e-ISSN: 2671-3659
p-ISSN: 2671-3675
Founded: 2021
Period: Biannually
Publisher: Balkan Studies Foundation


Serbia Hedging its Bets Between West and East

Kristina Nikolic Researcher, Royal Higher Institute for Defence Author 0009-0007-2905-5151




This article explains the evolution of Serbian political, economic, and security relations with the European Union, Russia, and China over the period of 2009-2023. The analysis of Serbia’s ambivalent relations with these three partners relies on the existing literature regarding the strategies small states use in their dealings with the great powers. An overview of various theoretical concepts has ensured the identification of the hedging model as appropriate for understanding Serbia’s approach toward external actors. In this regard, the study shows the inadequacy of labeling Serbian behavior as balancing, which is currently the dominant approach in the literature. The theoretical model of hedging as offered by the author Cheng-Chwee Kuik was chosen as suitable for analytically clarifying Serbia’s behavior in recent years as a complex combination of the hedging components of economic pragmatism, binding engagement, limited bandwagoning, dominance denial, and indirect balancing. Such a theoretical interpretation of Serbian policy is important, as the country does not yet have a written form of its foreign policy strategy, nor is a more detailed doctrinal basis of this model found in the domestic literature. In practical terms, this study will help better understand how Serbia has found itself in the uncomfortable position of choosing between the West and the East due to the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.


Serbia, Hedging, European Union, Russia, China