With friends like Russia, who needs enemies?

A shiny new ambulance parked in Belgrade, Serbia, one of dozens donated to Serbia by the EU as part of the billions of euros invested, given and donated to the country by the EU over the last few years.

[Update 20th Nov: As expected, the “gift” from Russia turns out to be nothing if the sort. It is reported today that Serbia will not get a penny before 2010, and what they do get is heavily laden with “conditions” that the Serbia side does not like. In addition the “the loan itself should be paid back within ten years, with a grace period of a “year or two”. See B92 “Russian loan not before 2010“]

As a European foreigner in Serbia I continue to be amazed at the persistence of the myth that Russia is Serbia’s “friend”; that they are reliable Slavic brothers allied with Serbs against the US and EU oppressors. Serbia even has a pro-Russian party, the only such party outside of the former Soviet Union.

This week as President Medvedev of Russia visited Belgrade, much local airtime and printer ink was devoted to praising Russia’s “billion Euro loan to Serbia”, which was presented as an act of kindness and generosity from the Russians, and touted by Nationalists as evidence of their goodwill (and Serbia’s importance to Russia).

It is in reality a deeply cynical move from a resurgent Russia attempting to re-establish its “sphere of influence” and more importantly, snap up bargains from cash starved Serbia.

The loan was initially supposed to be a billion euros. Then it was downgraded to a billion US dollars. Finally it was downgraded to “to be determined” (a billion Dinars? A billion pesos?). All we know is that the 200 million will be given to the Serbian government and the rest will be used to hire Russian companies to carry out projects in Serbia. It is a sort of stimulus package for Russian companies disguised as “kindness” to Serbia.

In addition to arranging the (self-)stimulus package, the Russians were consolidating their hold on their new bargain acquisitions from Serbia’s privatisation process. NIS (state oil company) was “sold” to them for a bargain price last year. In fact it was practically given to them. NIS was valued at €2.2 billion and sold to Russia’s Gazprom for €1.2 billion. Now we can see where the Russians gor the 1 billion for their “loan”!

The Russian loan is also designed to guarantee that they will have the first grab at the upcoming sell-offs of EPS (the state electrical company) and maybe even Telecom Serbia (state Telecom monopoly).

Its a great racket. You lend money in exchange for acquiring state assets that are worth much more than the loans. You also get to have your loan reinvested back into your own companies, and you get political influence in the country too. And do they hate you for this exploitation and thievery? Hell no! Remember Russians and Serbs are Slavic brothers and sisters. The Serbs are grateful for their fiscal and political rape at the hands of the Russians. After all, the Russians support Serbia on Kosovo and are allied against the real enemy: The decadent US and EU.

Meanwhile,  here is some news you will barely hear about in the Serbian media: EU to donate billion euros to Serbia.

The European Union would donate a total of one billion euros (1.5 billion U.S. dollars) to Serbia over the next five years, the EU representative in Serbia said on Wednesday.

The donation will be earmarked for various sectors, ranging from agriculture, infrastructure and energy to the reform of the state administration.

Yes, a BILLION euros donated. It is not a loan. There are no “conditions”. There is no looting of Serbian state assets and no insistence on pipeline deals.  The EU has quietly pouring effort and money into Serbia for a decade, yet most of the the people Serbia still think it is the Russians who are their friends and the EU who exploit them!

History and realism dictate that the Russian do not and have never given a damn about Serbs and Serbia. When you look beyond the rhetoric and you see who is really trying to help this country, we see the overwhelming bulk of aid and help coming from the EU. Other European countries like Norway also donates tens of millions of Euros to Serbia every year. Germany last week committed to giving Serbia €120 million in aid.   Even Japan (€200 million) and America (€400 million) have donated vast sums to Serbia since 2001.

People here have no idea of the extent of foreign, in particular EU,  sponsored investment and effort in Serbia. And the leader of the EU are not stupid. They cannot accept Serbia trying to play the Yugoslav game of milking the West and Russians simultaneously. Neither will the Russians.

There will be a reckoning when Serbia is forced to choose sides. That time is closer than the government of Serbia expects. No one is fooled by their posturing, least of all the EU.

An old saying in Serbia goes “God is high above, and Russia is far away” (“Bog visoko, a Rusija daleko”). Russia is further away than ever, and the EU is next door. Does Serbia really want to be an isolated Russian whore-state surrounded on all sides by EU states? Do the people of Serbia really want to voluntarily rejoin a new Eastern Bloc? I don’t think so.

The government is playing a silly and dangerous game and it is allowed to do so because ignorance of reality leads the people to believe the Russians are Serbia’s friends. They are not. As the old saying goes, “Watch what people do, not what they say”. Russia says “We are friends” then exploits cash starved Serbia with ludicrously exploitative loan conditions and deals. They say “We support you on Kosovo” then they undermine Serbia by recognising South Ossetia and Abkhazia. They say “We are your Slavic brothers” but supplied arms to Croatia and Bosnia throughout the 90’s.

With friends like Russia…

41 Comments With friends like Russia, who needs enemies?

  1. bajimaster

    Hm….
    Interesting post, indeed. An eye opener. For me, as a Serb, I remember humanitarian aid we got from our western friends during spring of ’99. Then, friends doesn’t butcher each other. Then, Sartid was sold for stunning 6 millions euros! Then, Serbia’s properties on Kosovo is secure hands. It is guarded by 10 000 solders, and some of them are passed (like power plants) to very capable management.

    Talking ’bout 90’s. I wonder who sell american weapons to Croats and Muslims? Russians? Or who bombed Serbs? Again Russians? And sanctions? It was good for economy, isn’t they?

    With friends as USA and EU, we don’t need enemies.

    I just took look on USAID site. Guess what? Do you see something missing on map of Serbia? No. Who is blind?

