[CrashList] The Yugoslav Election
zapata at sezampro.yu
Mon Sep 25 05:45:22 MDT 2000
This depiction of Kostunica as hardliner and die hard nationalist is true
enough - he was pictured with a rifle on Kosovo few years ago and he always
had considered himself as "US-hater" and "2 die for Serbia" type of national
Stratfor.com's Weekly Global Intelligence Update - 25 September
Checkmate in Yugoslavia?
25 September 2000
On their face, the Yugoslav elections appear to have failed in
clarifying the country's political situation. Slobodan Milosevic is
still president, has succeeded at least in postponing a day of
reckoning and the West's crafty old enemy sits, for the moment, in
But in reality, a clarifying moment is unfolding. Amidst the riot
police, the fights and the mixed results another round of voting in
two weeks an important change has occurred. Milosevic may be
replaced, but by another hard-line Serbian nationalist, Vojislav
Kostunica. Kostunica will not necessarily be the easy ally
Washington and London have hoped for, but he is most likely too
strong for Milosevic to defeat.
The run-up to the voting created tremendous problems for Milosevic.
Seeking to dispel the notion that he is not a democratic leader, he
called an early election and quickly trailed in public opinion
polls by Beografiti, Beta and Strategic Marketing. The accuracy of
polling in the Balkans is questionable. But the impact was not.
Even if Milosevic had managed to honestly rustle up enough votes to
win on Sunday, the polls made it impossible for him to claim that
he had done so fairly.
Even now in Yugoslavia and abroad, the fact that Milosevic trailed
but didn't lose outright is being shrewdly turned against him. In
effect, it has become impossible for Milosevic to again lay claim
to being democratically elected even if he wins next month. He can
govern if the police and military continue to back him, but he
cannot extract what he wanted from the elections a new stamp of
How did Milosevic, as crafty a politician as there is, allow
himself to get boxed in? The answer goes back over a year ago, to
the campaign waged by the West in general and the United States in
particular since the end of the Kosovo war. Washington hoped that
the loss of Kosovo would topple Milosevic and his regime.
As a result, the Clinton administration supported a range of his
opponents, labeling them democratic alternatives when in fact they
comprised a mixed bag of ideologies and interests, linked only by
opposition to the president. The campaign ended earlier this year
in abysmal failure. Regardless of their view on Milosevic, Serbs
hated NATO and the United States; the support of either was the
kiss of death. And the West's favorites were, in fact, a crew of
losers who wasted precious time jockeying for position against one
But something changed in Western capitals a few months ago. Instead
of seeking to overthrow the entire Milosevic regime including
friends and supporters the Clinton administration signaled a shift,
claiming it wanted to get rid of Milosevic only. Subsequent offers
by the European Union echoed this, suggesting that certain Serb-
owned companies might do business with the EU, while those with
nefarious ties to the regime might not. Most likely, the U.S.
government realized that to extricate itself from the morass in
Kosovo, the only choice was to deal with the faction around
In months since, the real tension in Belgrade has not been between
democrats and the oligarchs of the regime, but within the circle of
oligarchs itself. There have been two camps. In one are members of
the elite who have decided to end the impasse and protect their
positions. In the other is Milosevic, who decided to play the
nationalist card one more time with the election and bring
followers in the Socialist Party of Serbia back into his camp.
But Milosevic may have miscalculated. He did not count on the
emergence of a nationalist like himself as the main challenger.
Vojislav Kostunica derives his popularity from a track record that
reflects Milosevic's own. Kostunica is a hard-line Serbian
nationalist and a committed opponent of the West. He condemned last
year's war and labeled NATO's prosecution of the air campaign as a
series of criminal acts. He has said that he would not cooperate
with the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague. And
Kostunica has flatly stated he would not turn in Milosevic,
according to the Yugoslav press.
Most importantly, Kostunica draws his own popularity from the same
well as Milosevic. Kostunica has gone out of his way to clarify
that, unlike the rest of the opposition, he has accepted no money
from the United States; a top U.S. official has confirmed the
claim. To some degree, Kostunica spells trouble for Washington. If
he wins, he will not take orders or transform Yugoslavia into a
portrait of Western hopes, all neatly fulfilled.
But more immediately, it appears Milosevic has walked into a trap.
He called an election nine months before the constitution required,
saw unreliable polls constructed into iron-clad arguments against
him and watched as his own circle of followers considered their
futures independent of his.
The West, too, may have lent a helping hand, albeit indirectly. The
United Nations announced it would allow Serbs in Kosovo to vote,
for example, but peacekeeping troops would neither escort Serbs to
the polls nor safeguard polling stations and ballot boxes. Finally,
the EU's promise to lift economic sanctions if Milosevic is
defeated sweetens the deal for members of the Serb elite.
After years of bumbling, it appears the West has trapped Milosevic.
An important discussion will now take place within the Serbian
political elite: Will Kostunica protect them if he wins, cleaning
out only those closest to Milosevic? The elite is likely posing the
same self-interested questions to Washington.
If the right answers are delivered to the right people, the trap
will finally be closed. Even if Milosevic moves to stage a coup,
the people he will need the most will be ready to turn on him.
----- Original Message -----
From: Tony Abdo <aabdo at webtv.net>
To: <leninist-international at lists.wwpublish.com>;
<crashlist at lists.wwpublish.com>; <sldrty-l at igc.topica.com>
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2000 5:30 AM
Subject: [CrashList] The Yugoslav Election
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