Serbia: One step closer to isolation (Or EU must choose between Serbia and independent Kosovo)

Serbia’s Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica gave the EU a choice that it has already made. by Kostunica’s drawing of this line in the sand, Kostunica will finally complete his mission of isolating Serbia as it has in the past.

The stark choice for the EU, as framed by Kostunica, is this:  the E.U. would have to choose between either closer ties with Serbia or support for an independent Kosovo. 

But as we all know — and I would assume, Kostunica himself — the core of the EU nations have already made their decision:  support for an independent Kosovo.  Thus, Kostunica’s framing of the “stark choice” is puzzling.

In fact, the “stark choice” was the one by Serbia to join Russia as its negotiating strong arm.  Instead of truly working with the EU for a negotiated solution several years ago, Russia and Serbia gambled and pussyfooted around Kosovo’s future status.  And the gamble did not pay off, as the core of the EU — to Russia and Serbia’s complete surprise — is unequivocally supporting an independent Kosovo.  Now Serbia is crying sour grapes and is blaming its current situation on everyone but themselves.  As I’ve said before, Mr. Kostinuca, you need to wake up and smell the slivovitz.  Or conversely, you need to stay off the slivovitz.

Strangely, Kostunica is still gambling by using veiled threats of “dire consequences” for any nation that supports Kosovo independence.  Kostunica believes that these types of words will break up the core EU nations and, in particular, the smaller ones.  This hasn’t happened nor will it.  The same type of strong-arming lanuage that might have worked when Belgrade dished out “dire consequences” to the other states in the republic when it used to be Yugoslavia, won’t work with the EU.  

One thing, though, is clear:  the more Kostunica makes these types of statements, the more it is apparent that Serbia is not ready to join the EU anyway.  One thing is equally clear:  keep Kostunica away from Las Vegas.  He clearly does not know when to fold. 

What gives? Maybe January 20, the date of Serbia’s elections, could serve as the “magical” turning point for Serbia. Pro-western reform or the same old same old nationalist policies?  I’m not too optimistic.  Nor is anyone else really. 

In the end, the choice of candidates for president are essentially two sides of the same coin — one is just a lot more scarier than the other. [You’ve got Boris Tadic on one side and Tomislav Nikolic on the other (yes, that’s the truly scary one)].

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said Thursday the European Union would have to choose between closer ties with Serbia and support for an independent Kosovo. Serbia fiercely opposes an EU proposal to send around 1,800 personnel to Kosovo and Kostunica said in a statement such support for Kosovo’s independence would be like “grabbing a part of Serbia’s territory.” The EU has not announced a date for the police and justice mission to Kosovo, but it could be decided at an EU foreign ministers meeting on January 28.

Kostunica said: “Therefore we have come to the point where the EU has to choose whether it wants for its partner a whole, internationally-recognised Serbia or wants to create a quasi-state on Serbian territory.” According to Kostunica, the EU will have to choose between signing a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with Serbia — Belgrade’s first step towards full membership of the 27-member bloc — or sending its civilian mission to Kosovo. Kostunica’s government has said it will not integrate into the EU without Kosovo as its integral part. (Source: AFP)


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