    Reply
    1. jd

      Regarding the bombing you can read on this blog that I am as outraged as any about the brutality and injustice of it. But it was 10 years ago! Lets move on.

      As for Kosovo, it comes with 1.5 million Albanians. Are you really ready to live in a country where 21% of the population are Albanian? Every Serb I have asked this questions has said “No”. Or are you one of those people that wants Kosovo, but with the Albanians gone?

      As for arms deals, Russian and Ukrainian arms dealers like Victor Bout and Leonid Minin provided Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovars with Russian weapons with the complicity of the West AND Russia.

      In the Mafia and arms dealing world there are no ethnic brothers or national allegiances. Where do you think the Bosnian Serbs got their oil during the embargo? Serbia sure, but also Albania. Yes, money talks.

      As for the US Aid map, you must know hat the US has recognized Kosovo as a separate country. It would be absurd for them to have it within Serbia on the map. We all know that the US is deeply biased and unfair to Serbia, but even they give more to Serbia than the Russians! I think that settles the argument for me.

      Reply
  2. Alex

    Yes I can see your point. How can Russia be “friend” of Serbia? And I know we got much help from EU. Yes we did. But EU isn’t cheap. No sir. Public debt of Serbia is 21.7billion eur, and our biggest creditors are EU and European organizations. They did use our specific need for money, and they offered us not so cheap credits. And, they put in few ambulance vehicles just to make it right, and that people can see their caring side. After all, it’s not like they bombed us for 78 days and killing innocent people. No sir. They almost destroyed us. But giving a few ambulance vehicles will make it all right? Wow, now I can see all the glory of EU democracy while we crawl in the debt bondage…

    Reply
    1. jd

      Hang on a second Alex, you are confusing aid with loans. The Serbian government asks for loans and when it gets them, it sometimes has to make tough cuts and changes. Most recently it was the IMF that loaned Serbia money and they insisted on severe fiscal rectitude in return.

      This has nothing to do with the EU which does not lend money to Serbia but rather gives it billions.

      Check out this PDF form the bank of Serbia:

      http://www.nbs.yu/export/internet/english/80/80_2/foreign_debt_creditors_eur.pdf

      it shows Serbia’s debt up until August 2009 just before the IMF and new Russian loans took effect.

      You can see that Serbia owes 4.49 billion to international financial institutions (e.g. IMF) of which a mere 273.3 million is owed to European Union.

      Serbia owes 2.285 billion to Governments. Most of that was owed to the Paris Club, which despite its name is made up of 19 rich countries including Russia. The debt was over 4 billion but 66% of it was written off by the club in 2001. Now it will owe an additional billion to Russia directly.

      Serbia owes 812 million to the London Club, a group of private investors. It too cut 62% of the debt it was owed by Serbia in 2004.

      It owes a whopping 12 billion to “Other creditors” .

      So we can see that far from pushing evil credit onto Serbia, the EU has loaned very little money to Serbia. It has instead given (donated) billions to Serbia. It was not the EU that bombed Serbia 10 years ago, it was NATO – mostly Americans. I am not saying that the bombing was justified or that the NATO members of the EU are not responsible for what they did, but compared to Russia the EU, in the last 10 years, has been extremely generous, especially compared with Russia.

      Yes, Serbia should be compensated for the bombing, but that is another matter and another discussion.

      Reply
  3. Name

    After all the humiliation and kicking around Serbia has gotten from the West, I’d say thanks, but NO THANKS to any of their “help”. I’d rather take Russian racket than the US help. JMHO

    Reply
  4. Alex

    @jd, I can agree with you in few things. Yes, I know about that National bank report, and I studied it closely. In some way it’s a part of my job. But there are a few other things, I need to mention. First of all, all ex-communist countries (including Serbia) had a very rough period of transition from state controlled economy to a free-market economy. And for most of these countries, it’s a devastating process. And like Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Serbia needed monetary help. And EU really did help, and that should be their compensation for the bombing. But the help ends there. Much of our debt comes from credits, that we received like let’s say “bribe” , so that we be obedient servant and to forget some things. Let’s face it, in today’s world the best way to control someone is with money.

    The same thing Russia does now. Why now you may ask? Because now they can, now the Russia has “dinero” too. Is it positive? No. Credit is never good, and can lead to manipulation. I blame serbian politicians for that, for being lazy and irresponsible. Credits should be used ONLY for infrastructure investments but we all know that’s not going to happen.

    And for the ’99, yes it was 10 years ago. Who cares right? I care, anyone who lost someone, a family or a friend, cares. The sound of air-attack siren warning and the explosion 500m from your home is hard to forget. BTW 70% of all air-strike during ’99 bombing was conducted by the European countries part of nato, not the usa. Did you hear about the notes written on bombs? Wishing the good health and happy holidays to Serbs? what should we say thank you for that?

    Reply
  5. Danilo

    Great article.

    It’s amazing how much Serbs allow historical sentimentality to inform their opinions on current affairs.

    Reply
  6. jd

    @Alex

    I am not asking you to forget about the bombing, I am just pointing out that the situation 10 years ago was very different than it is today.

    Today, in 2009, I honestly believe that allowing yourselves to become a Russian owned proxy is madness, especially since Serbia is on the verge of joining the EU as a full equal member.

    People seem to have forgotten what it was like to live under Russian domination. If Serbs had lived the communist years like East Germans this idea would be unthinkable. Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Bulgarians and Romanians would rather die than return to Russian domination.

    Serbs, however, due to anger over injustices in the past, are walking into the trap.

    Russia is a spent power. We will see 10 years of aggression and expansion as it claws back its buffer zone (ex-Soviet union) then as its population collapses and its natural resources decline, it will implode again, like 1989.

