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INFO   :::  Projects > Archives > Promoting a Social Climate Propitious to Transitional... > Helsinki Charter No. 157-158 > Text





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 denominator).

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 DS."

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.



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