Friday, February 22, 2008

Kostunica and the art of rope-walking

One of the great tragedies of history started in the 1920s when Germany's polical climate became increasingly polarized. On the one side you had the communists and on the other the fascists. And their battle gradually made the center look irrelevant - clearing the way for Hitler.

A similar process of polarisation can be seen in Serbia now. On the one side are the pro-Europeans who are prepared to do anything to get into the EU. On the other side are the Radicals and other nationalists. Kostunica who seemed to have set out a policy to fight the independence with civil obedience and international law seems to become more and more isolated in the center.

Many people have blamed Kostunica for organising the protests and for giving a rousing speech to the demonstrants. But what was the alternative? Should he have left the organisation of the demonstration to the Radicals? That would have given them credit as the defenders of a cause that is supported by a wide majority of the Serbs and might help them to an elections victory. Just like Milosevic rose to power over Kosovo because the sitting policians had ignored the widespread indignation over the treatment of Kosovo's Serbs.

Kostunica is now under fire from both sides. The undiciplined behaviour of the protestors - both in Kosovo and Belgrade - endangers his legal and principled strategy. On the other side of the political spectrum politicians are attacking him for alienating the West. Yet by undermining Kostunica they may well be busy to prepare the road for the Radicals. I find it worrying that Serbia's "reformists" spend more time demanding the removal of Kostunica than demanding concrete solutions like excuses to the countries whose embassy was damaged or an investigation in the underperformance of the police during the demonstration. It seems like this internationally oriented elite looks down on Serbia's common people as barbarians and they can't see them as sensitive humans.

I find a similar sentiment at the B92 site. While there is a lot of attention to violent acts, the good news somehow is missing. You won't I see any article about Kostunica regretting the riots and asking for calm or the hunt of the Serb police for the attackers of the embassies. Even insightful background information like the article of Newsweek about the youth of the protestors is missing. I can understand that the B92 staff is shocked for being attacked in the riots. But that isn't an excuse for these oversights.

Kostunica is not very popular, one can criticize his policies and his shouted rethorics don't attract me either. But at one time he was the only politician who could unite the Serbs against Milosevic. Now the challenge for him is to unite the Serbs in the present turbulent times. If he fails we may miss him dearly.

1 comment:

Agilis Lux said...

Who remembers the German "Sender Gleiwitz" and Schlesien. This is what it is about Racack.

You are right in assuming that with recognizing that little province is meant to humiliate Russia. But there is much more behind, like the military assets of the JNA, they are coming for free into the Hand of NATO partners. And of course why not stationing some nucs in Kosovo...

For some who speak German here a study about the strange development in the case of Kosovo.

I hope this will help to understand some asymmetric perceptions.