In recent weeks, I have done my best to challenge the utterly cliché, superficial, and insolent thesis of numerous European media that Aleksandar Vučić has given China the fuel it needs for its propaganda operation to convince the world that it is not the cause of the problem, but its savior. And that Vučić thus turned his back on Europe and embraced China. It was not difficult to defend Serbia and President Vučić from a series of such texts in the major European media, because they were devoid of any logic, especially arguments, but I felt it was necessary. Very quickly, the media storm against Vučić and Serbia ceased, of course, not because of the defenses on this site, but simply because the thesis they made was wrong, pointless, unworthy of big media outlets.
However, as many times before, it has been shown that no one can make us a bigger problem than we can make for ourselves. In the days when the EU support for Serbia grows, restrictions on the import of medical supplies from Europe to Serbia are lifted, millions of euros of help in the form of money, equipment or transport financing are arriving, when the EU decides to increase the huge Balkan economic recovery fund after the crisis … here they return to China as if they wanted to counterbalance by force.
And while President Vučić does not miss the opportunity to personally welcome every form of EU assistance, as well as to personally send assistance from Serbia to the EU, as was the case with the recent Belgrade-Rome air convoy, wishing to demonstrate how much Serbia holds on to its strategic commitment to Europe, and we get a parade of reheating the commitment to China and praising of the so-called “steel friendship”. And, here is an opportunity again for all those from the big German, Austrian, Dutch media to continue marking Serbia as a Chinese satellite in the middle of Europe, as its insincere and dubious partner in the Balkans.
Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin breathed air into this extinguished anti-Serb and anti-Vučić campaign when he awarded a group of Chinese doctors on the emotionally charged ceremony with the military decorations, the highest decorations this minister can bestow. There is no doubt that this event will be echoed in the Chinese media, in their state propaganda, because that is exactly what Beijing now needs. In the face of widespread, global criticism of hiding the truth about the danger of the epidemic, Beijing is struggling to maintain the image of the champion of international solidarity against the coronavirus, which it has declared itself at the height of the infection. And while few people still believe this, here comes support from Belgrade. From Topčider. Vulin awarded a group of Chinese doctors, who have been in Serbia and cooperating with Serbian experts in recent weeks, military decorations for outstanding contribution to the defense system of the Republic of Serbia.
Vulin can award these honors to Chinese doctors, as permitted by the Law on the Army of Serbia and the Rulebook on Military Memorial Medals and Military Memorials. He does not have to ask anyone for permission to do so. But the fact he can do that does not mean that he should do it. That is why there are ministers because their job is to work exclusively within the law, but they are also the leading politicians in the country and should take care of its political interests.
What is Serbia’s political interest in publicly and vigorously demonstrating its commitment to China at a time when its international credibility is equal to zero, and the dozens of regulated and developed countries, which Serbia seeks, accuse the same China of denying the rest of the world a chance to put in place a defense against the deadly virus in time with an iron fist, arrests and censorship. In doing so, Serbia (more precisely Minister Vulin) demonstrates this commitment to China and its values at the militaristic level, sending from Belgrade an unambiguous picture of how Serbia views its connection with communist China.
Did Minister Vulin, while making the decision to award the decorations to Chinese doctors, think of the thousands of Serbian doctors and technicians who have not been leaving the battlefield for two months? Did he think of all those medics who gave their lives helping others survive the coronavirus? Are any of them entitled to a military decoration for “contribution to the defense system of the Republic of Serbia”, or is this contribution made only by Chinese doctors? With this in mind, the real question is, did Minister Vulin consult with anyone when awarding the decorations, did he, for example, ask for the opinion of the President of Serbia, who attended the arrival of a large contingent of medical aid from Norway and the EU on the same day, which was an opportunity to reaffirm Serbia’s pro-European orientation and its appreciation for past and future support coming from Europe. Was the idea to put the President’s “wandering” in warehouses with the European life-saving equipment in the background of the awarding the Chinese in the ornate Topčider Guard House? Propagandists in the CC of China have no dilemma which of these two pictures from Belgrade they will choose to show to their public. But that’s their thing. The problem is that one Serbian minister has no dilemma about it.