West’s blindness to breach of rule of law in Serbia is unacceptable
Published: Dec 26, 2023 10:07 PM
A protester uses a metal object against police officers guarding the entrance to Belgrade's city council building during a demonstration in Belgrade, Serbia, on December 24, 2023. Photo: AFP

A protester uses a metal object against police officers guarding the entrance to Belgrade's city council building during a demonstration in Belgrade, Serbia, on December 24, 2023. Photo: AFP

Protests have erupted in Belgrade, the capital of the Balkan nation of Serbia, as demonstrators tried to storm the City Assembly and gathered in front of a police station to protest against election results. Last week, the ruling Serbian Progressive Party won 47 percent of the votes after President Aleksandar Vucic called a snap election. 

Vucic referred to the protests as an endeavor toward a "color revolution." He said that the protests were being sponsored by the West, which he claims wants to remove him from power partially due to his friendly relations with Russia, according to Russian media outlet RT.

Russia's ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Harchenko, said there was "irrefutable evidence" that the "riot" had been incited by the West. The New York Times believes such claims were Moscow's efforts to "thwart a so far mostly fruitless diplomatic campaign by the United States and Europe to lure Serbia out of Russia's orbit."

The turmoil surrounding the Serbian election exposes the West's attempt to create chaos around the world and its hypocrisy. 

On one hand, democracy, human rights and the rule of law are the so-called basic values in the US-led West. They often use these values as a basic "principle" and "prerequisite" to influence or interfere in the internal affairs of other countries. This time, opposition forces who were dissatisfied with the election results openly tried to break into the City Assembly, which was a blatant provocation to the rule of law. Instead of condemning these violations of the rule of law, the US and the West accused Serbia of electoral fraud. The EU and the US have urged Serbia to address concerns about its electoral process.

Obviously, they put their focus on the election instead of criticizing the irrational behavior of the opposition. Whatever the reason, dissatisfaction cannot be expressed by undermining the rule of law. This rule also applies to the West. Just look at how authorities in Western countries deal with violent protesters.

On the other hand, no matter in which countries, all actions should be carried out under the rule of law, as a breach of the rule of law can lead to disorder and chaos. Many countries have descended into chaos due to the breach of the rule of law. The peace and stability of Serbia have been hard-won. This country has experienced numerous disasters and hardships and endured immense suffering during the breakup of Yugoslavia. The rule of law established on the ruins of war has won precious peace for this country. The rule of law is the fundamental prerequisite for the operation of a country and the basic embodiment of a country's level of civilization. If the rule of law is ignored or trampled upon, the Balkans, once a powder keg in Europe, may be reignited, with barbarism prevailing over civilization. Emotions will triumph over reason, thereby adding more uncertainty to an already turbulent Europe.

Openly challenging the rule of law has brought shame to the Western world and left a very disgraceful mark in the history of legal governance. We still vividly remember the large-scale protest marches organized by Trump supporters in Washington in 2021, opposing Biden's election and subsequently storming the US Capitol, causing some casualties. Although the US government conducted ongoing investigations into the riot, the impact of these disorderly acts on the American democratic system and legal framework is irreparable. We hope that Western societies, including the US, can seriously reflect on and learn from the experience and lessons, prioritize the maintenance of the rule of law as of the utmost importance, and actively promote the restoration of peace and order in Serbia after the elections.