The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has analysed the current situation in Serbia following NATO Strategic Military Conference which was held on 13-15 June 2011 in Belgrade. The most interesting sections from the analysis entitled "IS PRESIDENT TADIĆ BRINGING SERBIA TO NATO?" are published below
The Strategic Military Partner Conference (NATO summit) which was held on 13-15 June 2011 in Belgrade and organised by NATO Allied Command Transformation has opened the question of Serbia's accession to NATO once again. Although the current regime of Serbia's President Boris Tadić denies any connection between the Strategic Conference and Serbia's accession to NATO, analysts have pointed to some background events which clearly indicate that President Tadić's regime is trying to bring Serbia closer to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Secret talks have already been held on this issue between Serbia's highest officials and NATO representatives. Serbia's authorities are officially promoting military neutrality, although Serbia has never organised a referendum where the citizens could express their preferences regarding the military neutrality or accession to NATO In the near future Serbia will be surrounded by NATO member states, therefore Tadić is trying to bring Serbia closer to that group of countries in his belief that Serbia's accession to NATO is inevitable.
The situation in Serbia has been further complicated by new failures of its President Boris Tadić. Thus, he has tried to execute the sale of state owned shares of Telekom Srbija a.d. (TELEKOM) under unfavourable market conditions in order to obtain significant financial resources for the forthcoming election. However, no agreement has been concluded with the potential buyer due to the unclear ownership structure in this state owned company, which is according to the valid agreements 13%-owned by Bogoljub Karić and his companies. Obviously no serious company would dare buy a company like TELEKOM with unclear ownership structure – namely the state ownership in this company does not amount to 31% but to 18%, since 13% are owned by "Sistem Braća Karić BK Trade".
Court proceedings have been initiated by "Sistem Braća Karić BK Trade" regarding the illegal sale of Mobtel to "JP PTT saobraćaja Srbije" (public enterprise of postal communications of Serbia), which has been referred for arbitration before the international arbitration court in Zürich.
President Tadić has experienced another fiasco at the Hague Tribunal although his lobbyists had ensured him that the war crimes suspect Vojislav Šešelj would be let free. Namely, President Tadić had planned to achieve the release of Vojislav Šešelj from the Hague prison in order to strengthen Šešelj's Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and weaken the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) led by Tomislav Nikolić with the aim to prevent SNS to win the election and become the mandatary for forming the new Government of the Republic of Serbia.
After the failed attempt to return Šešelj to Serbia, President Tadić has formed new tactics with the Chairman of Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Ivica Dačić, who publicly advocates the division of Kosovo and accession of its north part to Serbia. Dačić's task is to take over a part of the right-oriented voters in order to weaken SNS and Tomislav Nikolić. The public opinion poll has shown that the citizens of Serbia are against any division of Kosovo. It was under Dačić's SPS government that Serbia lost Kosovo, therefore Dačić has no legitimacy to deal with this issue. In its previous analyses IFIMES has already warned that Tadić is supporting the proposal on the division of Kosovo. Dačić's proposals at the same time represent a call to Albania to work together to create the "Great Albania", which may additionally undermine stability in the West Balkan region and create a political illusion since the process of establishing new states in the region has been concluded.
With the apprehension and extradition of the main war crimes suspect Ratko Mladić, general of the army of Republica Srpska, President Tadić has made a significant step, although that will represent an additional burden for Serbia after the court trial reveals Serbia's interference in war crimes, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
EARLY PARLIAMENTARY AND PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
Analysts have pointed to the fact that Serbia's President Boris Tadić is at the same time informally also performing the function of Prime Minister of Serbia's Government, and that the current Government is enjoying only the minimum citizen's support due to its poor results, therefore it would be appropriate to announce both early presidential and parliamentary elections. By this act President Tadić would assume responsibility for the situation in the country and prove to be a responsible politician. Tadić is the only president in Europe performing a double function – being the president of the party (Democratic Party) and the state at the same time.
RESTITUTION AND APPREHENSION OF GORAN HADŽIĆ
Serbia may expect to be granted the status of EU candidate country after it adopts the law on restitution and when it arrests the wartime Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadžić who is the last Hague war crimes suspect still free.
Analysts have pointed to the long-term unsustainability of Serbia's external politics supported by the EU-Rusia-US-China four pillars. Typical proofs of such politics are the recent NATO Strategic Conference organised in Belgrade and the announced conference of the Non-Aligned Movement which is to be held in Belgrade in two months time.
