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Serbia Considers Joining BRICS

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said he may attend the 2024 BRICS summit planned to be held in Kazan in October. As chair of BRICS for 2024, Russia is hosting the group’s annual summit, with the event comprising over 200 political, economic, and public forums. The exact dates of the summit have yet to be announced.

Last year, a group of Serbian MPs proposed joining BRICS instead of the EU, arguing that the organization would provide better prospects for the country. Serbia applied for EU membership in 2009 and was granted candidate status in 2012. However, its application has stalled over the bloc’s demands for “the normalization” of Serbia’s relations with the breakaway province of Kosovo. The Movement of Socialists, which acts as a junior partner to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, has accused Brussels of using “political blackmail” in an effort to force Serbia to give up its territory.

Serbian lawmakers concluded that “Serbia’s so-called European path has a clear alternative embodied in BRICS” while recommending public dialogue on the matter. Republika Srpska, the Serb half of Bosnia-Herzegovina, has also expressed a desire to join BRICS, arguing that it is a clear alternative to the EU.

“Since Brussels keeps making new and vague demands, I think Bosnia-Herzegovina should apply to BRICS. I believe it would be admitted faster,” President Milorad Dodik said last August.

The BRICS group of major emerging economies was created in 2006 by Brazil, Russia, India, and China, with South Africa joining in 2010. Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE become full-fledged members in January 2024, while dozens of other countries have reportedly expressed an interest in joining.

Serbia has a Free Trade Agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) while mistrust of the European Union and NATO is high. NATO bombed Belgrade in 1999 during the wars that eventually divided Yugoslavia up into different entities: Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. The Serbian part of the Yugoslav collective had been dominant, but with the breakup of the country Serbia lost its Adriatic coastline. Over 2,000 civilians died in NATO’s bombing of Belgrade, which also demolished the Chinese Embassy and killed three Chinese staff.

Serbia has a Free Trade Agreement with China, while Serbia’s trade with India is also growing.

Serbia-Russia bilateral trade was worth US$2.9 billion in 2023.

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