Serbian Economy Minister Rade Basta caused a stir by suggesting that Belgrade impose sanctions on Russia. This is the first statement by a representative of the Serbian government openly expressing support for sanctions against Moscow, which represents a departure from Belgrade’s official position, reports the HINA agency on Tuesday.
Serbian Economy Minister Rade Basta said in a Monday press statement that Serbia “he is already paying a high price for not imposing sanctions against Russia” and that the whole situation happens “unbearable”. His statement sparked dissent from the United Serbia party, which is a coalition partner in Prime Minister Ana Brnabičová’s government, as well as demands for Bast’s resignation.
United Serbia is part of the parliamentary group of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic, which has been in a coalition with the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) of President Aleksandar Vucic for several election cycles, HINA reminds.
Basta further stated that, as the Minister of Economy, he perceives the great pressure that the Serbian President is under from the European Union and the international community, but everyone is silent about it. “I can’t accept it,” said Basta, saying that for this reason he is in favor of the introduction of sanctions against Russia and stands “with President Vučič in the defense of state and national interests” Serbia.
According to him, Belgrade has not yet reached a decision on sanctions because it hoped that the conflict in Ukraine would end and that “both parties will finally sit down at the negotiating table”. “However, we are facing a new reality,” noted the minister, saying that as a result of the current “confusion in the world, Serbia faces tremendous pressure”. At the same time, on the social network Instagram, Basta called on other members of the government in Belgrade to comment on the issue of the possible introduction of sanctions against Moscow.
The United Serbia party was the first to respond to the words of the Minister of Economy, saying that it is only Bast’s personal position, and not the position of this party, of which he is a member. The Kremlin responded to the Serbian minister’s statement by saying that “he understands that the Serbian leadership is under unprecedented pressure from the West” and that “appreciates the attitude of President Aleksandar Vucic”. At the same time, he expressed hope for more “improving relationships” between the two countries. Neither President Vucic nor the Serbian Progressive Party immediately commented on Bast’s proposal.