General Hodges: Serbia not sure of Western support

NEWS 19.05.2022 13:03
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Ben Hodžis
Source: Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP

Former Supreme Allied Commander Ben Hodges told Radio Free Europe the Serbia is not sure of Western and US support.

“I think that Serbia is not convinced of Western and US support,” the retired General said adding that Serbia is important as the biggest military power in the region but warned of organizations and the church which “I see as agents of the Kremlin”.

He said that strategic thinking about the Western Balkans includes the Danube. “Any hope of improving economic stability on the Danube has to include Serbia’s wishes,” he is quoted as saying. The general said that strategy should include diplomacy and economic investments, not just military and security cooperation.

Hodges said that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has to have options in terms of sanctions against Russia. “Vucic has problems at home which he has to deal with. I think that most people there want a more western and democratic approach but the church is powerful, some veteran organizations are powerful and Russia is using that situation,” he said.

He said Serbia should not be treated as an island and the whole region observed instead. “We are looking for ways to create opportunities for millions of people who live across the region not just in Serbia and want the opportunities offered by a liberal democratic society and Western integration. That is the last thing that the Kremlin wants,” he added.

According to the general, the stability of the Balkans is not in Russia’s interest. He said that Russia always assumes it can manipulate the situation in the region because the West is not paying enough attention to it. Hodges said that the European Union did not integrate the Western Balkans quickly enough and that the US only occasionally showed it had strategic interests there.

He said the EU and US have to show a stable, long-term interest in the region.