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November 7, 1994
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 163
The Eurasian Internationale

The Beginning of Spring?

by Milan Milosevic

A Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) delegation attended the 5th Congress of Ukrainian Socialists and a gathering of leftist groups from Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States last week (some reporters speak of East European and Eurasian countries). Member of the SPS executive committee Vladimir Krsljanin spoke in an interview to Radio Belgrade of the "strengthening of forces of the Left"... "a resistance to the pressure of neo-liberal forces" and the "Eurasian socialist internationale". The SPS delegation was elected to the coordinating body of the association. Speaking at the Ukrainian Congress, SPS official Slobodan Jovanovic said that the people of Ukraine, Russia, Romania and Bulgaria were "not second-class nations" and that a new society would be created in these countries ("it can, and will be").

At the same time, a meeting of the SPS committee for dealing with theoretical issues was held in Belgrade. At the meeting, SPS ideologue Mihailo Markovic, Professor Sava Zivanov and some other participants spoke critically of so-called liberal capitalism in countries going through a post-Communist transition, which, according to their diagnosis, was turning all former Communist countries into colonies. In a polemic with SPS vice-president Borisav Jovic, Vladan Jovasevic claimed that the law banning privatization during last year's hyperinflation had "fallen through" in the Serbian Assembly because of the absence of thirty-one SPS deputies, and that privatization had "not been approved by Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader Vojislav Seselj, but by the SPS right wing".

This is the first public ideological labelling of an enemy in frictions within the SPS, and it could be a sign of the party's new ideological turnabout.

League of Communists - Movement for Yugoslavia (SK-PJ) official Dragomir Draskovic said recently that the government was showing increased interest in the stands of this non-parliamentary party which has been contacted by representatives from the US Embassy and Korea, the United Kingdom's Charge d'Affaires and the representatives of some Arab states.

In searching for a vision of the future political regime in Belgrade, many analysts have been following Mirjana Markovic's (Yugoslav United Left - JUL top official and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's wife) statements. In her book "Night And Day", Ms. Markovic writes that on March 2 of this year she woke up before a Moscow that "sleeps like someone in pain", and that "spring comes late here" - "while the snow is very deep, lasts long and has stopped uninvited visitors at the door for centuries".

Before this Ms. Markovic says that the Russians need the experience of the developed world (and vice versa) and that Moscow is full of European and American businessmen and journalists, traders and priests, thieves, travel writers, spies and tourists, and that "at first glance" this is a natural thing, but at second glance "this commotion leaves a missionary impression" - while she "is confused by the missionary onslaught" on Moscow, because "missionaries are incompatible with the liberating spirit of the twentieth century". Mirjana Markovic apostatizes that "capitalism starting with the days of the Netherlands' revolution cannot last forever, nor can socialism be severed at the very beginning", and that "in the provocative and only at first glance unrealistic combination" (of these two systems) is to be found the solution for East European countries. Earlier (July 23, 1993), Ms. Markovic noted orthodoxly that the name of the holding company "Prva petoletka" (First five-year plan) sounded grotesque and was "somehow typical of the situation we were in", since the words "holding" and "Prva petoletka" did not go together.

Since the time when Slobodan Milosevic treated Mikhail Gorbachev (during his visit to Belgrade) to a didactic speech extolling the virtues of Socialism, domestic "Eastern policy" (with the exception of former Yugoslav PM Milan Panic) has boiled down to challenging Russian President Boris Yeltsin's national (earlier) and economic (now) policies.

For several years the SPS built its propaganda on developing the thesis of a "natural alliance" between the Serbian and the Russian people (in spite of a "non-Russian regime in Moscow"). During the war, Moscow's communist alternative was not presented in Belgrade as being Communist, but "patriotic".

In March of 1993, before becoming closer to Boris Yeltsin, Milosevic told the communist "Pravda" in Moscow: "We cannot expect Russia to take part in the genocidal measures against the Serbian people". Ignoring the fact that forces now upholding "Pravda" were the ones which in 1948 had subjected Yugoslavia to much more dramatic pressure than currently (introduced by the international community), Milosevic said: "I'll say it openly, this is a shameful fact for Russia!" "Pravda" retained this stand, and when things started taking a different turn in June 1994, published a lengthy supplement on Serbia with the collaboration of a dozen "Pravda" journalists and Momo Kapor, a nationalist writer from Belgrade.

