“This is of crucial importance for the future development of Serbia. This is incredibly important for us, our industry and development of our economy, as well as for all our citizens.” No, these aren’t the words of Aleksandar Vucic after his meeting with Vladimir Putin held on November 25th. This is what he said less than a year ago, on January 1st 2021 at the opening of the Balkan Stream pipeline.
What was all that excitement about? It was about, he explained, the fact that, from that point on, Serbia would be paying half of what it had been paying for gas until then. 1,000 cubic meters of gas coming to Serbia via Ukraine and Hungary costs $270 and now, with the new pipeline via Turkey and Bulgaria, the price would be reduced to $155.
So, this new/old price of $270 is, actually, almost double what was promised. Or the president lied to us when he said that the price would be $155.
But, why did Vucic go to Russia to negotiate gas prices from January 1st 2022 in the first place when the current contract between Serbia and Russia is valid until January 1st 2023? In 2013, Serbia and Russia signed a ten-year contract on sale of gas which, of course, set the price. The question now is why the duration of the contract is being shortened by one year? Actually, is it even being shortened? Or is this whole story about a new contract, about the price and Putin’s great favor to Vucic and Serbia, actually just one big pre-election marketing farce?
This is definitely a scam, but that is not even the worst part. In this whole story, gas is a lot less important than other things at play. Things like weapons, nuclear technology and geostrategic position.
Vucic’s flamboyant trip to Sochi actually puts Serbia one step closer to Russia and further from the EU. One step, but a very big one. And there’s no way to hide this anymore.
Translated by Marijana Simic