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NO 167-168

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Helsinki Charter No. 167-168

September - October 2012


First “Triumphs” of the New Regime


By Ivan Torov

As it seems, one hundred days of the rule of the parliamentary-patriotic makeshift produced the result that was quite predictable when Boris Tadic lost the presidential race and Ivica Dacic accepted with both hands the “take it or leave it” offer: economic and political agony grew beyond all bounds, while the new rulers clearly indicated that at the right moment they would “settle” the newly created chaos by reviving Milosevic’s totalitarianism. Given that in the hands of recycled cadres of 1990s (with assistance from inevitable Mladjan Dinkic and Rasim Ljajic) – who are now in their own, primitive and brutal way, establishing absolute control over all spheres of social and political life – falls apart at all seams, one should expect with good reason that twelve years after October 5 domestic conflict would be intensified until it secures a solid foundation for even sharper confrontation with the world.

This confrontation has already been contoured, annulling everything that has been accomplished with great difficulty since 2000. But these contours are more or less tactical for the time being and will remain such until the new rulers assess whether and to what extent Serbia is ready for an “all-inclusive” conflict with Europe. In other words, until they determine whether escalation of “disagreement” with Brussels, Washington and Berlin as of lately leads toward something more tangible except for another /self/isolation.

Though many analysts of the attitude of the ruling progressist-socialist coalition – the manners of which growingly associate the ideological terror of the “red-black” coalition in late 1990s – claim that Serbia has definitely given up the EU course, as indicated by President Nikolic’s and Premier Dacic’s verbal acrobatics, it seems to be too early for drawing such a conclusion. And it is too early not so much because Serbia’s new masters’ attempts at camouflaging their anti-Western sentiments with the slogan “We want to join EU, but EU does not want us unless we accept that Serbia’s territory shrinks,” as it is because of the fact that the regime is still at loss in its search for a strategy for justifying the future denial of European integration.

More and more “red lines” and “national and state interests” in and about Kosovo that have nothing to do with real life build a climate in which, true, continuation of negotiations with “provisional institutions in Prishtina” is not turned down, but which brims with obsolete ideas dating back in 1990s and the time before Kosovo’s independence declaration. And the new regime knows for sure that neither Kosovo Albanians nor international circles would ever agree to. Dacic has been pinpricking Brussels by frequently mentioning the partition scenario for Kosovo or with his latest statement that “criminals from the WWII would not allow us into EU today.” In response, Brussels threatened with annulment or at least suspension of visa-free regime for Serbia. One can only imagine Brussels’s response should Belgrade officials continue insisting on Kostunica’s failed concept for “substantive autonomy,” which nothing but negates the fact that a war has been wagged over Kosovo, that Serbia had lost that war and that, by declaring independence, the great majority of Kosovo population clearly messaged that restoration of Serbia’s rule was a fantasy unworthy of a serious debate around a pub table, let alone at a negotiating one. Now that the President of the Republic says that the time has come for Serbia to pose conditions to EU it wouldn’t be a surprise should the government precondition continuation of negotiations with the constitutional preamble providing that Kosovo is an integral part of Serbia and that Albanians could count on maximum of autonomy. On the other hand, now that Serbia got a regime belonging to museum exhibits why shouldn’t it use archeology in its policy?

So insistence on the illusion that lasts since Serbia lost the war, capitulated and withdrew from Kosovo, the illusion that Kosovo could be restored just because the constitutional preamble says so and the government ignores historical facts and radically changed circumstances, continues even though Tadic’s construct “both Kosovo and EU” completely failed and the new regime has to make a choice: should it continue telling the same story it risks to gamble away European prospects in addition to Kosovo lost long ago.

On the other hand, it could redirect its energy toward negotiations on a degree of a possible autonomy for Kosovo North, protection of the remaining Serb population and cultural heritage and return of misplaced and expelled persons, and on some guarantees for all this from the international community. But growingly overt indications that the Belgrade regime is after political negotiations on some different (and final) Kosovo status within Serbia testify that the announced change of the policy for Kosovo will be marked by giant strides – backwards.

In this context, one can tell for certain that Serbia will go on confronting all factors concerned with Kosovo. EU and UN would like to put the end to the Kosovo “story” as soon as possible and insist on neighborly relations between Serbia and Kosovo. No doubt that they will turn a deaf ear to Belgrade’s partition scenarios, restoration of the situation before independence declaration or before NATO intervention in Kosovo. For its part, Serbia constantly fuels tension in the region through revived rhetorics of Gazimestan and 1990s and hopes that by the tactics of delay and obstruction would buy it time until international constellation changes. However, it (deliberately) ignores a quite realistic threat: by closing the Kosovo file Europe will put Serbia on ice.

With its anti-Western (Kosovo) rumpus and hints of growing confrontation with EU, the Serb nomenclature – amply backed by the Church, academicians and extreme nationalistic groupings – reveals not only that it is incapable of offering any realistic solution but also its plan to play on the Kosovo issue and “anti-Serb” EU and thus sweep under the carpet Serbia’s economic and social catastrophe and the fact that the regime, established on demonization and criminalization of Democratic Party, has no idea whatsoever how to recover the country’s economy. So they once again go for Milosevic’s time-tested recipe: put out the card of nationalism and confrontation with all those Serbia’s future depends on by riding on a wave of people’s economic and social grudge.

In the Milosevic era instrumentalization of popular dissatisfaction generated Yugoslavia’s disintegration, wars, ethnic cleansings, Serbia’s isolation and economic disaster. Today, this method implies kissing goodbye to both Kosovo and EU, turning towards either non-existent or unreliable alternatives, further economic decline and Serbia turned into the crux of regional instability, battlefield at home and hotbed of right-wing, nationalistic violence and intolerance.

If this is what Nikolic, Dacic, Vucic, Dinkic & Co. have in mind, their doings in the past several months testify that they are on the right course. And that once again Serbia is astray.


NO 167-168

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