    Reply
  7. your friendly neighbhor

    Of course you get bombed back when you attack other people. It should be the natural order of things, although I understand your arrogant surprise and the expectation to go about your normal Belgrade spring life just like you did during previous wars that you started.

    Great article, btw.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Red Star stadium “Marakana” to become - “Gazprom Arena”? | Belgraded blog

  9. STEFAN

    We dont need no Western help,thank you very much.
    They bombing us with depleted uranium,and then they are giving the money for Serbian hospitals to cure children who got cancer from their bombs.
    With such unmerciful and strong enemies like USA and EU, we need Russians as a friends more then ever.
    And we dont care about Russian bilion loan.
    That money will wanish in the pockets of our politicians like always does.
    For Serbian people more important thing is Russian decision to build their military base in Niš.

    @your friendly neighbhor
    Kad su nas bombardovali,i vi ste dobili svoju porciju osiromašenog uranijuma.
    I još ste aplaudirali NATOu zbog toga.

    STRATFOR on Russian base in Serbia:

    STRATFOR Global intelligence

    Serbia: Russia’s Eyes on the Balkans

    SERBIAN INTERIOR MINISTER IVICA DACIC and Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu signed a deal on Wednesday to set up by 2012 a humanitarian center for emergencies in Nis, a city in southeastern Serbia. At a press conference, the ministers said the center would be a regional hub for emergency relief in southeastern Europe, and that it will include a mine-clearance center.

    More… http://www.stratfor.com/geopolitical_diary/20091021_10_21_09

    Reply
  10. jd

    @Stefan So the logic is that the West (in the form of NATO) harmed you a decade ago, so you will sell yourself into Russian slavery today?

    We all know the Russians want a presence ion Serbia so they can project influence into the Balkans but the question is “Does that do any good to the people of Serbia?”

    The short answer is “No”.

    You would end up a Russian vassal state surrounded on every side by NATO and EU countries all enjoying free trade, free travel and mutual security protection.

    You would be hooking yourself up to a declining power. Russia, despite its recent resurgence, is waning. Its population is collapsing. It is rapidly using up its only real strength – energy reserves – just as its biggest customer (the EU) is rapidly shrinking its dependence on Russian energy.

    Stop dwelling on the past and think of the future. The only real justice Serbia will get over the bombing and Kosovo will be achieved from within the EU as a member state with full powers.

    Reply
  11. Nikola

    1815 – Russian negotiates with Turkey and helps Serbia become self-governing territory

    1876-1878 – Thousands of Russians are coming to support Serbia in wars against Turkey (Dostoyevski and Tolstoy wrote about this)

    1878 – Russia helps Serbia become independent in Berlin Congress

    1914 – Austria declares war on Serbia, the next day Russia declares war on Austria

    1944 – Russian soliders liberate Serbia

    1999 – Russia opposes bombing

    2008 – Russia do not recognize Kosovo

    So, history proved that Serbia only has one friend and thats RUSSIA. We are not and can not be friends with those that bombed us with depleted uranium!

    Russia is in our heart and we are in their heart, Medvedev and Putin will not forget about us!

    Reply
  12. limbic

    1815 – Russian negotiates with Turkey and helps Serbia become self-governing territory. [Czarist Russia, nearly 200 years ago]

    1876-1878 – Thousands of Russians are coming to support Serbia in wars against Turkey (Dostoyevski and Tolstoy wrote about this) [Czarist Russia, over 130 years ago]

    1878 – Russia helps Serbia become independent in Berlin Congress [Czarist, Russia, over 130 years ago].

    1914 – Austria declares war on Serbia, the next day Russia declares war on Austria. [95 years ago. So did France, Belgium and Britain]

    1944 – Russian soliders liberate Serbia [65 years ago]

    1945 to 1989 – Russia undermining Yugoslavia throughout the cold war.

    1999 – Russia opposes bombing [10 years ago. So did masses of Europeans and Americans].

    2008 – Russia do not recognize Kosovo [Neither did 130 other countries].

    2008 – Russia undermines Serbia by recognizing the unilateral independence of breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia .

    2009 – Russia repeats the large scale theft of state assets belonging to the Serbian people in 1999 by forcing credit desperate Serbia to give it massive state companies for half-price. Serbian people thank the overlords for the theft……

    Reply
  13. Zoran

    Well said Nikola. Russia has generally stood by our side in difficult situations so we have a deep connection with them. The West on the other hand has burnt all bridges. Remember we are getting South Stream and that is giving us energy security and €500 million a year in transit fees.

    Reply
  14. Filip

    Nobody honestly cares about Serbia except Macedonia… They separated from YU – because of hard times and the referendum question was “Would you like Macedonia to be an independent country with possibility to join and participate in Yugoslav union?”

    They consider Kosovo as a country ONLY because of pressures from outside and because of pressures from blackmailing albanian minority. They celebrate successes of Serbia as their own (especially sports events – Serbian reporter was informed that in 2002 when Yugoslavia won world basketball gold Skopje celebrated as if Macedonia won).

    About the Russians… Where are they on Kosovo, in KFOR? They could’ve helped much more about many more things. SERBIA IS TOO SMALL TO BE OF A LARGER INTEREST TO THEM.

    Reply
  15. Nikola

    You are just confirming what I said. Czarist Russia, USSR, and now democratic Russia…It changed itself, but never changed its feelings of love towards Serbia. And its good that you counted the years since it helped us (over 200 years ago, over 130 years ago, over 65 years ago, over 10 years ago). If a country helpes us over more then two decades, if it is ALWAYS with us, if its president Putin came to visit Serbia TWICE as president, if Medvedev came THREE times(once as president)…What does that tell you?

    Yes, there were other countries that helped Serbia from time to time, but ONLY ONE country was always on our side and thats Russia.

