BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) – Thousands of people seeking vaccines from neighboring Serbia visited Belgrade on Saturday after Serbian authorities offered foreigners free coronavirus vaccines over the weekend.
Long lines of Bosniaks, Montenegrins, and northern Macedonians, often entire families, formed in front of the main vaccination center in the Serbian capital, under police surveillance.
“We do not have vaccines. “I came here to get vaccinated,” said Ivko Trajkovski, who is from Northern Macedonia. “We are very grateful that we can vaccinate faster than in Macedonia.”
Bosnian Ran Dedic noted that his country, Serbia, was part of a united federation before the fall of Yugoslavia in the 1990s war. “It does not matter if it is Bosnia or Serbia. It does not matter, “he said.
Most of Serbia’s Balkan neighbors are struggling with shortages, barely launching mass vaccine carriers, while Serbia prides itself on abundant supplies, one of the highest rates of vaccine per capita in Europe.
The Serbian government has donated doses of vaccines to northern Macedonia and Montenegro and Bosnia.
Critics of Serbian populist President Aleksandar Vuիչիiիչի claim that he is trying to spread his influence in the Balkans, to shine the ultra-nationalist image he acquired during the bloody collapse of Yugoslavia.
Others say that the shots of the Serbian AstraZeneca vaccine are approaching the expiration date of foreigners և should be used as soon as possible, which can not be confirmed.
The Bosnian news portal Klix described the huge number of cars emerging at the border checkpoints with Serbia on Saturday morning.
Klix reported that Bosnian businessmen were scheduled to receive blows on Saturday after the Serbian Chamber of Commerce offered 10,000 shots to their counterparts in the region.
Serbia has one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe, largely due to the government’s large purchases of Sinopharm vaccine from China and the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. The country also uses vaccines developed by Pfizer-BioNTech և Oxford-AstraZeneca.
Although more than 2 million people in the country of 7 million have received at least one shot so far, Serbia has seen a significant drop in the number of registered residents. Officials and doctors have linked the drop in interest to a more ambitious vaccine movement.