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the October 2001 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 48, No.
Dusan Pavlovic, Reporter (Serbia
edition), Belgrade, Yugoslavia, July 11, 2001
Is it possible that, after all, Petar Lukovic did not
err when in his columns in Reporter early this year he gave
[Serbian President] Vojislav Kostunica the nickname Voja/Sloba? As
Slobodan Milosevics extradition to the Hague tribunal approached,
Kostunica began more and more to resemble his predecessor. In his
political confession on June 26 [Kostunica held a press conference
that he called his political confession, at which he disavowed
involvement in Milosevics extraditionWPR] he represented
himself in the best Milosevic-type manner as someone who by no means
was involved in Milosevics extradition to The Hague. Others
were responsible: Americans and the rest of the Democratic Opposition
of Serbia (DOS) [the governing coalition], but by no means he himself.
Like Milosevic, who did everything to save the former Yugoslavia,
Krajina [an area of Croatia once populated by Serbs], Bosnia, Kosovo,
democracy, economic reform in Serbia, etc., Kostunica did everything
within legal bounds to organize cooperation with the Hague tribunal,
but was prevented by Americans and the rest of DOS.
An attitude of bitterness, injustice, and shifting responsibility
to others are characteristics that marked the ruling elite under Milosevic.
It is quite possible that Kostunicas bitterness is heartfelt,
but it is almost certain that his insecure and defensive attitude
was stirred up by his advisers and party colleagues, since they have
been much more resolute than he about those issues.
The theory about small and smaller parties, the idea that
the one with the greatest power has the right to dictate the rules
of the game, was one of Milosevics favorite arguments in his
bid to put communist Yugoslavia under his domination in 1988-89. One
should also recall that Vuk Draskovic has regularly used the same
reasoning within the Serbian opposition. In Draskovics intrepretation,
it was reduced to a motto: The river does not empty into a brook,
but a brook empties into a river. Such arrogance has for a long
time prevented the Serbian opposition from creating an alternative
political strategy and defeating Milosevic, while Draskovic himself
paid the highest price for it in September and Decembers elections.
Kostunica accepted the role of victim and loser even though in some
instances he is the one who imposes and dictates the agenda, pace,
and way of resolving political issues. The way in which our government
has approached the Milosevic problem was formulated and worked out
by Kostunica. Milosevic could have been extradited even in January
when [the chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor] Carla Del Ponte visited
Belgrade for the first time. Of course, the aim was not to find a
legal basis, but to prolong the whole process as long as possible.
Despite the alleged constraints of his coalition partners, Kostunica
managed to force the passage of a law on cooperation with the Hague
tribunal, which, it is now clear, unnecessarily delayed the whole
thing for five and a half months.
The tendency to procrastinate, stemming from a distorted perception
of reality, is the greatest similarity between Milosevic and Kostunica.
Milosevic was distinguished by pushing a futile policy that had no
real chance to succeed. Starting with a bid to save, even more to
dominate, the former Yugoslavia, then to gather all Serbs in one state,
impose democracy, carry out economic reform, stop crime, defeat NATO,
expose the Hague tribunal, etc.Milosevic was a mastermind of
aimless action. Analyzing the politics that Kostunica has practiced
so far, one comes to a similar conclusion. His policies on Kosovo,
the survival of the Yugoslav federation, cooperation with the Hague
tribunal, and facing Serb responsibility in the wars in ex-Yugoslavia
are, to put it mildly, futile. From each of these policies, nine months
after he assumed the presidency, there are no tangible results.
Stretching an irrational approach to policy as far as possible
is equally characteristic of Milosevic and Kostunica. But unlike
Kostunica, Milosevic here and there managed to bring his policy
to an end. Kostunica still does not understand that it is important
not only to have some ideas, but that they be realized. Djindjic
understands that better than Kostunica doesalthough, in
his pragmatism, Djindjic is also a figure comparable to Milosevic.