Serbia’s President Vucic, the prophet of doom

Serbia’s President Vucic, the prophet of doom
The Serbian president has repeatedly warned that the world could be heading for the worst conflict since WW2.
By bne IntelliNews April 16, 2024

Serbia is not directly involved in the conflicts unfolding in either Ukraine or the Middle East, yet the country’s President Aleksandar Vucic has repeatedly voiced gloomy forecasts about the state of the world. 

In his latest projection, Vucic said on April 15 that the situation in the world would become “the worst since World War II” in the coming months. 

Speaking to public broadcaster RTS, Vucic said the whole planet is “on fire”, and that everyone is trying to “reduce the flames a little bit right in their backyard”.

"It's good as long as it happens somewhere else, that's what they think. In the long term, I don't see that there is a solution, because things change, some resist those changes," Vučić told RTS, reported Serbian news agency Tanjug.

He made the comments more than two years into the war in Ukraine, and shortly after Iran launched a barrage of missiles against Israel over the weekend. 

He also accused major world powers of ignoring international law, while smaller countries — like Serbia — were expected to abide by the rules. 

"We, the little ones, have to stick to international law, because that's the only thing we can cling to, and these big guys, they will fight and fight, and it will get stronger and worse,” the Serbian president said. 

This came after in March Vucic set out his expectations for the future, saying the world faces two possible scenarios: either a ceasefire in Ukraine, or a third world war. 

"One scenario is whether the West will go in the direction of a full conflict with Russia, since it is not very easy to stop the Russian army on the ground," Vucic told a press conference in Belgrade during the visit of Bavarian leader Markus Soder. 

“The second is that with the help of the United States of America and China, some kind of long-term truce, if not permanent peace, would be established, which would mean a huge relief for the world,” he added. 

These warnings echo comments Vucic made back in September 2022, seven months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, also warning the world could become engulfed in the biggest conflict since the Second World War. 

“I think we are going to go from a special military operation [as Russia described the invasion] to a major war and the question is where the red line will be. We are going to enter a large-scale global conflict the likes of which we haven’t seen since World War II in the next one or two months,” Vucic told RTS in September 2022. 

While the theme is a recurrent one, Vucic has recently stepped up both his forecasts for the global situation and his criticisms of global powers for undermining international institutions such as the UN. 

This comes in advance of a critical meeting of the Council of Europe in May, when diplomats are expected to decide whether to admit Kosovo to the organisation. 

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia back in 2008, and Belgrade has lobbied intensively to keep the new country out of the UN, the Council of Europe and other international organisations. Belgrade has accused Western countries of breaking international law by recognising Kosovo’s independence after it broke away from Serbia. 

This is also a sensitive time in Serbian domestic politics after the December 2023 general and municipal elections, which sparked a wave of protests after opposition politicians claimed both the national vote and the mayoral vote in the capital Belgrade had been rigged. 

Part of Vucic’s popularity and the repeated electoral successes of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) rest on their ability to portray themselves as protectors of stability in Serbia.