    You say that “masses of Europeans and Americans opposed the bombing”…Yes, but their democraticly elected governments supported it, while Russia opposed it as a country and its people as well.

    Russia is our one and only friend, I ask all brothers and sisters Serbs to remember that, you know its true, its in our blood that we have our beloved mother Russia that is always there for us…It was there for our great-great-great-grandfathers and it is there for us. Without Russia we are doomed and we will lose Kosovo(officially).

    Dont trust those tho bombed us… Its Bush and Obama trying to take Kosovo from us, not Medvedev and Putin!!!

    Reply
  16. jd

    @Nikola

    Even if Russia were a true friend of the Serbs (which I do not believe), it is a spent power. Within 20 years it will be as weak as it was in the 90s when it was able to do nothing to help you as the US and NATO illegally and immorally bombed this country.

    It has set itself up as the energy dealer to the European energy junkie, but within 20 years that dependency will be over and Russia’s population collapse will have extinguished its recent attempts to reassert power.

    Serbia’s rightful place (on my opinion) is as the leader of the Balkans within the EU.

    You (Serbs) have a choice:

    1. Align yourself with an unstable declining power 1000Km away that is rapidly returning to Stalinism or;
    2. Join the rising power of the EU that will soon surround you on all sides, represents the vat majority of your trade partnerships and where you will have fully equal power with every other member state.

    I know what you personally want and I respect that, I just hope that you are a minority in Serbia because I want Serbia in the EU where I think its future is vastly better.

    Reply
  17. Lavrenty Beria

    Well well, Mr. Russia-hater. Of course, the shiny new ambulance is going to fully make up for the NATO bombings. As well as for ripping Kosovo from Serbia without even pretending to abide by international norms. Never mind the trampling of Serbia’s national sovereignty committed by EU and the US (is this the full description of NATO?). It is oh so shiny! And so new! So now, you are saying, EU welcomes Serbia. And the shiny new ambulance is just another proof of it. As opposed to Russia’s “friendship”, you say. Sure, who needs to remember that Russia fought for Serbia’s independence from Turkey – that was too long ago, right? And who cares who fought to defend Belgrade from German onslaught in 1914 (thankfully, the Serbian people remember – last Friday, the monument to Russian soldiers who died here was sanctified by the Russian and Serbian top clergy in the presence of high Serbian officials). And, of course, nobody should ever care about the liberation of Belgrade by the Soviet Army in 1944 – they were just agents of the Evil Empire bent on enslaving Yugoslavia, right? So certainly no one should believe those Russkies offering a billion-dollar loan to Serbia, ‘cos they are only out to get it. Of course. White is black and 2 x 2 is 5 (or may be 6, if the EU says so), we all know that. Thanks for reminding us about it. Oh, you are such an eye-opener to the gullible Serbs who just do not know what is best for them! Hey, why don’t you take a ride in the shiny new ambulance?
    P.S. And BTW – about Russia being a spent power. Yes, Russia has its share of problems. Serious problems. However, you are not the first one to write her off. It’s been labeled a spent power many times before. You would be well advised to hold off on predictions of gloom and doom for Russia. If you haven’t noticed, it is a remarkably resilient power, even if it does not seem to be the case at the moment. So take your time and read a couple of history textbooks, smartypants.

    Reply
  18. Lavrenty Beria

    P.P.S. To jd – is there a reason why you and limbic share the same face (or is it avatar – but still)? Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, perhaps? On second thought, no – there’s not a whole lot of difference…

    Reply
  19. jd

    @Lavrenty JD = Limbic. When I installed the vBulletin / WordPress bridge it did not allow me to have an admin account of the same username, so I have to use JD for the weblog. Its me though, good old Limbic!

    Reply
    1. jd

      Ratko there are Bosnians and Croatians that have the same feelings about you (Serbs) as you have about the EU and US. It is time to leave the past behind.

      Reply
  20. Michael

    Dear JD,

    I was very upset reading your articles and your comments. It looks like that you are very stubborn person trying to convince my Serbian countrymen that ‘bad’ is actually ‘good’ for them. The only plausible option is that you are very mean person – otherwise I would think that you are not very smart.

    We, Serbians are now undet the state of occupation – similar to the period of Nedic government. We are aware of that, we are ashamed, but we wait for the better time to come. It is simply not fair from you to play your game convincing us how nice it is now. Yes, we like Russians. We like them very, very much. We like their language, their religion, their life attitude, their feelings, their poetry, their books, their movies, their heroes. I get drunk hearing Russian songs. I never get drunk hearing your songs.

    What upset me even more is that we liked you too once upon the time. Now I see it was much better to like Germans than your liberating nations. With Germans, it is much easier. They are honest people and if they want to make some pain to you they will call it with the proper name. If Germans do not like you, they will never try to act as your friend.

    I would recommend you to move to Pristina to join your friends over there. With your opinion, you would have a great life among your real friends.

    Reply
  21. NS

    I’d like to answer to the post and several comments in this:

    “As a European foreigner in Serbia I continue to be amazed at the persistence of the myth that Russia is Serbia’s “friend”; that they are reliable Slavic brothers allied with Serbs against the US and EU oppressors.”

    I hope I will be able to explain some of the reasons for this, perhaps more deeply than other commenters.

    “Serbia even has a pro-Russian party, the only such party outside of the former Soviet Union.”

    Not sure who you mean: the SRS and DSS who are meraly pro-Russian, or the newly formed “My Russia” that calls for Serbia to fully enter the
    Russian Federation? 🙂

    “The loan was initially supposed to be a billion euros. Then it was downgraded to a billion US dollars. Finally it was downgraded to “to be determined” (a billion Dinars? A billion pesos?).”

