Former Slovenian Defense Minister Roman Jakic says Russia and Serbia are partners in destabilizing the countries of the Western Balkans.
Jakic stresses in an interview for The Geopost that care should be taken with the media that promote the pro-Russian narrative in these parts.
“Russia and Serbia are very good partners and I assume that through Serbia they destabilize not only Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo, but also other countries in the region,” Jakić stresses.
“It is interesting that in Serbia the narrative is that Russia is helping Serbia, but basically, if you look at the numbers and the changes in trade, you see that Serbia has the largest share with the EU, more than 70 percent with Germany and Italy, and that trade with Russia is lower,” he adds.
In his opinion, the international factor should be responsible for the security of citizens in Kosovo.
“I think that there are two very important international factors, KFOR and EULEX, which should also take care of the security of the people, and that these growing tensions should be solved through dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia,” he claims.
In this interview, Jakic also spoke about Slovenia’s stance against Russian military aggression in Ukraine, as well as the geopolitical awakening of the European Union.
The full interview:
The Geopost: How does Slovenia see the new geopolitical situation in the Balkans?
After the war in Ukraine, it definitely escalated even more, previously Slovenia had the feeling that the influence of some third players besides Russia and China and partly Turkey was present, but, after the war in Ukraine, this was demonstrated more and concerns were created in Slovenia that the Western Balkans could be a battlefield where some policies of the big players would be implemented. The geopolitics has changed, which is good in the whole story is that the geopolitical situation has awakened in some way this ‘dormant’ European Union and that the European Union has realized that we should pay attention for this geopolitics and the interference of third players in the story itself.
The Geopost: How do you see Russia’s influence in the Balkans, specifically from your point of view? You were the minister of defense and the minister of NATO, how was Russian influence in the Balkans interpreted?
Well, it can be seen through the statements of Lavrov, who failed to come by plane to Serbia in order to support the Open Balkans and where he said that the European Union is closing the Balkans and that he only wanted to support that event, which I am not enthusiastic about either.A year ago, when he was arguing with Barack Obama over a red line, Putin said that this line was not only with the countries of the former Soviet Union, but that the line went through Belgrade, Republika Srpska and all the way to Montenegro. Its main ideologue has said that the work in the Balkans, which Russia started with its influence, must be completed, and the influence is also visible in the media space it is closing, where pro-Russian ideology is being promoted. They are big players to watch out for.
The Geopost: How do you see the situation in northern Kosovo? Is Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic closer to Russia or to the West? Is it possible to say for sure? Russia and Serbia are very good partners and I suspect that, through Serbia, they are destabilising not only Bosnia, Montenegro and Kosovo, but also other countries in the region.
It is interesting that the narrative in Serbia is how Russia is helping Serbia and basically if you look at the numbers and the trade change then you see that most of Serbia has with the EU, more than 70 percent with Germany and Italy and that trade with Russia is smaller. The EU does not seem to be able to boast that it is, in a sense, Serbia’s main partner, and from this point of view I would have expected President Vucic to rely on the EU, which is his partner and provides him with funds…. I have to say that the relationship we are following is a dialogue, i.e. a ‘no dialogue’ relationship between Kosovo and Serbia. When you talk about number plates, it must have a certain symbolism that everyone feels, but, for example, these plates do not improve the lives of the people of Kosovo, either Kosovars or Serbs, and there are many other major problems that should be solved together and not escalate the situation to the point where there could be a military escalation because of the number plates.
The Geopost: How do you see the security situation in the north due to the information that there are some armed paramilitary units there and former policemen who want to destabilize Kosovo through some from Serbia?
I do not approve of any paramilitary units. I think that there are two very important international factors there, KFOR and EULEX, which should take care of the safety of people and that this growing tension should be resolved through dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina./The Geopost/