Serbia: tick, tick, tick

That’s the clock ticking down the last months of the current Serbian government.

The ruling coalition, never stable, is visibly crumbling. The Socialists — Milosevic’s old party — were supporting it, but they’re split down the middle now, and may bolt over the appointment of a new foreign minister.

(Serbia never had a foreign minister before, because that position was held by the federal government of Serbia-and-Montenegro. But when Montenegro left in May, the federal government ceased to exist, so now Serbia and Montenegro both need their own FMs. The obvious solution would be to appoint Vuk Draskovic, former federal FM, to the new Serbian position. But the Socialists hate Draskovic’s guts. It’s a feud going back 15 years or more. Long story, but basically, it’s the sort of hatred that you’d expect a bunch of provincial Communists turned vaguely left-wing populist nationalists to feel towards a former pseudo-dissident journalist/novelist turned vaguely right-wing mystical nationalist.)

The government is coughing blood. On a recent key vote (appointing a new deputy prime minister), it came within a whisker of collapsing, just barely managing to muster 126 votes out of 250.

Meanwhile G17 — which is sort of the Europhile-technocrat urban liberal party — has said that it will leave the government coalition on October 1, unless talks with the EU have started up again by then. Talks with the EU will not start unless accused war criminal Ratko Mladic shows up for his appointment with the Hague. Right now that seems unlikely.

So, elections in Serbia, probably this autumn, almost certainly by early next year.

This is not likely to be a good thing. While the current government has its faults, it’s very unlikely that it will be replaced by anything better… and all too possible it could be something worse.

On the plus side, at least the Serbs are letting Montenegro go in peace. It looks like most of the muttering and blustering of March and April — stuff like Montenegrins losing their benefits, or being forced to choose citizenship — was just bluff. That’s really good news. So there’s that.

More on this anon.

10 thoughts on “Serbia: tick, tick, tick

  1. G17 was trained and financed by the CIA in Budapest to break up firms and factories and sell them on for peanuts. Draskovic is an absolute nightmare, whether he was or still is a druggie is hard to tell. He has said some things which are even more off the wall than GB. Montenegro being a separate state now should take on all the responsabilities of one. Foreign students pay for education everywhere in the world. Same goes with health care. Don’t know which of these statements your writer would have trouble with.

  2. G17 was trained and financed by the CIA in Budapest to break up firms and factories and sell them on for peanuts.

    Uh huh. Cite for this?

    Note that privatization started in 1995, under Slobo. Although “privatization”, Slobo-style, meant selling monopolies and state assets at fire-sale prices to family members, cronies, and top members of the Socialist Party and JUL.

    Foreign students pay for education everywhere in the world. Same goes with health care

    I didn’t say anything about either of those. I was referring to (for instance) the suggestion that federal-era pensions would no longer be paid to Montenegrins, or that Montenegrins resident in Serbia would have to buy visas and register with the police.

    Doug M.

  3. I don’t see why they should be exempt from needing work visas for serbia?

    Every other country in the world requires foreign citizens to apply for a work visa prior to working in that country-it seems illogical that Serbia should offer more compassionate concessions to people who voted for outright independence from Serbia.

  4. Every other country in the world requires foreign citizens to apply for a work visa prior to working in that country

    Obviously you’re not a citizen of the EU.

    it seems illogical that Serbia should offer more compassionate concessions

    Actually, forcing the Montenegrins to get visas is not logical at all. It’s stupid.

    Bright, ambitious Montenegrins have been moving north to Serbia for the last 80 years. This has been a huge benefit to Serbia.

    While the rest of Europe is integrating into a single labor market, you want to chop yours even smaller?

    to people who voted for outright independence from Serbia.

    This is just silly vindictiveness — punishing the Montegrins for making you feel bad. And it’s doubly silly because the Montenegrins resident in Serbia couldn’t even vote in the independence referendum. You want to punish people who had nothing to do with it.

    There’s no iron law that says you have to make the Montenegrins get visas. It’s a choice. And if the Kostunica government has any sense, it will choose not to.

    Doug M.

  5. “pseudo-dissident journalist/novelist turned vaguely right-wing mystical nationalist.”

    I think you forgot a “/” after dissident. Otherwise you would be acknowledging Vuk’s writing skills.

    Whenever I see Vuk speak the box promoter Don King comes to mind. Am I far off?

  6. I think you forgot a “/” after dissident. Otherwise you would be acknowledging Vuk’s writing skills.

    I may not think much of Dan Brown’s writing, but _The Da Vinci Code_ has killed a lot of trees.

    Vuk, same-same. I’m afraid that both his novels and his nonfiction have sold and sold. The novels seem to have dropped off the shelves recently; I suspect they haven’t aged well. But still: he has made a very good living with his pen.

    I don’t understand Vuk’s appeal, but there are a lot of things in this world I don’t understand. It’s a plain fact that about one Serb in ten really believes that “Vuk — Zna Put!”

    My impression is that Vuk’s support isn’t broad, but it is deep… the people who like him aren’t more than 10% or so, but they _really_ like him. And they’re not going to change their minds.

    Doug M.

  7. I completely understand Draskovic’s appeal – its simply a question of charisma, that he no longer has, which meant he was loved by a sizeable amount of people.

    Now he is disliked by almost everybody and the internationals love him. 10 percent is a high estimate for his support – very high.
    Its my opinion that SPO is undergoing a change in that they are now touting for the support of pro EU moderately patriotic city types. They are leaving their rural electoral base for good.

    The populism of Don King without the murdering tendancies that King has Warchild. Vuk’s not evil, well I dont think he is anyway.

    I’m not sure Doug that we have seen the last of this government yet. Three main factors what they agree to divvy up behind closed doors, what the internationals want and what the polls say. SPS are very easily bribed with more positions in government run companies.

    Good point about privatisation BTW. People should be reminded about this fact since some now see Milosevic as some kind of antiglobalist socialist. If true it was a very late conversion that begun the moment he was ousted from power.

  8. You’ve closed off further comments of your “Ooh harsh, Cristina” piece from June 23, so I’m going to continue here.

    I don’t share your doom and gloom scenario for Serbian athletes, and indeed they’ve had quite a bit of success in the last week or so.

    The Serbs won the European U20 Basketball tournament, they had tennis success, and they won the junior waterpolo championship as well:

    http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=49734

    Young Serbs clinch Euro crown as Turkey wins silver

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/5208754.stm

    Djokovic powers to first tour win

    Novak Djokovic beat fourth seed Nicolas Massu in the Priority Telecom Open final to claim his first ATP title.

    Both players had their serve broken in the opening set before 19-year-old Serb Djokovic won a tense tie-break.

    They again traded breaks early in set two before Djokovic struck again in the fourth game before sealing a 7-6 6-4 victory in Amersfoort, Holland.
    Djokovic is the first Serb player to win the clay-court event and achieved the feat without dropping a set.

    —-

    http://www.tanjug.co.yu/news.aspx?rbx=15&rbxn=Sports

    SCG JUNIORS WIN EUROPEAN WATERPOLO CHAMPIONSHIP

    29.7.2006 17:02 BELGRADE, (Tanjug) – The Serbia-Montenegro juniors won Saturday the European waterpolo championship in Romania by beating Hungary with 12-11 (4-3, 5-4, 1-3, 2-1).

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