hard to undermine the EU's and NATO's strategic interests in the Balkans by entrenching Turkey in Serbia in particular to serve his insidious scheme.


The European Union should warn Serbia that it must weigh its options carefully and undertake the necessary socio-political and economic reforms if it wants to become a member of the EU. Serbia will certainly have no chance of joining the EU if it maintains open-ended association with either Erdogan or Putin.

To be sure, Serbia must by now realize that the prospect of sustainable democracy, freedom, and economic growth rests on close association with the EU. It should distance itself from ruthless dictators who pretend to be the saviour of the Balkans when in fact they are exploiting the region's vulnerability for their long-term strategic end.

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About the Authors

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

Arbana Xharra authored a series of investigative reports on religious extremists and Turkey's Islamic agenda operating in the Balkans. She has won numerous awards for her reporting, and was a 2015 recipient of the International Women of Courage Award from the US State Department.

Other articles by these Authors

All articles by Alon Ben-Meir
All articles by Arbana Xharra

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