Plenkovic: Serbia can’t import Russian oil via Croatia

NEWS 06.10.202219:24
andrej plenković prag
REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in Prague on Thursday that Serbia can import everything except Russian oil via Croatia, and warned Belgrade that "it cannot sit on two chairs if it wants to continue on the road to EU membership."

“I have already said several times that, under the present circumstances, Serbia cannot sit in two chairs. It cannot come here to discuss its EU membership prospects and expect major steps forward while refusing to comply with any of the sanctions against Russia,” Plenkovic said on arrival at the first meeting of the European Political Community.

“Secondly, Serbia can import all the oil it needs through JANAF (Croatian oil pipeline operator), but not Russian oil,” he added.

Serbian media and politicians are accusing Croatia of making sure that Serbia was not granted an exemption for further imports of Russian oil via JANAF.

EU member states have unanimously agreed the eighth package of sanctions against Russia, including a cap on the prices of Russian oil for third countries. The European Commission proposed an exemption for the Western Balkan countries, but it was decided that there was no need for that because they could meet their needs by purchasing oil from other sources.

“To approve a derogation for Serbia because of its deal with Putin so that it continues to get cheap Russian oil, which would arrive in a Croatian port and be transported by JANAF to Serbia, when Russia is conducting an aggression against Ukraine? What would that make us, some useful idiots?” Plenkovic said.

Speaking to the press on arrival in Prague, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic ironically said that he was not blaming Croatia at all for the prevention of oil imports from Russia. “Croatia was just doing its job, the one it has been doing for decades, since 1941,” he said, alluding to the Nazi-allied Ustasha regime that controlled Croatia during World War II.

Plenkovic slammed the rhetoric coming from Serbia, from Vucic himself, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, and their tabloid mouthpieces, as “insane.”

“Serbia should comply with the EU sanctions regime. It will not be in any danger. It can buy oil from anyone else and transport it via Croatia,” he said. “Besides, there were a lot of countries that did not support an exemption, and they should ask the Commission why it did not support them,” he added.

Asked if the prices of natural gas would be capped at this summit, Plenkovic said that such a decision would not be made because it was an informal meeting, but added that the matter would be discussed.