Sunday, May 25, 2008

Nikolic interview in Der Spiegel

Tomislav Nikolic had an interview with Der Spiegel. The questioning was very aggressive. Nikolic performance varied. Sometimes he has to-the-point answers. It seems that when he doesn't know how to react he gets aggressive.

The interview starts with the EU/SAA subject with Nikolic claiming that he is in favor of the EU and wants a dialogue with it. He is doing this reasonably well. But then the attention turns to Kosovo. First Nikolic makes the usual complaint that decisions about Kosovo shouldn't be taken "over Serbia's head". He even says that Serbia might consent to an EU mission in Kosovo if it was consulted.

When he complains about the chaos in Kosovo the interviewer sees his chance and retorts "The chaos only gets worse with Serbia establishing a parallel state and provoking violence.". Here Nikolic is weak when he answers with threats "The international community is getting what it wanted. [..] We won't allow a Kosovo-Albanian army there." This reaction confirms all Western prejudices. For the journalist it is good as it offers him some nice headlines. But for both Nikolic and Serbia it is devastating. A better reaction might have been top point out that Kosovo has had two parallel societies since the war in 1999, that it is only thanks to protection by KFOR and support from Belgrade that there are any Serbs left in Kosovo and that the Ahtisaari Plan will leave those people with insufficient protection so that they will end up as refugees.

The journalist senses that his attacks work and he continues "Doesn't Serbia realize that ignoring reality is only hurting Serbia and, especially, the Serbs in Kosovo? You as a realist should understand that Kosovo will never again be a part of Serbia." This "reality" argument can often been heared from Western politicians. But again Nikolic knows only a threat as an answer: "Who says? We will use our veto to prevent Kosovo from becoming a member of almost all world organizations.". This leads to a "who is the strongest" discussion with the journalist pointing out that in that Kosovo might evade that by a fusion with Albania. Nikolic still can't control his urge to attack and even threatens that that might lead to war. A much better approach would have been turn the "reality" argument upside down and point out that the majority of the countries does not recognize Kosovo, that most who do recognize it did so only after heavy pressure from the US, that even inside Western countries many doubt the legality of Kosovo's independence and that when the nothing improves in the human rights area in Kosovo countries may very well decide to withdraw their recogniztion.

The discussion about Mladic goes better with Nikolic suggesting that he might be brought to trial inside Serbia. On Srebrenica he only points to "the murders of the 2,600 Serbs who died in the villages surrounding Srebrenica.". He also manages the question about he love for Russia quite well, seeing it not as an alternative for the EU, except (in the improbable case) when the EU might decide for a boycot because of a Radical government.

In the end it goes wrong again. The journalist asks "Yet you of all people are known for attacking and insulting your political opponents …". Nikolic reacts with "There is also plenty of swearing in the German parliament.".. Unfortunately the journalist doesn't continue on this subject. But I guess the interview dates from before Seselj's remarks that compared the murderer of Djindjic with Gavrilo Princip.

In another post I may discuss Seselj's remarks. But I want to read the whole text and ICTY puts its texts only about a month later online. I wonder whether it was an accidental remark or that it was targetted to the present situation. In the latter case it might be seen as a warning for Nikolic that in the end Seselj is the boss and that Nikolic shouldn't concede too much in the negotiations. This evokes the question whether Seselj might become a nuisance when there comes a coalition with the Radicals.

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