STAGED DISCREDITING OF NIKOLIĆ, ILIĆ, KARIĆ AND E-NOVINE
The regime of President Tadić will, following a series of failures is experienced, once again try to attack and discredit the opposition leader Tomislav Nikolić as well as Velimir Ilić, Bogoljub Karić and Aleksandar Vulin.
Various ways and methods are envisaged to deal with the opponents of the regime. They will try to discredit Nikolić through personal approach by presenting him as the politician who is unacceptable for the neighbouring countries and as an alleged extreme nationalist. Velimir Ilić will be discredited by referring to his former function as Minister of Capital Investments. The discrediting of Bogoljub Karić will be achieved by justifying the seizure and illegal sale of his ownership share in Mobtel as well as his 13% ownership share in TELEKOM. Karić represents a threat to the regime since his case has been referred to all the relevant EU institutions and organisations dealing with human rights and civil freedoms. Further escalation of the Karić case may endanger and/or slow down Serbia's accession to EU, especially due to the worrying situation in the Serbian justice system and very poor results of the reform. Aleksandar Vulin will be discredited by Dačić's socialists.
The law suit initiated by the film director Emir Nemanja Kusturica against E-novine (E-newspaper) from Belgrade, one of the very few free media in Serbia, clearly shows that President Tadić's regime may use various methods to deal with those who represent a real threat to him.
Moreover, the current regime in Serbia is preparing several other staged processes, notably against businessmen, free media and journalists.
PUBLIC OPINION POLL
The IFIMES International Institute carried out a public opinion poll in the period from 1st to 25th June 2011 on the territory of the Republic of Serbia without Kosovo using the in-depth field interview method. The standard deviation was +/-3. Control was carried out per 10% of the sample. Degree of reliability: 95%.
We used the random three-stage sample of 1614 respondents who are male and female citizens of the Republic of Serbia of lawful age. 118 randomly selected respondents refused to participate in the survey while 102 respondents did not comply with the defined sample. Demographic data was obtained from the Statistical Institute of the Republic of Serbia. The structure of respondents from urban and non-urban areas has been harmonised approximately. The sexual, age, social and educational structure of the respondents resembles the structure of the population of the Republic of Serbia on the basis of the data from the Statistical Institute of the Republic of Serbia. The answers to the most relevant and interesting questions are presented below.
DO YOU SUPPORT SERBIA'S FULL MEMBERSHIP IN THE EUROPEAN UNION?
DO YOU THINK EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION SHOULD BE HELD IN SERBIA?
WHO WOULD YOU VOTE FOR IF YOU ATTENDED EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION?
G17 Plus/URS 1.8%
WHO DO YOU AS THE CITIZEN OF SERBIA TRUST MOST?
BORIS TADIĆ 27.2%
TOMISLAV NIKOLIĆ 39.9%
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE WORK CARRIED OUT BY THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA SO FAR?
DO YOU SUPPORT THE ARREST AND EXTRADITION OF RATKO MLADIĆ TO THE HAGUE TRIBUNAL?
DO YOU SUPPORT SERBIA'S ACCESSION TO NATO?
ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH THE FAILED SALE OF THE STATE SHARE IN TELEKOM SERBIA?
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT PRESIDENT TADIĆ'S REGIME IS READY TO DISCREDIT LEADERS OF THE OPPOSITION SNS-NS-PSS-PS COALITION (Tomislav Nikolić, Velimir Ilić, Bogoljub Karić and Aleksandar Vulin)?
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT PRESIDENT TADIĆ'S REGIME IS TRYING TO BRING SERBIA TO NATO ALTHOUGH IT OFFICIALLY ADVOCATES SERBIA'S MILITARY NEUTRALITY?
DO YOU AGREE WITH PRESIDENT TADIĆ'S POLITICS TOWARDS THE NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES?
DO YOU EXPECT THE ECONOMIC SITUATION IN SERBIA TO AGGRAVATE IN THE NEXT PERIOD?
DO YOU SUPPORT THE POLITICS OF DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR IVICA DAČIĆ (SPS) ON THE DIVISION OF KOSOVO?
DO YOU THINK THAT BOTH EARLY PARLIAMENTARY AND PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS SHOULD BE HELD DUE TO THE DOUBLE ROLE CARRIED OUT BY PRESIDENT TADIĆ WHO IS INFORMALLY ALSO PERFORMING THE FUNCTION OF SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER?
Ljubljana, 13 July 2011
The International Institute for Middle-East
and Balkan Studies (IFIMES), Ljubljana
Zijad Bećirović, M.A.