James notes the formation of a new Serbian government described in this article. The article is the usual sort of moral preening-as-political reporting one has come to expect from the IHT and other papers when discussing all things Balkan. Take this absurd sentence for starters:
Kostunica, a nationalist, helped lead the revolution that overthrew Milosevic in 2000 but has since embraced an anti-Western position [bold mine-DL].
No doubt in the limited imagination of IHT reporters, there were/are only two positions for Serbs to take: an anti-Milosevic/pro-Western line and an anti-Western (and therefore pro-Milosevic) line. The idea that a Serbian nationalist might respond poorly to the collective anti-Serbian line of American and western European governments seems to be quite beyond this correspondent. It must be Kostunica who has ”embraced” an anti-Western position; he cannot be responding to provocations and insults from the West. More to the point, the article’s interpretation makes no sense. How is an alliance between the Socialists and Democrats necessarily ”unlikely”? They are both parties of the left, and they are basically in agreement about the main controversial issue of the day, which is that Serbia should retain sovereignty over Kosovo. Even though the Democrats are more inclined to play lackeys to the West, Tadic opposes Kosovo independence.
Meanwhile, it’s not clear to me that James’ response to this news makes that much sense when you consider the following sentence from the article:
Cvetkovic said he would fight to ensure that Kosovo remains part of Serbia [bold mine-DL]. He said Belgrade would continue to provide economic support for ethnic Serbs in the territory, which declared independence in February.
Even if the Democrats supported letting Kosovo go (which they don’t), opposing Kosovo independence would have to have been a condition of establishing the coalition government. If the EU insists on making Serbian membership conditional on letting Kosovo go, it is EU membership that Serbia will abandon.
It has been a mere four months since Kosovo “independence” was declared. The folly of attempting to partition Serbia has only just begun to have its effects on the region and the rest of the international system.