bosnia report
New Series No: 41 August - September 2004
Boris Tadic in his true colours
by The newly elected president of Serbia, interviewed by Renate Flottau in Der Spiegel, 5 July 2004

Spiegel: In the West relief prevails. You have won through against your ultra-nationalist rival Tomislav Nikolić. Yet the question remains: why, four years after the fall of Milošević, is radicalism still so strong in Serbia?

Tadić: It is a protest, dissatisfaction with the reforms. We have failed to make our citizens understand that a bankrupt economic system cannot become an Eldorado overnight. A modern, European Serbia is fighting here against a Serbia that is in conflict with itself and the world.

Were there not also aggravating failures on the part of Milošević’s successors over making reparation for Serbian war guilt?

War crimes are nothing new in the Balkans. For centuries people here have thought in terms of retribution and vengeance. My grandfather was killed in the Second World War by the Croat Ustasha movement, merely because he was a Serb. Every normal Serb wonders: why were they not brought to book? Of course, this is destructive, a line must be drawn under it once and for all.

Do you mean that the gruesome wars of the past decade would have occurred even without Milošević?

Milošević was not the sole instigator of war. The Croat Tuđman and the Bosnian Izetbegović were just as much so. The presidents of all these states should apologize reciprocally. By no means just Serbia.

The president of the Bosnian Republika Srpska, Dragan Čavić, has now confirmed the massacre of thousands of Moslems perpetrated by the Serbian army at Srebrenica For nine years an attempt was made to cover up this outrage.

Čavić is a brave man. But now the Representative for Bosnia Paddy Ashdown has precipitated a dangerous situation, by keeping Čavić in office but dismissing other high officials. This purge is counter-productive. The impression prevailing among the population is that only a person who confirms Serb crimes is acceptable.

Serbia is still hiding the fugitive war criminal Ratko Mladić.

Most of the population was previously convinced that nothing like Srebrenica had occurred. Now we have a completely new situation. Mladić must go before the war crimes tribunal. Those responsible for this terrible deed must be condemned.

Premier Vojislav Koštunica is evidently of a different opinion

You are mistaken. He is working very intensively for Mladić’s apprehension. But I wonder whether he is still here. All the addresses we obtained from the Hague tribunal turned out to be false. If I were Mladić, I should hide in Croatia.

Does it frustrate you that Koštunica’s minority government is supported by Milošević’s Socialists, while your Democratic Party sits in opposition?

That is very damaging for the country. But unacceptable conditions have been posed for our entry into the government. My aim is not to destroy the government, however. Our country needs at least one year of political stability, in order to overcome its economic and political problems.

You have received congratulations also from Kosovo. Under what circumstances would you negotiate with its leaders about independence for the province?

There is no question at all of that. That would destabilize Serbia for at least two decades. Kosovo must be decentralized. The Albanians must stop posing ultimatums.


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