The scandalous news that non-EU-member Serbia is already abiding by Brussels’ proposed migrant resettlement quota before the bloc itself even agrees on it is a conveniently timed distraction to divert attention from President Vucic’s volte face on resuming negotiations with Kosovo.
Serbs have been in quite a stir over the past couple of days after their Internal Affairs Minister, Nebojsa Stefanovoc, declared that:
“If the EU decides that the migrants have to be distributed according to EU quotas, Serbia is of course ready to participate in that. We are not just ready to participate in the future — we are participating in it right now. We already have 4,000 migrants on our territory and we are providing them with all the humane treatment which one country can deliver for migrants and refugees.”
This amounts to nothing more than EU-aspirant Serbia agreeing to a proposal that the bloc itself hasn’t even approved, demonstrating a slavish mentality to please Brussels at all costs in order to facilitate the Balkan country’s membership into the organization.
Not only that, but the announcement was widely republished all across the web, including in Afghanistan by the country’s popular government-linked TOLOnews outlet, indicating that certain migrant-originating countries might be hinting to their restless nationals that Serbia could be a “backup Germany” if they feel adventurous enough to leave their homelands and venture elsewhere in search of a “better life”.
After all, it’s already thought that most of the illegal migrants in Serbia aren’t even “Syrians”, let alone “refugees”, with even Al Jazeera recognizing in 2016 that “most, about 70-80 percent of [them] are from Afghanistan”, so it’s perfectly natural that this landlocked war zone would be “advertising” Serbia as the next destination for its civilizationally dissimilar nationals to move to now that Belgrade has apparently relaxed its policies and is bragging about how good it treats migrants.
Seeing as how Serbia might even one day join the EU, the pursuit of which is the reason why the country is selling out on its previously principled border security policies, then the future Afghan “new arrivals” and others from elsewhere across the world that might stream into the country in the coming months could end up entering the bloc as well if that happens, which is yet another incentive for them to travel there and wait a few years for this to occur.
Tying Afghanistan into all of this isn’t the result of rampant speculation and “fear mongering”, since the country is poised to receive approximately 1,5 million “refugees” that are supposed to be repatriated from Pakistan in the coming weeks, and it’s all but impossible for this failed state to accommodate a roughly 4% sudden increase in its population if it can’t even care for its own people inside the country as it is.
This makes it likely that the government will seek to induce these individuals to migrate somewhere else as soon as possible in order to prevent them from turning against the US-backed authorities and joining the Taliban, hence why TOLOnews promoted the Serbian government’s decision to jump the gun and begin implementing an EU migrant policy that hasn’t even been agreed to yet by Brussels itself.
It would ordinarily make no sense why a national leader would want to encourage a migrant influx into his small and relatively impoverished country in the coming months, but the reason that Vucic’s government is doing this is because they’re Europhiles more than they are Serbophiles, and the President has been known to follow the lead of his EU role model Merkel even if it could be contrary to his nation’s interests.
That’s exactly what’s happening in this case, but the timing of his government’s bizarre announcement on this issue also needs to be taken into account because it conveniently serves as a distraction from Vucic’s volte face on resuming negotiations with Serbia’s breakaway and self-declared “independent” Autonomous Province of Kosovo.
Belgrade previously suspended its “normalization” negotiations with Pristina following the terrorist assassination of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic and ruled out the continuation of dialogue until the culprit was brought to justice, but then a day later Vucic agreed with his separatist counterpart to resume the said talks.
This came as a shock to observers who couldn’t believe that the country’s President cared so little about the assassination of a compatriot that he’d reverse his presumably “principled” position without even a patsy being pinpointed for the crime first, though it should be said that many Serbs weren’t surprised because they’ve grown used to their leader’s antics and are familiar with his duplicitous style.
Nevertheless, it’s objectively inflammatory for a head of state to behave this way regardless of how psychologically conditioned his people may be to expecting this from him, hence why it may have been “politically convenient” for his government to announce their newly reformed migrant policy so soon after this scandal and before its citizens even finished mourning Ivanovic, let alone realized that Vucic was lying to them when he promised not to resume negotiations with Kosovo before justice was served.
The significance of this can’t be overstated because the said negotiations could eventually lead to Serbia’s de-facto recognition of Kosovo’s “independence” as a prerequisite for joining the EU, which amounts to selling out the country’s most enduring historical interest and even its identity, similar in a sense to how newly installed Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is doing the same by agreeing to change his country’s constitutional name.
Instead of focusing on all of that, the people are now distracted by the migrant news that could much more directly affect each and every one of their lives than Ivanovic’s assassination because of the security threat that it might pose to them, especially if some battle-hardened Afghan Taliban from Pakistan’s mountainous frontier infiltrate into their country under the guise of being (child?) “refugees”.
The Roman quip about “bread and circuses” is more relevant for Vucic’s Serbia than anywhere else, as the President has a flair for drama and is known for hyping up three supposed “assassination attempts” against him in as many years, so it’s not too out of the “ordinary” in the country’s recent political context for its leader to attempt to manufacture an Afghan migrant crisis in order to distract from yet another broken promise and possibly even the ultimate betrayal in pursuit of his cherished dream of EU membership.
Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare.
Featured image is from the author.