Serbia was surprised by the EU’s ban on medical exports and found help in China when it was struggling to prepare for the Covid-19 outbreak, the Serbian president said, adding that it has become clear that European solidarity is a myth .
Serbia is the youngest country to impose strict restrictions on travel and public gatherings in response to the global epidemic. When President Aleksandar Vucic declared a national emergency on Sunday, he made some ardent remarks for the EU.
The crisis has proven that European solidarity is only “on paper,” said Vucic, referring to the export ban on medical equipment and supplies that EU members imposed in response to the outbreak to non-EU countries.
“Only China can help us in this situation,” added the Serbian leader, and said he recently wrote a letter to China’s Xi Jinping, “asking for his help and calling him a brother.”
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Serbia received five million masks from China that it couldn’t get in Europe and an offer to send doctors to fight the disease, the president said. The country had to look for respirators in a “half-gray market”.
As of Monday, Serbia closed all teaching facilities, mobilized the military to guard sensitive places such as hospitals, and closed the borders to everyone except citizens. Serbs must remain in quarantine after their return or face imprisonment of up to three years.
“I say to foreigners: don’t come to Serbia, except for the Chinese who are supposed to come, their doctors, the people who help us,” said Vucic.
As of Monday, there are 55 confirmed coronavirus cases in Serbia, which has a population of seven million. Two of the patients are in serious condition. The virus has also reached other Balkan states with the exception of Montenegro.
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The health crisis has put EU cohesion to the test as bureaucrats in Brussels and some leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron pushed against border controls, despite the epidemic spreading like wildfire in Italy and Spain. Germany reluctantly issued checks on Monday and suspended visa-free travel at land borders with five of its neighbors, which drew criticism from Paris.
China, where the Covid-19 epidemic broke out last year, has reported a slowdown in the spread and is resetting the strict restrictions previously imposed. It now offers its help and experience to countries that have problems with the disease.
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