A turning point of sorts did take place between April 19, 1993 when Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vitaly Churkin said that Russia had its priorities and that it wouldn't enter into a confrontation with the international community over Bosnia, and August 10, 1993 when official Russian spokesman Grigorij Karasin said that the Russian diplomatic-state leadership had assessed that the "Bosnian crisis had reached a very dangerous level" and that Moscow "held a strong position" which excluded the use of international force. During the same period, in their book "A Chronology of the Yugoslav Crisis 1942-1993", Slobodanka Kovacevic and Putnik Dajic pinpointed Milosevic's turning point - probably that unsuccessful trip to Pale (Bosnian Serb political center) with former Yugoslav President Dobrica Cosic and Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis during the night of May 5-6, 1993 when serious pressure was exerted on Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to end the war in Bosnia...

A year passed until the moment when Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev visited Belgrade on August 28, 1994 and expressed his satisfaction that "Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was firm in his intentions" and reiterated that the Bosnian Serb leadership had been "given all possible guarantees, both with regard to borders and the future state organization of the Bosnian Serb Republic". After this, Kozyrev tried to persuade his colleagues in the Contact Group for Bosnia that the most important thing at that moment was to support the Serbian President, while Milosevic told his public that he was finally enjoying Russian protection.

After the decision to ease sanctions, Belgrade on various occasions demonstrated a speedy opening up towards Russia. On September 22, Serbian Minister of Technology Slobodan Unkovic opened a scientific forum entitled "The Danube, A River of Cooperation", at which it was said that Bulgaria and Romania were interested in cooperating, the latter through its port in Constantsa, as were Moldavia, Ukraine and Russia. The "Zemun Polje" Institute for Maize announced that it was carrying out and had started new projects in Byelorussia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine and that it was expecting to improve cooperation with Russia. Russian Chamber of Industry President Stanislav Alekseyevitch Smirnov met with Yugoslav Economic Chamber President Mihajlo Milojevic and discussed the problems of Yugoslav firms under sanctions.

Even if there weren't any specific ideological-political qualities, the countries of this region would incline naturally to the eastern markets. This was proved by Slovenian Foreign Minister Lojze Peterle's recent comment that good links with Russia, Byelorussia, Ukraine and even the "central Asian countries" were of great importance.

In August of 1991 academician Mihailo Markovic said that the putsch in Moscow suited the Serbs because the putschists were challenging the new world order. This wasn't far from many of the views held by Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader Vojislav Seselj who was to call on "Russian patriots and democrats to overthrow U.S. spy Yeltsin".

A year after the aborted putsch, Slobodan Milosevic said coolly that he had been among the first to condemn it, even though Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) leader Vuk Draskovic had been the one to do so, and later said derisively that "all here" were hoping for a new putsch in Moscow, "so that they could stay in power a few more years"...

The SPO consistently supported the pro-Yeltsin bloc. In December of 1991, Vuk Draskovic visited Moscow and returned with the impression that "a humiliated Russia could not help much". That same month, Draskovic invited Jastrebov, a young man who had staged a hunger strike in Moscow over the Serbian cause, to Serbia. But, once Jastrebov arrived they didn't know what to do with him, because Draskovic had in the meantime condemned the destruction of Vukovar and was increasingly louder in his condemnation of the war.

The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) favored Yeltsin for a time, but now speaks disparagingly of his guarantees. During the battle between Yeltsin and Parliament, the Democratic Party (DS) adopted the stand that Belgrade should maintain contact with both sides in Moscow, while DS leader Zoran Djindic, seeing that Milosevic had started relying on Yeltsin, invited Yegor Gajdar to visit Belgrade in early September of 1994. Gajdar was among those Russian representatives whom the Belgrade regime had demonized until recently.

After the October confusion, official Belgrade lost its allies in the Supreme Soviet, and after last year's Russian elections it showed a brief and not very sincere interest in Vladimir Volfovich Zhirinovsky who was then passed over to others.

Zhirinovsky was hosted by marginal political groups such as the "White Rose" and its president Radomir Smiljanic, the Serbian-Russian Friendship Society or "Postojbina". Seselj was one of the first to congratulate Zhirinovsky on his success at the elections; However, Zhirinovsky did not appear at the SRS's Fatherland Congress (at the time a strong political force) even though Seselj had announced his presence, probably because of his contacts with Seselj's unsuccessful competitor Zeljko Raznjatovic Arkan. Zhirinovsky held a rally with extreme nationalist Mirko Jovic (Serbian National Renewal president), Bosnian Serb Republic (RS) Vice-President Biljana Plavsic and some Russian officers, but attendance was poor...

