Monday, 4 February 2008
EU bureaucrats have greeted the Serbian presidential result with relief and it appears that Boris Tadic’s win is being seen as a green light for Kosovo to proceed with an imminent declaration of independence. In Pristina the result has been interpreted as an acknowledgment that Kosovo should be let go without a struggle.
On the contrary, Tadic’s narrow win simply demonstrates that Serbs are unwilling to return to the trenchant nationalism that characterised Slobodan Milosevic’s regime and envisage a modern and tolerant future for their state. In no way does the result demonstrate an acceptance that Serbia should yield sovereignty over the Serb province of Kosovo.
An endorsement of Tadic’s less confrontational stance may well betray an unwillingness to aggressively face down NATO and much of the EU, but the diplomatic tussle over Kosovo is not over. Although states within the EU are likely to recognise a unilateral declaration of independence, there is by no means consensus, particularly from those countries suspicious of separatist nationalism.
The Serb election result and the defeat of the Radical Party’s Tomislav Nikolic actually expose the inaccuracy of Western perceptions of Serbia as recalcitrant, belligerent and incurably nationalist.
Serbs deserve better treatment than NATO’s policy of discouraging compromise from Kosovan Albanian nationalists has delivered. Both Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo deserve better than lawless independence under corrupt ex-terrorists. It remains Tadic’s duty to continue advancing this argument whilst espousing the liberal sensibility which provided his mandate.