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14 May, 2008 01:26

Serbian parties court Socialists in race for power

Serbia’s political parties are locked in coalition talks as they attempt to form a government. Two political blocs have emerged; the pro-Europeans, who won the most votes in Sunday’s elections, and the Nationalists.

President Boris Tadic says his party’s election victory is a clear show of support that the country’s chosen to go in the direction of the European Union. But he now needs to form a majority bloc in parliament. Ironically the one party he might have to rely on is that of former President of Serbia and Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic.

Milosevic’s Socialist Party, SPS, gained about 8% in Sunday’s parliamentary election. It could be the king-maker if it joined Tadic and another small pro-Western group. On the other hand it might side with the Nationalist bloc of the Radicals and the party of the outgoing Prime Minister, Vojislav Kostunica.

Dusan Tchoacitech, who was a close friend of Milosevic and served under him as Ambassador to Bulgaria, says the country’s economy was much stronger in those days and old people in particular were better off.

He is convinced “what’s happening now is a dirty game of politics where the fascists from the European Union are paying lots of money to make Serbia go with the EU.”
The political parties have a deadline of three months to reach an agreement. Central to their discussions is whether or not to join the European Union.

In the contested territory of Kosovo, criticism of the European Union is harsh and not only from local Serbs who refuse to recognise Pristina’s declaration of independence, but also from the United Nations which is supposed to hand over control of the area to the EU’s Incoming Police and Justice Mission, known as EULEX.

“There has been no official invitation from either the Pristina government or the United Nations for EULEX to come here, so it is in fact illegal for them to come here. I don’t see how they will operate. Their mission will be an object of hostility and ostracism and I would not advise it,” says Raul Cunha, Chief Military Liaison Officer from the United Nations Mission in Kosovo.

Kosovo’s new constitution comes into effect on June 15. In theory, the United Nations mission in Kosovo is then supposed to pack up and leave. However, because Russia blocked a new UN resolution that would have allowed this to happen, the UN is now likely to stay to work alongside the EU, creating confusion about who does what and where.