Staunton, June 29 – At the sidelines of its 15th congress in Moscow, Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party signed a declaration with the representatives of political parties of five Balkan states – Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Bulgaria – reiterating many Soviet-era themes but more importantly restoring a Soviet-era practice.
In reporting on this event to the congress, Sergey Zhelyeznyak, the deputy secretary of United Russia’s General Council, stressed that “for Russia, the Balkans historically has enormous importance” and that the signatories of this agreement want to defend “humanitarian values and Christian holy sights” (er.ru/news/143678/).
The declaration, which was signed by Balkan parties that Zhelyeznyak didn’t name, specifically called for a common European and Eurasian response to challenges so as to “strengthen stability in Europe and in the entire world and to oppose international terrorism and other present-day challenges and threats.”
It further called for “the formation in the region of a space of sovereign neutral states,” including Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina” and their “further incorporation into the pan-European agenda for the formation of a new continental security architecture.”
It called as well for “the development of cooperation of the Balkan countries with [Moscow’s] Eurasian Economic Union and also for the broadening of multi-lateral cooperation in trade, financial, energy and other sectors,” Zhelyeznyak reported.
It said that in the opinion of the signatories, according to the United Russia website, “this declaration is the beginning of an important process of offering greater prospects for the deepening of all-sided cooperation between Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Macedonia.”
And the Declaration concluded by stressing “the importance of inter-national inter-party cooperation in the framework of civil society” and reaffirmed “the intention” of the signatories to “further strengthen in an all-sided way their existing political ties.”
This Moscow initiative and the vocabulary of this “declaration” are almost an exact copy of Soviet foreign policy declarations of more than a generation ago. It bears watching as an expression of Putin’s intentions even if, in the very much changed circumstances of today, it may not lead to the same consequences.