331. An Analysis of the Recent Serbian Elections: Will the Path to Democracy and European Integration Prevail?Jul 07, 2011
February 2007 - I would like to start with a few comments about the conduct of the Serbian parliamentary elections. While post-election politics and the formation of a government are of greater interest one month later (especially given the impact of Martti Ahtisaari's status proposal for Kosovo), I believe it is important to recall some aspects of how the citizens of Serbia choose their leaders. It reveals some insights on the commitment to building democratic institutions in Serbia as well as on how these institutions influence Serbian politics in turn.
May 2004 - Seemingly discredited just a few short years ago, the nationalist parties that were the main perpetrators of war, undemocratic politics and economic mismanagement in the former Yugoslavia's two largest successor states have made an electoral comeback after several years of rule by reformist, pro-Western coalitions. In Croatia, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ-Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica), which held a virtual monopoly on political power throughout the 1990s, won the largest number of seats (43 percent) in the November 2003 parliamentary elections and became the governing party in a four-party coalition and Ivo Sanader, the HDZ leader, became prime minister. The far-right Croatian Party of Rights (HSP-Hrvatska Stranka Prava) doubled its representation in parliament from four to eight seats, but did not join the ruling coalition. In the Serbian parliamentary election of December 2003, the top vote- and seat-getter (32 percent of parliamentary seats) was the Serbian Radical Party (Srpska Radikalna Stranka—SRS) of Vojislav Seselj, currently detained in the Netherlands for war crimes. The SRS, albeit never the ruling party in Serbia, had played a key role as the ideological surrogate of Slobodan Milosevic and the former ruling Serbian Socialist Party (SPS-Srpska Partija Socjalisticka). Besides helping Milosevic solidify his nationalist credentials, the SRS also performed some of the former regime's dirty work by organizing paramilitaries to fight in Croatia and Bosnia. The SPS itself managed to win only 22 seats in the December 2003 election. Both Seselj and Milosevic topped their parties' lists and were elected in absentia. Despite its strong showing in the election, however, the SRS did not form a government, a task that was undertaken by a group of democratically-minded parties led by the Serbian Democratic Party (DSS-Demokratska Stranka Srbije) of Vojislav Kostunica, who decided, to the great dismay of Western diplomats, to seek nominal support of Milosevic's Socialists for his government. These developments (along with the fact that nationalist parties prevailed in 2002 federal elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina) could lead some observers to find a resurgent nationalism throughout the Balkans.
February 2001- The regime of Slobodan Milosevic created great problems not only for those of us who live in Serbia, but also for the entire world. His regime, which was probably one of the most repressive dictatorships in the world, basically brought the Serbian people to the edge of insanity - to a point where they did not know what to do. The terror and repression that occurred in terms of kidnapings, arrests, and even murders, had tremendous impact on the people of Serbia.
This two-part report presents the findings of the August 1999, Freedom House assessment mission to Kosovo, as well as the author's own September 1999 trip to Serbia. It focuses on the status of civil society, specifically non-governmental organizations, development. The overall goal of the four person assessment team to Kosovo was to determine the conditions, status, and potential for development of civil society and democratic governance in the war-torn province and to formulate recommendations to strengthen its transition to a democratic society based on the rule of law. In the author's visit to Belgrade he observed another face of Serbia, and aims to share it with those who are genuinely interested in assisting Serbia and the rest of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in its transition to a stable and democratic country.
