Update No: 154 -
Serbia is very much a country in
transition - but from what to what?
It might have seemed to be from communism.
But of course it wasn’t. Tito was at least
one communist leader who was not a
fanatic. Nor was he an ideologue; he
scarcely read a page of Marx in his life.
He adopted a very light-weight version of
the creed, admitting a market economy,
private enterprise and inward foreign
investors, who found Serbia one of the
best places to operate - no strikes or
Still he felt it obligatory to manage a
state sector too. But everybody did in
those days; it was absolutely de rigueur.
Where to and what next?
Tadic on the warpath
Rampant private enterprise can lead to
rampant crime. Serbian President Boris
Tadic, a convinced reformer, vowed on
March 19 to wage an all-out war on
organised crime, in particularly drug
trafficking cartels, saying the scourge
represented the biggest threat to society.
"I believe that we have no alternative
policy and that a relentless fight against
organised crime is an obligation for the
entire leadership of the state," Tadic
told the Tanjug news agency. "Serbia
simply cannot allow organised crime to
spread, in particularly drugs trafficking,
as it poses the biggest danger to our
society. That crime must be wiped out,"
Serbia recently arrested dozens of members
of a cartel smuggling huge amounts of
drugs from South America to Europe.
According to Tadic, the size and the
importance of the ongoing fight against
organised crime and narco cartels could
only be compared to 'Operation Saber' --
the vast offensive against organised crime
launched after the murder of reformist
prime minister Zoran Djindjic in 2003. In
the months after Djindjic's death, the
authorities arrested hundreds of people
accused of involvement in organised crime.
As part of the current crackdown the US
Drug Enforcement Agency and the Serbian
security agency seized 2.8 tonnes of
cocaine in international waters last
October. The drugs had an estimated value
of 120 million euros (170 million dollars)
and were destined for the European market.
Several members of the trafficking ring
have since been arrested while Serbia has
issued an international arrest warrant for
the suspected leader Darko Saric.
A Belgrade court has also approved
prosecutors' demands to impound the
property of suspected criminals. Local
media have reported on dozens of companies
and luxurious houses taken from suspects,
their families and lawyers.
Tadic said he has evidence that the
Serbian cartels have also attempted to
penetrate state institutions to
destabilise the government.
"The latest property seizures prove that
those groups have laundered narco money by
investing not only into their personal
houses and land but also in tourism,
factories (and) distribution of the
press," Tadic said.
In February the interior minister Ivica
Dacic said that high ranking government
officials including Tadic received death
threats from narco cartels on a daily
Serbia against the grain
The ethnic Albanian-dominated Kosovo
unilaterally declared independence on Feb.
17, 2008. Serbia has said it would never
recognize Kosovo's independence, regarding
the move as contrary to international law.
Serbia's possible boycott of the Western
Balkans conference in mid-March in protest
against the invitation of Kosovo
threatened to spoil the first meeting of
all the political leaders in the region in
The joint organizers, Slovenia and
Croatia, failed to secure the presence of
both Serbia and Kosovo, the former Serbian
province which declared independence in
2008. No great surprise.
The absence of Serbia undermined the
conference's goal of resolving regional
disputes before European Union accession
Serbian President Boris Tadic had said
earlier that Serbia would take part in the
conference if Kosovo "participates within
the format defined by Resolution 1244 of
the UN Security Council," or UNMIK Kosovo,
the acronym for the UN mission in Kosovo.
Into the EU?
Spain holds the EU revolving presidency.
Serbia will soon take the next procedural
step toward joining the European Union
when a formal analysis starts of its entry
bid, says Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel
Serbia is waiting for EU governments to
dispatch its application, filed in
December, for an official assessment by
the European Commission. “We’re just in
the consulting process,” Moratinos,
representing the bloc’s six-month
presidency, told reporters after an
EU-Serbia meeting in Brussels in March.
“We hope it will be the sooner the
Serbia, with 7.5 million people, is both
the largest former Yugoslav republic and
the slowest to embrace the EU, because of
the isolation into which it was plunged
after the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
Serbia also won visa-free travel for its
citizens to the EU and started a
free-trade agreement in 2009. The New Year
“may not be as exciting as last year in
terms of big political breakthroughs,”
Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic told
the press conference.