Jun 21, 2012
When one runs into a headline "Balkan 'Benelux' would speed up EU entry" the thought of a successful regional customs union gets squashed by the oxymoron created by mingling the word "Balkan" with the word "Benelux." There is nothing "Beneluxian" about the Balkans, nor there is a genuine desire among the warring Balkan nations to erase borders between them; if anything, the tendency to carve additional borders is as present as ever. Benelux Customs Union served as a core for the economic powerhouse of European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor of the European Economic Community, which deteriorated into a political empire and a stumbling economic behemoth with an uncertain direction and an even less certain future. The Dutch, the Belgians and the Luxembourg Germans formed it to advance business interests of their economic elites, to make production and trade cheaper for the already advanced local markets.
The cynic in me turned into a shocked cynic after I began reading the opinion piece and saw that the "Balkan Benelux" proposal is in fact a veiled promotion of the Prizren League-inspired ideal of Greater Albania! Yes, the writers, an Albanian from the Serbian province of Kosovo and an Austrian living in Albania, proposed that this union include Albania, Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the rogue state of Kosovo. In other words, forget insurgency, terrorism, organ trafficking and other state-building methods; let the EU buy off the surrounding countries and give them on a silver plate to the "unifying" factor that is the Albanian people. If this hasn't been the goal of the pan-Albanian elites since at least 1878, I would laugh this proposal off. But it is far from a laughing matter, although the authors do add a form of a caveat:
"It is important to convince the international audiences that this is not some kind of Greater Albania through the back door."
Of course it is important. And they will take your word for it.
The proposed union, regardless of the pretenses it was proposed under, would round up the three countries and Kosovo, the NATO-occupied province of Serbia in which Albanians control close to 90 percent of the territory. Assuming the authors of the article meant for the entire NATO-occupied Kosovo to be subjugated to this "union," such a creation would be populated by about 7.5 million people and 5 million of them would be Albanians! Yes, the ethnic cleansing they have been conducting would produce a greater degree of domination, if completed, but the geopolitical situation may be changing and I'm not surprised that alternative, cleaner solutions for the question of Albanian expansionist appetites are being sought. Regardless of the laws governing relationships between the four entities, Albanians dominate two of them, share power in the third and, as such, can hold the fourth one, Montenegro, a hostage to its Albanian minority.
The economic parallel of this proposal with the Beneluxian principle is as irrelevant as it is non-existent; there is no border between Albania and Kosovo to speak of; the one between Albania and Macedonia is as porous as any considering Albanians live on both sides of it and the Macedonian Albanians are more loyal to the cause of Greater Albania that to the state they live in; Montenegro is similar to Macedonia in this aspect. Add to this the fact that criminal industries such as drug trade, prostitution, human trafficking are often cited to take up a large portion of this region's economy, with a hub in Kosovo. It is easy to conclude that economic reasons cannot be the basis for creation of the Balkan Benelux, as the "goods'' already flow through "freely" and the production is virtually non-existent. You don't combine broken parts to make the engine work.
It is not surprising that this proposal is being peddled at the time of the seemingly no pasaran situation in North Kosovo. As Serbia continues to block Kosovo Albanians' independence and as the Kosovo Serbs continue to resist the Albanian occupation of the North, this new concoction could be seen as a circumvention maneuver. The authors are somewhat honest about it:
"Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia can also serve as stepping-stones for Kosovo towards Italy, Greece and the rest of EU."
They forget that Kosovo is not an independent state, and that after all, Greece does not recognize it.
If the rogue state of Kosovo illegally joins a union of independent states for the ostensible purpose of advancing regional cooperation and expediting the EU accession, then it automatically gets the international representation and recognition. If such a union is fast-tracked into the status of an EU candidate, then the question of the North Kosovo and of the Kosovo independence in general becomes a matter of a relationship between two EU candidates and a subject to even more pressure on Serbia from Brussels. In other words, it becomes an EU matter rather than a UN Security Council matter, negotiated according to Brussels-imposed rules rather than under the UNR 1244. And we have seen how the EU involvement has damaged Serbia's interests in its occupied province's status negotiations. What the EU members like Spain or Greece, who haven't recognized Kosovo, have to say to that has been rendered irrelevant by the current economic tumult they are in. In case this proposal surfaces as a viable political initiative, Greece may want to keep its head down and pray that the Greater Albania architects leave it outside of all the combinations.
Albania and the Kosovo Albanians would rush headfirst into this unification. Macedonia has never been a country that made its own decisions and, since 2001, its government is a power-sharing structure that mandates the active participation of its Albanian minority. The constant threat of an Albanian insurgency has Macedonia teetering on the brink of implosion. Montenegro, on the other hand, is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and since the entire country can be bought off by an average Western European bank, it is not crazy to expect that proposals like the ridiculously sounding Balkan Benelux do appeal to the already-blackmailed Montenegrin leadership, if arranged on some type of a bailout platter.
It would be a small step for the EU, but a gigantic one towards building a Greater Albania.
Following the trajectory of the Albanian aggressive expansionism, this looks like another fast one their pundits are trying to sneak in and pass as a viable option. Considering it serves the Euro-Atlantic expansionism as well as the Turkish inroads back into the Balkans - remember, the Prizren League promoted the Greater Albania ideals under the sovereignty of the Ottoman sultan - one has to be a fool to wave it off as a pipe dream.
Jun 17, 2012
Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory. - Sun Tzu
While Serbia’s politicians continue to betray the electoral will of the people, keeping the country in limbo, haggling over one unholy post-electoral alliance after another and widening the disconnect between the consent of the governed and the license to rule, KFOR bulldozers have been cutting off the North Kosovo Serbs from the central Serbia, roadblock by roadblock. As the agony of the coalition-building power grab, void of any ideological premise or context, further deteriorates Serbia’s ability to sustain itself politically and economically, the North Kosovo Serbs seem to be in the care of no one. The roadblocks, the only security the unarmed population of North Kosovo has at its disposal, are being dismantled one by one, strategically, apparently severing all the physical connections these Serbs had with central Serbia. The Serbs standing on the left bank of the Ibar River find themselves increasingly alone.
After the German and American NATO troops fired at the people of the village of Rudare on June 1 with live ammo, wounding six, another attack occurred on June 16, in which another roadblock was removed, close to Brnjak, and two more people were wounded, this time by rubber bullets. It is a path the NATO occupiers have chosen and they appear determined to gradually and systematically steamroll the remaining free Kosovo Serbs out of Kosovo.
Serbia’s government, with the constitutionally limited new president, the acting prime minister who was irrelevant even during his mandate, and the new cabinet still being bartered over, is incapacitated and seems to be fine with it. Who would want to have to make difficult decisions about Kosovo anyway? In the power vacuum, KFOR and the Albanians can do what they please and no one in Belgrade will lose sleep over it because everyone has an excuse. President Nikolić, the only legitimate agent of Serbia’s government, is waiting on the cabinet to be formed and even if he weren’t what could he do? Threaten to mobilize the Army like President Milorad Dodik of the Serb Republic hinted at? No one believes the Serbian Army can fight NATO. No one even believes the Serbian Army can bluff NATO. Hell, I believe NATO, through Boris Tadić and Dragan Šutanovac, made sure the Serbian Army can’t even fight the Kosovo Protection Corpse. And these two stooges have even better an excuse: they are effectively out of power and, sorry, they can’t do anything to stop the ethnic cleansing of the North Kosovo Serbs. Not that they broke a sweat over it when they were in power. (Technically, Šutanovac is still the minister of defense, but no one expects anything patriotic of him.)
