Putin’s Party Signs ‘Military Neutrality’ Agreements with Balkan Parties

By BIRN Team

Russian president Vladimir Putin at the 15th congress of his “United Russia” party. Photo: kremlin.ru

The ruling Russian party, “United Russia”, signed a cooperation declaration for “creation of a militarily neutral territory in the Balkans” with representatives of severalanti-NATO political parties from Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Bulgaria on Monday and Tuesday.

The document was signed at the 15th congress of Putin’s party, ahead of September’s parliamentary elections in Russia.

“This project aims to become a regional strategic doctrine and in the future be incorporated into pan-European considerations of a new continental security architecture,” stated the party.

The signatories claim, as part of a “reduction of international tensions,” it is particularly important for Southeastern Europe politicians “to form a territory of neutral sovereign states, which would include Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina,” according to the Serbian Beta news agency in quoting the United Russia website.

According to the Beta report, the statement also says that the signatories emphasize the necessity of seeking common “non-aligned solutions”, in light of the current problems of Balkan and European security.

The agreement is not legally binding and not diplomatically recognized by any of the Balkan countries represented.

Pan-Balkan Signees

Three pro-Russian parties in Serbia have signed the agreement: opposition parties, Democratic Party of Serbia, DSS, and Dveri, and Serbia’s Peoples Party, SNP, which is a part of the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s ruling coalition.

Bosko Obradovic, president of Euro-sceptic party Dveri, told BIRN that the agreement is the continuation of activities to improve relations between Serbia and Russia.

“The only imperial alliance today is NATO. Russia is the one fighting to keep the peace in the world,” Obradovic said, when asked how an agreement with Russia’s ruling party can be interpreted as something “neutral”.

Serbian news agency Tanjug reported earlier that Serbia’s ruling SNS party was also represented at the United Russia congress by vice-presidents Marija Obradovic and Marko Djuric.

Three parties in Montenegro also signed the declaration with the United Russia.

Members of the strongest opposition alliances in the country, the Democratic front — New Serbian Democracy, NOVA, and the Democratic People’s Party, DNP, are strong opponents of Montenegro’s NATO membership and have recently started advocating Euro-scepticism.

The two parties recently claimed that after the Brexit, Montenegro should suspend all negotiations with Brussels on EU membership.

Both pro-Russian parties have organized numerous anti-government and anti-NATO street protests in the capital of Podgorica in the last six months.

Montenegro’s pro-Serbian Socialist People’s Party, SNP, also signed the agreement.

The Socialist People’s Party backs Montenegrin military neutrality and filed a motion to the parliament demanding a referendum on NATO membership last week.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Alliance of Independent Social-Democrats (SNSD), led by Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik, signed the agreement as well.

“We want to support our colleagues in the region who have expressed their support [against the establishment of a new US anti-missile system in Eastern Europe] … this is a logical step to increase peace which now exists in the Balkans,” Luka Petrovic, the secretary general of SNSD told Republika Srpska news agency SRNA.

He said that people of Republika Srpska, who survived the war in the 90s, are against this new “arms race” in Eastern Europe.

“We support Russian policy in the Balkans because we see its strategic and positive direction. The Dayton Peace Agreement, despite criticisms, is for us and our region an oasis of stability,” Petrovic added.

The head of Macedonia’s small Democratic Party of Serbs, DPS, Ivan Stoiljkovic, attended United Russia’s 15th congress.

DPS is part of Macedonia’s ruling coalition. Stoiljkovic chairs Macedonia’s parliamentary committee in charge of cooperation with Russia.

A declaration was also signed during the congress that guarantees the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Macedonia and the entire Balkan region.

Stoiljkovic told Macedonia’s Vecer newspaper that this was particularly important because the declaration acknowledges Macedonia’s constitutional name, which Greece does not. Greece is blocking Macedonia’s EU and NATO accession over the name dispute.

The 15th congress of Putin’s United Russia party in Moscow attracted the two left-wing parliamentary parties in Bulgaria: the Bulgarian Socialist Party (the successor of the former communist party), BSP, and Alternative for Bulgarian Revival, ABV.

The two parties are known for their open pro-Russian orientation, which explains their attendance at the congress of Putin’s conservative party, despite their leftist political affiliation.

Experts in Bulgaria have accused the two parties of serving Russian interests instead of protecting Bulgaria’s — an NATO and EU member.

On Tuesday ABV signed a declaration for cooperation with United Russia, with the two parties committing to work together in the field of security, energy and culture.

Parvanov’s party pledged to contribute to the lifting of EU sanctions on Russia, which “contradict the good neighborly relations and the national interests of the two countries.”

The declarations between Putin’s party and Balkans Euro-sceptic parties highlight Balkan’s country’s interest in developing cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union [EAES], as well as expanding multilateral cooperation in the areas of trade, economy, finance, energy and others.


Originally published at www.balkaninsight.com on June 29, 2016.

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