Would Russia destabilize the Balkans?

Last Sunday, SNS won the political elections in Serbia, obtaining 157 seats out of 250. While the new executive is going to be formed by the 1st of May, it is already rising the question if the new power may develop into a semi-authoritarian form of government, like in Hungary.

What has to do Russia with SNS? In 2011, now former Russian Ambassador in Serbia, Aleksandr Konuzin, endorsed SNS during a meeting in Nis, saying “‘the SNS has become one of the chief indicators of the mood of Serbian citizens”. This happened one month after another controversial event, when Konuzin said Serbs “are not defending enough interests of their compatriots in Kosovo”.

Other rumors about Konuzin interference in Serbian internal policy raised again in 2012.

What has to do Russia with Serbia? In 2009, articles appeared about a new Russian base in Serbia, in Nis, defined as a Joint Serbian-Russian Centre for Reaction to Emergency Situations. While it was meant as a centre for natural catastrophes, like forest fires, serious speculations emerged about a real strategic Russian interference in the Balkans. Moreover, it is very close to USA military base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel. In 2011, the agreement between Serbia and Russia was finally signed.

And Bosnia? According to former high representative, Lord Paddy Ashdown, Russia is meddling in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the meantime, in Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik is hailing Crimea secession.

The US Embassy in Sarajevo is warning against any possible parallel between Crimea and Republika Srspka as inconsistent. Bosnia and Herzegovina can’t split, Dayton agreements must be respected.

The question is: would Russia destabilize the Balkans? That’s an intriguing question to be asked during the First World War Centenary.

Christian Costamagna

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