SERBIA WITHOUT A CANDIDACY: STICKING TO LONGTIME GOALS
By Sonja Biserko
Serbia's political class seemed not distressed at all by the postponed
EU candidacy: they behaved as if they had been looking forward to it in the first place.
Encouraged by the global crisis, especially the one in Europe, Serb national strategists
thought the time was ripe for their plans for Bosnia - and in this regard the denied
candidacy made no difference. Analysts of all sorts promptly stepped up to convince the
public that a candidacy status would have been no financial benefit bigger than the one EU
was already showering upon Serbia. For Belgrade, Kosovo is just a useful tool - should it
truly be after sovereignty it would have to accept almost one-third of Albanian MPs, which
is simply unthinkable. On the other hand, Milorad Dodik of RS studiously pursues his
assignment: he is destructive, he builds tension and fuels hatred, and he invokes
dissolution of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the context of his assignment Europe is dispensable
at the moment.
Serbia's state policy, says Slobodan Samardzic of the Democratic Party
of Serbia /DSS/, is crucial to survival of Republika Srpska and its future independence.
For him, Serbia's "unshakable EU policy" would tie its hands in supporting
Republika Srpska. "Serbia is much too liable to EU's political conditioning to
persevere in an authentic political enterprise such as unconditional support to Republika
Srpska," says Samardzic. No wonder, therefore, that his party's leader Vojislav
Kostunica would have Serbia tell Brussels that "accession to EU is no longer our
political goal." Republika Srpska is a national goal above all others - membership of
EU and vital national interests of Serbia proper. Republika Srpska is treated as a new
reality in the service of "defense of constitutionality of Serb people," the
reality internationally verified by the Dayton Accords. Resolutely sticking to this
document Republika Srpska and Serbia obstruct international efforts to have it revised.
Cancellation of the Dayton Accords, argued late historian Svetozar Stojanovic, could only
be violent and in such case Republika Srpska would be forced to use other means of defense
and look for other solutions.
Against the backdrop of a disoriented society still unable to stand up
against irresponsible authorities emerged a group of intellectuals advocating the
so-called blank ballots as manifestation of citizens' revolt at the present situation. For
them, there is no option whatsoever one could possible vote for. This group, says
columnist Teofil Pancic, imposed itself as a "moral vertical, eager to ethically
arbitrate in a situation that calls for action." Criticism of the movement coming
from the right-wing and the left-wing is the same or almost the same. And this indicates
how large is the scope and how deep-rooted is the anti-European bloc.
Except for those unified under the banner of the newly emerged Turnabout
movement, the rest of the political class actually falls under the anti-EU bloc. Though
helmed by three parties only (LDP, SDU and SPO) the movement is by its nature
autochthonous, having attracted the civil society and numerous public figures, and
attracting new supporters on daily basis. For the first time ever citizens are calling for
a radical change in policy, EU as a top priority, an end to regional aspirations and
normalization of relations with neighboring countries. (In 1997-98 citizens protested
against rigged elections while in 2000 they had Milosevic's ouster as a common
The truth is that citizens are also unready yet for Europeanization and
everything it entails. In this context finding of the latest public opinion surveys seem
logical (60 percent of interviewees are against membership of EU if that implies the loss
of Kosovo). No need to say that such attitudes have been greatly influenced by media
propaganda orchestrated by political and other elites. Hardly anyone would feel
comfortable with the control by EU institutions and delegated sovereignty.
The clear-cut messages by Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to
Belgrade just triggered off Serb elite's reactions and laid bare its anti-Europeanism.
Some European countries have exerted themselves more than Serbia to secure it a EU
candidacy. The postponed candidacy was seized as an opportunity for the launch of
anti-European - and anti-German - campaign associating the one in early 1990s when Germany
had been the first to recognize Slovenia's and Croatia's independence. The purpose of the
recent visit to Belgrade by Christoph Heusgen, adviser to Angela Merkel, was clarification
of preconditions for candidacy. These preconditions, among other things, include
suspension of parallel institutions in Kosovo's north (local self-governments, courts of
law, police stations and, above all, smuggling gangs). Heusgen made it clear that Serbia
has done little, almost nothing about Merkel's suggestions. He was also critical about the
ongoing anti-German campaign claiming that Germany "has something against Serbia and
works to its detriment and to the detriment of President Boris Tadic and the ruling
At the time it emerged the Democratic Party assembled Serbia's
intellectual and cultural elite. Unfortunately, the party founding-fathers in early 1990s
came from the circle around writer Dobrica Cosic. So the party was the "intellectual
pillar" of the Serb national program. Today it bears moral responsibility for
distancing itself from that program and defining a modern, national program adjusted to
Serbia's actual potentials. Above all that would entail recognition of regional realities
and full commitment to European integration. The upcoming elections can bring no political
change whatsoever unless the Democratic Party itself makes an "internal"
turnout. The question remains, however, whether the party has a potential for such a
U-turn and a leader courageous enough to chart the course ahead. Judging by the media, the
party is presently in turmoil. But how relevant it remains to be seen.