The Russian president will be received with honors in Serbia. His Serbian counterpart is based on his charisma.
Here's what it is: Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived for a visit to Serbia. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has invested heavily to offer him a warm welcome. It is a state visit with all the honors. Tens of thousands of people from all over Serbia were led to Belgrade to receive Putin cheerfully.
This is what Vucic hopes: "The Serbian president's main concern is to strengthen domestic politics and his policy in Kosovo," says Christoph Wüthrich, a foreign editor of the SRF and a connoisseur of the Balkans. Because: Putin is particularly popular in the nationalist circles of the Serbian population.
If Vucic stands beside Putin to the great reception of Belgrade, then he will be strengthened in the role of a fighter for the national interests of Serbia.
"When Vucic is next to Putin at the grand reception in Belgrade, he basks in his popularity and strengthens his role as a fighter for Serbia's national interests." This is suitable for Vucic, since thousands of people are currently demonstrating in Belgrade every week not even tens of thousands against the authoritarian tendencies of the president.
This benefits Putin: For Putin, a visit to Belgrade is an opportunity to defend the West. It presents the Balkan countries with an alternative to the EU. "In the world of Putin no one cares about corruption or the courts that dance on the notes of a ruling party," said Wüthrich.
Also, do not ask for more freedom of communication. For Vucic this is very tempting: on the one hand, he speaks to the EU of accession and receives generous support from her. On the other hand, he says: "If you want to force me to a greater rule of law and freedom of the media, I can also follow the Russian way".
Influence of Russia: Economically, Russia is not an alternative to the EU. It does not give billions and invests less in the Balkans. The country has the greatest influence being the most important supplier of oil and gas. But the United States is resisting new projects of liquefied natural gas. In this respect, the influence of Russia is a problem, but this too is overrated, so Wüthrich.
Putin knows that it is not possible to dominate the Balkans.
In terms of power politics, Russia does not aim to dominate the Balkans. "Putin is a realist and he knows it's not possible," said the foreign editor. Putin is concerned with preventing NATO expansion.
Putin's tactics: Putin is in the Balkans on a spoilers and spoilsport policy. In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia supports the nationalists who have made the country irrecoverable and block the road to the EU and NATO. This "problem policy" has consequences, according to Wüthrich.
It fuels the constant fear in the population to be able to fall back into the power of the years. "
Because Russia supports authoritarian rulers and aggressive nationalist tendencies, it contributes to the instability of the region. "And the constant fear among the population arouses the possibility of falling back into the power of the years". " This fear is one of the reasons why the economy in the Balkans does not move, and because every year tens of thousands of different people emigrate countries, especially those well educated.
Russian influence in other Balkan countries: Russia has failed to prevent Montenegro's accession to NATO. And in Macedonia you can see that Russian politics is threatening to fail. Because if Greece accepts the agreement with Macedonia and Macedonia changes its name in Northern Macedonia, the path of the country towards the EU and NATO is free.