Serbia’s move to provide vaccination to the citizens of the countries of our region, regardless of the place of residence, caused numerous positive reactions in the Balkans and beyond. But, surely many have wondered why Serbia is doing all this and what benefits it has from it.
Thousands of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), North Macedonia, and Montenegro have been leaving for the Serbian capital in the past days because their countries have not provided them with vaccines.
While criticizing the governing structures of their countries, they also thank Serbia and President Aleksandar Vucic, who, whether we want to admit it or not, imposed himself as the leader of the entire region during the pandemic, and presented Serbia as the protector of health.
However, besides that political aspect, if we look from another point of view, we can also notice the economic benefits that Serbia is realizing. There are costs for a trip to Belgrade, as well as a stay in that city, whether it lasts a few hours or a day or two. There is the cost of fuel, food, drinks, possibly overnight stays, and shopping.
Admir Cavalic, an economic analyst, said that if we look at the total costs of departure and stay in Serbia, which may include a weekend stay, it is likely that free vaccination of foreign citizens is not a cost for Serbia.
“It means that these vaccines were either donated or procured for a few dollars. In that sense, we cannot talk about the cost of Serbia. There are some other factors, such as the so-called soft power which is radiating from Serbia and the fact that vaccines expire, which does not diminish Belgrade’s decision to vaccinate citizens of other countries as well, ” he told.
When it comes to the economic aspect, it is important to look at the decision of their local authorities to position Belgrade as a destination for foreigners to come for immunization.
“It was planned, it wasn’t supposed to happen in border places. People will spend money along the way, as well as by coming to Belgrade. It is not some extra profit, but enough to pay off the vaccine. It is a really good move made by Serbia, both geopolitically and economically,” Cavalic believes.
On Saturday, more than 7.000 tradesmen from the entire region came to Belgrade at the invitation of the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia to receive the first dose of the vaccine, and we can assume that a large number of them booked accommodation in numerous hotels and had lunch or dinner in restaurants.
“Serbia has another reason why it does this. If you look at the research, they have the highest level of citizens’ distrust toward vaccines and the largest number of anti-vaccination movements in the region. Although Serbia has the fastest vaccination rate, I think that he would be the first to reach that wall of the anti-vaccine movement. Even now, there is a surplus, which is left for citizens of other countries. However, the region is a region and it is good that more people are vaccinated because the virus knows no borders,” stated the interlocutor.
To sum up, he emphasized that the decision of official Belgrade on immunization of citizens from the region is a truly brilliant geopolitical move, KLix.ba writes.