Relationship to the West
Serbia’s relationship with Germany is a special one. Since 2000, German policy towards the Western Balkans has been strongly fixated on Serbia. This has its origins in the fact that Germany took part in the Kosovo war against Serbia, which was contested domestically, and in Germany’s active support for the DOS opposition when the regime changed on October 5, 2000. This special relationship has weakened somewhat since German support for Kosovo’s independence. With the political initiative of Chancellor MerkelIn the Serbia-Kosovo conflict in the summer of 2011, however, Berlin became the most important foreign and European political reference point for Serbia. Germany’s position as one of Serbia’s most important trading partners plays an important role in the development of bilateral relations. Two state visits by Prime Minister Vučič to Berlin, which he made immediately after taking office in 2014, underscored Germany’s outstanding foreign policy importance for Serbia.
According to pharmacylib, Serbia maintains a good relationship with the USA today, even if it has stepped back a little behind that between Belgrade and Berlin since Germany assumed leadership responsibility for the Kosovo issue. The USA is in the first place in the military cooperation of all western states with Serbia.
After 2009, Serbia developed a good, trusting relationship with Turkey. This goes back to the “zero problems with the neighbors” policy of the Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu and the mediation of Turkey in the Sandzak as well as in the Serbian-Bosnian-Herzegovinian relationship. After Turkey’s intensive political efforts in the Western Balkans at the beginning of the current decade had subsided as a result of Turkish domestic and foreign policy upheavals, President Erdogan tried a fresh start in 2017: on October 8, 2017 he set off with a large delegation, which included eight cabinet members and almost two hundred Turkish business representatives on a three-day state visit to Serbiaon. During the trip, the governments of Serbia and Turkey passed various economic agreements. Among other things, Turkey was awarded the contract to build a motorway between the capitals of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belgrade and Sarajevo.
Along with Russia, China is one of the “traditional partners” of Serbia, especially as a supporter of the Western Balkans in the UN Security Council with regard to the rejection of Kosovo’s recognition under international law. The fourth summit took place in Belgrade on December 16, 2014 between China and the states of Central and Southeastern Europe. The prime ministers of China and 16 European countries as well as numerous business delegations took place at the meeting, in which possible investment projects by China in Central Eastern and South Eastern Europe were discussed. One of the topics was a possible Chinese investment in the construction of a motorway from Belgrade to Budapest. Political observers and economists, however, disagreed on whether China is pursuing purely economic or primarily political goals in the region, or whether China is primarily concerned with access to the EU market and whether the region would really benefit from a stronger Chinese presence will have.
Overall, the human rights situation in Serbia is good. Serbia has incorporated the most important international human rights conventions into national law. In 2013, the Serbian government adopted an anti-discrimination strategy. An effective legal framework exists to protect Serbia’s numerous ethnic minorities. Nevertheless, there are various weaknesses in the protection of human rights and minorities. Problems in realizing human rights exist, for example, due to the weakness of the rule of law and the still inadequate legal processing of the wartime. Members of the LGBT community complain about inadequate protection against attacks, especially by right-wing extremist Serbian nationalist groups. In 2013, for the third year in a row, the Belgrade Gay Parade was canceled by the authorities for “security reasons” despite pressure from the EU and other western countries. After massive international pressure, in 2014 the Serbian authorities were able to persuade them for the first time in four years allow Belgrade Gay Parade. It took place on September 28th under a strong police presence and accompanied by counter-demonstrations by right-wing extremist groups. Despite minor incidents, the security situation remained stable. In 2015 the Gay Parade took place again, again secured by a high police presence. The event, attended by two Serbian ministers, the Mayor of Belgrade, numerous opposition politicians, Western ambassadors and EU representatives, went completely without incident. The Gay Parade continued without incident in 2016 and 2017. The parade gained special significance in 2017 through the participation of Ana Brnabić, the new Prime Minister of Serbia and the first self-confessed lesbian and gay person in the office of a head of government in the Balkans. Despite criticism from activists that Brnabić did not do enough for the LGBT community, they did not miss the opportunity to take part in the parade in 2018. In 2019, the Prime Minister took part in the Gay Parade again, despite the criticism from LGBTQ activists that the rights guaranteed in Serbian legislation, for example anchored in the anti-discrimination law of 2009, have hardly been implemented in practice to this day.
Ethnic minorities complain of discrimination in areas such as education and language. The EU’s annual progress report on Serbia and the Freedom in the World report by Freedom House, which is also published annually, as well as the reports by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International provide a good overview of human rights developments.