The only ones with no excuse and literally no way around are the North Kosovo Serbs. Their situation is precarious. Somewhere between fifty and eighty thousand people – closer to fifty, I’d say – are trapped in one corner of the province, unarmed and put in a headlock by the enemy force. They have been denied the right of self-determination granted to the Kosovo Albanians by the NATO bombs. Well, the Serbs have no bombs, no powerful overlords, so they cannot claim the right to determine their own political fate. Their democratic will to reject the Kosovo Albanian authority, expressed in the February referendum, was ignored. And, as the North Atlantic community’s excuse goes, borders in the Balkans cannot be changed any further so the Serb-populated territory of the North Kosovo cannot hope for any solution that carves them out of the rogue state of Kosovo, like NATO and the Albanians carved Kosovo out of Serbia, 13 and 4 years ago, respectively. Sure, these borders could be changed all up until 2008 when most of the North Atlantic community recognized Kosovo Albanians’ declaration of independence. But that was a precedent because the North Atlantic community said so to the rest of the world. Most of the world did not fall for this browbeating, the rogue state of Kosovo has not been recognized by 60 percent of the UN members, but the boot stomping on the Kosovo Serbs has spoken: the Kosovo Albanians and the Kosovo Serbs are not to have the same rights and will not be treated equally. To uphold this principle, the North Atlantic community is bent on subjugating the Kosovo Serbs to the rule of the Kosovo Albanians. And although there is a number of Serb communities that have so far allowed to survive the subjugation, most notably in Gračanica and Štrpce, it is clear that these are token communities, allowed to survive only to portray the false picture of tolerance and multi-ethnic society that the Albanian Kosovo is most definitely not. A more believable picture of tolerance could have been painted if the Albanians didn’t eradicate a number of similar enclaves in the three-day pogrom in March of 2004, killing Serbs, looting and burning Serb homes and churches across the province, drastically reducing the number of Serbs living in Kosovo and crucially changing the more even demographic distribution that testified to the past demographic character of the region. It had to be a rude awakening for any Serb who thought that a cohabitation setup was possible under the Albanian rule and the NATO occupation. Fool me twice – shame on me. The survival of the enclaves south of Ibar is not fooling the North Kosovo Serbs. If the North falls, it will be a matter of Albanian convenience as to how quickly the life of the southern Serb enclaves becomes a hell on Earth. Despite the somewhat successful tug-of-war in the international legal and diplomatic arena, Serbia’s dwindling chances to keep Kosovo hinge on the presence of Serbs in the province. In the end, the North Kosovo Serbs have nowhere to go, but to become refugees in Serbia, which, under the specific economic conditions, is a prospect as catastrophic as staring into NATO’s gun barrels. Blocking the roads with gravel and their bodies is the road they are forced to take.
The geopolitical paradigm in which the Kosovo issues operate has ostensibly been shifting and NATO and the Albanians are striving to adjust. The Konuzin humanitarian “sortie” combined with the Tadić election loss has caused some uneasiness in Priština and the time of reckoning with the North has seemingly come. No chance to chip away at Serbia can go underutilized, Camp Bondsteel has to be secured long-term by rounding off the rogue state of Kosovo, and most importantly, a door to a Russian return to Kosovo in any capacity, even a peacekeeping one, has to be shut tight as soon as possible, especially in the light of the impending proxy war in Syria between the North Atlantic –Sunni Muslim axis and the Russo-Sino-Shia Muslim alliance. The peaceful resistance of the North Kosovo Serbs has denied the aggressor the needed pretext for an all-out overrun, which has forced NATO to resort to a more methodical approach. Nevertheless, the Albanian and NATO determination to drive the Serbs out of Kosovo seems to be so strong that it can only be alleviated by an agreement to have Russian peacekeepers indeed stand on the Ibar River and guarantee the physical survival of the North Kosovo Serbs. This should be the official demand by Belgrade, if its bark had any teeth, and all the status negotiations should be conditioned on this. Reverse any concessions Borislav Stefanović made and refuse to negotiate the status without the security guarantees.
Kosovo Albanians’ aggressive maximalist agenda backed by NATO has left the Serbs with no choice. They cannot surrender. And, although alone, they have survived so far.
May 30, 2012
Outside of the election fraud that no one but Dveri still talks about, there is nothing illegal about this development. All the illegal moves have already happened, and judging from Tadić's past disregard for law, will keep happening, but his candidacy for the post of the head of government is not illegal, but merely immoral and deeply offensive. Tadić's Democratic Party won 67 seats in the National Assembly and, combined with 45 seats won by Ivica Dačić's Socialists, it is a couple of promises to either Čedomir Jovanović or Mlađan Dinkić away from securing the support of a parliamentary majority, necessary to form the new cabinet. The largest party, the Progressives, is well below the 126-seat threshold in any of the coalition-building combinations. Tomislav Nikolić won the presidency, but will not exercise any significant executive power under the so-called ''cohabitation'' setup. I would love to do a real-value election outcome recap for you, since you will not get it from the regime-controlled media web of Serbia, but to what end? Nikolić will be inaugurated on Thursday before a parliament assembled as a result of the fraudulent first round of the election; he is constitutionally obligated to offer the mandate to a candidate who can win the support of a parliamentary majority and Tadić is that candidate; finally, Nikolić, unlike Tadić before him, promised to uphold the Constitution. Unless the recent series of earthquakes in Italy and Bulgaria somehow shake up Belgrade, Tadić will be appointed the Prime Minister of Serbia. I take that back: I doubt that even an earthquake can stop Tadić from grabbing the power back.
Let's dwell on Tadić. As I said, there is nothing illegal about his party maneuvering back into leading the government, but Tadić personally lost the trust of the Serbian people. The people told him on May 20 that they do not want him to lead them anymore, yet he, the unwanted, will take the power back even after decisively rejecting the idea in his concession speech on May 20. Therein lies the macro-moral failure of the Serbian political elite, epitomized by Tadić. As Nikolić pointed out several times in the post-victory interview, there is no place for a former president to go but down. But Tadić, only 54 and unaccustomed to politics outside of a position of power, decided that it is important to remain in power without regard to any political norm. George Washington defined, stabilized and ennobled the office of the U.S. president by refusing to hold it more than twice, thus setting a precedent that lasted for a century and a half. After he bowed out, he went back to managing his Mt. Vernon plantation. Serbia, desperately needing any sort of stabilization of political institutions, had to suffer through Boris Tadić, the opposite of Washington, until he lost, and discouragingly enough, even after the loss. The most natural outcome of the election defeat would be for Tadić to utilize the high esteem he claims to be held in all over the world and make some money off of appearances, speeches, consultancy fees and such. If someone like Bill Clinton, who is not held in high esteem around the world, could make tens of millions of dollars, so should Boris Tadić. Honestly, the only time I believed the guy's words was when his weary eyes spoke louder than his claim that he would not accept the prime minister mandate, during the concession speech. But, Tadić, the man Vesna Pešić, the icon of Serbia's pro-democracy movement of the 1990s and a 1997 Nobel Prize nominee, called ''Serbian Al Capone'' on Wednesday (links to an article in Serbian) would not disappoint his staunchest critics.
