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September 28, 2001
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 510
State of Affairs

First Year

by Stojan Cerovic

The new baby, born a year ago, should be walking by now, even though still a little unsure of its footsteps.  I number among those who gleefully applaud every unsure step, without panicking too much at the occasional stumble and fall.  The memory of the previous pestilent pathos and awareness of the fact that it is gone once and for all gives me a certain feeling of anxious pleasure and serene indifference toward all debates and conflicts happening today on our political scene.  It all seems so insignificant and funny to me, I simply can't help feeling almost jealous of everyone who is capable of getting all worked up over someone on our political scene today.  As far as I am concerned, Kostunica and Djindjic are mere details, and if such details as these can pose a threat, I'm afraid all such threat is lost on me.

After one full year, the general picture is fairly placid and mostly dull, as is usually the case.  If anyone regrets now the fact that they voted for boredom, then they only have themselves to blame, although I hardly think that there is any sense in braking the monotony today by manufacturing artificial storms.  Everything that can be seen on our main political stage, all ideas, political programs, platforms and the majority of the people in public affairs today are completely normal and regular and can be found anywhere in countries that are similar to ours or even better off than ours.

Besides Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), and his unruly followers, everyone else on our political scene is behaving decently.  Mutual accusations are usually not insults of the sort that cannot be glossed over.  Therefore, if the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) falls apart, as it clearly promises to do, I can hardly say that I expect fanatical supporters of Zoran Djindjic, Serbian Prime Minister and leader of the Democratic Party (DS), and of Vojislav Kostunica, President of Yugoslavia and leader of the most popular political party in Serbia, the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), to raise up arms and to assail the Federal Parliament, the way they did a year ago.  Some rules of conduct have been more or less accepted and will continue to be respected.   Revolutionary behavior clearly does not threaten to become part of our daily life.

The fact that Serbia is heading in the right direction in the past year is hardly open to dispute, although the rate of speed at which all this is happening seems to be an issue that is open to debate.  I understand why Djindjic and his government set speed of reforms for their top objective, as I also must acknowledge the correctness of the criticism coming from Kostunica's DSS regarding the fact that legality and procedure are often when speed is favored over all else.  As far as I know, all those folks in the Serbian government, the majority of the people in the federal government and the entire network of independent experts are all working very hard and with maximum correctness.

The government did not manage to keep the excitement alive following last October, so that the better part of Serbia is slumbering anew as before.  Such people will be hard to stir, while I'm also sure that there is a minority of people who are not waiting for humanitarian handouts and who are not only willing to sit around and to squirm out of reforms in order to remain inert.  However, even this minority could pull the whole country with it.  In any case, that remains our only hope, given that no substantial amount of money is likely to some into the country from outside.

So-called state problems registered an overall reshuffle in that some things improved, some things deteriorated, while some are where they were before.  The crisis in the South of Serbia has been dealt with, no change has been registered in Kosovo, but it's not under our jurisdiction, anyway, while relations with Montenegro are worse than they ever were under Milosevic.  Djukanovic began by wanting to separate from Serbia following October 5, 2000, but nothing came of it.  Djukanovic's pet project never had majority support, nor is ever likely to get it.  All those who lobby fervently for both sides of this issue can say is that all bridges between Podgorica and Belgrade have been burnt.

However, the politics of fait acomplis are something that was rejected and punished by the West thus far, as in the case of Slobodan Milosevic who only knew this way of politicking.  Djukanovic will no doubt be also told that he must stop with his dally wagging and imagining of the fearful, Serbian dragon, for it's clear to everyone that national interests have little to do with what is happening now, and that only private interests appear to be behind Djukanovic's refusals to sit to the discussion table.  Moreover, such private interests are very questionable in terms of legality.

In any case, this issue and everything else which concerns us has been overshadowed by what is brewing in the world today.  No one has paid any attention to Montenegro for some time now, with envoys, no doubt, heading to Montenegro as we speak to tell Djukanovic and his supporters that they must be as meek as sheep, because no one will have time to deal with them.

Montenegrins themselves will no doubt realize that it is not too wise to remain in the shadows now when a world conflict is in the making and when it is still not clear who will be fighting against whom, but one thing is sure that there will be a lot of collateral damage.  Maybe the government in Podgorica believes that it would be smart to offer aid to the American now, the way they offered the Russians help when they were fighting the Japanese, and then later to ask Washington to defend them against Kostunica.

But this time Belgrade will also be prepared.  I'm not saying that Serbs are enlisting en mass to aid the same people who bombed Serbia a while back, but there is no doubt that if it depended on the Serbs, America would win its war against terrorism.  Serbia does not have nor ever will have any other option beyond Europe and the West, with Putin's Russia slowly heading in that direction also.  It appears that new paths are opening up rapidly, with decade-long barriers falling overnight.

If Serbia has once again become part of the world, it must understand that the world that it has become part of anew is presently undergoing a total change, from one hour to the next.  Of course, it could happen that many things we viewed as stable and which we could rely on will change.  No one is sure how the Muslim world will react under the pressure of their own radicals.  No one also knows how the western stock markets will hold up and how deep the recession will be.  How stable are western societies and will their institutions hold up under the challenges of unknown proportions?

Perhaps someone sill think here that Osaman Bin Laden is precisely the undertaker of the West which has been desired by the East for so long.  Someone might also say that the West is falling apart and Serbia should sit on the sidelines.

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