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Jeremic and Karaganov: Russia will not join new blocs

Continuing with the "Corona Dialogues" series, the Center for International Relations and Sustainable Development organized a discussion on June 7th, 2020, entitled “Moscow does not believe in tears”, featuring Prof. Dr. Sergey Karaganov, the Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at Moscow's Higher School of Economics, and CIRSD President Vuk Jeremic.
Introducing his interlocutor, Jeremic listed a few of his many distinguished titles – Prof. Dr. Karaganov served as Presidential Advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he is also the founder of "Valdai Discussion Club” and the journal Russia in Global Affairs. He currently serves as Honorary Chairman of the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.
During the discussion, Karaganov stated that by turning to NATO, Serbia would lose Russia's support as well as its own national spirit, and that in his opinion Russia committed a moral crime and the biggest foreign policy mistake in the past 20 years when it de facto agreed to the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

"Even today, I am ashamed of this moral and political mistake. The best solution would have been to issue a nuclear alert when Yugoslavia was bombed, but at the time Russia was weak, economically devastated, and the leadership was morally rotten in many ways. We made a big mistake – a moral, political, and eventually an economic one," he added.
Jeremic, who is also the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, stated that Russia is the key supporter of Serbia in the international fora when it comes to Kosovo, reminding the audience that in 2008 the Russian threat of a veto prevented the UN Security Council from endorsing the Unilateral Declaration of Independence proclaimed by the Kosovo Albanian authorities in Pristina.
"U.S. President Donald Trump has appointed a special envoy, Richard Grenell, who is working with the leaders in Belgrade and Pristina towards a final deal. Nobody knows what the deal is, but the leaks suggest that there might be some sort of territorial demarcation, that would essentially mean the partition of Serbia, which could result in self-proclaimed State of Kosovo joining the UN,”  Jeremic said.
Jeremic asked Karaganov whether Moscow would support the UN membership of Kosovo in the Security Council, if Serbia were to agree to a partition by signing a so-called “comprehensive normalization agreement”.
Karaganov replied that the United States and Europe had lost interest in the Balkans, regardless of the statements that could be heard in public, and that "the reliability of the Americans is not zero, but rather a minus”, concluding that “the decision is up to Serbia."
"Russia will support Serbia in both cases. We will not interfere, and we will strictly respect the issues of national sovereignty. That is our supreme principle in international relations," Karaganov said.
Jeremic noted that Russia developed close relations with Montenegro after the country’s declaration of independence in 2006, but that Montenegro’s president Milo Djukanovic decided to take a different path which led to Montenegro joining NATO.
He added that many parallels are drawn between the Djukanovic type of rule and the type of rule of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, and asked Karaganov a hypothetical question: “Assuming Serbia reaches an agreement regarding Kosovo, under American tutelage, what will happen if Vucic does the same as Djukanovic, and steers Serbia towards NATO membership? Will Russia still consider that to be an internal Serbian issue?"
Karaganov replied that in that case, Russia might "sympathize even more with its Serbian friends”, but that it will no longer support them, because that would mean “Serbia has unfortunately lost its national spirit."
When asked by a viewer from Zagreb which foreign countries he admires the most, Karaganov answered that he appreciates Serbia the most because of its "national character". He also added the Netherlands to the list, because it is completely different from Russia, small and organized, which is the reason why Peter the Great loved it also.
Karaganov expressed his view that the West has lost the military supremacy on which its global domination was based, adding that America punishes, and gives nothing more, which is a lose-lose situation.
"In 15 years, the world will most likely look like “USA plus”, the “plus” being composed of some parts of Europe and a great Eurasian partnership. This will not be a bloc, but hopefully a cooperative endeavor in which free states participate. Russia is not interested in building or joining new formal blocs," Karaganov said.
Karaganov stated that Russia offered to become part of the West and join NATO, but the West rejected that offer. In his opinion if the offer had been accepted, the balance of power in the world would have definitely shifted toward the West, and China and Asia would not have achieved rapid growth. “The West missed this opportunity and can now blame only itself,” Karaganov noted.
"During the 1980s and 1990s, I offered many concepts of rapprochement between Russia and the West and persuaded the then President Boris Yeltsin, to offer Russia's accession to NATO. However, we were rejected, which was very stupid and unwise. After that I lost respect for our partners in the West," Karaganov said.
Karaganov added that Russia "changed dramatically and turned towards Eurasia" in the last 15 years, and that the European Union is currently "not a reliable and effective partner", while Russia is still interested in having good relations with most of the EU members.


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