The Tadić candidacy, coming after a week and a half of unnerving the public and turning the election process into a joke, cannot, however, only be looked at under the light of Tadić's ambition, hypocrisy or blatant disregard for political norms, although he definitely possesses all three epithets.
Nikolić’s victory was a surprise. Tadić did not resign to see himself out of the presidency – he intended to rule for another five years, at least. Caught by surprise and advised by its EU sponsors against any undemocratic measures that characterized the first round and its rule in general, the Democratic Party responded to Tadić’s defeat a bit confused. I expected Tadić to step down from the leadership of the party after losing the presidential election and also losing one third of the parliamentary election vote compared to 2008. It especially made sense considering the fact that there were at least two up-and-coming younger men who held on to their electorate in a more steadfast manner than he did: Dragan Đilas, the mayor of Belgrade, and Bojan Pajtić, the prime minister of the province of Vojvodina. Tadić lost and these two men won in their respective domains, in Serbian electoral terms - decisively. The mayor of the capital city, Đilas is known to have control over much of the Serbian news media, through direct ownership or indirectly, an invaluable asset to any politician’s job security. He is considered a tycoon in Serbia and arguably its single most powerful politician. Pajtić, having escaped unscathed from serious political scandals and having led Serbia’s northern province, however ineptly, showed survival skills and political stamina at a young age that rightfully puts him up for a promotion, undoubtedly desired soon. Based on their current strength, there is no doubt that both of these men want to lead the party with Tadić out of their way. Considering the way Tadić won the leadership after the death of Zoran Đinđić, the battle for power promised to be bloody. Tadić had to stay, for at least a while longer. The power struggle between Đilas and Pajtić has already started, with news coming out on Wednesday about a grant-receiving scientist in Novi Sad being denied the already-awarded grant after refusing to shake hands with Pajtić. Also, the news of a Hungarian neo-Nazi rally in Kanjiža is bound to take a stab at Pajtić.
To have pro- and anti-Nikolić nationalists consider the fact that Nikolić may not have as much power as some of us would want, especially under the possibility of a cohabitation, I have been repeating this one on Twitter since May 20: no ambitious politician would want to occupy the hot seat of the head of the Serbian cabinet through the upcoming economic mess. Not Đilas, if he can push someone else to the forefront. Pajtić, a runner-up to Đilas in any scenario, wouldn’t be so stupid either. Tadić was the only one with no choice. If he didn’t accept this job, he wouldn’t last in the party leadership for another six months. He is expended and disposable and his only use at this point is his willingness to be a pawn even within his own party, to succumb to party and international pressures and to sabotage the new president.
Do not underestimate the Brussels impact. Yes, the Eurocrats sent the ‘’premature’’ congratulatory note to Nikolić. It was a clear signal that they weren’t surprised, that they had no use for Tadić since December 9, 2011, unless they wanted to incite the people to riot and that Nikolić could, in his own way, suit their ambition as well. Until they can sort things out and come up with some kind of power-sharing deal between Đilas and Pajtić that would allow them to continue undermining Serbia’s legitimacy in Vojvodina, who better to pose as a person of importance than Tadić? Through his media, Đilas will insist on subtly blaming the cohabitation setup for anything that goes wrong, taking stabs at Nikolić, even though the president is the only official elected directly by the people and the one whose constitutional limitations render him unable to significantly affect the executive decisions. In other words, Nikolić will not be making decisions, but the Đilas-controlled media will gently spin any failure of this government to smear Nikolić. The early insistence by media on setting the cohabitation up as a problematic solution is clearly pointing at the planned exploitation of all the negatives this setup produces for the purpose of damaging Nikolić. Tadić was incapable of governing effectively and democratically while he was in office, although he usurped both the presidential and the cabinet powers by appointing a weak prime minister, but he is definitely capable, backed by the EU support and Đilas’ logistics, of seriously hurting the president and allowing the Vojvodina separatists to make ever greater gains. If the EU really does not care for Serbia, it does care to make it weaker and it does care for Vojvodina. With Pajtić pitting Vojvodina against Đilas behind the curtains, Đilas pitting Belgrade against Pajtić, both shielded by the ineffectiveness of Tadić - the recipe for a further destabilization of Serbia is set. As for Nikolić, when he voices his stand against joining NATO or against negotiating with the alleged war criminals in Kosovo, the North Atlantic community will handily fabricate the notion that he is a stubborn nationalist, striving to pull Serbia away from the ‘’European’’ integration and back into the 1990s. (I hear more and more Serbs reminiscing about the economic prosperity of the Milošević era, however incredible it sounds.)
The looming economic collapse in the Eurozone will undoubtedly affect Serbia as well. Go no further: Serbia GDP is projected to grow 0.1 percent this year. The fiscal deficit is projected at 6.2 percent for the end of the year. The public debt is approaching 55 percent of the GDP. Yes, the United States’ numbers in this category are far worse, but the Americans can obliterate a random country out of existence to feed their faltering growth that hovers a little over 2 percent anyway. Tadić brought the country to its knees, no one expects him to recover it. No one can recover it, expect maybe Putin, but I doubt he is going to want to throw significant money into a pit. He promised $800 million to Nikolić, but not to Tadić. The way Tadić spends, I’d be careful if I was Putin. Đilas, or Pajtić, cannot possibly want to take the blame for a failing economy of the country when they can position themselves for a potential showdown from the more comfortable, yet almost equally powerful positions they firmly hold now. Or, they can use the extra few months to clean up possible corruption trails leading to them, if they are in anticipation of some sort of an anti-corruption offensive, err, a regime change. So, the best for everybody is to throw Tadić under a bus, he is expendable.
The conclusion is, Tadić agreed to rule just to extend his political life and life in power, in front of flashing cameras, to satisfy Western interests, to stave off the tumult in his own party, to sabotage Nikolić… When has he ever said "no" to anti-Serbian interests anyway? It is a shame, but Serbia is less and less able to recognize it and call it what it is. No one talks about the electoral fraud that delegitimized the entire first round. Off the Đilas wire, off Serbia’s mind.
May 21, 2012
When Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy congratulated Tomislav Nikolić on his presidential election victory – three hours before the closing of the polls on Sunday, mind you – it was clear the game was on. The press release was quickly taken off the Council of Europe web site, but not before Croatian daily Večernji List launched it into the serbophone media space. Of course, I refused to believe this was a mistake; I believed it was a signal, although I had a dilemma as to what kind of signal. A pair of Eurocrats of the highest order such as Barroso and Van Rompuy would do this for one of the two reasons: (1) project the winner to the Tadić voters to urge them to come out in a more feverish fashion; (2) project to Serbia that the Nikolić victory, or anyone’s victory for that matter, is within their absolute control so much that they dared to announce the winner any time they wanted, without regard for electoral procedures. Serbian media did not pick this release up until much later, but the fact that a Croat daily did told me the intention was for Serbs to be able to receive it. Nikolić won the election, as Barroso and Van Rompuy projected hours before all the voters slipped their ballot through the box slot. How could they know? This outcome all but eliminated the first possibility in my dilemma and left me with the one that was less realistic, but more likely. Of course, it is possible and plausible that congratulatory notes for both outcomes were prepared in advance and some trigger-happy editor in Brussels was just way too impatient. Of course.
