January 18, 2022

This briefing paper details the decades-long relationship between Serbia and the Burmese military. This includes arms sales and discussions on increasing defence co-operation taking place as recently as 2019. Serbia, as a long-term supplier of arms to the Burmese military, must now publicly commit to a complete ban on the sales of arms, equipment and technology

Burma was Yugoslavia’s first international customer for arms sales.  Ne Win’s military dictatorship admired and was inspired by the so-called socialist policies of the Yugoslavian dictatorship and its non-aligned foreign policy. The two regimes became close allies. Yugoslavia was a major arms supplier to Ne Win’s dictatorship from the 1950s onwards, including jets and heavy artillery.

That relationship continued after the break-up of Yugoslavia, with Serbia signing a defence co-operation agreement with the Burmese military in 2015.

Since the military coup, Serbia has aligned itself with EU declarations on Burma, and supported a June 2021 UN General Assembly resolution calling for a halt to the flow of arms to the Burmese military. However, it has also broken with other European countries in its diplomatic approach, recognising the military as the government of Burma by inviting them as the representative of Burma at a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in October 2021.

Serbia has not publicly stated that it has ended arms sales and its defence co-operation agreement with the Burmese military since the military coup on 1st February 2021.

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