October 2008 - Inside the UN-run airport in besieged Sarajevo hung a makeshift sign: Maybe Airlines. Along the edges of the sign, aid workers, journalists, and diplomats had posted stickers—CNN, ITN, CBS, RTL, MSF, VOX, UNICEF, the French flag, the Canadian flag, the Swedish flag and so on. Above the sign was a piece of plywood with the word destinations hand-written at the top, with a changeable placard below (the placard choices included New York, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Zagreb, Paris and Heaven). Maybe Airlines was the nickname given to the unreliable UN flights in and out of wartime Sarajevo—the longest airlift ever attempted and the centerpiece of the international humanitarian response to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Meanwhile, underneath the airport tarmac ran a narrow and damp 800-meter-long tunnel that bypassed both UN controls and the siege lines. Protected from Serb shelling and sniper fire, thousands of people and tons of food, arms and other supplies moved through the underground passageway every day (which the UN pretended did not exist), providing both a vital lifeline for the city and an enormous opportunity for black market profiteering. While the UN airlift was part of the highly visible front-stage of the siege, the tunnel was part of the much less visible but equally important backstage action. Together, they helped Sarajevo survive for more than three-and-a-half years, setting a siege longevity record.
October 2006- From all accounts, the talks that have been held in Vienna over the last year, which brought together delegations from Serbia and Kosovo to negotiate Kosovo's status, have not enjoyed the substantial progress that some might have expected. Despite this deadlock, the undertones of official public statements regarding Kosovo's status clearly point to the fact that Kosovo's status will eventually be as an independent state, although the details of how and when are not clear. What seems to be neglected almost completely in this discussion is what will happen "the day after" the status decision is announced. The focus on the Talks has meant that all energies in Serbia have been spent on crafting arguments for why Kosovo must not become independent, while nothing is being done to prepare the Serbian electorate or the Serbs living in Kosovo for the separation that seems imminent. Likewise in Pristina, calls for independence ring hollow, given the poor record of self-governance there. To address these neglected issues, EES organized a short conference of experts to discuss the many consequences of the Kosovo status decision and the international community's continuing efforts to create a functioning democracy in Kosovo and maintain peace throughout the Balkan region.
Although not an immediately obvious pairing, much can be learned from the fall of Serbia's autocracy that may be applied to Iraq. Both countries were isolated and run for a long time by forcefully imposed autocratic regimes that developed a breed of patriotism which did not allow for dissent. Opportunities for these two countries to cooperate were enhanced by the similar position of the two regimes under international sanctions and fighting for survival against a ‘common enemy.' Thus, not only do autocracies act similarly under similar conditions, but they also band together as they attempt to offset the ill effects of international pariah status. The reaction of the public in Serbia to the 1999 NATO campaign and the mind set that allowed for the continuation and at least temporary strengthening of Slobodan Milosevic's rule could have provided many clues, if not a template, for how Iraqis would behave under occupation. Moreover, the difficulties and slow pace of transformation in Serbia offer tips for state-building in Iraq.
October 1999 - The century's main principles responsible for the redefinition of empires and nation-states in Europe and the launching of an era of democracy - self-determination and liberalism - have one overarching flaw, Aleksa Djilas states: there are no formal guidelines for application or instruction. Had there been a more clear definition of applicability of these two pillars of democracy, and had the West chosen a more uniform pattern of across-the-board action, perhaps the Yugoslav disaster might have been prevented. As an example, Djilas pointed out that the political option of pressure for multi-ethnic integration and cooperation was unfortunately not even explored prior to 1991 at the outset of the Yugoslav crisis. Another example: had the West exerted pressure on the Albanians to vote and participate in the political process in Serbia as early as 1992, Slobodan Milosevic would have lost the presidency of Serbia to Milan Panic and the war in Kosovo could have been averted.
Experts review new publications.
340. Acting Globally, Thinking Locally: The Side-Effects of Pursuing International Justice in the Former YugoslaviaJul 07, 2011
October 2007 - Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a marked rise in support for the international prosecution of leaders involved in some of the most heinous human rights violations. This process began with the two ad hoc international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (1993) and Rwanda (1995) and continued into the new century with the UN's Special Court for Sierra Leone (2002) and efforts to launch similar international prosecutions in other states such as Cambodia (2003) and Iraq (2005). In all but the latter case, criminal prosecutions were launched by international authorities relying on the non-coerced cooperation of leaders in sovereign states. As a result, transitional justice has become an important issue in these countries' bilateral and multilateral relations. The establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2003 suggests that the international diplomacy of transitional justice is not merely a fad but instead may become a staple.