Two days ago, in the ranks of a few Belgrade atlanticists, the "good news" rattled: the new Serbian Prime Minister confirmed that the choice between Russia and the EU is now predetermined, and this is a choice in favor of the EU. However, it soon became clear that the American news agency had distorted the words of Ana Brnabic. And hardly by accident.
The new Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabic denied the blame attributed to her by Bloomberg saying that "if Serbia and Russia are faced with a choice between Russia and the EU, she will choose the latter." Moreover, Brnabic presented to the Russian ambassador in Belgrade a transcript of the interview, after which the diplomatic conflict that arose was considered exhausted.
But the sediment remained, and the whole situation is extremely instructive.
As early as Tuesday, the text on the Bloomberg website appeared: "Serbia will choose the EU, and not Russia, if it is necessary," the prime minister said, "Serbia will choose EU over Russia, it is forced, premier says. This sensation was immediately translated into Serbian and replicated, provoking in Belgrade a storm of indignation towards the new prime minister. The past and present of Brnabic itself are pushing public opinion towards the expectation of an anti-Russian and pro-Western demarche. And for Serbia, such statements from the first (from the point of view of authority) persons in the state are more terrible than the explosion of the atomic bomb in Teraziye Square. Worse is only recognition of Kosovo's independence.
Among other things, this publication almost did not bring down the financial market of Serbia. Dinar lost 0,2% less than an hour of exchange trades, but government bonds denominated in dollars, on the contrary, rose sharply by almost 3,5%, which is also indicative.
It turned out that this text was the first test for Ana Brnabic, who has not yet shown herself as a première. At once, everything was attacked from all sides. The attack was led, as it should be by status, by Defense Minister Alexander Vulin, who said that "Serbia's way to the EU will not in any way weaken Serbia's permanent ties with Russia." He was the first (and, it seems, on his own initiative) meeting with the Russian ambassador in Belgrade Alexander Chepurin, stressing that Serbia's path to the EU and relations with Russia "are not opposed, do not exclude each other," and "no one will interfere with our relations"
He spoke for a long time and said a lot, mentioning the Declaration on strategic partnership between Serbia and Russia, which was not canceled. The Brnabic government will not in principle be able to abolish it, because it will require the consent of the Assembly, and there are not suicides sitting there.
Some local media began to reproach Brnabic in cooperation with the "colonial government in Brussels" (it is still mild), reminding that "the Serbian people have not yet expressed their opinion on the referendum, it is necessary to enter the EU or not." According to the latest polls, which, by the way, was led by the same Bloomberg, so far only 47% of Serbs are in favor of joining the EU, and against NATO almost everything except a narrow group of "internal emigration".
Chairman of the Democratic Party Milos Jovanovic said that Brnabic's statements "clearly confirmed that the government will pursue a policy of fulfilling the economic and political interests of the West, which has been actively carried out in Serbia since 2008 (rejection of Kosovo - VIEW), despite the declared policy of full equality and Good relations with both the EU and Russia. "
And the Serbian radical party Vojislav Sheshelja though also tried to select words, but it turned out badly. However, it was not this statement that was much more criticized, but the prime minister's comment on the status of Kosovo. On Bloomberg: "Normalization of relations will be possible when the issue of the autonomy of the Serbian population in the north of the province is resolved". And what the prime minister said in fact, we, perhaps, will never know.
Deputy Brnabic, Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Mihajlovich tried to be more diplomatic and expressed herself in the spirit that the way to the EU "is a strategic task", but "the country will not abandon its ties with strategic partners such as Russia, China and the United States." Better would be silent.
This is only a fraction of a percent of all that Ana Brnabic listened to about herself in two days - and the most censorship.
Finally, on Thursday, Russian Ambassador Alexander Chepurin came to the residence of the government of Serbia - a person in Serbia is popular and well-known. According to official channels, we will never receive confirmation of who initiated this meeting, but unofficially from the office of the Prime Minister, who was "recommended" from the office of President Vucic.