Nikolić did win. I can’t say that doesn’t please me. If I was in Serbia, I’d probably be celebrating with the people. Boris Tadić conceded the loss, congratulated Nikolić and it is unfortunate that Tadić’s congratulatory note was not the most important of the day. Tadić looked awful, a totally deteriorated man ending his political career, in Serbia at least. It is too bad that Eurocrats from Brussels rather than the Eurocrat from Belgrade ushered in the Nikolić era. The signal “the Tease Note” sent begged too many questions for one blog post to answer.
But Nikolić did win, that is a fact. Whether people voted against Tadić or for Nikolić is irrelevant. Both men are way less popular than four years ago when they squared off in the same contest. Nikolić the Radical was way more convincing than Nikolić the Progressive. Toma the Undertaker was more natural than Toma the Master of Management. But, to get rid of Tadić, patriotic Serbs will take whatever Toma they can get. However, a more important question is what side of Nikolić was promised to and made acceptable by the Eurocrat pair of kingmakers. Even devoid of his innate nationalist ideology that made him a symbol of post-Šešelj Serbian nationalism, and with weak and hollow rhetoric that avoided most of the crucial issues, Nikolić was supposed to be able to thrash Tadić, whose political capital was completely gambled away, or purposefully spent, if you wish. And he did. At the meager 46 percent turnout, it was clear Tadić lost support of his outer core voters who saw him as ineffective or who felt the change was in the air and did not want to be on the losing side. If you add the nationalist voters who sided with Dveri in the election fraud protest and boycotted the second round altogether, it is obvious that this race was about which candidate would experience less of abandonment by his natural supporter groups. It was a race to the bottom and Nikolić won. It is nothing unusual for democracy; democracy is about not being denied the right and good democracy is about exercising it. No one claims Serbia is a good democracy. One would be hard-pressed to find such a “good” democracy anywhere on the planet.
Van Rompuy and Barroso surely couldn’t be happy that Nikolić, the former hardline nationalist-turned-pro EU moderate, won the Serbian presidency in which Tadić wielded the almost absolute power, indispensable to the process of Serbia’s EU subjugation. Why the dog-and-pony show then? Did Nikolić really become that acceptable? I’d say yes and no.
The last four years of Tadić could in no way be compared to what awaits Nikolić in his newly won seat, if the constellations in the National Assembly remain. Tadić, maneuvering in the executive arena with much more power that the Constitution allowed due to being able to appoint and manhandle the weak Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković and encroach onto his turf with reckless regularity, literally grabbed all the executive power since he won the second time in 2008. In his first term, sharing power with legalistic Vojislav Koštunica as the Prime Minister, Tadić was constitutionally limited and that is exactly what looms ahead for Nikolić. He will not be able to affect policies and personnel appointments nearly as much as Tadić has done in the last four years. As the coalition-building stands now, Tadić’s Democratic Party will form the parliamentary majority and the cabinet with Ivica Dačić’s Socialists, leaving Nikolić isolated in the presidency. For Nikolić personally, the presidency is the paramount of his expectations and ambitions, a hard-earned honor and a vindication. For his party and for the nationalist cause, it is just a tease of greater gains to be won through more years of heavy political fighting. To sum up, Nikolić is not expected to have a lot of power. And he declared himself to be decisively pro-EU. Considering the popular outrage against Tadić, the arrogance with which Tadić and his allies treated the election fraud protests and the fact that Tadić has done more than enough to please the Western globalist desires, thus spending his political capital with the Serbian people, perhaps Nikolić, as a factor of stability in the country and a man who drastically changed his foreign policy stance, indeed was accepted as a crony, err, partner by the Eurocrats. Tomislav Nikolić, the former chetnik vojvoda, and a man who once said he’d like to see Serbia as a Russian province rather than an EU member, a crony of the Western imperialism? Come on. Not even apparatchiks like Van Rompuy and Barroso would believe that, even if such a determination was their call. No one in their right mind can believe this. Yet, no one should be so naïve to believe that Nikolić would win the presidency without a Brussels nod or at least a shrug.
The EU is in a hell hole with the entire eurozone mess. Not only that they do not look at Serbia as a prospective member, but for most of the EU power structures, Serbia is not on the horizon of their priorities. This does not mean they do not care if a Eurosceptic wins the presidency. This does not mean there are not special interests within the Western power structure that are not interested in Serbia either. In Serbia’s demolition that is. When the EU rejected Serbia’s candidacy on December 9, 2011, it meant the demise of Boris Tadić, despite the fact that Serbia won the candidacy on the second try in February of 2012. Tadić complied with everything Brussels demanded. Brussels wanted more, showing utter disregard for Tadić’s political future. It should have become clear to all the doubters that the EU, or at least certain powerful interests associated with it, did not want Serbia in the Union, but Serbia on its knees. Serbia has in no way benefited from the EU integrations, while being forced to comply with the most unreasonable demands. Now, after Angela Merkel dropped Tadić like a dirty sock and still got what she wanted in relation to Kosovo, and after Tadić lost not only the trust of the Serbian people, but any legitimacy as well, and after the streets of Belgrade became a ground fertile for an anti-EU revolution, who but Tomislav Nikolić could jump in to stabilize the situation? No, he is not a Western ally and although his political agenda will be obstructed to the point where to some it will appear as if he served the Western interests, he will never be a Western ally.
On the other hand, if the West only wants to demolish and dismember Serbia, that process has been well into its finishing stages and I don’t only mean in terms of Kosovo, Vojvodina or Raška. Nikolić and the cabinet he will be in a constant power struggle with will inherit a dependency status in relation to the international financial bodies and foreign investors. The destruction of Serbia’s heavily damaged economy would be a matter of weeks if those interests wished to punish Serbia, regardless of who is in power. In fact, if they treated Tadić, the servile, pro-Western puppet, like a bastard child, imagine what kind of pretext will Nikolić’s presidency create if someone in Brussels, Berlin or Washington decides that Serbia can continue to be picked apart.
Why, then, would Van Rompuy and Barroso not applaud Nikolić’s win? Tadić could realistically give no more without causing havoc on the streets of Belgrade and such occasions would divert the subjugation processes into an unpredicted direction. Nikolić hasn’t spent 20 years fighting for power to risk it now by starting a revolution. He wants stability, the EU wants stability, and while they may not necessarily want the same kind of stability, both their positions are tenable as long as they agreed on this.
As I’ve said, one blog post cannot explain the new reality in Serbia. How could one talk about Nikolić and not mention Russia? Any attempt to predict Nikolić’s future is closely tied with the formation of the cabinet. While all the musings and conclusions above have been conditioned on the present parliamentary alliances, however tentative, any serious contemplation on Serbia’s near political future has to also dwell on the instability of any alliance whose one member is Ivica Dačić. No one in Serbia would be surprised if Dačić, who already committed to continue in the coalition with the Democratic Party, jumps ship, switches alliances in the coming weeks and joins Nikolić and Koštunica. Oh, and what about Koštunica… What an interesting twist his alliance with Nikolić has been! The declared Eurorejectionist, err, Eurorealist, joined forces with the nominally pro-EU Nikolić, ostensibly leaving the question of EU integration aside for now and vowing to let the people’s will prevail in a referendum. Koštunica, with a steadfast political demeanor and a methodical, unwavering style, is still alive and kicking, despite the relatively successful push against him by the Western ambassadors in Serbia. He is bound to make his presence felt in any coalition and in any political agenda he is a part of, regardless of the relative strength or the role his party plays in the partnership. The last, but not the least, the effect of Dveri, which have become a grassroots organizing force among nationalists, will be felt as well, and they will inadvertently benefit from Nikolić’s every lapse.
