Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Analyst reproaches Serbian government for keeping lid on Kosovo status plans

Text of report by "SN" entitled "Brezhnevs are among us" published by the Serbian newspaper Dnevnik on 20 May

Slobodan Samardzic and Leon Kojen, co-chairmen of the Serbian negotiating team, yesterday forwarded a proposal for continuation of the Vienna talks on the status of Kosovo-Metohija to the ambassadors of the Contact Group member states.

They said the public in Serbia would be informed the following week or 10 days at the most, of part of Belgrade's platform proposing a concrete solution to the future status of the province.

Dusan Janjic, director of the Forum for Ethnic Relations, says the repeated delay in informing citizens of Serbia with their plans and ideas is a problem in general of the Serbian government, the prime minister and co-chairmen of the negotiating team, a problem in understanding public opinion.

"It is an old concept promoted at the beginning of the talks by Nebojsa Covic [former head of the Kosovo Coordinating Centre] and Vojislav Kostunica, in the sense: 'We know the solution, but we will disclose it when we think it right to do so.' That is not a democratic model as it implies that the public is immature, and it rests largely on conspiracy theories. Third, and perhaps most importantly, it is based on the conviction that they have got the life-saving solution," said Janjic.

He said this "Brezhnev-like concept" in understanding the public was the government's biggest weakness. They have shut themselves in a small circle, assumed all responsibility and turned away the public which could be of help.

"The only thing this has produced is that they will be attacked by all and sundry. They accuse themselves in advance of being culprits and they have set their own punishment. Similar to a Greek tragedy, I think," said Janjic.

[Box] Nobody will ask Belgrade

Janjic referred in particular to general questions concerning security, saying nobody would ask Belgrade anything, especially not before Ratko Mladic is arrested. "Belgrade must respond explicitly to questions on cooperation with the US army, future cooperation with The Hague, and organized crime," Janjic told Dnevnik.

Source: Dnevnik, Novi Sad, in Serbian 20 May 06

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