“Serbs have always been a problem for the United States: naughty, proud, independent and incorruptible,” expert Elena Guskova told Politico. At the end of the 20th century, relations between Russia and Yugoslavia were complex. It was only when the Russian Foreign Ministry was headed by Sergey Lavrov that the situation changed radically. Russia has become an objective factor in the consideration of Balkan problems in the UN Security Council and at international meetings.
Politics (Serbia): With Lavrov’s arrival, Russian politics in the Balkans changed
How do you, an expert on the situation in the Balkans from the Russian Academy of Sciences, explain the situation in the Balkans in the context of international interests?
Elena Guskova: Back in the early 1990s, the United States declared the Balkans a zone of American national interest. Why? The Balkans did not suit either “democratic” America or Europe, as communist regimes existed there for a long time, and because the majority of Balkan Slavic peoples are Orthodox. Still, the emphasis has always been on the fact that they have been friends with Russia for centuries. Of all the Balkan peoples, the Serbs were the biggest problem: the most disobedient, proud, independent and incorruptible.
In 1978, an international congress of sociologists was held in the Swedish city of Uppsala, where scientists got acquainted with the plan of Brzezinski’s plan for the future of Yugoslavia after the death of Josip Broz Tito. The main thesis was this: it is necessary to prevent the rapprochement of Yugoslavia and, first of all, Serbia with the Soviet Union. Brzezinski believed that such tasks should be solved by the United States, relying on allies in Yugoslavia – representatives of the liberal intelligentsia. It is worth recalling that most of these tasks were successfully accomplished in the 1980s. However, for those who carried out these tasks, the collective qualities of the Serbs and Montenegrins, which not only slowed down the process but also began to influence it directly, came as a complete surprise. We are talking about patriotism, a sense of South Slavic unity, homocentrism, Russophilia. The Serbs had a very high level of historical consciousness.
“From a historical point of view, Kosovo has always been an important military and political issue. Who owns Kosovo in historical, cultural, political, military and territorial terms? What does science think about this?
“Never in the history of Kosovo and Metohija have been part of the Albanian state. Since the 12th century they have been part of the medieval Serbian state and since then are known in European science as historical regions of Serbia. Of course, after the Turkish invasion of the Balkans, the situation began to change. But the Serbs have always considered this land their own.
“In your book, you analyze the work of the foreign ministers of the Russian Federation from a scientific point of view. If we talk about Russia’s position on Serbia and the Kosovo issue, from the first minister to Sergey Lavrov, don’t you think that Moscow did not defend Serbia enough?
“The events of the early 1990s and the crisis in Yugoslavia occurred at the end of the second period of cooling of relations between the USSR and Yugoslavia and their partial stagnation. At that time, the Balkan direction was on the periphery of Russian foreign policy and was not among Moscow’s priorities. In such conditions, national and political crises erupted almost simultaneously in Russia and Yugoslavia. Historical memory played a role, and Yugoslavia turned to Russia with hope, as it often happened before. But in response, she faced cold misunderstanding and confusion from Russian diplomats, who did not believe that Russia should stand up for Serbs and Montenegrins. This rate remained unchanged until 1996. Some explanation for this can be found in the modern relations within the Russian government, in the concentration of all the powers to make foreign policy decisions in the hands of the Foreign Minister and, accordingly, in his political orientation. You can talk about it for a long time. Since Lavrov took over as foreign minister, the situation has changed radically. Russia has become an objective factor in the consideration of Balkan problems in the UN Security Council and at international meetings. Russia participated in the Kosovo negotiations. And yet, given the aggressiveness of NATO and the United States in the Balkans, objectivity alone is certainly not enough. A tougher stance is needed, which, however, is worth looking for in Serbia itself.
“With the exception of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, all former Yugoslav republics have joined NATO. Soon northern Macedonia will become a member. Does this mean that Russia considers all these countries of the North Atlantic Alliance their potential adversaries?
“Russia does not consider these countries to be adversaries, unlike NATO, which no longer hides that Russia is its main enemy.