So, the road ahead for Nikolić is going to be rough, as Tadić sneeringly warned in his concession speech. Nikolić is a better option for Serbdom than Tadić, that is for sure. But the Serbs should not get their hopes high. This is a small step in essence, however gigantic in symbolic significance. He must be cunning, quick and ready to compromise with the enemies and utilize potential allies without pride and arrogance.
May 19, 2012
No one talks about the election fraud in Serbia anymore, it seems. Yes, look at the date, May 19, less than two weeks after Dveri called the regime out on the election fraud. Sure, Dveri are leading street protests, rallying thousands of people against the injustice. But no one talks about the theft, no one who can alleviate the created negative charge by reasoning and offering solutions.
The memory of the slaughtered is short; they forget quickly and they get slaughtered anew as soon as they forget where the wolves come from. That's what the enemy has traditionally relied on. The Tadić regime media, which includes virtually every major outlet in Serbia, has been painstakingly and systematically subduing the fraud clamor, the protests under their windows, the overwhelming evidence, the truth, simply by ignoring it and substituting it with trivialities produced on an hourly basis. A bared piece of ass on the Serbian version of Survivor is quicker to grab the headlines than the effigy of Boris Tadić in prison garb being displayed by the enraged thousands across Belgrade. ''Save Serbia and get lost, Boris!'' is worth 7 seconds of Dnevnik, the prime time newscast, if that. The airwaves are simply silent. The coverage of the protests was simply suppressed. What assignment editor would otherwise ignore several thousand people marching through downtown Belgrade in protest of the worst offense to democracy, the election fraud?
Debates in the social media arena are, however, raging, with the opposition-minded Serbs often bitterly divided. Tomislav Nikolić's Progressives and Vojislav Koštunica's Democratic Party of Serbia formed the post-election coalition on Wednesday and rallied behind Nikolić in the presidential election run-off, rejecting the open arms of Dveri, who called for a united front in protesting the first round fraud and demanding a repeat election. The rapidly growing Dveri followers, joined by a number of ideologically like-minded Radicals, whose party is incapacitated by infighting and the election disaster, have pledged to boycott the run-off, de-legitimizing it and continuing to demand the annulment of the rigged first round. Dveri claimed that the SNS-DSS coalition effectively recognized the validity of the first round by participating in the run-off. The new patriotic block denied this, with Nikolić citing his moral impetus to act responsibly towards Serbia and try to win on Sunday. Koštunica was mainly motivated by preserving the Constitution against changes, which the regime hinted at. His coalition with Nikolić prevents the regime from securing two-thirds of the National Assembly votes necessary to amend or replace the Constitution. Facebook and Twitter discussions have ignored these aspects and focused solely on whether the participation in the run-off was treacherous or the last attempt at grasping a straw of salvation.
Dveri supporters advocated street protests, the refusal of SNS and DSS deputies to accept the parliamentary nominations and further efforts at de-legitimizing the regime by insisting on the fraud issue. They have been nothing but consistent in adamantly opposing the run-off participation. The Nikolić and Koštunica supporters countered by warning that a no-vote for Nikolić is a vote for Tadić. The fragmentation of the patriotic voting body in the run-up to Sunday has just exemplified the distorted view of priorities among the nationalist Right.
Regime's social media vanguard has been gloating at the inter-opposition squabble, adding fuel to the fire here and there, but mainly diverting the conversation towards subjects of no significance, creating an illusion that the election fraud debates are either over, irrelevant or not cool. Their tone is mellow, and when it's not ridiculing, it's full of the return-to-normal undertones. What election fraud? Don't be sore losers. What raping of democracy? Don't be conspiracy theorists. I must notice that, following some of the so-called ''influential'' Twitterers in Serbia, among the tons of inconsequential blurbs, the tweets that meant to say something weren't unequivocal in their support for the regime, or rather, weren't consistent. It was clear that their purported allegiance swayed as their take on what the election outcome would be was flip-flopping. Most of these ''influencers'' were preoccupied with staying relevant and staying employed, and while there were some principled ones, the majority kept at an arm's distance from overtly and loudly rooting for Tadić. I can't say they were objective; they were just cautious and cowardly, I'd say. I have to admit their apparent fear of staying loyal to the regime tricked me into believing that the opposition had a chance to win in the parliamentary round.
Serbia is on the edge again. Even Novak Đoković, err, his family, supported Tadić. His father was one of the speakers at the Democratic Party's closing convention, following such dignitaries as Milorad Dodik, Dragan Đilas, Nenad Čanak and Rasim Ljajić, as well as few foreigners on the video conference call that lent support to Tadić. I thought it was deplorable that Tadić reached for Đoković and pulled him into the mud, but I also thought it was a telling sign of Tadić's vulnerability, regardless of the fact that he can just rig the vote. And Novak is a grown man, he should have known better.
I say Serbia is on the edge and it may slip off regardless of the election outcome. Tadić's re-election, if it happens, has been irreversibly marred and his power will be de-legitimized no matter what. No one talks about the fraud on the airwaves, but it will take time for the Serbian people to forget it. Boris Tadić is the most reviled person in the country and such a polarizing figure that those on the opposite side of the aisle will not forget easily, especially since his regime rendered economic collapse inevitable and such a development can easily compound the fraud-related emotion buildup to push the country over the edge. People are chanting ''fraud'' now, but it may turn into an outrage and a riot quickly, and it will all be Tadić's fault. They say he stole from them, in more ways than one, and they think he is now ignoring their concerns and despising them, which is blatantly obvious.
May 11, 2012
The spin is kicking in. After the initial public outrage at the documented election fraud, the somewhat squeaky wheels of what was thought to be a well-oiled regime propaganda mechanism are starting to turn. Even when shaky, the Boris Tadić regime's media machine is powerful, if for nothing but for the simple reason that it is a monopoly and there is no other comparable media power to counter it.
After the Progressive Party officials revealed a bag with invalid votes, reportedly retrieved from a dumpster, and called for a nullification of the election results, and after Vojislav Koštunica of the Serbian Democrats called for investigation of the fraud charges, and after Dveri addressed the people gathered to protest the fraud in front of the Republican Election Committee, and after more than 5,000 of those people walked the streets of Belgrade, chanting ''Tadić, the thief!'' the regime's media machine went into a high gear. We woke up to face a media spin offensive that included not only journalists, but also cabinet ministers affiliated with the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party. A media outlet after a media outlet repeated the statements by Boris Tadić, his minister Oliver Dulić, his party vice-president Jelena Trivan, his cabinet ally Ivica Dačić and others, in which they expressed unsupported denial (Tadić) and a counter-charge against the Progressives (Dulić); Trivan accused Tomislav Nikolić of trying to incite violence, and Dačić - to everyone's amazement at his arrogance and recklessness - proclaimed he would never steal an election ''again,'' literally admitting he had committed election fraud before! In every country with the established rule of law, Dačić would get arrested or at least investigated, but in Serbia, where he is the police, that will not happen. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac argued with his Twitter followers over the already-notorious dumped ballots. Of course, the chorus of regime's social media cronies began moving away from Thursday ostensible bewilderment by the fraud reports and slowly, as the day was advancing, retained their usual position of exposing everything not aligned with the regime's daily ideology to ridicule.
