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March 12, 2003

An Aside from Serbia

Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated today in Belgrade. It has nothing to do with Iraq, but I wanted to comment briefly anyway. On the BBC today he was eulogized as the best hope for reform in Serbia, and I’m sure that will be the tone of most of the media stories about him. He was the westerners’ favorite because he spoke in their language. Many Serbian politicians, even democratic ones, still harbor a lot of resentment against the west for supporting the Muslims in the Bosnia war and for the 78-day bombing campaign in Serbia. Djindjic was pro-west until the end. This also made him unpopular in Serbia, and he was successful in politics not because people liked him but because he was a shrewd political operator. Most people suspected that he was involved in the mafia, and also distrusted him because he had cooperated with Slobodan Milosevic in the past. It was fashionable among my friends to hate him.

That said, I suspect just about everyone in Serbia is mourning today. It was a shock for me to see that he was killed, and it’s truly sad news for a country that I called home for two years. There are a lot of reactionary idiots in Serbia and he fought hard against them, and for all his faults he was still the leader of the people who wanted to bring Serbia into the west. The people of Serbia have suffered a lot, and this will only add to the suffering. My condolences, Serbia.

March 12, 2003 in Serbia | Permalink


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Any thoughts on the consequences for Serbia? Looks like they've declaured a state of emergency and that there are fears that there could be a violent power struggle for succession.

Nice Blog Josh.

Posted by: Ben | Mar 13, 2003 12:45:00 AM

Now Serbia is losing all of its politicians. Vojislav Kostunica, the leader of the anti-Milosevic camp, just lost his job. He was the president of Yugoslavia, a country that no longer exists, having been replaced this month by Serbia and Montenegro. Now he is in limbo. And Vojislav Seselj, the far-right candidate who got more than a third of the vote in the last presidential elections, gave himself up to the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague.

What will happen is that they will have new elections soon, and Kostunica, who yesterday was politically dead, will now be brought back to life. The coalition he leads will win and he will be prime minister of Serbia. But beyond that it's not clear. Serbian politics was divided into two camps, one reform and western-oriented, which Djindjic led, and one more conservative, led by Kostunica. The question is whether the reform branch can find someone to take Djindjic's place. There are a few candidates -- deputy prime minister Nebojsa Covic, who deals with Kosovo now, the foreign minister Goran Svilanovic, and former presidential candidate and economist Miroljub Labus. But each of them has big limitations.

But I don't think there will be a power vaccum, I think Kostunica will be the undisputed leader for now. And perhaps this will make people take seriously the need to fight organized crime and it could be a blessing in disguise.

Posted by: Josh | Mar 13, 2003 9:59:56 AM

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