EDITORIAL: ENFORCEMENT OF
By Sonja Biserko
Chaotic and rather mixed-up as it is, the Serbian society is a product
of the actual government's unwillingness and inability to take stock of the past and
thus establish a link with reality - the reality that makes a part of contemporary
global trends Serbia distinguishes not. With Montenegro's independence and the solution
of the Kosovo issue at hand, Serbia will get its borders at long last. However, she still
has to come to grips with key problems if she wants to become a modern state. By sticking
to the same pattern - and thus disclosing its frustration more than anything else
nowadays - the government fuels Serbian radicalism that will mushroom as long as Serbia
remains an undefined state. Premier Kostunica's communication with the world more and
more sounds like Slobodan Milosevic's discourse. So he messaged the European Union with
rather bitter hostility that "the policy of permanent conditioning was utterly wrong"
for its outcomes had been nothing but negative up to now. As it seems, Vojislav Kostunica
has not realized that the EU is a club with clear standards and tenets, and that any new
membership implies that a state has endorsed its value system.
The manner in which the great majority of Serbia's political elites
reacted at the outcome of Montenegro's referendum once again manifested their attitude
towards others and denial of reality. Slovenia's, Croatia's, Bosnia's and
Macedonia's parting has evidently made them no wiser of an ongoing process they
particularly turned a blind eye to when it came to Montenegro. Force was not used this
time - not because of the official Belgrade's pacifism, but due, in the first place,
to the presence of the international community that has been involved in the process of
Montenegro's independence from the very beginning. Regardless of the fact that it has
sided Belgrade, the European Union, having itself laid down the referendum standards and
principles, recognized the independent Montenegro under summary procedure. For Belgrade,
such swift decision was a slap in the face. It has obviously expected the EU to refute the
results of the referendum.
It was only under the pressure of the international community that
Belgrade stopped questioning the outcome of the referendum and recognized Montenegro's
independence. That's for sure not a good beginning of future relations. And it was only
after his visit to Moscow that Premier Vojislav Kostunica "found words for" the
independent Montenegro. Kostunica himself, his Democratic Party of Serbia /DSS/ and the
political circles close to them see the outcome of the referendum as a "national
defeat." "Congratulations would sound sarcastic to Montenegrin citizens who have stood
for the state union," said Milos Aligrudic, head of the DSS parliamentary caucus.
During his visit to Russia Metropolitan Amfilohije announced he had been
promoted exarch, which made him equal with the Patriarch of the Montenegrin Orthodox
Church. This new title warns that Serbia has not reconciled herself to the outcome of
recent wars or to new borders in the Balkans. Amfilohije made no public statement about
Montenegro's independence though the Montenegrin Orthodox Church had called the Serbian
Orthodox Church to recognize the new state. However, the Russian Orthodox Church accepted
the outcome of the referendum. It said it hoped "the political change would not be a
temptation for brotherly nations' churchly unity." Macedonia not only recognized the
independent Montenegro, but also the Montenegrin Orthodox Church. Actually, Macedonia was
the first to recognize Montenegrin church. This is only logical when one bears in mind
that the Serbian Orthodox Church has never accepted autocephaly of the Macedonian church.
Serbian officials seized the opportunity of Montenegrin referendum to
once again draw a parallel with Republika Srpska and demand the same right for it, i.e.
separation from Bosnia-Herzegovina and proclamation of independence. But the EU responded
promptly. Oli Rehn clearly messaged the Republika Srpska leadership that "parallels
between Montenegro and Republika Srpska are misguiding," given that "Montenegro was
entitled to hold a referendum under the Constitutional Charter, while the Dayton Accords
do not invest Republika Srpska with this right."
Montenegrin referendum forced Serbia to proclaim her own statehood,
which she did rather reluctantly. It was only in the second round and with 126 votes that
the Serbian parliament voted in the decision whereby Serbia actually became an independent
state. For, the parliament was working without a quorum, as usual.
Concern for the Serbian people in Montenegro became the topic of the
day. "Serbs are being marginalized in all aspects - they have no media of their own,
no political representation, no influence on policy-making and their economic well-being
is threatened," say politicians. They underline that the Serbs are being denied their
identity in Montenegro and should, therefore, fight for "a model of consociate
democracy." Presently, the Serbs in Montenegro are getting organized in various
associations such as the Society of Serbian Writers in Montenegro, Serbian scouts or
Serbian historians. This process of Serbs' "national awakening" unavoidably evokes
the memory of the so-called independent autonomous provinces in Croatia and Bosnia. And
the state of Serbia is expected to abundantly subsidize "fostering of the Serbian
identity" by schooling Serbian children from Montenegro.
Though the relations between the two newly established states have been
formally normalized, Serbia behaves as if she expects the process to come to an end, i.e.
as if after some next elections the independent Montenegro will decide to call a
counter-referendum that will once again nestle it under Serbia's wing. Serbian
nationalists believe that things would change once "the Albanians in Montenegro do what
they've already done in Macedonia." "Montenegrins will awaken when they realize that
a union with Serbia is their only chance to survive as a coherent whole," they say. The
defeated unionist bloc puts across the same messages but more because of its financial
dependence on Belgrade. According to Montenegrin media, the Kostunica cabinet has
illegally transferred millions Euros to Montenegro to encourage the unionist bloc,
particularly Predrag Bulatovic as its only respectable politician.
In the atmosphere of general frustration and discontent, the government
initiated drafting of a new constitution, while some political parties begun to advocate
restoration of monarchy in Serbia. According to officials, Western capitals show
understanding for the government's new plan for Kosovo. At the same time, the government
announces a joint plan of action with the European Union for successful completion of the
cooperation with The Hague Tribunal, a plan similar to the one Croatia has had for Ante
Gotovina. President Tadic tours neighboring countries. While visiting the village of Orlic
in Croatia, he reminded his Croatian hosts that their country has actually done little for
Serbs' return. The Politika daily is used for campaigning for the so-called third
Serbia, which is nothing but yet another in the series of fabricated theses to be served
to the world. Actually, this is all about the DSS' attempt to affirm itself as an
unavoidable factor in the next reshuffle of cards.