However astounded by the statements of Trivan and especially Dačić, my personal favorite is Tadić's recent blurb in which he said that the election fraud protest voices originated in ''the structures of the 1990s.'' If I have to remind you that Ivica Dačić, Tadić's ally, was a Slobodan Milošević protege and a spokesman of the 1990s regime, who, by the way, only today implied he actually had participated in stealing an election before, then you should stop reading here and go google a more interesting subject.
In other news, the trivialities the Serbian ether was bombarded with served to overwhelm the fraud-related news or cast a shadow on the significance of the election theft scandal.
Yes, the Tadić regime's spin was aggressive, albeit amateurish and clumsy, but the opposition, parties, other than Dveri, haven't keyed in with a focused media effort either. This is somewhat due to the media blockade by the regime, but in the world of social media this can't be an excuse and we have to look for amateurism and sluggishness as the attribute of that camp as well.
The Western media were on it, too, although the tone was rather unusually mellow. While Bloomberg was quick to point out that there were election fraud allegations that will be investigated, its reporter from Belgrade, Misha Savic, characterized Nikolić as someone under whose leadership Serbia would ''turn east,'' meaning towards Russia. Although assumptions could be made that Nikolić didn't change much from his Radical Party days, he did declare himself pro-EU integration, changed his rhetoric and tried to shed what was considered a nationalist stigma in the North Atlantic community, at the expense of destroying the Radical Party he led for years and of losing his most ardent supporters. I personally liked the old Toma much better, but these are the undeniable facts that the Bloomberg article ignored. Reuters, significantly enough, used the word ''threatened'' to describe the nature of Nikolić's statements related to his party's plan for contesting the election results. Jovana Gec of the Associated Press, went several steps further and set the stage for future impressions on who's who, leading with the following:
"Serbian nationalists accused pro- reformists Thursday of stealing the recent general elections, fueling tensions ahead of a key presidential runoff."
To be clear, the nationalists in Serbia hardly consider the Progressives nationalist, as someone who turns pro-EU is seen as not much different than Boris Tadić, and Tadić is everything but patriotic or nationalist. But Gec did something more significant than just branding the Progressives nationalist. She juxtaposed them as nationalist - generally viewed in the West as the bad guys - against the ''pro-European Union reformists," reflexively perceived as the good guys by a Western reader. She then said the accusations have fueled tensions, as if the tensions shouldn't be fueled if the democratic right of the Serbian people to have their will respected is not tension-fueling in itself. So, no, Ms. Gec, the election fraud protesters did not fuel tensions; the fraud itself fueled discontent which automatically produces tensions in every self-respecting society that cares about its political freedoms.
I said earlier that the anti-fraud parties are under-performing in the anti-fraud public campaign. Yes, the truth and justice is on their side, but since when has that been enough to win? Calling people out in the streets is dangerous and the regime may just be waiting for it, setting up to entrap the protesters in violent incidents and blame them for the unrest, like Jelena Trivan signaled today. This is not the 5th of October and the people of Serbia have to remember that many of those who helped bring Milošević down turned out to be in the employ of Western intelligence agencies, who facilitated the fall and provided protection for the vanguard whose well-rehearsed tactics spearheaded the larger public outrage. The Boris Tadić regime is actually supported by the same foreign interests that toppled Milošević and like their revolutionary strategies were well put together, their reactionary strategies have been even better prepared and efficiently exercised across the globe. The main goal of the anti-fraud protesters should be to entrench the truth that the fraud has been committed in the mind of the people seeking truth and justice, by documenting and calling the attention to various evidence to the fraud, thus de-legitimizing the power of this regime, letting the entire people know it was not elected, it does not stand on the fundamental principle of democracy, the consent of the governed, and that the regime relies not on democratic mechanisms, but on the brute force supported by the foreign interests coming from the EU, NATO and their NGO vanguard in Serbia. The Tadić regime might preserve the power, but it should be know that its power is dictatorial and they derived it out of defrauding the people of their most basic freedom: the right to free election.
May 10, 2012
Dveri began raising their voice in protest the night of the election, as soon as the first unofficial reports by election monitors, namely CeSID, were publicized and they showed that Dveri did not exceed the 5 percent parliamentary threshold. One of their leaders, Branimir Nešić, addressed the public via a video statement, claiming they did exceed the parliamentary threshold, but they would be kept out of the National Assembly due to election theft by the Tadić regime. He also pointed out that the official website of Dveri was hacked into several times during the election day. In the following days, Dveri intensified the public calls for justice, producing evidence one after another and even set the date for public protests in Belgrade on May 10. The public calls were made to all the aggrieved election participants to recognize and condemn the fraud and join the protests.
In the meantime, the allegations of fraud just kept coming, laying bare not only specific instances of outright fraud in specific locations, but revealing broader strategies and specific tactics utilized. Video clips surfaced on You Tube, most importantly from Zaječar and Novi Sad, where independent reporters caught the regime red-handed. In Zaječar, the video showed ballots being stuffed into envelopes and bags without the presence of legally mandated election monitors and party representatives, and the heads of the local election committee being evasive, contradicting themselves and denying responsibility. The video from a Novi Sad suburb contained numerous citizens' statements testifying to vote buying by the local Democratic Party officials, especially targeting the impoverished Roma population. The figure cited was 2,000 Serbian dinars per vote. The voters who agreed to be a part of the scam were given a green-ink pen to distinguish such votes on the ballots and were required to bring it back after placing the vote in order to get the money. The interviewed Roma voters testified that food packages were also given to some families in exchange for votes.
On Wednesday, May 9, representatives of Dveri accessed the offices of the Republican Election Committee (in Serbian: Republička Izborna Komisija or RIK; this is the central state election body, no affiliation to any kind of ''Republican'' party or ideology) and attempted to inspect voting samples themselves, as was their right. According to the report on their website, the authorities first delayed the requested inspection by two hours, then gave them a small sample of votes and when the Dveri representatives began noticing irregularities, the RIK agents asked them to leave citing the closing of the RIK offices for the day, although it was well known that the RIK was bound not to close until the publication of the official election results! Still, the short inspection of a rather small sample of ballots found irregularities such as (1) the voting ballots from Kosovo were off-limits - the RIK agents stated they didn't have those ballots at the premises, which was preposterous because they HAD to have ALL the ballots at the premises; (2) while Dveri fared reasonably well in polling place where they had monitors, they received no votes in the polling locations where they had no monitors; (3) a number of votes for Dveri were invalidated due to an additional option being marked off with a pencil of a different color; (4) the municipal election committees, in which Dveri had no representative, made over about 90 percent of local election reports; (5) in the town of Leskovac, there was a minimum of 5 invalidated votes for Dveri at every polling locations; (6) in Leskovac, polling location no. 19, Dveri officially received 1 vote, while the officially stamped envelope contained 15 votes for Dveri that didn't make it into the official report... These were the initial findings, according to Dveri, drawn from a very limited sample they were able to inspect in the short period of time they were given.
