Postcard from... Belgrade


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In his 1949 memoir Eastern Approaches, a British officer, Fitzroy Maclean, wrote of standing on Belgrade’s fortress to watch the Nazis retreat across the River Sava, leaving the city to the Red Army and Yugoslav Partisan guerrillas.

The date, 20 October 1944 became Liberation Day. Today, guns, tanks and planes will be back in the city for a parade held four days early to accommodate the guest of honour – Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Some are uncomfortable with the idea of Mr Putin and his military chief taking the salute at a parade of 4,500 Serbian soldiers while Nato says Russian soldiers are still making war in eastern Ukraine.

Serbia has pledged its respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which, like Serbia has moved towards the EU. But Belgrade has refused to join the West’s sanctions on Russia.

Serbia’s foreign minister, Ivica Dacic, replying to EU criticisms on the stance, asked recently on state TV: “What is Serbia supposed to do? To say... sorry Russia, we’re not friends with you any more? Where’s our national interest in that?”

But the Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, said last week: “Putin will hear that Serbia is on the European path. We have other relations we are developing with the Russian Federation, but... Serbia is on the EU path.” REUTERS