Serbia is “losing a lot” by refusing to impose sanctions on Russia, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said, as quoted by TV N1 on May 15. The president cited the loss of direct investments and the decisons of several US filmmakers to choose alternative locations.
Serbia has so far refused to impose sanctions on its old ally Russia following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, despite facing pressure to join the EU and fellow EU candidate countries in doing so.
Vucic said that Serbia will refrain from imposing sanctions on Russia for as long as possible, confirming Belgrade’s position after the Serbian Council for National Security decided on May 13 against imposing sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, as reported by the Nova.rs news portal.
"Everyone would say that Vucic is announcing the introduction of sanctions. No, we will fight as long as we can to maintain our policy and we are pursuing that policy not because we gain something from not imposing sanctions,” said Vucic, TV N1 reported.
He added that the people should know that Serbia is losing a lot by not imposing sanctions on Russia. He said that life in the country would be much better if Belgrade had decided to impose sanctions, but Serbia will not do that because it has its own independent policy.
Going into more detail, Vucic said he is listing to “experts who are pointing out the costs of natural gas, which would be a loss of a billion”. Serbia is expected to sign a new long-term gas supply deal with Russia’s Gazprom in the near future, at a time when other European countries are urgently looking to end their dependence on Russian gas.
However, the Serbian president added: “now we are losing billions because of this, not to mention the reduced direct investments and that seven American producers and actors refused to come to make films because we did not impose sanctions on Russia”.
Earlier bne IntelliNews reported that Intellias, one of Ukraine’s largest IT companies, had decided to close its development centre and office in Serbia and relocate it to Croatia. Explaining the move, Intellias wrote on its Facebook page of the “pro-Russian position of the Serbian government” and said that government responses to the events in Ukraine are “extremely important to us”.
At a session of the council in February, Vucic said Serbia would not impose sanctions on Russia even though the European Union is demanding that. A source quoted by Nova.rs said that Belgrade decided at the latest meeting not to back down on its stance.
EU and US politicians have repeatedly urged Serbia to join the sanctions on Russia. The latest to comment was former Lithuanian prime minister Andrius Kubilius, who told Nova.rs that it is time for Belgrade to “pick the right side”.
“I think it is better to be on the side of those who will win, and not with those who will lose the war. Democracy will win in the end, I do not doubt that,” Kubilius told Nova.