The Serbian Progressive Party joined the fraud cries mid-week and demanded that the election be nullified, citing that, despite the highest number of votes received of any party, 25 percent, they were defrauded of a large chunk of votes coming to them and that they had evidence for these accusations. The Progressives, led by former Radical Tomislav Nikolić, publicized reports and pictures of some 3,500 valid ballots found in a city container. As the biggest surprise, the Alliance of the Hungarians of Vojvodina, an ally of the Tadić block, also cried foul and cited examples of fraud. President Istvan Pasztor threatened to withdraw his party's support for Boris Tadić in the second round of the presidential election. Listing his suspicions, he wondered how it was possible that his party lost about a third of its vote in the 48 hours span between the preliminary count and the official count. Vojislav Koštunica of DSS, in the statement on his website, expressed his astonishment at the fact that ballots were found in the dumpster and his concern with the wayward democratic process in Serbia, calling on the regime to investigate and explain these allegations to the people, and quickly. Zoran Dragišić, president of the Movement of Workers and Farmers, stated on the party website that the election fraud this time around was worse than the one committed by Milošević in 1996.
The icing on the cake was the Thursday morning report that the regime banned Dveri's election fraud protest, set for the evening. Dveri leadership decided to hold a press conference in front of the RIK headquarters instead, but called on people to not join the protest, warning that the regime is prone to inserting salts into the crowd to try and provoke violence in the streets and blame the organizer, thus invalidating the legitimacy of the grievances and publicly spinning the entire endeavor away from its true nature.
It is hard to believe that all the allegations - which is many times over what I listed here - are untrue, especially for the fact they are coming from many sources, including some regime allies. I have relayed my sense of the corrupt electoral climate imposed by the Tadić regime and some initial reports of abuses in Failure of democracy, European style, but these new findings compound the problem to the degree in which questioning the democratic values and freedoms the West is promoting in the world by supporting regimes like the one Boris Tadić has imposed becomes a legitimate political expression and an obligation of every freedom-loving soul. This kind of ''democratic'' habit concerns not only Serbs, but the citizens of any country that values its freedom in governing itself.
Boris Tadić and Ivica Dačić of the Socialists have reportedly already made a coalition deal. If this is true, it is quite contrary to Dačić's election night announcement that he is open to bargaining with anyone, meaning Tadić and Nikolić, and that his aim is the prime minister position. If this is true, it means Dačić failed the repeat test of patriotism, and his tough talk running up to the election was empty of substance.
May 7, 2012
Let’s start with the fact that then-President Boris Tadić set the election for May 6, St. George’s day, a major religious holiday, celebrated at home by the more traditional Serb families, those who are generally not prone to voting for him. That was a trick, but that was his prerogative. As a president, one is entitled to manipulations. Hey, in the United States, the Election Day is Tuesday, when most people who are not obscenely rich or welfare recipients actually work. Not only did he set the parliamentary election for that day, but he then resigned from the position of the Head of State the Serbian people entrusted him with in 2008, making himself available to run in the presidential election he set prematurely on the same day. Tadic called the move “shortening the term,” an unheard-of legal justification. Kosta Čavoški, the leading Serbian constitutional law scholar, condemned such a manipulation as unconstitutional, but who could make the Serbian president obey the Constitution? Namely, Čavoški called the move into question pointing at the misinterpretation of the term limits clause which should have stopped Tadić from running for the third term. Tadić’s justification was that Serbia was not independent and this Constitution was not in effect in 2004, when he was elected to the first term, so the term clause limit adopted with the 2006 Constitution did not apply to him. Tadić won the second term in 2008, the first time under the current Constitution. Čavoški also cited the two constitutionally valid reasons for the president to resign, neither of which made Tadić’s move legal. (The president resigns in case of an acquired physical or mental incapacitation which would prevent him/her from performing the duty; or in case of feeling guilt or political inadequacy due to errors committed during the term that violated the trust the people confide in him/her). Anyway, there being no one with the physical power to stop him, Tadić steamrolled on.
The campaign was what it was, mainly dirty and insulting to the intelligence and the common sense of a common Serb. Tadić and his cohorts acted as if they were the opposition, criticizing the opposition for the horrible state of affairs. Especially outrageous in posing as opposition was Tadić’s former ally Mlađan Dinkić, who held key economic posts in every government from 2000 to 2011, when he was removed by Tadić. Dinkić, the single most responsible individual for Serbia’s economic woes, played dumb, reinvented his image as a leader striving for public accountability, de-partisation and regionalization of Serbia. Meanwhile, he is charged by his numerous critics with re-introducing the practice of job appointment along the party lines, all the way to the lowest levels of the government apparatus totem pole. He is also notorious for admitting he lied when he promised every Serb a 1000 Euro worth of stock in the Italian auto manufacturer Fiat, which bought a stake in the Serbian failing manufacturer, Zastava. One does not know whom to blame more, Dinkić or those who believed such incredulity.
More factories and infrastructure opened in the two months of the election campaign than in the previous four years, commentators say, to promote the image of a productive government to the electorate. Meanwhile, failure of the economic policies, especially those related to privatization, were glaring, with thousands of workers left out in the cold. The jewel of the early stages of the post-Milosević privatization process, the Smederevo Steel Mill, was dumped back onto Serbia’s shoulders by US Steel, reportedly for $1 and million of dollars in bank debt, although it has become increasingly hard to believe anything coming out of the Democratic Party-controlled media.
Several campaign tactics on the ruling elites’ part stood out, aside from the obvious and brazen count of eligible voters that listed 6.7 million voters in the country of 7.1 million people.
There was a loud call in social media for voters to submit blank ballots, ostensibly to show disappointment with all the political options in some form of a protest. Well, I assume that the disappointed citizenry mainly feels like that as a result of the government ineptitude. So, the ruling party can only benefit from the disappointed citizens not voting. Observing a number of social media activists that promoted this idea, it became clear to me that the “white ballot” ploy originated within the ruling establishment. The effect was an unprecedented 4 percent of invalid votes.
The second dubious tactic was related to the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija. The Serbs in North Kosovo municipalities have felt the stepmother love of Tadić in the past months of turbulence, when their destiny was all but handed over to the Kosovo Albanian separatist authorities. These Serbs, radicalized by virtue of having to fight for their very existence, became ardent opponents of the Tadić government that left them to vultures. It was not clear until a week or so before the election how and if the voting would take place in North Kosovo. Finally, it was decided that the voting will be organized by OSCE and that the vote count will, out of security concerns, happen not in the polling places, but the ballots will be transported north of the administrative line, in Raška. Well, if there were no security concerns in having the polls open the entire day, what exactly was so frightening about counting the votes for another half hour? The result of such an outsourced “count” was the lowly turnout of 32 percent, compared to 58 percent nationally. As far as my familiarity with the turnout dynamics goes, the more people are concerned with political issues, the more they turn out to vote. Not in the ethnic ghettoes of North Kosovo, I guess. Whatever ballots were counted gave the overwhelming victory to the opposition nationalist parties, mainly Vojislav Koštunica’s DSS.
Third, reports from various Serb communities in the Diaspora show another rampant occurrence: many expatriates simply had nowhere to vote as numerous designated polling stations at Serbian embassies were closed.
Breaking the pre-election silence was symptomatic of the general political culture and was not specific to any one party. In other words, compared to these other violations, no big deal. Buying of the votes before the voting and at the polling places was, however, widespread. One vote went for as low as 2,500 Serbian dinars (about $30). There are reports of towns in Vojvodina, overwhelmingly populated by the exiled Krajina and Bosnian Serbs, known to be very nationalist, won by the anti-Serbian separatist LSV and a local Roma party. Don’t ask me how. First you impoverish the people and then you buy them for peanuts.
