Serbian president pledges European integration in 2nd term

by Cristian Florescu

The president of Serbia on Tuesday promised to integrate his country into the EU during his second term in office, writes Anadolu Agency

Aleksandar Vucic was sworn in for a new five-year presidential mandate in the country’s parliament, where he signed his oath.

In his inaugural speech, Vucic vowed to dedicate himself to Serbia’s European path, as well as to consolidate the country’s democratic credentials.

“The EU must not be a phrase, it must be our commitment and precisely because of trade, investment, but also because we want to belong to that society, we will work on further democratization, strengthening of the independent judiciary, media freedoms,” said the president.

Vucic said that he expects the next government to be formed by the end of July and said that it would deal with the issue of Western pressure to join in imposing sanctions on Moscow over the war in Ukraine.

However, he said sanctioning Russia would cost Serbia and that to mitigate this harm, the government would “ask our European partners to help us.”

Vucic and his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) swept presidential, parliamentary, and local elections in early April.

He was reelected with 58.65% of the vote, easily surpassing the 50% threshold needed for an outright victory without a runoff.

Serbia, which is almost entirely dependent on Russian gas and oil, has come under criticism for declaring neutrality in Russia’s war on Ukraine and refusing to impose sanctions on Moscow.

Facing incessant pressure from the West to impose sanctions on Moscow, the Serbian president has urged the international community to recognize Belgrade’s concerns.

Earlier this week, Vucic announced that Serbia would receive a loan from the US for various energy projects.

The “large loan” will be used “first for solar projects and later hydro projects,” he said.

On Sunday, the Serbian leader also announced a new three-year gas supply contract with his Russia.

The deal is likely to be signed during a visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Belgrade early in June.

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