Finally, Serbia is back in Europe. Stephen Castle and Steven Erlanger write in the NY Times:
Europe on Tuesday welcomed the arrest of Radovan Karadzic not just as a victory for international justice, but as a vindication of the Continent's favored political doctrine: soft power. (...)
In the last few months the European Union has helped bring a pro-Western political party to victory in Serbia's elections while ensuring that it has powerful incentives to hand over war crimes suspects. The arrest of Mr. Karadzic demonstrates how effective the union's leverage can be, particularly with neighboring countries that have ambitions to join it.
Yeah, it only took a bit more than a decade...
But then again, how successful (and how costly) is hard power? Milosevic and Karadzic were not arrested during the many Balkan wars... (Well, obviously, without the wars, they might still be in power.) And capturing Saddam was much more expensive and demands from the US to a strong commitment to Iraq of at least a decade...
The Moscow News Weekly has published an article on Kosovo's declaration of independence, which from its tone I assumed was in the "Comment/Opinions" section. However, it turns out it was actually in the "World News" section. Here is a snippet:
While burning KFOR checkpoints may not be the best of ways for Kosovo's ethnic Serbian minority to express its anxiety and anger over recent events, global democratic leaders should think twice before voting to award a chair to Kosovo on New York's East River. In the Basque country, Quebec, Belgium, northern Cyprus, Georgia and many other places across the globe, they have TV sets, too, and are watching. Telling them Kosovo is different and unique won't work. That's the price you pay for being a hypocrite, I guess.
Not to say western newspapers are completely objective, but at least you can read multiple perspectives on a story on this side of the Urals, without worrying about whether your favorite columnist may mysteriously die one day.
Of course this is only one article in one newspaper; it may not be fair to judge the entire Russian media based on this article alone. To get a better idea of press freedom trends globally and by country, you can check out an annual report produced by Freedom House titled "Freedom of the Press." The 2007 version reported this for Russia:
Media freedom in Russia continued to be curtailed in 2006 as President Vladimir Putin’s government passed legislation restricting news reporting and journalists were subjected to physical violence and intimidation. Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, authorities are able to use the legislative and judicial systems to harass and prosecute independent journalists.
The Atlantic Review is pleased to present a guest article by Professor Stefan Wolff, from the University of Nottingham.
Professor Wolff addresses the Serbian elections that took place over the weekend, and explains that while the pro-western candidate has won the elections, the future of Serbia is far from certain.
For many voters and observers, there were two surprises in Sunday's second round of presidential elections in Serbia. The first one was that the current president, Boris Tadic of the Democratic Party, won, if only by the slightest of margins. Even among his supporters, this was far from a certain result, but they welcomed it all the more enthusiastically. The second, and perhaps greater surprise was equally welcome: Tadic's challenger, Tomislav Nikolic of the Serbian Radical Party (whose leader Vojislav Seselj is currently in The Hague being tried for war crimes committed during 1992-5 war in Bosnia) quickly accepted defeat and congratulated his victorious opponent.
With Tadic--pro-western and pro-democratic in orientation--confirmed in office for another term, all the signs should point clearly to Serbia catching up with its neighbours in the process of economic and democratic reform, as well as closer ties with the European Union, which, after all, was the central message of Tadic's campaign: "Together we'll conquer Europe." Yet, Serbia's future course is far from clear. Three predominant factors account for this continuing uncertainty:
Continue reading "Where Next for Serbia?"