Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Western Leaders Try to Throw Serbia's Election

by M.V. Pejakovich

Let me start by saying that I don't care one whit who wins Serbia's election for president. I am an American and the US is my country, not Serbia. As far as I am concerned, Serbian citizens have as much right to elect "a savior" or "an idiot" as we Americans do (and will do in the near future), and no other country (or countries) calling themselves "progressive democracies" have any right whatever to interfere in their election process.

However, this is NOT what is happening with Serbia. Western leaders, impatient with the Serbian election process, are acting like a bunch of bullies by trying to force Serbia's citizens into electing the West's "chosen one" candidate, Boris Tadic, and unfortunately, the Western media (both print and internet) are cooperating in this extortion.

Last week, in the EU Observer , the EU went after Eurovision song winner Marija Serifovic for singing & speaking at a rally for Tadic's rival, Nikolic:

the singer now appears to support Tomislav Nikolic, the eurosceptic nationalist candidate of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), who won the first round of the Serbian presidential elections last Sunday (20 January). Ms Serifovic participated in rallies organised by Mr Nikolic, including one in December in the Serbian town of Kragujevac and one on 15 January in Belgrade, singing her winning song, "Molitva" (Prayer)." (SerbBlog note: Marija Serifovic is also an ethnic Roma, AKA "Gypsy", so the title "nationalist" gets put in the proper context here. The EU wants to punish Serifovic for simply supporting a candidate who is not "pro-EU".)

Then consider the following statements & news stories in recent days on Serbia's hot-button issue "Kosovo":

From the Financial Times: "Senior western diplomats say the precise timing now (on Kosovo's independence declaration) depends on whether the next Serbian president is Boris Tadic, the pro-western ­liberal incumbent, or Tomislav Nikolic, a pro-Russian nationalist.....If Nikolic, the conservative, gets elected, then no one in Europe will see any benefit in waiting any longer with the independence declaration....If Mr Tadic returns to power, however, diplomats say EU states would see merit in delaying Kosovo’s independence by a few weeks, seeking to flesh out an agreement on closer EU-Serbian relations"

From Reuters: "Kosovo will declare independence from Serbia with Western backing the weekend after the February 3 Serbian presidential election if the nationalist candidate (Nikolic) wins, political sources said on Wednesday. "If (Tomislav) Nikolic wins, it's the 9th or 10th," one of the sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity....If pro-Western incumbent Boris Tadic wins the closely-fought race, Kosovo Albanians would be expected to wait until the following weekend, and possibly until after a meeting of European Union foreign ministers on February 18, the source said. The West is "pushing for February," the source added. The United States and major EU powers are trying to "coordinate" a declaration of independence by the Albanian majority province after almost two years of negotiations with Serbia ended in failure in December."

I like that last line in the Reuters story -- "after almost two years of negotiations with Serbia failed". To anyone who has been following this story for the last "two years", there were absolutely NO "negotiations" between Serbia and the Albanians on Kosovo. Both Condoleeza Rice and President Bush had already released statements months before these "negotiations" began, saying "Kosovo will become independent", and they simply continued that same drumbeat through out the sham meetings between Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians . What that created was a sad display with Serbia on one side of the table, turning itself inside out to give the Albanians anything they wanted short of handing over their sovereign Serbian territory, and the Kosovo Albanians on the other side of the table, (with their US and EU backing) basically "buffing their nails" until the so-called "negotiations" were over, because the Albanians knew that the West had already committed to legitimize the theft of Kosovo. So why bother to even call it negotiations when the US & EU had already decided the outcome, beforehand? So that the uninformed, stupid or the corrupt, could believe and promote our US & EU governments' lies when they say , "We tried, it failed, and then we had to do something".

Now if the sham negotiations weren't bad enough, the West isn't even bothering to hide their extortion tactics anymore in the Serbian presidential elections. The message to Serbia's citizens is clear, "Elect Nikolic and we will amputate Kosovo with a meat-ax soon, you will get no anesthetic and we will let the Albanians kill as many Kosovo Serbs as they want (and then blame it on you). Or elect "our man" Tadic and we might (if we feel like it) give you a couple of aspirin for the pain of amputating Kosovo from you and let a few more Serbs live." It's a "lose-lose" proposition for Serbia, as anyone can see -- just as it is designed to be.

However, since the demise of Milosevic, all that Western intimidation of Serbia seems to have ever done is to drive Serbia closer to Russia. Russia's support of Serbia in the UN Security Council on the Kosovo issue, and the Russian Gasprom deal signed with Serbia last week (which sunk the EU/US Nabucco plan and likely cost US State Department #3 man, Nicholas Burns, his job) has done more for Serbia than Western promises (and bombing) have done in the last 17 years. Combine this with the Serbian concept of "inat" (stubborn defiance in the face of bullies) and this all works in Nikolic's favor, regardless of whether Nikolic is worth a damn or not.

But on the other hand, hope springs eternal in the human breast. For the life of them, Serbs still cannot understand why the US & EU would wish to continue punishing them and stealing their land. Serbs are Christians who speak multiple European languages and their kids want the same security & toys that other normal European kids have -- and so do their parents. Based on this commonality, some Serbs believe that this torture has to stop soon -- perhaps if they jump through just one more humiliating hoop then the West will see them for who they really are, perhaps if they elect just one more "pro-Western leader" then the West will recognize that Serbs ARE Europeans. This slim hope (or "wishful thinking", depending on who you talk to) of one day maybe joining that EU "fun & goodies fraternity", is all that Boris Tadic has to offer them. And the West knows this -- which is why they had to throw in the ham-handed "club them if they don't vote for Tadic" pressure to make the alternative even less attractive.

The big question that remains to be answered about this Western intimidation of Serbian voters to vote for Tadic in the upcoming run-off, is: "Will it work? Or will it backfire?"

Ultimately, Serbian citizens can (and should) be the ONLY ones to answer that, when they vote in the run-off election on February 3rd. It's their fate to decide, not ours.


Stojmil said...

Mr. Pejakovich is to be congratulated on presenting an accurate and objective picture on the West behavior towards Serbia. An excellent article!

Henrik said...

Last week, in the Brussels Journal

Actually, that'd be EUobserver, which is quite different.

Brussels Journal is a conservative blog known for a very EU-critical line. I recommend its independent analysis.

And my respect goes to Serbia for *still* not giving in to the EU and its machinations. You guys are setting an example for the rest of us! said...

Thanks, Stojmil!

And you are absolutely right, Henrik. I corrected it. Sometimes when I am juggling links, at 1AM, something slips through. Thanks for catching it!