Cover

Der Standard leads with the headline, "Russia lends one billion euros to Serbia," reporting that former Yugoslav republic will also borrow another 200 million euros from China. The Russian loan, which will probably be made available at the end of the year, will be used to cover the Serbian budget deficit and to finance investment in infrastructure. The Austrian daily explains that in return, Serbia has promised to place lucrative orders with Russian and Chinese companies, especially in the field of construction. The "Serbo-Russian deal", it adds, has caused concern both in Serbia and abroad. The worry is that Russia will now exercise a "decisive" economic and political influence in Belgrade, which will hamper the development "of closer links between Serbia and the West." As the newspaper reports, "Most Serbs feel they have been abandoned by the European Union," a view that is shared by Finance Minister Mladan Dinkić, who points out that "Serbia has only received 100 million euros from the EU – which is clearly not enough." Der Standardnotes that "although accession to the EU remains a priority for Serbia," a state of near bankruptcy induced by the financial crisis has forced the country "to look to the East to establish partnerships, and to accept financial aid wherever it can be found."