Serbian Foreign Policy and the Possibility of Cooperation within the Western Balkan Region
Recent surveys indicate that public support for the Serbian Progressive Party (SPP), which split from the Serb Radical Party last fall, has grown steadily, and is now at the heels of the Democratic Party, which leads the current government. SPP Party leader Aleksandar Vucic, explained the young party's foreign policy strategy at a Wilson Center noon discussion.
As a party that is made up not only of ex-Radicals but also of people who have previously never found a home among Serbia's political parties, the SPP has become the largest opposition entity in the country, and continues to gain popularity. Vucic stated that one of the party's highest policy goals is to improve relations with the European Union, the United States, and other neighbors, while preserving Serbia's respect for international law and the country's vital national interests. The SPP's policy endeavors to change the foreign policy dynamics of the country which, Vucic said, will "no longer be simply about Kosovo."
Domestic problems and stagnation in the completion of reforms have given rise to popular discontent, especially among the youth, a segment of the population which suffers disproportionately from unemployment and many representatives of which have never traveled outside of Serbia. To that end, Vucic advocated that domestic policies follow external guidelines in order to create conditions for economic development and combat corruption and institutional reform. In the speaker's view, without these reforms, Serbia will be unable to attract adequate foreign investment required to address the country's economic problems.
As a leader in the Western Balkan region, Vucic contended that Serbia needs to improve its relations with the United States, and follow the European Union's pragmatic approach. Nevertheless, Vucic noted that these relationships cannot come at the cost of Serbia's territorial integrity, and that no Serbian government—no matter which party is in power—would recognize an independent Kosovo.
Drafted by Nida Gelazis, Program Associate, East European Studies