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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    MON, 25 DEC 1995 18:37:30 GMT

    Serbia and democratization


    Judging by experience, the West can bear more of its favourite dictators, who are ready to give way at a decisive moment for the sake of Western interests, than democratically-oriented population could even imagine.

    AIM, Beograd, 18.12.1995.

    AIM Belgrade, December 18, 1995

    A careful observer of the circumstances in Serbia certainly cannot miss the fact that reactions to Dayton differ from the reactions to Paris. If extreme Rightists among the opposition are excluded, such as Seselj's Radicals, on the one hand, and parties oriented towards a civic society within the election coalition DEPOS on the other (Serb Revival Movement /SPO/, Civic Alliance of Serbia /GSS/, New Democracy /ND/), all the others have lowered, by a whole octave if not even more, their tone of discontent with everything Serb President Slobodan Milosevic had signed in Paris.

    When he had returned from Dayton, the opposition gathered in the Democratic Party (DS) and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), but in other minor parties (such as the extra-parliamentary Liberal Party) welcomed Slobodan Milosevic as a traitor of the Serb national cause, as a politician who had sold Serb territories in Bosnia and a deceiver who dared claim "that the Bosnian Serbs have actually got something by being treated as a separate entity in united Bosnia & Herzegovina".

    After Paris, this type of critics, willingly or not, had to admit that it was important "that there was no more killing and that the fighting has ceased" and more than ever opened a discussion on the future of Serbia itself. It should be noted that the Serb Revival Movement, the Civic Alliance and somewhat less New Democracy have never abandoned this topic. Not even when they had whole-heartedly supported the peace process and the agreement, and were then accused for it of being ready to enter a coalition with the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia for.

    Consistency of the ones and changed reactions of the others can be explained not only by the Paris fait accompli, but also by their wish to be part of the new process of changes which is for the time being just anticipated here. After Dayton, the Democratic party and the Democratic Party of Serbia resembled the ruling party in its best nationalistic days more than truly tolerant, democratic parties. It is interesting, however, that the "Bosnian issue" which is certainly inevitable in and the centre of all developments is either interpreted differently, or approached differently, even when speaking of the future of Serbia itself or Yugoslavia with Montenegro. The Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Serbia mostly believe that the Serbs in Bosnia have got their own state and that sooner or later, some day it will find itself on the Serb side of the Drina. In such an approach they are to a certain extent encouraged by recognition of the international community that the Serbs in Sarajevo need to be guaranteed more safety than it was done in Dayton. Moreover, they act as if they already see, similarly to Radovan Karadzic and Biljana Plavsic, a newly constructed part of Serb Sarajevo. Contrary to them, the SPO and the GSS and the ND believe that additional guarantees for the Serbs in Sarajevo are actually a reflection of the necessity to reestablish confidence between different nations which are afraid of revenge even against their innocent members after all the crimes, victims, disaster.

    The opposition oriented towards a civic society is also disappointed that Serbia and Croatia still cannot reach an agreement concerning mutual recognition. They believe that only good relations among neighbours, new and old, can restore, slowly but surely, the necessary dose of trust which is indispensable for the return of refugees, certain obliteration of ethnic cleansing and creation of multi-ethnic communities.

    There are differences in reactions after Dayton and after Paris even within the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia. Although euphoria and celebration in the honour of peace-making President Milosevic in the official media and his party, "among the people", unbelievably resembles the scenes well-known only in callous former socialist regimes, even the federal Prime Minister Radoje Kontic, declares with enthusiasm that the Serbs in Bosnia have got their state, and such interpretation can be heard in party organizations of the SPS around Serbia. Whether this is just tactics until something happens with Prevlaka, while Eastern Slavonia is still topical, or just marks the beginning of an election campaign in "branches" of the SPS among Bosnian Serbs on the eve of elections in B&H?

    There is certainly a little bit of everything in it, but it is obvious that the ruling parties in Serbia and in Croatia already have secured, or are seeking or strengthening, their positions in Bosnia & Herzegovina, which might be a sign that integral B&H may not be as integral as conceived in Dayton and verified in Paris. This is certainly a threat of a new division of B&H immediately after foreign troops leave this land, especially since it is hard to believe that they will accomplish much in a single year as the intend to do.

    In this whole game of political parties in Serbia, the Yugoslav Associated Leftists (JUL) should not be underestimated, however few of them may be, because their role is gaining in significance as a group for exerting pressure and as a possible coalition partner of the SPS. Despite new rich private owners among the leadership of this movement, socialism is still the only future for Serbia according to JUL, and capitalism, including even privatization in the economy, is a true threat to the population and a spectre similar to the one from the Communist Manifesto, but just the opposite.

    For the sake of the future, all parties are competing with their privatization programs as an extraordinary proof that Serbia will start on the road to democracy. This element preoccupies the parties much more than human rights and democratic institutions in general, or specifically rights of ethnic minorities. This certainly conceals a wish to obtain foreign capital, get into the foreign market, although many privatization programs actually imply just a lot of superficial and not essential changes. What the future will really be like in Serbia and whether peace in Bosnia & Herzegovina, such as it is, offers opportunity for true democratic options, it is difficult to say, but according to the first signals, it does not seem that democracy will be making long steps.

    The initiative of democratically oriented "other Serbia", for instance, to grant amnesty to general Trifunovic who is a traitor here (and a war criminal in Croatia) just because he did not tear Varazdin to the ground, did not even stir an official reaction. The fact that the President of Serbia signed a law which deprives young men who had left the country before the war because they did not wish to shoot at their former friends of the right to inheritance should not be underestimated either. There is no sign of a possible renewal of the parliamentary initiative to grant amnesty to these young men and not to treat them as deserters. There is no end to similar examples which in no way open the way to general democracy in the future, so one rightfully wonders whether the international community is truly interested in democracy in the states of former Yugoslavia, or it has left this for a later date.

    Pretext for this delay may be found in the fact that great peace-makers have started towards signing of peace agreements only after the attacks of NATO airplanes, without whose "services" peace would be impossible to implement. If they start to cooperate with the Court in the Hague - which would have been only natural even before Dayton - maybe they will not be asked to do anything else. Judging by experience, the West can bear more of its favourite dictators, who are ready to give way at a decisive moment for the sake of Western interests, than democratically-oriented population could even imagine.

    The real issue is whether dictatorships in the Balkans, with just superficial democratization, will mean more stability in Europe.

    (AIM) Gordana Logar