Interview of former President of Serbia and the Honorary president of Democratic Party, Boris Tadic.
Serbia is declaring its intention to become a member of EU and at the same time is exposed to the incresasing influence of Russian Federation in the Balkans, simmiliar to that of the Eastern Partnership countries. What is Serbian position on the EaP initiative?
Serbia has a strong desire and perspective to become member of the European Union. Eastern partnership is very important for the European Union. As Pavol Demes has mentioned during conference, we currently have several country alliances in Central and Eastern Europe region: Visegrád Group, Baltic countries, Western Balkan countries and countries of the EaP. Despite the differences between the regions, we do share certain aspects of recent history and simmiliar past experience. Structural reforms of our societies in order to achieve sustainable development and provide better living conditions for our citizens is of the outmost importance. In order to become member state of the European Union, each and every canditate country must show in practice strong commitment to meet necessary criteria. Serbia is formally going in that direction and I would like to see that my country becomes the next EU member state from the Western Balkans region, right after Croatia, even though we don't always have that common approach, and type of behaviour that really proves the intention to become member state of the EU.
If we are comparing this with EaP, we see different countries. Belarus if for the other option, Armenia is right now deciding to go towards Eurasia, Moldova is in a very difficult situation, because of not been closer to EU, but Moldova also has been delivering some reforms which has to be accepted. To my point of view, Ukraine is the most important country, but nobody knows what will be the final decision on the strategical option for Ukraine. And now we are coming to Azerbaijan and Georgia. Azerbaijan is self-sufficient country, very important for Europe regarding energy issues. Georgia is a country with significant geostrategical position also in that context, building pipelines. And, to be very realistic, everyone who is thinking only about human and ignores the factor of economics and energy are in very difficult situation to find sustainable solution. For that reason I am always taking all those things for consideration.
Some are assured that the principles and human rights are the basic thing, which EU and EaP countries have to be worried about. Others has an argument, that through the economical cooperation these countries will become closer to EU standards. How to adjust these arguments?
I am coming from the dissident's group, my father was a dissident in former Yugoslavia during Broz Tito's period. I am deeply anchored with values of human rights and all those issues. But I was also a president, and my experience tells me that everyone who is thinking that only values are important will not going to get a sustainable policy. And for that reason I am appealing to everyone to be very realistic, in order to find a solution - to defend the values and human rights for every single group of people, national, religious minorities, LGBT-groups, but also to be realistic and to take in consideration the factor of economics. If you are ignoring both approaches, or single of that approaches, it will be a very difficult situation to find a way how to defend human rights issues.
How do you the Russian factor in this initiative?
Russia is a big power, they are behaving like a big power. I was a president of the small country and in the relationship with the EU I was dealing with that factor of big power. From that reason we have to understand that Russia sometimes has to behave like big power having in mind the responsability of its leadership. At the same time Russia is not very familiar with EaP approach from the EU. And they would like to defend their own interest in these countries. They would like to increase their influence in these countries, and not only there, but also in the Western Balkans. And everwhere around the world, as a big power. Like USA are doing that in Pacific and other areas. But in terms of future for EaP Russian influence is very important. And EU has seriously take it into consideration and to try to convince Russia that EaP is not directed against her. Otherwise it would be much more difficult for EU to have a sustainable and succesfull policy in the EaP region.
But my final conclusion is: whatever is going to be position of Russia EU has to continue EaP policy and try to convince Russia that EaP is not directed against it. Otherwise EU is going to lose strategical momentum and EU will not going to become a global superpower. This is very important regarding next twenty years and this is how I see the situation.