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Serbia Sees Srebrenica Veto as Victory; Observers see an “Own Goal.”

Doris Pack and Tim Judah

Headlines in the Serbian press after Russia vetoed a UN resolution to classify the massacre in Srebrenica as genocide showed the position of the Serbian state:

“Only Putin saves Serbia"

”Putin’s ‘no’ saved Serbia again”

“Russian brothers saved Serbian pride”

These, among other such headlines told the Serbian government’s side in what has turned into a moment of high drama.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic even wrote a letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin asking that Russia veto the British proposal, but the action undermined Serbian interests, according to critics.

Doris Pack, a member of the German Christian Democrats and the Rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the European Parliament, said Serbia’s involvement was “unnecessary” and “stupid.”

She said it was a natural move for Putin because theRussians knew that this would anger the West and that is why they did it.. Askedhow she evaluates the request from Serbia for a veto, Pack briefly responded:

“That was completely unnecessary. Serbia should not have exposed herself in such a way. That was not helpful and it was simply stupid. Serbia should focus on her future [and] that is definitely not Russia.”

Tim Judah, a reporter and political analyst for the British newspaper, “The Economist,” told RFE/RL that by calling for a veto, Serbia had scored an “own goal.”

He said: “First of all I have to say that it was disgraceful that Russia vetoed this resolution but I think that this brought Serbia the burden of negative publicity in the world. I saw in the media that someone said that Serbia scored an own goal with this. Even though this might get votes to .Nikolic and [Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar] Vucic in domestic politics, in the western international community this seems counterproductive. What is absurd is that Russia vetoed this resolution in the UN Security Council mainly because it contains the term 'genocide'. Why is that weird? Well, because the genocide in Srebrenica established the International Tribunal for War Crimes in the former Yugoslavia…andthe court was established by the United Nations. It is, therefore, the tribunal which is supported by Russia, and Russia played an important role in its establishment. So, that Court has already proved an act of genocide."

Considering that relations between Russia and the West deteriorated to almost Cold War levels, Moscow would have vetoed this resolution even without Nikolic’s involvement.

But by asking for the Russian veto, Serbia earned negative points in the international community and made it more difficult to prove that her most important goal is [joining] the EU.

Moreover, Serbia refuted previous stories about her neutrality and worsened her relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

So, many obeservers pondered what is the price that Serbia will have to pay to Russia for this shameful veto services and is Serbia going to collaborate more closely with Russia and favor its influence in the region?

Judah said he thinks this will not happen.

“In the longer term the Russian influence in the region will be merely an obstacle to the West. The Russians cannot achieve much, because they have nothing to offer to the Western Balkans. First of all, Russia is too far away from Serbia, which is surrounded by the European Union and NATO member states," Judah concluded.