Greater Surbiton

The perfect is the enemy of the good

Serbia votes for the West

I write this from an internet cafe in Andalucia, Spain, where I have been attending a scholars´conference in the company of Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian colleagues. It has been a pleasure to spend time with old friends and to make new ones. I am a little late in offering my congratulations to the Serbian people for Boris Tadic´s victory in Serbia´s presidential election; I should like to do so now.

Tadic´s election victory over the fascist and anti-Western candidate, Tomislav Nikolic of the Serbian Radical Party, proves that the Serbian people want to belong to democratic Europe. The appeasers have constantly told us that Western support for Kosovo´s independence was pushing the Serbian public toward the fascists; with Tadic´s election victory, we have decisive proof that this is not the case. Whereas some Serbian intellectuals and politicians feel strongly about the need to retain Kosovo within Serbia, for the overwhelming majority of ordinary people, common sense trumps nationalist inat (a Serbian word that translates as something between ´spite´and ´bloody-mindedness´). It is clear to most ordinary people that Serbia´s future lies with the democratic states of the EU, not with Vladimir Putin´s authoritarian Russia. Nikolic offered Serbia the prospect of becoming a North Korea surrounded by hostile neighbours, with Serbia´s young people denied the prospect of work, education and travel in the West. The Serbian electorate has rejected this option. Commentators have long suggested that, in choosing the nationalist option in the 1980s and 90s in preference to Westernisation and democratisation, Serbia´s people chose the ´heavenly kingdom´over the real world, as Serbian Prince Lazar did when he opted to lose the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 as the necessary price for this. Tadic´s victory shows that the Serbian people today prefer the real world.

It has been suggested that, from the Serbian-progressive point of view, a victory for Nikolic and the fascists might have been the lesser evil. Certainly, such a victory would have accelerated the final and total defeat of Great Serbian nationalism and imperialism, whereas a victory for the pro-Western, moderate nationalist Boris Tadic will string the defeat out a bit longer. The German Communists in the early 1930s said ´After Hitler – our turn´. And indeed, the electoral victory of Hitler and the Nazis in 1933 led within twelve years to the final and total defeat of German fascism and imperialism. But at what price for Germany and the world ? And at what price for the reputation of the German people ? Tadic’s victory, involving the victory of the more sensible, moderate nationalist over the suicidal, self-destructive one, should give heart to all those who have faith in the Serbian people and their awareness of their true interests.

Just over a year ago, I wrote that Serbia belongs in the West. I am glad to say that I have not been mistaken. Long live free and democratic Serbia ! Long live free, democratic and independent Kosovo ! Long live the unity of the peoples of the Balkans in the EU and NATO !

Wednesday, 6 February 2008 - Posted by | Balkans, Former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Serbia

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