When the bomb has already exploded, it can not be neutralized, but you can try to minimize losses. On an official photo from the office of the Prime Minister, Brnabic passes Chepurin a thin gray folder, which, apparently, was the transcript of the conversation with a correspondent of Bloomberg. Both look happy and content. The official comments indicated that "the Prime Minister of Serbia said that her words were misinterpreted by the American agency". On that and decided. As a postscript, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Press Department, Maria Zakharova, in an interview with the Serbian news agency Beta, said that the choice of ways to develop "Serbia's sovereign right". "But we sincerely want that no one should put either Anu or anyone else before the choice: either - or. Optimal to be with one, and with others. It is useful and safe from the point of view of one's own interests, "she explained.
Apparently, the justification of Brnabich is true. The text of Bloomberg does not at all resemble an interview in the form in which all are accustomed to seeing them. English-speaking journalism habitually turns a conversation with a newsmaker into a kind of independent text, in which the interviewee's quotes are used as an illustration of his own thoughts and the general idea of the text. This is an American standard, familiar not only for Bloomberg, but for all "advanced journalism."
At the same time, the author of the text - Misha Savich - a journalist well-known in Belgrade, who worked all his adult life on the American media, in particular, 15 years at the Associated Press agency. Moreover, he is the knight of the Knight International Journalism Fellowship, that is, in fact, very close to Freedom House and USAID, and the author of books in English - "Changing Nation 2014: Democratization from Central Europe to Eurasia "(Published by Freedom House) and" The heyday and fall of the worst car in history "(this is about the famous masterpiece of the Yugoslav car industry - the small car" Yugo "). His political position does not cause doubts.
As, however, and the position of the agency Bloomberg. This Friday, the agency's website posted the texts under the headings "Russian hackers attacked an American nuclear facility", "Trump strengthens Putin's hand" and "Trump reinstalled Western values in matters of faith, not democracy" (editorial).
We do not yet know what else Savich and the editors of Bloomberg have done wisely. It seems that Brnabic tried to be both maximally tolerant and as open as possible. By and large, if you forget about the words, which she did not seem to say, everything else looks decent.
"Joining the EU to the year of 2020 is our goal" - and yes, who would argue. "We are connected with Russia by a lot of emotional ties because of traditions, culture and religion, a lot of people in Serbia consider Russia their elder brother and protector" - everything seems to be right. But later the author of the text submits this idea so that Brnabich about it seems to regret: "She says that these feelings can not be ignored," but our strategic path is the EU ".
This is a delicate game of words and meanings. So you see Anu Brnabic, who shakes her head sadly, because she can not help it with the historical feelings of the Serbs, but she will still push them into the EU, where there is paradise. But she did not mean it at all.
The same story with the section "Sanctions against Russia". First, the author's paragraph that evil President Vučić refuses to follow the "block position" and impose sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine, and then a quote from Brnabic: "I can not comment on this right now, because in the Balkans it is very difficult to accomplish anything, Either (commit to anything). This is a difficult region. " Again it seems that Brnabic wants to impose sanctions against Russia, but the "hard region" of the Balkans prevents her from doing this heroic deed.
By the way, Bloomberg emphasizes that the Balkans is now a region of geostrategic struggle between the Western world and Russia. We know this, of course, ourselves, but to draw into this struggle in such a ugly way a technical premier with an image that is difficult for Serbia is ugly. At the same time, it was somehow forgotten that the day before the publication of the interview, the prime minister, in a rather harsh manner, rejected the plan of the International Monetary Fund proposed for it (very quickly, yes?) For restructuring the economy, since it does not distinguish the national interests of the country.
The actions of the Russian embassy deserve special attention. There is not the slightest doubt that in the coming days the actions of the diplomatic mission and Alexander Chepurin personally will be severely criticized by the pro-Western press: "pressure on a sovereign state" and all that. Chepurin is not the first, but it would be nice to emphasize that the initiative to transfer the transcript of the interview originated from Belgrade, and no one from Moscow demanded excuses. Among other things, this would confirm that strategic partnership is a two-way road, and the Serbian government is really ready to go on it.
President Vučić himself created a situation in which the prime minister appointed by him would, over and over again, draw scandals against himself against his will. From Brnabic really wanted her to "look at the West", demonstrating the openness of Serbia to Europe. But she was not ready for such wrenchings of the information war, despite all her Anglo-American education. And, frankly, this scandal could grow into something more serious if the Serbian government and the president did not try to make up for the incident as much as possible. Still, the American media like Bloomberg should be watched carefully, so as not to be surprised then that there are nine aces in the deck.