    This is not uncommon with West too. For example, before Milosevic was toppled there were promises of huge amounts of aid to come to Serbia, of which little materialized.

    “All we know is that the 200 million will be given to the Serbian government and the rest will be used to hire Russian companies to carry out projects in Serbia. It is a sort of stimulus package for Russian
    companies disguised as “kindness” to Serbia.”

    This kind of thing is also commonly done by Western countries. For example, I recall some loans for bridge building with conditions that excluded any but Western companies from building them. You can find similar examples around the world in Chomsky’s “What Uncle Sam Really
    Wants”.

    “NIS was valued at €2.2 billion and sold to Russia’s Gazprom for €1.2 billion. Now we can see where the Russians gor the 1 billion for their “loan”!”

    This isn’t true at all. NIS wasn’t sold whole, but only 51% of NIS was sold, and so Gazprom has control over NIS, but only half of its income. So, it was bought at the fair price (if these numbers are correct, because there are various NIS value estimates floating around).

    This could be compared with the Serbia’s biggest exporter (exports more than half billion € per year), SARTID a.k.a. US Steel Serbia, bought by US Steel for 23 million €.

    “The European Union would donate a total of one billion euros (1.5 billion U.S. dollars) to Serbia over the next five years, the EU representative in Serbia said on Wednesday.”

    This is nice, but it pales in comparison to everything the EU has destroyed in Serbia. Damages from NATO bombing alone are some 30 billion €, and that is not counting economic damages from EU sanctions before that, UN sanctions (brought to you by Western countries) before that, damages done to Serbs abroad, entire breakup of Yugoslavia sponsored by the EU, and that’s just the last two decades.

    If you would have two neigbhors, one who torches down your house and then gives you a tent to sleep in, and another who does mostly nothing to you, who would you prefer?

    “Regarding the bombing you can read on this blog that I am as outraged as any about the brutality and injustice of it. But it was 10 years ago! Lets move on.”

    We can’t move on. It’s not just that NATO bombed us, it’s that it
    continues with the same politics as it had when it bombed us. For
    example, had our army entered Kosovo in order to stop March 2004
    pogroms, NATO would bomb us. Had our army appropriately respond to Albanian terrorists in Presevo-Bujanovac-Medvedja region, NATO would bomb us. So, we can’t move on.

    Sure, if NATO would admit that the bombing was a bad idea, apologize for it, fix everything it destroyed, promised to never do it again, and give us means to ensure that the promise will be respected, then maybe we could do move on. I don’t see it happening.

    “As for Kosovo, it comes with 1.5 million Albanians. Are you really
    ready to live in a country where 21% of the population are Albanian?
    Every Serb I have asked this questions has said “No”. Or are you one of those people that wants Kosovo, but with the Albanians gone?”

    I hear this often, but it is a complete non-argument. Suppose that
    tomorrow Serbia recognizes Kosovo as a fully independent country. What will stop the Albanians from continuing to spread from Kosovo into Serbia, especially when both countries are in the EU? If nothing
    changes, 21% of the population of Serbia will eventually be Albanian,
    one way or another.

    “It’s amazing how much Serbs allow historical sentimentality to inform
    their opinions on current affairs.”

    This is also commonly heard, but I really don’t see the point. How are
    you going to predict future events without having knowledge of past
    events? People who are asking others to forget history are the ones who would like to reshape future to their liking.

    “I am not asking you to forget about the bombing, I am just pointing out that the situation 10 years ago was very different than it is today.”

    Today NATO is supporting Albanian terrorists to a much greater extent
    than during the bombing. We see this not only in Serbia but also in
    Macedonia.

    “People seem to have forgotten what it was like to live under Russian
    domination. If Serbs had lived the communist years like East Germans
    this idea would be unthinkable. Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Bulgarians and
    Romanians would rather die than return to Russian domination.”

    Note however that Serbia was never under Russian domination like these countries were. We seem to be far enought from Russia to escape any direct physical domination, yet close enough to receive some benefit from Russia. Also, do Kosovo Serbs live better or worse under NATO domination than eastern Europeans under Russian domination?

    “Russia is a spent power. We will see 10 years of aggression and
    expansion as it claws back its buffer zone (ex-Soviet union) then as its
    population collapses and its natural resources decline, it will implode
    again, like 1989.”

    Since we won’t be entering the EU in 10 years anyway, we can just wait and see.

    “Russia, despite its recent resurgence, is waning. Its population is
    collapsing. It is rapidly using up its only real strength – energy
    reserves – just as its biggest customer (the EU) is rapidly shrinking
    its dependence on Russian energy.”

    You repeat this several times, but I don’t see it as true. I see that
    Western economies are declining and the Asian economies are rising.
    Russia seems to be well-placed to gain advantage of this.

    “2. Join the rising power of the EU that will soon surround you on all
    sides, represents the vat majority of your trade partnerships and where you will have fully equal power with every other member state.”

    I don’t think Serbia will have equal power in the EU. All the major international agreements that Serbia had with EU countries are constantly being disrespected by them, always to Serbian detriment. I don’t see why would things be any different inside of the EU.

    Also, this “join the rising power of the EU” strikes me as sounding a bit… evil.

    Reply
  22. Mилан

    “Bosnians” are Serbs Croats and muslims who live in Bosnia.
    Croats was murder somewhere about million Serbs during WWII, and persecute more that 500 000 during 1991-1995.
    We have the same feelings about them (muslims & Croats) as we have about the EU and US.
    So, Russians are bad? Do you seriously thinking that Russia is “spent” power? What about Russian science, military power, human reserves, gold reserves, great number of educated people etc?
    You don’t know about this issue, or just you don’t want to talk?

    Reply
  23. Konstantin

    And backing to the article written by that pro-EU boy, I would say that I will agree with many comments below the story…. and if you noticed that that journalist hurry to replay to all comments and to shut the mouth of readers.