According to protocol, the moderate Democratic Party of Socialists secretary general Svetozar Marovic was the highest ranking political figure who was to meet with Zhirinovsky. Zhirinovsky fared much better in Bijeljina, where he was given high honors in the presence of the RS political leadership, including Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. In the Republic of Serb Krajina, Zhirinovsky was met by the newly-elected President Milan Martic, who criticized official Russia for having "let the Serbs down".

After visiting America, Vuk Draskovic said that the Americans knew that some parts of the Russian opposition were financed by Belgrade via Cyprus. The Russian news agency "Novosti" announced that the trip of Russian deputies to Belgrade had been financed by a "private financial organization close to the Serbian authorities" with interests in Russia. The Belgrade daily "Vecernje Novosti" presented Mihailo Guborman as a "member of the Supreme Soviet's Committee for foreign trade links with the "Braca Karic" company. A member of the Karic family was elected an honorary member of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences, or at least that's what some papers said...

The Serbian-Russian Friendship Society mediated on several occasions in getting Russian intellectuals to make statements in favor of the Serbs and against the government in Moscow

The "Pan-Slav" idea was renewed, various congresses of spiritually close nations were organized and, from time to time, ideas of a Pan-Orthodox association were launched.

Russian and Ukrainian academicians often visited Belgrade to the joy of the intellectual lobby, which was very strongly opposed to the so-called new world order. In 1992 this stand was being expressed by academician Vasilije Krestic, Serbian national writer and then Yugoslav president Dobrica Cosic, and professor Smilja Avramov, who advised the Serbs to seek their interests in a possible East-West or even North-South conflict, and on the transitoriness of the "pax Americana" system. At the promotion of a collection of documents on Serbian-Russian relations, academician Milorad Ekmecic spoke reproachfully of the Balkans as being the backyard of Russian foreign policy.

Continuity with regard to these new stands was demonstrated with the election of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SANU), which coincided with the moment when he said in the Russian Duma that privatization had turned into a general robbery. Several academicians who are regarded as SPS advisors opposed the concept of total privatization such as is being carried out in Russia by Yeltsin, and which is no longer being opposed by Zjuganov, leader of the Russian Communists.

Milosevic met with Russian Academy of Arts and Sciences President Jurij Osipov and academician Nikita Tolstoy at the signing of an agreement on scientific-technical cooperation between SANU and the Russian Academy on October 10. The atmosphere was very relaxed, without the earlier animosity, and this was presented as a gradual breaking through of the blockade...

The Serbian Orthodox Church asked for sisterly aid. Bishop Irinej Bulovic told a press conference in Moscow recently that the "Serbs had always had need of Russian protection on the international scene". He said that Patriarch Pavle, after visiting Moscow (where he had met with Duma Speaker Ivan Ribkin and Moscow Lord Mayor Jurij Lujkov) was "happy with the understanding shown by the Russian authorities with regard to the problem of international sanctions against the Serbs".

Two years ago, when all Orthodox churches offered support to the Russian Orthodox Church during a sharp dialogue with the Vatican, Bishop Irinej wrote that relations between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches was at its lowest point since the Middle Ages. Moscow and All Russian Patriarch Alexei II's recent canonical visit to the Serbian Orthodox Church was announced as a conciliatory mission among nations battling in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was only partially successful because Reis-ul-ulema Ceric refused to meet with the Russian and Serbian patriarchs, because he wasn't satisfied with Patriarch Pavle's condemnation of the destruction of places of worship in Bosnia. There were critical voices from Macedonia because the two patriarchs had agreed against an autocephalous Macedonian Orthodox Church.

Western European conservatives began developing a theory on the unfitness of integrating Orthodox countries into Europe based upon the same premise. This is illustrated by the scandal created by Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Klaas, who, while speaking before the European Alpine Forum, said that East European nations, considering their "Byzantine tradition" and "oriental concept of the world", "inclined naturally towards despotism and the abuse of power". This was reason enough for his opponents to challenge his fitness for an appointment to NATO, which at the time was trying to effect a rapprochement between former East European Communist countries and Western Europe, rather than wage a crusade against them. Klaas might have been briefed by domestic ideologues; he said that European integration was becoming a feasible goal in countries longest under Western influence and included among them: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, and, (in his own words) "let's hope - Croatia", while listing Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia as countries under "Byzantine influence". British-American Information Council Director Dan Plash told the London "Observer" that Klaas was a very narrow-minded person, and wondered whether he could be considered as a possible candidate for such a delicate post as that of NATO secretary-general. And as can be seen from our example, bloody-mindedness continues.

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