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NO 157-158

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INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 1 > Helsinki Charter No. 157-158 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 157-158

November - December 2011


Serbia Left without EU Candidacy


By Ivan Torov

Once again Serbia's political elites have not let down the tradition of generating deeper and deeper crises to camouflage their ability to solve problems. Faced with the fact that its Kosovo policy suffered another and probably final defeat in December 2011 they resorted to time-tested methods: they faced us in turn with the Hamletian dilemma - as a leading mastermind among them, Ivica Dacic, put it - so as to postpone for a while (till March 2012) to answer a crucial question: does the current policy mean that Serbia would finally give up the course towards Europe or is it yet another bluff or a marketing maneuver that has an expiry date till the upcoming parliamentary elections, most probably in March 2012?

The more they convince us through their media that Serbia would never ever cross some imaginary "red lines" in the issue of Kosovo, not even for the sake of EU membership, the more obvious it is that we witness a final episode in a longstanding but unsuccessful and counterproductive endeavor to present what has been lost in the war as a goal that could be attained at a negotiating table, through manipulations and tricks, "against all odds." The same as they wanted us to believe that a constitutional preamble could bring back the entire territory of Kosovo to Serbia, they are now deluding us that the Resolution 1244 - the last line of defense - would legalize the right to partition: integration of Kosovo's north into Serbia.

In their trickery everything would be possible, like in a magic box, had the above-mentioned preamble produced tangible results and were the situation in the field and international circumstances totally different. Today, when Serbia has not choice but to recognize the reality if it wants to save what could be saved, this model of conscious manipulation - more or less frequently resorted to since Milosevic's ouster - is being upgraded with "loyalty to state and national interests." That is a dogma for citizens and the general public but a changeable category for politicians, depending on their partisan or electoral ambition. And these politicians are now pushing Serbia towards margins, self-isolation and a track to nowhere. By sticking to the slogan "both Kosovo and EU" - a symbol of a policy defeated long ago - they nothing but lead the state and the people towards bleak future. In addition, the feeble social energy that managed to survive is harnessed towards old "recipes" that had already cost Serbia dear rather than towards a solution that is not that bad as the rest in the sea of bad solutions. As if nothing happened in the meantime, as if Serbia has not been knocked-down and defeated, they are presenting new illusions such as (Tadic's) the idea about a dual sovereignty, Irish model, two Germanys, South Tyrol or a "Kosovo Dayton."

But since Tadic, Dacic, Jeremic and some others often seem to forget what it was they said the other day, their ideas (usually verbal acrobatics or provocations) end up as election rhetoric and as such are rather ignored by international circles. Nevertheless, by continuing to oppose the requirements of the EU Council (even though these requirements are made by a state or two) they take a deliberate risk of having Serbia's candidacy stocked in someone's drawer and clean forgotten. But if Belgrade officials really believe that their bluffing strategy can befoul Brussels and Washington - apart from themselves and us - secure Serbia's prospects for EU candidacy in March 2012, then we are in real trouble.

Though Serbia has been suffering the consequences of Milosevic's, Kosunica's and even Tadic's Kosovo policies for long, the bleak list on which we already have a military defeat, bombardment, the loss of Kosovo and a thorny road to EU, seems not to be completed yet. Even if one assumes that there would be no spectacular changes in Belgrade's relations with Brussels and Berlin (except for further aggravation), it would be more realistic to expect that the assortment of repercussions will be larger and larger until Serbia hits bottom - that is when Dacic's and Kostunica's "visions" about one and only "priority" become true.

From the angle of history, Serbia's giving up the European course would by yet another tragic testimony that, whenever on the crossroads, Serbia opted for anti-Europeanism. At such times it used to solace itself with cheap and empty slogans about being a natural part of Europe and convince citizens that Euro-enthusiasm had been nothing but a short-lived weakness caused by "those who are snatching away fifteen percent of our most sacred territory." The masterminds of Serbia's present anti-European movement - from the ruling coalition and the opposition alike - are already convincing us that giving up Europe would be some judgment day. Serbia will establish economic relations with Europe on equal footing (as if Europe longs for such relations), they say. But, if that turns impossible there is always an alternative - the brotherly, Eastern Orthodox Russia, China that is so close to our hearts, then there is India.Serbia's foes may turn green with envy. This alternative turn towards the East that Moscow has been "suggesting" so strongly as of lately - manifested in under the counter dealings of its Ambassador Konuzin or "patriotic" Russophilia of some domestic politicians - would only lead towards even bigger political, economic and social agony. Serbia would be probably deprived for good of the assistance of its powerful financiers such s European Union, Germany and US, investors would shun it like the devil and its technology would sink even lower. In such still hypothetical ambience it would in no time become a bargaining counter for some other power center and ideologies.

Such a radical turn towards the East would have repercussions on domestic political scene too. In the upcoming parliamentary elections pro-European political forces - now weaker and weaker, and always vacillating - could be easily replaced by conservative, nationalistic and right-wing ones, probably a worse edition of those at the scene a year after Premier Djindjic's assassination. In the short run they would probably compensate the emotions, passions and disappointment with the loss of Kosovo. But in the long run they would do their best to turn Serbia into the scene of brutal (déja vu) nationalism, xenophobia, fascism and racism. The atmosphere of conflict and instability would also be maintained in and about Kosovo - in other words, in the entire territory of Serbia - until that movement finds the ways to bare its teeth to that nasty Europe by once again turning Serbia into a disruptive factor in the region and beyond it.

So it would be in Kosovo where Serbia's speedy downfall began in late 1998s and wherefrom it went on an adventure with unforeseeable consequences, so it would be on this very Kosovo that Serbia would suffer its final defeat.


NO 157-158

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