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NO 165-166

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INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 1 > Helsinki Charter No. 165-166 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 165-166

July - August 2012


Post-election Serbia


By Ivan Torov

Whenever, in the past couple of years, it finds itself in a blind alley or in a critical dilemma – thanks to its electorate or, even more, to its oligarchy – Serbia has Milorad Dodik up its sleeve. No matter how hard the boorish, agile and pretty unruly President of Republika Srpska tries to cover up his wasted support to Boris Tadic and Democratic Party in the election campaign, his demonstrations in Belgrade and Serbia that are growing more frequent and more insolent serve as a barometer of the true nature of the political and national corpse that holds all the reins of government today. At the same time, his stands for a reliable indicator of the course Serbia could take with Tomislav Nikolic, Ivica Dacic, Aleksandar Vucic, Mladjan Dinkic and Co. in the driver’s seat. The concept “Mile” Dodik proposed after meeting with the newly elected head of state lacks only a military aspect of Serbia’s regional supremacy to perfectly fit into the platform on which – throughout 1980s and 1990s – Serbia had ridden into agony it had not overcome even after one decade of the rule of the so-called champions of October 5.

So, what is it “official” Banja Luka proposes while (un)official Belgrade seemingly wavers about? The time has come, says Dodik, to remove all the mistakes from the past 20 years. This moment, he adds, calls for mobilization rather than destruction. In other words, Serbia should resume “authentic” postulates of Milosevic’s warring and nationalistic policy, say ‘no’ to tutoring and protectorate of the anti-Serb West, and redefine the causes and consequences of the wars, genocide and ethnic cleansing. “We must,” says Dodik, “provide answers to which others will respond rather than the other way round. I am confident that the President /of Serbia/ would give such answers.” An if this associates revival or original (and actually never abandoned) stands about “pan-Serb unification” or unification of all Serbs under a single banner of the “most powerful state in the Balkans,” then the final collapse of October 5 and triumphant enthronement of somewhat modified version of the “red-black” coalition convincingly suggest that – like in 1980s and 1990s – “nothing should be ruled out” when it comes to unraveling of the Balkan national cartography. This includes the possibility of yet another era of Serbia’s dangerous adventures.

Unfortunately, as things stand now, Milorad Dodik’s challenges would find an echo in the new (old) headquarters of Serbia’s patriotic rebuilders and feel-gooders. The more so since domestic national and nationalistic milieu brims with belief that the outcomes of Dodik’s endeavor to undermine and destroy Bosnia-Herzegovina are impressive. Hence the belief that, when the time it ripe, his recipe for obstruction and destruction could well be applied to Belgrade’s communication with the region and the part of the international community still perceiving Serbia with considerable reserve and skepticism. And the time will be ripe when the new regime determines that its pro-European orientation (only verbal so far) has not moved Serbia any closer to the date for accession negotiations with EU or to IPA funds, or when Brussels and Washington realize that what causes the present confusion over true intensions of the “new edition” of official Belgrade are the attempts of representatives of the “new policy” to consolidate their power, but also alleviate Serbia’s financial fiasco.

Their attempts to fill the huge hole in the state budget and prevent the country’s bankruptcy through IMF, World Bank and EU blur the gist: and the gist is that the bulk of the new regime tends to xenophobia, manifest from time to time, and to Euro-skepticism or the concept whereby “vital national and state interests” determine the pace towards European integration.

And then, of course, everything boils down to Kosovo. Though it is quite evident that the new decision-makers are at loss what to do about it and that the ruling coalition, let alone the nation as a whole, has not reached a consensus on the issue, “ideas” associating 1990s and testifying that the new regime has no ear for realities are being circulated from time to time. Nikolic’s revival of an almost forgotten offer to Kosovo Albanians, the one about “substantive autonomy within Serbia” indicates that Belgrade has no concept at all for Kosovo. On the other hand, a lack of concept makes perfect excuse for extreme radical motions. Fueling delusion about renewed negotiations on Kosovo status attempts to cover up the fact that the two parties can negotiate the remaining technical issues, including a possible special status for Kosovo North (within the new state of Kosovo) or some modified Ahtisaari plan the Serb side could not invoke at all under this name. Once faced with unavoidable choices the new regime will be either forced to continue along Boris Tadic’s path – which might be fatal to its ratings and inter-party cohesion – or obstruct, protract or even put an end to negotiating process – which would actually put an end to Serbia’s European integration. Judging by (unchanged) mentality of the Progressists (genetically modified Radicals) and Socialists, the later option seems by far more probable.

First steps taken by a two-seater (Dacic-Vucic) with Nikolic at the helm only added to Brussels’ skepticism about their pro-European orientation. Arrogance and methods used to oust the Governor of the Central Bank and turn the institution into a service of daily politics, numbers of compromised cadres from the ranks of Radicals, Socialists and Yugoslav Left appointed high governmental officials, almost barbarous annulment of already established coalitions at local level, especially in Vojvodina, promotion of Russian lobbyists and fueled delusions that Russians and Chinese will snatch us from the jaws of financial disaster – all this, taken as a whole, testifies of the new regime’s understanding of European values and adds to EU’s suspicions that a goodbye to European integration and a comeback of a regional destabilizer could be the outcomes of Serbia’s present confusion – no matter how long the nomenclature as this one remains in power. In such a case Milorad Dodik’s proposal would be clearly not just a window-dressing.

A major proof that makes Brussels-seated officials’ hair curl these days is patriotically “awakened” Constitutional Court of Serbia: the moment it was clear what parties would form a new government, it suddenly awoke from its two-year sleep to decide that too much autonomy had been invested in Vojvodina and, therefore, things should be restored within the frame of Milosevic’s centralistic Constitution. This attack at Vojvodina – associating the so-called yoghurt revolution of 1998 and annulment of its autonomy two years later – indicates clearly that the new coalition in power is prone to generating domestic crises that will be internationalized for sure unless Belgrade and Novi Sad reach some agreement.


NO 165-166

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