I won’t go any further with these examples. In the coming days, a lot more reports will surface, I’m sure. Of course, the fraud allegations will be abundant by the time it is all said and done. The mainstream media has reported it all to have been fine and dandy, but the political culture of the ruling party leaves a lot of room and reason for speculations and accusations to be accepted as justified. Tadić’s party fell short of a victory and about 30 percent short of the 2008 score, despite the electoral manipulations, but it can still form the cabinet with its allies and Tadić himself still has the run-off on May 20 to win the presidency. Dveri, the most dominant social media and grassroots activist movement, have already held press conferences accusing the government of electoral fraud that kept them below the 5 percent parliamentary threshold. Although a novice on the Serbian political scene, their compelling message and the well-executed grassroots campaign rallied an unexpected support with Serbs from all walks of life, renowned intellectuals and academics, professionals, expatriates and especially the disenfranchised youth. While not having much of the access to the mainstream media, their voice was heard through vigorous campaigning via alternative media outlets, especially online. Their representatives dominated the rare televised debates. Yet, they complain, they were prevented from winning a parliamentary seat by electoral malpractice.
In all likeliness, the election outcome came down to which parties could control the polling places in areas they expected to dominate. It was a matter of bodies as well as funds to pay for those bodies. Whichever party could ensure its support wouldn’t diminish by virtue of electoral fraud, it could hope for a reasonable electoral success. Those less fortunate or powerful could only stand, watch and feel betrayed by democracy.
This is your EU-promoted democracy, Serbian style. These kinds of corrupt practices are exercised to ensure the victory of pro-EU forces within Serbia. The Smederevo Steel Mill workers, deprived of job security and of sound economic prospects, are still waiting for someone to buy them. The farmers, impoverished, disenfranchised and prevented from participating in the free market, will come out to block the highways probably as soon as the new cabinet is pieced together. The retirees will keep rummaging through trash bins instead of cashing their hard-earned pension checks. A desperate father will look to send one or both of his educated children abroad to serve a foreign master and long for Serbia from a Chicago studio apartment. Dveri will keep filing complaints and summoning strength for the oncoming four years. And Serbia will continue to sink under the weight of its own political masochism. One cannot help but wonder where the people that gave birth to one of the first European democracies have gone.
May 6, 2012
Fast forward to Sunday, May 6, 2012. Saint George's day. The second most celebrated patron saint in the Serbian Orthodox religion and, apparently, the one Ivica Dačić should start worshipping. The Socialists, founded by Slobodan Milošević, spared by Koštunica and risen from the dead by Dačić, won 16 percent of the votes Serbia gives to its trusted political options. In the already historical press conference Sunday evening, Dačić told his supporters: ''We may not know who the next president of Serbia will be, but we do know who the next prime minister will be.'' In other words, we don't know if Tadić or Nikolić will be in power come May 21, but we know that both will have to bargain which Dačić.
One has to give Dačić's political talents credit. On October 6, 2000, we all thought the Socialist would die with their founder. Only eight years later, they were back in power, and only 12 years later, they are poised to lead the government. That is the leading story of the Serbian election, 2012 edition. True, the rampant electoral theft and the demise of the Radicals were two other significant outcomes of Serbia's immature, but promising democratic exercise (promising in the sense of the true, deviant Western democracy) but Dačić and the Socialist stole the day. The survival, the ''suitcase'' deal, the four years of insignifance in the Mirko Cvetković cabinet all were just a run-up to this: the pariah party put itself in a position to determine the future of the country in yet another key historical moment for Serbia and, more importantly, Serbdom.
I don't think it is necessary to remind the reader of the dire straits Serbdom in Serbia is in. No determined national borders (Kosovo), feeble internal stability (Vojvodina), virtually no economic development or prospects, the subordinate position towards the North Atlantic community hellbent on destroying Serbia and especially Serbdom, the catastrophic state of the education system, no independent military to speak of... Should I keep going? It is clear the ruling clique – which Dačić participated in – brought the country to this low point and whoever thinks it is not inclined to continue on this ''scorched earth'' path is delusional. Yes, Dačić played along, or was led along, trying to stick around, elbowing his way into more of the feeble, marginal power, rolling with the punches and throwing a dart of insolence here and there. As a Minister of Interior Affairs, he was famously “uninformed” of the April arrests of the youths that allegedly burned the US Embassy in 2008. That was in the previous mandate. Dačić is coming into this round of bartering for power way stronger than in 2008. In 2008, he headed a marginal party whose support could only be vied for in the fractured parliamentary mash pit of democracy that is Serbia. In 2012, he heads the third largest party in Serbia where the two leading parties are almost irreconcilably opposed to another. (In Serbia, reconciliations can be quick and easy, as Dačić showed in 2008.) We know he will ask for the prime minister’s seat, he said so. When he becomes the prime minister, what can Serbia expect from this new, more powerful version of the Little Slobo?
Dačić is a strange animal. How to judge him is the question. Unscrupulous? Definitely. Conniving? A necessary quality in any serious politician. A leader? To his party, most definitely. A patriot? Here we have to hit the brakes. Dačić, by signing the Memorandum of Reconciliation with the Democratic Party, waived the right to call himself a patriotic leader. My stand on who should be considered a patriot may be irrelevant, but someone who reneges on a deal with options generally considered patriotic, even nationalist, to get in cahoots with foreign mercenaries who strictly abide by instructions from Western ambassadors, can hardly be seen as anything different from such mercenaries. And if you believe the “suitcase” rumor, the picture gets clearer.
I don’t know if this is the case of “hope dies last” or a reasonable prospect, but despite all the unpatriotic manifestations I want to believe that Dačić is a type who also has an ideological agenda and one that is nearer to the patriotic end of spectrum than to that what Boris Tadic would be willing to live with. To be clear, I believe Dačić was nearer to Nikolić and Koštunica in 2008 as well. However, suitcase or not, Dačić had to be aware of the fact that he would be a junior partner in either combination. The question was in which combination he would be able to stand out more in the eyes of the potential voters. In the patriotic coalition with Nikolić and Koštunica, he couldn’t hope to distinguish his party politics on the national level even if the Western embassies had allowed this Radical-led cabinet to spread its wings. With Tadic, he could freely and without consequences exercise bursts of hollow patriotism and stand out in the sea of globalist sycophants crowding the high echelons of Serbian politics. In other words, with the patriotic coalition, he could only be one of the patriots. Observed next to and against the likes of Tadic, Cvetković, or Mlađan Dinkić, he stood out to many of his potential voters as a staunch patriot. Of course, this doesn’t mean I underestimate the power of the suitcase. He decided to go Tadic’s way and, in four years, he doubled his tally of votes. Not a bad calculation on his part. Horrible for Serbia, though.
On the crossroads yet again, Serbia cannot afford another four year term of a Western mercenary government. The full delivery of not only Kosovo, but Vojvodina as well, seems to be in the cards. The cold hallways of Nemanjina 11 haven’t been less hospitable to ideas friendly to Serbdom since 1990. Dačić holds the keys to a different future or at least to a prolonged hope. The Radicals, a true opposition to the globalist onslaught against Serbia, are all but done, at least for some time. Both Dačić and Nikolić played a role in pushing Vojislav Šešelj’s party down the cliff and they have an obligation to find a way to pull Serbia back up or at least stop the downward spiral. With the run-off looming and two weeks of merciless bargaining ahead of us, the game is still on. True patriots know the bad option for Serbia. Let a better one stand up.