In an apparent attempt to improve their image abroad, Serbia’s electoral commission barred observers from the United States and Britain from monitoring its presidential election later in the month, because both countries have backed Kosovo’s drive for independence. Slavoljub Milenkovic, the electoral commission’s representative from the Serbian Radical Party, reasoned that the United States and Britian “want to destroy us and grab Kosovo away from Serbia.” To be fair, President Boris Tadic voted to allow American and British election monitors, but PM Kostunica and his ultra-nationalist cabal defeated the measure.
Ultra-nationalism has again reared its ugly head in Serbia. Surely, you have to ask yourself whether there is a voice of reason in Serbia. Do the majority of Serbian’s agree with the road the Serbian Radical Party and its ultra-nationalist platform are planning on taking them? Is it possible to slow down this runaway train? Will the voice of reason triumph over calls for ethnic nationalism and collectivism?
Serbia has barred observers from the United States and Britain from monitoring its presidential election later this month because they have backed Kosovo’s drive for independence, an election official said.
Slavoljub Milenkovic, the electoral commission’s representative from the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical party, said the U.S. and British monitors were barred “because their countries want to destroy us and grab Kosovo away from Serbia.” The commission, which made its decision late Thursday, said it decided to allow 23 monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and three from Russia to observe the Jan. 20 vote.
Acting on an appeal by pro-democracy groups that said the blocking of U.S. and British diplomats from the election process would hurt Serbia’s image abroad, the commission dominated by nationalists on Friday again voted against allowing them to monitor the vote. The election will pit Radical party leader Tomislav Nikolic against President Boris Tadic, who leads the pro-Western Democratic Party.
Milan Markovic, a Democratic Party government minister, criticized the election commission’s decision. “No one should be barred from monitoring the vote because our elections are open and democratic and we have nothing to hide,” he said.
The election is considered crucial for Serbia as it decides whether to press on with pro-Western integration or return to the nationalist past, when the country faced international sanctions for fomenting the 1990s Balkan wars. The decision to block U.S. and British monitors highlights the growing nationalism and anti-Western sentiment in Serbia as it seeks to keep Kosovo from breaking away.
The above quoted article was published by The Associated Press and can be found here.