Update No: 123 - (31/08/07)
Serbian Government Marks 100 Days
The Serbian government on August 23rd marked its first hundred days in power
marked with relative stability. The government was formed on May 15th, less than
an hour before the expiration of the deadline stipulated by the constitution.
The formation of the Vojislav Kostunica's Cabinet followed months of wrangling
over its composition following a January 21st vote.
The centre-right government is comprised of the Democratic Party loyal to
Serbia's President Boris, Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia, the G17 Plus
and News Serbia.
In his inaugural speech Kostunica set five key goals for the Cabinet including
preservation of Kosovo, a breakaway ethnic Albanian-dominated province inside
Serbia, economic development and recovery and struggle against organized crime,
corruption red tape and nepotism.
Mixed reception for the government
Belgrade's political analysts have responded by saying that the cabinet has had
mixed results. Nebojsa Spaic of the Belgrade-based Spaic & Farmer
consultancy said that "the government was not overly enthusiastic about its
work." He added: "They have however managed to secure relative
financial and social stability and to delay the Kosovo solution."
Belgrade commentator Djordje Vukadinovic told media on August 23rd that the
situation has been "surprisingly idyllic". He added: "The people
in the government … now seem to refrain from conflicts, even when such
conflicts would be justified," he said
Analysts also said that major government's achievements were the resumption of
pre-membership talks with the European Union, improved cooperation with the
Netherlands-based UN war crimes tribunal and the success in delaying a
resolution of the Kosovo status issue.
The pre-entry talks with the EU were cancelled last spring over Belgrade's
failure to apprehend war crimes suspect former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic
but were resumed after Serbia delivered two top suspects to the Hague Tribunal
The Kosovo negotiations in turn are currently deadlocked after Serbia's ally
Russia has threatened to block any Western-backed proposal for the future status
of the breakaway province which does not have Belgrade's support.
Despite these successes, some analysts would like to see greater efforts in key
areas. Milenko Radic of the Belgrade-based Fund for the Development of
Democracy, said the government needs to boost reforms of judiciary, particularly
the work of the Constitutional Court.
Expert Nemanja Nenadic also called on the government to step up its fight
against organized crime. Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica recently praised an
investigation into tobacco smuggling rings in Serbia which ended in several
arrests. However, Nenadic sayid that these "efforts need to be more
energetic and yield clearer results."
On August 29th, the government announced a report on its first hundred days in
power, followed by a news conference the next day.
Belgrade Gets Invitation for Kosovo Talks
Serbia's foreign ministry received on August 23rd an official in vitation to
attend the next talks on Kosovo's future status in Vienna, to be held in on
August 30th, the country's media have reported.
The invitation came only hours after Slobodan Samardzic, Serbia's minister in
charge of Kosovo, told reporters he was puzzled by the lack of official
invitation, adding this was ''unusual, given that the day was approaching''.
Meanwhile, in a statement posted on its official Web site, Serbian government
said it has "not yet formed a negotiations team, because it is still
unknown what will be the subject, form and manner of talks".
The Vienna meeting scheduled for August 30 will be held under the auspices of
the so-called Contact Group, an advisory body comprised of US, Russia and key
The group took over talks over Kosovo's future after Russia, a veto wielding
member of the Security Council blocked a Western-backed resolution that
envisioned Kosovo's internationally monitored independence.
Serbian government has announced that the two sides will not engage in direct
talks but will meet international diplomats in separate rooms. This is hardly an
arrangement likely to be conducive of a solution.
So far, there has been no common ground between Kosovo Albanians, who are
demanding full independence for Kosovo, and Serbia, which is offering them only
Kosovo, officially a part of Serbia, has been under international administration
since 1999, when a NATO air war drove out Serb forces.