Russian Influence in Serbia’s Elections and Its Geopolitical Implications
- This event has passed.
Russian Influence in Serbia’s Elections and Its Geopolitical Implications
29 January @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
The recent elections in Serbia have become a battleground in wider tensions between Russian and the West, as the war in Ukraine continues. With regional tensions high, and Kosovo a potential flashpoint, what are the implications for countering Russia’s influence in this volatile region?
Following the distressing massacres at Vladislav Ribnikar primary school and two villages near Mladenovac, widespread protests erupted across Serbia. This outcry subsequently triggered snap elections. The Serbian Progressive Party emerged victorious. However, the opposition adamantly refuses to recognise the election results, further intensifying the political standoff within the country.
While the campaign primarily revolved around internal concerns, the implications for Serbia’s foreign policy loom large. Allegations of substantial electoral irregularities and an unfair campaign environment have led to opposition-organised protests. The Serbian government, in turn, labelled these protests as attempts to overthrow the country’s constitutional order.
What’s notable is Russia’s vocal support for the Serbian government’s stance, with the Serbian Prime Minister expressing gratitude to Russian intelligence for alerting them to potential regime-threatening actions. Russian representatives have gone further, blaming Western influence and asserting that opposition parties collude with the West to undermine the legitimate victory of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party.
Russia’s involvement in Serbian affairs isn’t novel, and its influence remains robust, considering Serbia’s non-imposition of sanctions against Russia, partially due to Russia’s non-recognition of Kosovo’s independence. This adds complexity, given the EU’s urgency in normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Looking ahead, the extent of Russian interference remains uncertain, prompting questions about the West’s ability to counter it effectively. Does the West possess a comprehensive, long-term strategy to counter Russian influence in Serbia while steering the normalisation process between Kosovo and Serbia? The resolution of these complexities hinges on navigating intricate political landscapes and balancing regional power dynamics.
To address the above issues, The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to welcome the distinguished experts in the field.
Viola von Cramon-Taubadel was elected as a Member of the European Parliament in 2019 and belongs to the Group of The Greens/European Free Alliance. Since her election, she has been serving on the Committee on Foreign Affairs and as a substitute in the Committees on Industry, Research and Energy and on Budget Control. Since July 2020, she is also member of the Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the European Union, including Disinformation.
In addition to her committee assignments, she is the First Vice-Chair of the EP’s delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Association Committee, member of the EU-Serbia delegation and to the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly as well as a substitute member to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee.
Prior to her EP mandate, she represented Lower Saxony in the German federal parliament (Bundestag) from 2009 to 2013 where she was the spokesperson for EU foreign relations and for sports policy. Already during her studies of agricultural economics, she worked in international projects in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Estonia, Poland and China. Ms. von Cramon was the Green’s spokesperson for the Green State Working Group on Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture and later in the same function in the State Working Group on Europe and International Policy.
Filip Ejdus is an Associate Professor of Security Studies at the Faculty of Political Science, at the University of Belgrade. In his academic research, he studies how identity, memory, emotions and rationality affect security policy and international interventions. He also specializes in security sector reform, defence policy, civil-military relations and EU as a global actor. The geographic focus of his interests are the Western Balkans, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East. His most recent book is Crisis and Ontological Insecurity: Serbia’s Anxiety over Kosovo’s Secession (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). He is also the founder and co-Editor in Chief of Journal of Regional Security. Filip is also the President of Central and Eastern European International Studies Association (CEEISA), board member of the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP), and the co-chair of the Regional Stability in South East Europe Study Group at the PfP Consortium of Defence Academies and Security Studies Institutes (PfPC). Filip obtained his BA and PhD at the Faculty of Political Science, joint master degree at the LSE and Sciences Po Paris and was a Marie Curie Post-doctoral fellow at the University of Bristol.
Cameron Munter is a global consultant based in Prague. He previously worked as a diplomat, academic and executive. He is currently Senior Fellow at the CEVRO Institute in Prague, and Non-Resident Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington.
Munter was a Foreign Service Officer for nearly three decades. He was U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan 2010-2012, and to Serbia 2007-2009. He served twice in Iraq (in Mosul and in Baghdad). He was also a NSC Director for Central Europe in the Clinton and Bush White Houses, Chief of Staff of the NATO Enlargement Ratification Office, and served oversees in Warsaw, Prague, and Bonn.
After his retirement from the diplomatic service, he taught at Columbia Law School and Pomona College. He then became President and CEO of the EastWest Institute in New York, and there led extensive global track-two mediation efforts. He stepped down from the post at the end of 2019.
Munter earned a BA in German Studies at Cornell and a PhD in European History at John Hopkins. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy. In the Czech Republic, he advises the international diversified investment group PPF, and serves on corporate and nonprofit boards around the world.
Nikola Stojanović was born in Belgrade in 1992. He serves as the Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Ms. Ana Brnabić. He has been heading the Foreign Policy Team of the Prime Minister as of 2020 and has been a member of the Prime Minister Brnabić’s Cabinet since 2019.
Mr Stojanović completed his Bachelor’s Degree in International Affairs at the Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade. He holds an MA degree in China Studies (Politics and International Relations) from the Yenching Academy of Peking University. He speaks English, French and Chinese.
Dr Helena Ivanov is an associate research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. She recently completed a PhD in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research focuses on the relationship between propaganda and violence against civilians. In her thesis, Helena examined the role propaganda played during the Yugoslav Wars and produced a model for studying propaganda which details the key phases, functions, discourses, and techniques of propaganda (the model itself is applicable to other contexts). Additionally, Helena also served as a Manager at the Centre for International Studies at the LSE.
Prior to her PhD, Helena completed an MPhil in Political Theory at the University of Oxford, and holds a BA in Politics from the University of Belgrade.
The Henry Jackson Society was pleased to host a panel discussion with Dr. Filip Ejdus, Cameron Munter, and Nikola Stojanovic chaired by Dr. Helena Ivanov. Dr. Ejdus highlighted Russia’s significant, regime-invited role in Serbia’s recent elections, contrasting it with Russia’s usual clandestine interference in Western elections. Stojanovic defended the integrity of the elections, focusing on domestic issues over foreign policy and emphasizing Serbia’s commitment to EU integration amidst allegations of electoral irregularities. Ambassador Munter discussed the broader geopolitical context, questioning Serbia’s commitment to EU values amid its balancing act with Russia, and speculated on potential shifts in Serbia’s international relations based on upcoming European and American elections. The panel discussed Serbia’s foreign policy trajectory, considering its EU aspirations against a backdrop of waning public support for EU integration and potential shifts in global political dynamics. The event highlighted the complexities of Serbian politics, the influence of external powers, and the challenges in navigating a path towards EU integration.
Unfreezing the Abraham Accords: A New Transatlantic Strategy for Greater Peace, Stability and Integration in the Middle East
In the wake of the appalling terrorist attack against Israel on October 7, there were widespread concerns that the US-led plan to stabilise the region through increased ties between Israel … Continued
As the UK enters an election year, immigration is one of the top issues for voters. According to a YouGov poll in December 2023, one in five voters see immigration as … Continued