The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced in a Twitter video message that the European Union (EU) is restricting the export of medical devices and stressed that the ban on exports of these goods applies throughout the entire EU and is linked to the need to maintain sufficient supplies of medical supplies within the alliance. Other European countries outside of the EU where the coronavirus has spread cannot rely on medical masks, gloves, protective clothing and respirators from the Union. Effectively the EU has demonstrated that it does not care for humanity and solidarity outside of its borders by isolating itself from other countries and refusing to help them fight the coronavirus pandemic.
After the statement by Von der Leyen, it showed to Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić that the EU had not passed the test of humanity and solidarity. Knowing he could not rely on EU assistance, the Serbian president then instead asked for help from China. Chinese social media immediately became inundated with messages of solidarity and calls of “let’s help Serbia,” “we have to help them,” “of course we will help you,” and “we are friends.”
China thus far has assisted every country facing the coronavirus pandemic who have requested assistance – from the U.S. to African states. However, Serbia and China share a close bond after the U.S. murdered three Chinese journalists when they destroyed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999. And unsurprisingly, the next day on Monday, coronavirus testing kits arrived in Serbia from China. Vučić then remarked that European solidarity is just a “fairy tale on paper” and that China was the only country who could help them. Brussels’ inaction or lack of interest in helping Serbia during this coronavirus pandemic, in the same way it was during the 2015 migration crisis, could finally allow some Serbians who want to join the EU to realize that Serbia has only a few international partners that it can rely on.
Although the majority of Serbs have long understood this reality and the whole mythological story of the so-called EU solidarity, it has been proven to be false. Rather this pandemic has proven that once a severe crisis has been reached, the fabled liberal globalized order starts collapsing under pressure. More powerful states have used liberalism as a hidden face to protect their own dominance and dominate the regional order, and the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated how quickly liberalism is abandoned to protect state interests as soon as it is no longer useful.
Germany as the main state influencer over the EU quickly contracted now that the coronavirus has gotten out of control in the EU and the so-called common values of the EU were no longer respected and all its solidarity disintegrated. If we recall how German Chancellor Angela Merkel to open the borders and decided to accept illegal immigrants in 2015, she did not think much about how this would impact other countries, especially in southern Europe, and was not interested in other views but just her own liberal agenda. However, now that the coronavirus crisis is much worse than illegal immigration and is affecting Germany directly, it has become clear that there is in fact no solidarity and that selfish state interests always prevail in tough times.
A positive aspect of this crisis is that it is forcing in Serbian politics the real observation of liberal hegemony and agenda. It should end any Serbian ambition of joining the EU and accelerate its embracement of the multipolar world order. Serbia’s abandonment during this pandemic will make policymakers in Belgrade also realize that during the next crisis, which very well could be an economic one in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, they will once again have to look towards traditional partner like China and/or Russia, as there is no other true alternative for the Balkan country.
This is especially crucial because when we finally reach a post-coronavirus pandemic world later this year, the geopolitics and global economics will shift even more strongly towards China as the Asian country is at the beginning of the end of this crisis while Europe and the U.S. is still well within the midst of it.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.