    For example:

    One person is asking:

    Talking ’bout 90’s. I wonder who sell american weapons to Croats and Muslims? Russians? Or who bombed Serbs? Again Russians? And sanctions? It was good for economy, isn’t they?

    And the journalist very quick with very incorrect and stupid answer:

    But it was 10 years ago! Lets move on.

    What a shit move on? People died and suffer and mostly because of USA and NATO Serbia in that kind of shitty situation and that man just saying let’s move on!!!!! How many Russian volunteers died in that war? How much costs the life of one Russian soldier or Serbian? Can he calculate? One ambulance car? May be two and half?

    Reply
    1. jd

      Firstly, I am not a journalist Konstantin.

      Secondly I am on record deploring the bombing and what happened (and is happening) in Kosovo.

      Where were your “fuck your mother” comments when I posted these articles on this blog:

      Serbia’s triumph over EU double standards
      http://www.belgradefvc.com/serbias-triumph-over-eu-double-standards

      A great week for plucky Serbia
      http://www.belgradefvc.com/a-great-week-for-plucky-serbia

      Territorial integrity
      http://www.belgradefvc.com/territorial-integrity

      EU and Kosovo: The Honeymoon is Over?
      http://www.belgradefvc.com/eu-and-kosovo-the-honeymoon-is-over

      Rewarding terrorism, deception in Kosovo
      http://www.belgradefvc.com/rewarding-terrorism-deception-in-kosovo

      Hague won’t investigate war crimes against Serbs…
      http://www.belgradefvc.com/hague-wont-investigate-war-crimes-against-serbs

      Letter to the Editor of The Daily Star (Bangladesh)
      http://www.belgradefvc.com/letter-to-the-editor-of-the-daily-star-bangladesh

      And that is just a sample from this one blog. There are dozens more published in other places where I defend Serbs and Serbia against slander and lies.

      When have you ever spoken up for anything except yourself and your own country?

      Where are you publishing articles in defence of Serbia, or even better, another country you have no direct links with but you love?

      Let us compare Konstantin. Post links to your articles and tell me what you do for Serbia. Lets see who has done more for your beloved country: an Irishman, or you, the great Serbian patriot.

      Reply
  24. Konstantin

    Firstly I am not Serb, I am Russian dear JD Irishman!
    I am sorry that I have to say it, but you are well paid journalist or some kind of person working for propaganda. Brorthership between Serbs and Russians it is untouchable for foreigners!! Get your hands off our Holy Friendship! We are not inside of your Belfast problems, right?
    You asking me why I did not post anything in defending Serbs and Serbia, so you can visit my channel, please be my guest:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/russiansarecoming

    Reply
  25. Милан again

    This is list of Serbs that fight for Russian Empire:
    In the service of Peter the Great:

    -Sava Lukich Vladislavich Raguzinsky (1664-1738, Diplomatist)

    In the service of Imperial Russia, circa 18th Century:

    -Georgije Bogdanov, Major General
    -Ivan Božić-Srbin, Brigadier General
    -Stefan Vitković, Brigadier General
    -Maksim Zorić, Lieutenant General
    -Simeon Zorić Count and Major General
    -Teodor Janković, Brigadier General
    -Konstantin Janković, Brigadier General
    -Konstantin Nikolajević Juzbasa Brigadier General
    -Konstantin Lalos, Major general
    -Mihail Andrejević Miloradović, General, 1771-1821
    -Petar Miloradović, Major General
    -David Neranšić, Major General
    -Simeon Piščević, Major General
    -Rodion Stefanović Plemenac, Brigadier General
    -Baron Georgije Petrović Podgoričanin, Major General
    -Ivan Petrović Podgoričanin, Lieutenant General
    -Aleksej Preradović, Brigadier General
    -Georgije Preradović, Brigadier General-
    -Ivan Rodionović Preradović, Major General
    -Rajko Rodion Preradović, Lieutenant General
    -Mihajlo Ivana Stojanov, Major General
    -Antonije Stratimirović, Brigadier General
    -Petar Tekelija, General-in-Chief, achieved the highest rank among the Serbs who served in the Imperial Russian Army
    -Georgije Ivanović Horvat, Brigadier General
    -Ivan Dimitrijević Horvat, Major General
    -Ivan Sanojlović Horvat, Lieutenant General
    -Josif Horvat, Lieutenant General
    -Nikolaj Corba Major General
    -Fedor Arsenijev Corba, Lieutenant General
    -Fedor Černojević, Major General
    -Georgije Šević, Lieutenant General
    -Ivan Đorđević Šević, Lieutenant General
    -Ivan Sterić, Lieutenant General
    -Serdar Vukotić, General, 1757-61
    -Matija Zmajević, Admiral of the Baltic fleet
    In the service of Tsar Alexander I in the Patriotic War of 1812:
    -Nikolaj Ivanovich DePreradovich (1767-1843),
    -Mikhail Andreyevich Miloradovich (1771-1825)
    -Georgi Emmanuel
    -Count Ilya Ducca or Ilya Duka (1768-1836)
    -Ivan Shevich

    In the service of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia during the Russo-Turkish War (1828-1829):
    -Jovan Riznić (1793-1861)

    In the service of Tsar Nicholas II during the Russian Revolution of 1917:

    -Andrei Stepanovich Bakich (1878-1922)
    -Stevan Hadžić
    -Mihailo Živković (1856-1930)
    -Milan Lukuc

    Serbs consider Russia for a motherland not just a friendly country…
    And to add to your claim that Russia is a power in decline, it is a nonsense. A classical propaganda spread in declining powers such as Great Britannia.

