Serbia's Election: Elation in Brussels Turns to Frustration

Elation in Brussels at the unexpected success of Boris Tadic’s pro-European Democratic Party in Serbia’s general election</ahas quickly turned to frustration as the Socialist Party, with 20 seats in the new parliament, decides whether to throw in its lot with the nationalist Radicals led by Vojislav Kostunica. Tadic’s party won the most seats, but not enough to form a government on its own. (Former ambassador to Belgrade, Charles Crawford, has forthright views on Mr Kostunica).

Both the Democratic Party and the Radicals are courting the Socialists. This was the party of Slobodan Milosevic, but it has greatly changed since his days, much as other communist parties of eastern and central Europe have done. Solana has indicated the EU’s acceptance of a socialist party role in a pro-Europe coalition and many members of the party see a commitment to a pro-EU government as a passport to full membership of Europe’s socialist mainstream.

I’ve no doubt there are those in Europe and the US who would dearly like to influence the outcome, but there’s probably little that can be done other than continuing to stress the benefits of integration within the European family.
The signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with Serbia at the end of April was an important step. But presumably a new Radical-Socialist government would renounce the agreement because a majority of EU countries has recognised Kosovo. They would certainly refuse to co-operate in finding and arresting Mladic and Karadzic which itself would block implementation of the SAA.
To judge by the exchange of vitriol in the aftermath of the elections, we are in for a period of bitter in-fighting and uncertainty . The prospects of a rapid move towards Serbian EU accession seem to have faded considerably unless a pro-Europe coalition can be formed after all. The outcome will be a watershed in the future of the Balkans
It’s not only Serbians who can’t agree. It seems that NATO and the European Union are still unable to talk to one another in Kosovo, although this is quite clearly a joint operation between the two bodies. According to a recent paper from the Centre for European Reform, the Turkish government will not allow a proper relationship to develop. CER have put forward its own ideas for bringing the two organisations together, with the Anglo-French relationship at the heart of its proposals.