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October 8, 2011 / Radio Serbia

Next week Belgrade expects the opinion of the European Commission on the membership in the EU, which, according to European officials, will be positive. When will the negotiations on membership start, will there be new conditions especially constructed for Serbia, and how will the Union members react to situation in Kosmet, those are all questions that make the mood towards the EU deteriorating in Serbia. Mirjana Nikolic reports on the events in the national political scene.

For the majority of citizens the EU is still desirable option, and it is becoming clearer that without the European support there will be no new jobs, investments and development of democracy. However, the number of disappointed people is growing, because only few months ago it seemed as if the membership in the Union was within the reach. Politicians, both Serbian and European, have been creating for year a false image of Serbia being welcomed as soon as the cooperation with The Hague is completed. Not so long ago, every European leader on visit to Belgrade was telling the same story, without ever mentioning the neighborly relations with Kosmet, let alone the law on restitution or gay parade. All of a sudden, the last two are presented in some European circles as greater problem that the previous two. The problem of fugitive generals and political leaders is solved, but Serbia cannot join Europe for being homophobic and allegedly does not wish to return the property to the successors of members of the occupational forces, seized 70 years ago. And many EU countries would not meet the conditions that are required from Serbia today.

On the other side, the tense situation in Kosmet has been going on for a long time, and not only is Europe not offering concrete suggestions, but it is not even discussing the ones coming from Belgrade. The cliché that the dialog has to be continued already sounds shallow, like nobody is thinking when saying it. Namely, what is to be the topic of the dialog now? As stated by Serbian Minister of Kosmet Goran Bogdanovic, who expects the talks on telecommunications or faculty diplomas, while barricades are still standing around Jarinje and Brnjak. A new proposal – to have an international conference on Kosmet, reminds too much of Rambouillet in 1999, prior to the bombing of Serbia, when the outcome of the talks was known up front. Minister of Labor and Social Policy Rasim Ljajic has suggested that Serbia initiates negotiations on the status of Kosmet and the north of the Province, without time constraints. “We have to clearly let America and European countries know that we do wish to find a solution, but without crossing our red lines”, says Ljajic.

Besides the unsolved problem of Kosmet, it is pointed out in Brussels that Serbia has commenced many reforms, primarily in judiciary and battle against corruption, to enable the further rapprochement to the EU. If the reforms are continued, maybe the view of Kosmet will change. However, the aforementioned reforms could have been realized much faster. This week, the 11th anniversary since the democratic changes on October 5 was marked in Serbia. For the first time, there was no big celebration, and the participants in the marked events were self-critical, because the judiciary was not reformed in time, and more could have been done in the fields of education, health care and especially in investments and creation of better economy.

The Serbian citizens now wonder what to do with the retroactive regrets of the authorities and the opposition, when the time has passed and new elections are nearing. The arrest of former directors of big public companies for the affairs of five years ago is the attempt of the authorities to gain political points and at least partially improve the image in battle against corruption, but the right move would move would be to have someone replaced or arrested for the corruption that goes on at the moment.

The analysts already say that the next pre-election campaign will be based on social topics and battle against corruption and crime. Judging by the statements of the minister of interior, minister of justice and other political leaders – the campaigns will be very interesting.


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