05 December 2011
- 14.11.2011, Catherine Ashton states she has faith in the "leadership abilities" of Boris Tadić adding that the Serbian president "knows there are things we must do together".
- 29.11.2011, Boris Tadić calls on Kosovo Serbs to dismantle the roadblocks in the north of Kosovo they have defended against repeated KFOR assault.
- 5.12.2011, Tadić complains it is always being expected of Serbian politicians to make decisions for which there does not exist majority support.
And yes, for European officials to manifest leadership abilities means to obey, specifically to obey European officials in place of speaking for the people. Leadership is obedience. Who knew?
29 November 2011
|Level of support for EU membership in Serbia, October 2007 - October 2011|
A survey of public opinion that was recently conducted in Serbia revealed support for EU membership in the country has finally tanked. As late as June this year the level of support stood at 60.8%, but has since dropped to 47.4%. Even so, with 37.5% opposed, supporters of membership in the EU still claim a ten point lead over those opposed. So then Serbs, nonetheless, remain pro-EU and all is, nonetheless, good in the world for Brussels? Well, not really.
Asked if they would support Serbia establishing the closest ties with Russia possible 59.3% answer in the affirmative, while 21.2% are opposed. That means those in favor of stronger links with Russia claim a thirty-eight point lead over those opposed. EU membership may be popular, but links with Russia are more popular still.
82% of Serbs think of Russia as a country friendly to Serbia, while 5.1% claim it is a country hostile to Serbia. 27.7% see the European Union as an entity friendly to Serbia and 42.1% see it as an entity hostile to Serbia. 20.7% see Germany as a friendly power and 55.7% as a hostile power. 11.5% see Great Britain as a friendly power and 65.9% as a hostile power. In other words, sympathy for Russia is wider than the number of those who see the benefit in close political ties with Moscow. Meanwhile support for EU membership does not imply that Serbs believe Western European powers, or even the EU, wish Serbia well.
What is more citizens of Serbia are skeptical EU membership would benefit Serbia to any great extent. 45.4% express agreement (23.2% agree strongly) with the statement that EU membership would bring Serbia more harm than gain while 43.2 percent disagree (18.6% disagree strongly). So then, what explains the situation where the people of Serbia continue to support associating with hostile states in a possibly hostile supranational entity they are no longer willing to automatically assume is tantamount to a better life? The reason is the influence of argument of appeasement.
Many in Serbia believe they have been and continue to be punished for the fact their political leadership in the 1990s did not show sufficient eagerness to join Euro-Atlantic integrations. Some of them believe that if Serbia were an EU member — and thus a nominal member of the club of western states — it would be less likely that Americans and Western Europeans would act against it. Both because they would be less inclined to do so and because they would have less room to act in such a way.
Naturally, that one part of support for EU membership comes from people who desire it just because they believe Serbia in the EU could breathe more freely, means support for making concessions in order to join the EU is nowhere as strong as the figure of people in favor of membership could lead one to believe. 9.2% would be fine with Serbia "ceasing to support" the Serbs in the north of Kosovo if it meant getting EU candidate status in December — 75.5% want none of that.
28 November 2011
|Army of Yugoslavia in orderly withdrawal from Kosovo, 1999|
In Serbia there is a thesis that Kosovo was lost in 1999. The point of the thesis being the province should be written under losses and forgotten about so that Serbia may turn to transforming itself according to the wishes of Brussels and Washington in the territory it still controls.
It is not an openly stated thesis of the government, which claims to be in pursuit of mutually exclusive goals of defending Kosovo and moving towards Euro-Atlantic integrations simultaneously. It is a thesis of a junior government party, the NGO crowd and a coterie of paid-for mercenaries of the pen who represent the elements of the regime who tend to say what the government only thinks.
It is a curious thesis considering the Kosovo War ended with Washington legally binding itself to respect Serbia's sovereignty in Kosovo by voting in UNSCR 1244. It is true the Americans could not be expected to intend to abide by the 1999 settlement, but then it was up to Belgrade to do all it it can to nonetheless preserve as much of it as possible. This is exactly what the current regime in power in Serbia never intended. If Kosovo should be lost for Serbia it will not be because it was lost in 1999, but because after 2000 Serbia was largely run by people who wished it had been lost then.
It is plausible that just remaining a state capable of autonomous action may have proved sufficient for Serbia to deter the occupiers from assaulting the original settlement and risk unwanted incidents with potential for escalation. Certainly KFOR would be more reluctant to undertake actions like the current assault against the four municipalities in the north of Kosovo if Serbia were known to be ready to issue a demand for KFOR to desist and to dispatch hundreds of Serbian police (something envisioned by the UNSCR 1244) to the north if the calls were not heeded. Particularly if it had not dismantled and purged away much of its army so that it had something to potentially back the police with.
Counter-intuitively as it sounds in one critical aspect NATO occupation of Kosovo actually enhanced Serbian position vis-a-vis NATO. During the bombing of 1999 NATO faced a problem of how to hurt an enemy whose army is camouflaged, dug in and has no need to conduct large scale troop movements or concentrate its forces. It resolved the problem by going after civilian targets instead. Serbian forces faced the opposite problem of how to hurt an enemy that is content to bomb civilian infrastructure and will not drop bellow 15,000 feet. After it was conclusively shown the Army of Yugoslavia would not able to protect the civilian population from a redoubled effort of NATO against their livelihoods, or to exact a price on NATO for conducting it, Yugoslavia negotiated an armistice. NATO occupation of Kosovo that followed, however, gifted Serbia the capacity to inflict damage on NATO and should have resolved the basic strategic problem Serbia had faced in 1999.
27 November 2011
|USAF F-16 and crew on a 'goodwill visit' to Serbia military base (2006)|
Last month, days before KFOR would launch its most ambitious string of attacks against the roadblocks in the north of Kosovo, the president of Serbia told the embattled communities in the north that "Belgrade was firmly at their side, but that a solution must be found to allow KFOR to pass past the barricades". What can be made of a head of state who, at the height of a crisis involving his citizens and an occupying army, has as his driving objective to ensure privilege for the latter?
What has happened to make such an unnatural state of affairs a reality? Did some years prior American tanks roll into downtown Belgrade and install a pliant regime? Well, not quite. Serbia was subjugated, but not by force. It was defeated by subterfuge, without having fired a shot in its defense.
How in turn was it possible for a people as freedom-minded as any to lose it so easily? It turns out because they have a state set above themselves that can be used against them they can be checkmated with little expense. A people that could not be broken in war in 1999 were brought under Imperial domination a year later with suitcases of cash. Since 2000 Empire has been able to make sure successive governments of Serbia would be in whole or in part made up of its clients.
What is more, Empire's position in Belgrade has never been more assured. Impressed with the ability of Washington to see patriotic parties thwarted — election results be damned — a part of oppositionists have sought its favor, so that now the Empire has in its pocket not just the government parties, but also the largest opposition party. Where 2008 elections were anticipated as an event that would finally rid Serbian government of Imperial influence — which they would have, but for US Embassy engineered defection of the Socialist Party of Serbia from the ranks of patriotic parties to the ranks of State Department clientele — it is apparent in advance the 2012 elections will change nothing.
What best illustrates just how far gone official Serbia is, is how utopian the eminently reasonable calls of Serbs under occupation for Serbian police and army to make a return to Kosovo sound in the present climate. With Serbia in the grip of collaborationists it would be beyond absurd to hope for it to deliver on the central promise of the nation-state — to defend its people against foreign threats.