Some news you might have missed last week: Serbia and Turkey have inaugurated a series of unprecedented initiatives of military and diplomatic cooperation, including joint aviation exercises and a mutual abolition of visas. The timing of these gallantries is rather ironic, as it coincides with the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, which marks the extermination of nearly 8,000 Bosnians, mostly boys and men, as well as the ethnic cleansing of some 25,000 to 30,000 more — which extermination and concomitant ethnic cleansing the Serb perpetrators justified in the name of “driving out the Turks” (i.e., the Bosnian Muslims).
This was the first year the Serbian government ever condemned the massacre — a humbling gesture aimed at smoothing its path toward EU membership. Some may consider this an occasion of which Serbia has availed itself in order to also mend fences with Turkey — a party its war slogans of 15 years ago had indirectly offended. But it is far more likely that the two developments bear no more relation to each other than did the Serbs’ genocide against the Bosnians and their animosity toward the Turks — which is to say, none at all.
What this newly forged friendship between Serbia and Turkey actually represents is a miniature replica of the trend in the relationship between their respective patrons, Russia and Iran, who have recently grown very close. For, of late, Turkey has become a firm node of the Iran-Syria-Venezuela axis, and as for Serbia, well — as an independent state, Serbia has not exercised any political free will of its own since the Middle Ages without first consulting Russia’s interests. And while under that whipped fluff of much-talked-about UN sanctions the ties between Iran and Russia continue to flourish, so do those between their proxies in the Balkans.
The club of disaffected anti-Western regimes is growing. And they look like a relatively enlightened bunch these days, since they certainly don’t make much of religious differences. When they do, it’s only to their own people, and that, only for the perfectly understandable purpose of inciting politically useful hatreds in them. Among allies, however, respect and tolerance reign supreme.