Russia’s attempts to keep Serbia within its sphere of influence, and to prevent her from being pulled via NATO and the EU into the western camp, are seeing new initiatives. Serbia is already a useful car manufacturing hub, producing the Yugo hatchback, the FIAT Punto and the OPEL (General Motors) Astra which sell in Central Europe and the Russian market.
If Russia offered Serbia a free trade deal on cars and other goods, which is now being considered, Serbia could overnight attract billions in foreign investment, as it would provide a good route into the Russian market for many more western and other manufacturers, including Volkswagen Chinese and Indian car makers, who are all interested in securing the Serbian national car maker Zastava which is being privatised this month.
From Serbianna April 3rd –
Russia has been Serbia’s main ally in its diplomatic struggle to reverse the February 17 declaration of independence by Albanian-majority Kosovo. Moscow and Belgrade have also signed an energy deal as a sign of closer ties.
The tender for Zastava will be called in April.
Zastava, maker of the iconic Yugo hatchback, has been recovering after being damaged during the 1999 NATO bombing campaign to drive Serb forces out of Kosovo.
Last year it clinched deals with Italy’s Fiat to assemble and sell Punto cars for the Balkan and Russian markets and with General Motors for the production of Opel Astras.
Local media reported that several foreign firms were interested in the plant, including Volkswagen, as well as Chinese and Indian car makers.
The advantages of being outside the tentacles of the EU’s bureaucratic regulatory monolith are considerable, and if Serbia could instead establish global trade links by acting as a manufacturing base with free trade access to Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, it would provide Serbia with a unique competitive advantage and a secure future. Slovakia has become the base for manufacturing cars and many other product groups within the EU. Serbia could replicate that success story by remaining outside the EU, and be focused on non-EU markets.
The EU has given Serbia a gift of 165 million Euros as a pre-election sweetener to try to keep Serbia in the EU’s camp, when the people vote on May 11th to choose their future. The attractions of the Russian sphere, however with its growing military, economic and political strength must be more than tempting for many Serbs, as the EU is now far from trusted after its grab of Kosovo, and its other political manoeuvrings against Serbia’s national interests.
Serbs are beginning to realise that the EU for them might well not be the only or even the best option. It is surely preferable to remain part of a bloc where Serbia is regarded as heroic, than to be trying to sell products and services throughout the western economies where Serbia’s name has been propagandised to ‘leper’ status. Isn’t it better to be a welcome big fish in the middle sized Russian pool with its associations into India and China, than to be a despised minnow in the EU ocean? Europe is falling back fast in the world’s growth stakes, but Serbia has a choice and need not be held back.
See ‘EU Will Be One Sixteenth The Size Of Asia by 2050’ HERE.
(Zastava also produce guns including a highly effective sniper rifle -pictured)