The EU’s present visa regime with the countries of the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Serbia-Montenegro including Kosovo) is fostering resentment, inhibiting progress on trade, business, education and more open civil societies, and as a result contributing negatively to regional stability.
Serbia has used the first months of 2005 to good effect, instituting a major policy change on cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague (ICTY) and sending signals that it is somewhat more willing to engage both the international community and Kosovo Albanians in dialogue about that province's status.
Whenever Balkan politicians discuss Kosovo's future status they warn of a "domino effect". One area frequently mentioned as vulnerable and a possible flashpoint of new violence is Serbia's Sandzak, an ethnically-mixed Muslim-Slav (Bosniak) majority region sandwiched between Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia.
In politics and policies, Serbia increasingly resembles the Milosevic-era without Milosevic. Its reaction to the catastrophic mid-March 2004 near collapse of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the strong showing by ultra-nationalists in the 28 December 2003 parliamentary elections and the subsequent two-months of squabbling before democratic parties could form a minority government that depends for survival on the support of Milosevic's old party all are signs that more trouble lies ahead.
The Albanian-majority Presevo Valley in southern Serbia is one of the few conflict resolution success stories in the former Yugoslavia. Yet tensions linger, and a series of violent incidents in August and September 2003 demonstrated that the peace can still unravel.
Since the fall of the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000, the steady normalisation of Serbia's relations with the international community has significantly enhanced the prospects for long-term peace and stability. The European Union (EU) rose to the challenge, providing resources for reconstruction and reforms in Serbia itself, as well as in Montenegro and Kosovo.
The democratic government elected in Belgrade in 2000 did not end the extensive busting of arms sanctions engaged in for many years by its predecessor, the Milosevic dictatorship.
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica’s 24 June 2002 sacking of Yugoslav Army (VJ) Chief of the General Staff Nebojsa Pavkovic was necessary, welcome, and long overdue. The EU, U.S., and NATO acclaimed the move as an effort to assert civilian control over the military, and Kostunica indeed deserves credit for removing a significant obstacle to the country’s reintegration with Europe.
On 14 March 2002 the leaders of Serbia, Montenegro and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) signed an agreement in Belgrade to replace FRY with a new "state community": a "union of states" to be called "Serbia and Montenegro".
The Yugoslav Army’s arrest on 14 March 2002 of a leading Serbian politician and a U.S. diplomat signals that for the first time the Army has openly entered the political arena and is explicitly attempting to set limits on political debate and policy.
For more than a decade Serbia was the driving force behind much of the instability in the Balkans. Following the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic on 5 October 2000, it was hoped that Serbia would promptly reform the external policies of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) that had caused such disruption. To date, these hopes have been substantially disappointed.
The 3 August 2001 murder of former State Security (DB) official Momir Gavrilovic acted as a catalyst for the emergence of a long-hidden feud within Serbia’s ruling DOS (Democratic Opposition of Serbia) coalition.
The past decade in the Western Balkans has seen very few peacefully negotiated transfers of territorial control. The most recent example – albeit one not involving any change of sovereignty - was also the only one achieved by NATO’s direct mediation. In May 2001, the Presevo Valley was brought back under Serbian government control, ending an ethnic Albanian insurgency that had lasted some seventeen months.
The donors’ conference for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), planned for 29 June 2001 in Brussels, will set the pattern of international economic assistance to Belgrade for the next year or more.
Slobodan Milosevic is gone, but he has left in the Balkans a bitter legacy of death, destruction and distrust, and the potential for renewed conflict remains dangerously high.
Vojislav Kostunica’s coalition, the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), should win an overwhelming victory in the 23 December Serbian elections. The elections themselves will not rid Serbia of the structures, policies and attitudes of the Milosevic regime.
As governments embark on the process of lifting sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), following the victory of opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica in Presidential elections held on 24 September 2000, this briefing paper sets forth a comprehensive list of sanctions currently in place against the FRY and the current status of FRY participation and/or membership in international organisations.
Since the International Crisis Group’s (ICG’s) last paper addressing the Serbian political scene, the situation on the ground inside Serbia has changed dramatically
The deteriorating relationship between Montenegro and Belgrade has raised the question of whether the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, with its two constituent republics of Serbia and Montenegro, in fact continues to exist.
The regime in Serbia has recovered its footing after the 1999 war with NATO and remains as hard-line as ever. Learning and gaining experience over the years has enabled the regime to “improve” its performance and become more efficient.
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