    Reply
  26. Милан again

    About EU membership… Heh… 75% lows in EU is created by the bureaucrats in Brussels, but France, Italy and Germany are mostly govern by a globalist governing “elites” that are more or less in the service of the USA. As for Serbia joining the EU, I’m totally against it. First, it would be very bad for Serbian economy. We will receive quotas for our production, and we will be forced to import most of the merchandise from the economically more developed countries of the so-called “old Europe”… Small and middle companies will have to face the giants from the west as their concurrents, and our agriculture with a subsidized agriculture of the EU countries. We will experience collapse of the economy as Hungary did. Bulgarians and Romanians are coming to Serbia to search for seasonal jobs although those two countries are members of the EU. We could get some loans from EU, but what about the merchandise we produce? Now we have opportunity to export goods to Russia and Belarus with the custom 1%. Only in Moscow we can export whole year’s agricultural production of Serbia. Besides, I don’t think that Serbia will become the member of EU in 2015, they will continue to keep us isolated for a long time…

    Reply
    1. jd

      Every single country that joins the EU sees an immediate and enormous boost to their economic grow.

      Hungary’s problems were not caused by the EU, it was saved by the EU.

      Bulgaria and Romania both have higher per capita GDP than Serbia .

      Bulgaria in particular has benefited massively from EU membership and help. Serbia has hundreds of millions pumped into it by the EU every year too.

      The EU is also Serbia’s biggest and most important trading partner.

      From 2000-2007. Austrian, Greek, Norwegian and German companies accounted for 2/3 of all inward investments into Serbia.

      Sure, Russia is an ally and partner of sorts, but it is low down on the list of friends compared to EU countries.

      Reply
      1. Милан again

        We Serbs don’t have any benefits from entrance in the EU, but only loses in the period since 2001. By the year 2008, there has been enormous growth in Serbian foreign trade deficit. Only in 2008, the trade deficit has reached a whopping 12 billion dollars. Also, the cumulative trade deficit in the period from 2001 to 2008 was over 50 billion dollars. If you know that over 50% of Serbia’s trade is conducted with the EU, then you come to the conclusion that the Serbian foreign trade deficit increased because of one-sided orientation towards the EU (or to the EU market). So, Serbia has not achieved positive results in trade with the EU in the period since 2001. At the conclusion of such points a scandalous fact that Serbia failed, in the period since 2001, to reach the level of industrial production from 1998 (therefore, from before war situation in Kosovo and Metohija). Also, unemployment in the same period is not reduced. On the contrary, it was increased in this period when the benefits are applied in trade with the EU.

        Only in the period from 1995 to 2001, the EU and it’s Member States (according the record which leads the WTO (World Trade Organization)) introduced 14,000 new technical regulations and standards. We can only assume how much trade barriers are created by those technical regulations and standards.
        Therefore, the new protectionism is built using non-tariff barriers. But possibility for this have only the large and rich. Or, the EU, above all. Poor countries such as Serbia, remain the custom taxes, as the “last line of defense” of domestic production. However, using the phrase “free trade” and the political imposition of a damaging contracts such as the Interim Trade Agreement, and such protection shall be abolished. Which means growing foreign trade deficit in Serbia, as well as unemployment. For these reasons, industrial production may never reach the 1998 level. All this, despite the fact that since 2000 the Serbian regime was in an alleged free trade with the EU. Therefore, there can be no speech about some kind of fair trade between the EU and Serbia, but only on the exploitation of Serbia by Brussels…

        In the period 1999-2009 about 40% of employees in my municipality lost their jobs, which is entirely expected because Serbian imports huge quantities of finished products from the EU, and exports far less goods and raw materials and semi products. Lack of foreign exchange is compensated by credits. So Serbia takes the interest money to buy consumer goods from the EU. Our economy becomes more similar to the economy of the African colonies, we have become the raw material base of the developed European countries. But still we have not reached the level of Hungary, which has 200 billion euros of debt and 7 billion interest per year. The EU has not solved the problem in Hungary, but only prolong the agony of new loans. Hungary still does not produce anything, it’s economy is based on the virtual services.
        As Bulgaria and Romania, although they have a higher GDP per capita, the average income is still smaller then here. So it is difficult to convince the average citizen of Bulgaria or Romania that they live better than the average population of Serbia. There are Romanians who have moved and work permanently in Belgrade, but also in some smaller places.
        The conclusion is that most of the EU countries supported the sanctions, participated in the bombing of the Serbs in Bosnia and Croatia in 1995 and Serbia and Montenegro in 1999. Damage caused In 1999 is over 36 billion euros directly (according to the estimates pro-European parties), and a huge indirect damages as well as human victims. After that EU companies bought, below price, factories that produce goods that are not worth transported: sugar, cement, packaging, milk … And the same goods sold exclusively on the Serbian market, with huge profits, as they allow the state monopoly and allow them to destroy the weaker Serbian companies.
        Most EU investments, however relates to the purchase of ownership shares in Serbian banks, so that Serbia during this decade was flooded with a huge consumer credit interest (the biggest in Europe), while it was impossible to get a favorable development loan that would enable development of an enterprise.
        If you want we can accurately analyze all German, Austrian and Greek investments to prove that they are not useful for the development of Serbian economy.
        By the way, Norway is not a member of the EU …

        Reply
        1. jd

          Firstly, thanks for taking the time and effort to comment, especially a well thought out and well written comment like this. I appreciate the feedback and stimulated by the discussion.

          There is no doubt the bombing caused massive destruction to the economy. It is still recovering 10 years later. That said it is but one factor amongst many that has retarded growth, in particular Foreign Direct Investment. Those factors include the unsolved problem of corruption at all levels of government, the slow progress of legal reform, political instability and violence

          The foreign trade deficit is indeed directly related to the flood of credit into the economy. Serbs have, like the Western masses before them, been fooled into participating in the great consumer credit swindle. Billions of Euro of loans have been given to people and they have promptly squandered that money on consumer goods. This is global phenomenon (or was, before the crisis) and not the EU’s fault. Blame the banks and the Serbian government for not regulating the consumer credit markets.

