news 02 Jul 12

Region Suspicious of Serbia’s New Govt

Serbia’s neighbours fear that the new nationalist-led government may threaten the region’s EU future.

Bojana Barlovac, Fatmir Aliu
BIRN
Belgrade, Pristina

The new Serbian government, which has stirred fears of a return to Nineties-style nationalism, has received a guarded welcome from its neighbours in the region.

On Thursday, Serbia's new President, Tomislav Nikolic, gave the Socialists' Ivica Dacic, once the right hand man of Slobodan Milosevic, a mandate to form a government.

The Socialists and Progressives, who shared power in the 1990s, when the Progressives’ members were Radicals will be joined in the new government by the United Regions of Serbia.

Ivan Zvonimir Cicak, the President of the Croatian Helsinki Committee has warned that relations between Croatia and Serbia have already started to deteriorate. Croatian President Ivo Josipovic declined to attend Nikolic's inauguration after Nikolic caused controversy by calling the Croatian city of Vukovar ‘a Serbian city’ where displaced Croats should not return.

Cicak pointed out that Josipovic had visited the President of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, even though Dodik had expressed his support for  the 1995 bombing of Zagreb in parliament.

However, Cicak has expressed hope that no substantial change on the political level between the two countries will follow because Dacic has already been the number two in the previous government.

"No matter whether he is the first or the second one [in the govt] because it is the same policy, but only now in a different package," Cicak said.

He hinted that the relations between Croatia and Serbia are regulated by Brussels given that both countries are on the path of EU integrations.

However, the fact that Milosevic’s former ally will now head the new Serbian government has caused a great deal of controversy in neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The daily newspapers have all devoted pages of coverage to the issue, and Bosnia’s biggest newspaper, Dnevni Avaz, has even run with the headline  “Is Serbia going back to Milosevic’s era?”

Mostar-based Professor Mile Lasic is troubled by the make-up of the new Serbian government, as he believes that Serbia does not deserve to be led by nationalists 20 years after the war.

"We have every reason to feel sorrow for those who are departing from the political scene," Lasic said.

Kosovo’s President Atifete Jahjaga has called upon Serbia’s new leadership to recognise Kosovo as an independent country. Although Kosovo declared its independence in 2008 for Serbia it still remains its southern province.

“There’s no turning back, we can only move forward by supporting each other on our path to Euro-Atlantic integrations. There are no other alternatives,” President Atifete Jahjaga told reporters on Friday after meeting former Albanian President Bamir Topi.

Topi expressed his hopes that Serbia will continue pursuing the path of the regional Euro-Atlantic integrations and not return to Milosevic era policies.

 

 

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