          The loss of public sector jobs like municipality jobs is a natural consequence of post-Socialist reforms. Serbia, like other socialist countries of the region had (and still has) a massively bloated and unproductive public sector. Overpayment of the public sector is a leading driver of inflation too. Cutting these jobs is politically difficult and seems destructive, but this is a vital reform.

          You seem to be saying that Serbia is like some African country that is being strong-armed into free trade agreements that go against its interests and being forced to compete at a disadvantage against European rivals in a deregulated market.

          This ignores the fact that most of Serbia’s economic problems are indigenous (corruption, no effective legal recourse, the consequences of war and sanctions, brain drain, political instability, previous budget deficits etc etc). It also ignores that fact that protectionism is a two way sword that can damage as much as it appears to help. Finally it ignores the fact that reforms expected of all EU applicants are agreed best practices for economic management and governance.

          Objections to the EU by Eurosceptics is based on the social and political consequences of membership (the loss of sovereignty) not economic arguments. The economic benefits are so obvious that these are the reasons for staying in the union that even militant Eurosceptics cannot argue with.

          Reply
          1. Милан again

            No problem. It was strange to me that you even published my comments, because a strict censorship is present in all Serbia’s democratic media. You can not write negative comments about EU because such comments will not be published in the mainstream media. Text “Europe has no alternative,” explains a lot … If someone just tries to critically consider the entry of Serbia into the EU, he is immediately declared as obscurantist, eccentric, dreamer, extreme nationalist, in other words, completely discredited as an interlocutor.

            The bombing was the final act of breaking the economic Serbia, which terribly suffered because of economic blockade and hyperinflation before …
            Directly responsible for all this
            are countries in Western Europe and the USA.

            My mistake, I was not precise enough. I took as an example of my municipality in which 40% of employees lost their jobs in the period 1999-2009. They were employed in the real production sector. While 40% of manufacturing workers lost their jobs, only less than 5% found a job in the administration and thus we have increased public spending. This was done during a democratic and pro-European government.
            In the period from 2003 to 2009 Serbia has increased the public sector for an amazing 60% more employees in the various administrations.
            The conclusion is clear, the new democratic and pro European government performs vital reforms backward!
            Complete Serbian economy can be divided into 2 parts: import lobby (for the whole of Serbia know this term) and wretched remains that actually produce something.
            Pro-European and democratic government has helped to increase imports with a series of benefit for the importers, the most important of which is artificially strong dinar exchange rate against the euro. Unlike China, which has artificially weak yuan to the dollar exchange rate and euro and thus stimulate strong exports.
            Pro-European policy, “Serbian” government has brought to a huge and uncontrolled borrowing. The NBS report states that the total external debt Serbia in 2008. year reached about $ 30 billion or about 21 billion euros. Then it says that the average interest on the debt is 4.96%.When we have this in mind, we come to the conclusion that, based only on interest to foreign creditors in 2008. year, Serbia paid about 1 billion euros! NBS also states that, in the same period, we paid 2.3 billion euros of debt principal to the foreign creditors. So, Serbia in 2008. year paid a total of approximately 3.3 billion euro to the foreign creditors? This amount is comparable with 40% of the Serbian budget adopted in December 2008! Specifically, the Serbian state, citizens and companies, allocated a sum that is comparable to the 40% Serbian budget, not for their benefit and welfare of their families and the Serbian economy, but to pay interest and debt to the western creditors (or the maintain a economical and social system that exists in the rich members of the European Union and the U.S.). To make this situation even more absurd, the Serbian foreign debt is not reduced in the 2008. On the contrary, the Serbian foreign debt has increased!
            All this borrowing and other actions of so-called Serbian authorities are determined to support his statements in the high commissioners of the EU.
            They are supported by the party in the elections, even blackmail and direct impact on Serbian voters …
            All this time Russia supported the Serbian economy by selling gas to Serbia at the lowest price in Europe, with the exception of Belarus. In this way, the Serbian economy is subsidized with hundreds of millions of euros. Before the “democratic government” (until 2001) Serbia paid the Russian gas and oil in goods, so that the trade balance was much better for Serbia. “Our” pro-European “government has caused direct damage to all inhabitants of Serbia, or what they like to say in the the” west ” – “shot itself in the leg”…
            EU member states also understand this creature will prove disastrous for them, as you can see in these two videos:

  27. EU citizen

    Hello, I am a Greek, and I would like to comment that from the point of view of the citizens’ welfare, I am not so sure that Greece has benefited so much from being in the EU. We are a country of the Eurozone, which means that this hard currency, a benefit for countries such as Germany, with strong, industry-based economies, is in fact harmful to countries that do not have similar economies, and have poor state mechanisms to control prices such as Greece. When we adopted the Euro, the price of essential products such as foods, immediately increased by more than 100%, in some cases. However, the wages did not increase accordingly. Greek governments since the time we entered the eurozone have been pressing the people to make more “sacrifices”, that is accept less payment for more hours of work, because “the EU demands that we lower our deficit below 3%”. This (deficits below 3%) was one of the conditions that Germany imposed before accepting the creation of the Euro. Anything a country might get from the EU, is certainly not for free. At this point, we are a experiencing a slowdown of our economy, with even fewer new jobs, higher prices, and less payment than the time we joined the EU. The excuse this time? The financial “crisis”. Since the economy of the EU was linked to that of the US, the EU has to suffer the consequences when the US economy suffers, but somehow does not share the profits when the US economy thrives.

    Reply

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