Korac for The Geopost: Serbia is entering a phase of political instability
Serbia is entering a phase of political instability that has just begun and it will not stop, but it is very difficult to say which course it will take further, says in an interview for The Geopost Zarko Korac, a psychologist and former Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Serbia in the Cabinet of Zoran Djindjic.
“This nervousness that Vucic is showing is not only because of these monstrous crimes in Serbia, but also because he is running out of time regarding the Kosovo problem. He has already received a warning – an article in the New York Times, which is an independent, intellectual, liberal paper and the most influential American paper outside the USA. Therefore, he received a warning that it is known what he is doing and the nervousness is great: he has the Kosovo problem, loss of control of what is happening in the country, these crimes, of course, and thirdly, he has a very bad economic situation in the country”.
The “biggest meeting in history” that Vucic announced for May 26, according to Korac, is a sign that the Serbian president was afraid of losing power.
“First of all, with this rally, which is pitiably, he is renewing the tradition of Slobodan Milosevic who had those big rallies. One of them was in Usce when the writer Vitezovic said ‘the people happened’ and this is now the second time the people happened. Not then it worked and it won’t work now either.”
Korac also assesses that no one controlled the Serbs in Kosovo as much as Vucic.
“Maybe Milosevic at the beginning of his rule, but that was a different situation. Kosovo was not declared independent then, it was technically still part of Serbia and the former Yugoslavia”.
The interlocutor of Geopost believes that Vucic made a cardinal mistake by blackmailing the West and Pristina by withdrawing Serbs from all institutions.
“Serbs were in the government, the parliament, the presidents of the municipalities… He caused a huge crisis by thinking that the West would present a fait accompli and that the West would force Kurti to make the Union of Serbian Municipalities look the way he wanted, and not possibly how Kurti would have it done”.
Korac is convinced that Vucic has no intention of accepting and implementing the Ohrid Plan.
“Vucic has no intention of implementing the Ohrid Agreement, for him any solution to the Kosovo issue is lost in the eyes of his voters. And he only thinks of his voters. Vucic holds so-called focus groups twice a day, that’s unique, I’ve never heard of anyone doing that. He both in the morning and in the afternoon he questions his political loyalists and he knows that he will lose with any solution to the Kosovo issue”.
According to Korac, Serbia has lost the Russian card and Vucic sees it. “He actually has no political support anywhere. Paradoxically, he is still mostly supported by the USA and part of Europe, expecting that he will make some rational move, which is to finally make some kind of agreement with Kurti. And the West, I lack the right word, we in psychology have one the term shaping – they are constantly trying to shape it, in Serbian they would say ‘nutkaju ga’, in my opinion quite without results”.
Korac states that we are not a priority region for either the West or Europe.
“The most important thing for the West at this moment is that there is no armed conflict, and that is a terribly low expectation from the region”.
Full interview below
Geopost: The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, who has all the power in the country, has scheduled for May 26 “the strongest meeting in history so far” for the defense of democratic freedoms and values. From whom is Vucic defending democratic values and was the president of Serbia actually afraid of losing power?
He was definitely scared and like all authoritative politicians he likes to control everything. His speech is always “I know”, “I know everything”, “I know what you are talking about” … it means complete control. This is, of course, a clear loss of control, he became frantic, even scared, but on the first and second day (after the two tragedies in Serbia) he was in a state that was very emotional.
First of all, with this rally, which is unfortunate, he is renewing the tradition of Slobodan Miloševic, who had those big rallies. One of them was in Ušce when the writer Vitezovic said ‘the people happened’ and this is now the second time the people happened. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now either. And of course, above all, from a political point of view, it is a manifestation of his broad support. Of course, everyone in Serbia knows that people from all parts of Serbia will come on their buses, that it will be a completely organized arrival, that there will be hundreds, maybe even thousands of buses, so it is a state machine that organizes it and it cannot be considered as support. He was frightened by this walk of the citizens of Serbia and everything that follows.
Geopost: And what’s following?
So we are back to populism again. Vucic is normally a demagogue and populist as a politician, and now Serbia is starting to look like a populist country. It started with Milosevic, the events of the people started with that famous rally in Novi Sad and he (Vucic) actually returned to the only political form he knew as a young radical.
Seselj more or less always supported Milosevic and he has no other answer to all that is happening. Therefore, Vucic did not show any empathy with the victims, he did not sign in the mourning book, he was afraid to go in front of the school so that he would not be booed. In 11 years, he has never, in any show, faced any opposition politician who is slightly more popular. He is very afraid of facing people who are angry with him.
Serbia is entering a phase of political instability, it has just begun and it will not stop, but it is very difficult to say which course it will take. Therefore, he (Vucic) no longer has the support he had and Serbia is absolutely entering a very difficult phase of political instability.
Geopost: You said that Vucic did not face any opposition politician. It is known that Serbia has been called Little Russia for a long time, which is indicated by numerous indicators. If, referring to the change of government, in Russia it is also said ‘after Putin, the new Putin’, what could we say about Serbia, after Vucic…
There is no chance that someone who is such a technologist of the government, first of all, completely controls the media, which is already a sign of anti-democracy and the fact that he organized his party in such a way that he dragged people into it who actually do not have sufficient qualifications, they have no chance of getting the positions that that party made it possible for them. So they will defend that party, because it is not primarily a party of educated people. It is a party of people who have gained a lot in life, of course not all of them, not even the majority, thanks to being in the party especially in small places
So at the moment he is trying to get the support of those who are completely dependent on him in relation to their workplace, the standard they currently have. It’s not God knows what, but it’s enough for poor Serbia – I think that Vucic is on a downward path, I don’t expect it to be so fast, but he’s definitely entering the end of his political career in power.
Geopost: We have seen an almost coordinated tone of the government and the opposition in Serbia when it comes to Kosovo. Until now, most Serbian governments have used Kosovo Serbs as a type of paper for election manipulation. On the other hand, Serbs from Kosovo have never been worse in terms of representation. Who is responsible for solving the political representation of Kosovo Serbs – Belgrade or should they decide for themselves?
No one controlled the Kosovo Serbs to this extent, maybe Miloševic at the beginning of his rule, but that was a different situation. Kosovo was not declared independent then, it was technically still part of Serbia and Yugoslavia at the time. The Serbian list, which is supported from Belgrade and led by people who have jobs in Belgrade, and big jobs, practically dominates. In my opinion, Vucic made a cardinal mistake by blackmailing the West and Pristina by withdrawing Serbs from all institutions. The Serbs were in the government, the parliament, the presidents of the municipalities… He caused a huge crisis by thinking that the West would present a fait accompli and that the West would force Kurti to make the Union of Serbian Municipalities look the way he wanted and not possibly how Kurti would have done it. He did it wrong, he caused a major crisis that led to America getting more directly involved in Kosovo.
The troika from the EU didn’t really achieve much, and then Escobar appeared, and America is always a great power, politically it is a big elephant and you can’t pretend it isn’t there, then the Ohrid Agreement was reached.
The problem is that Vucic has no intention of implementing the Ohrid Agreement, any solution to the Kosovo issue is lost to him in the eyes of his voters. And he only thinks of his voters. Vucic conducts so-called focus groups twice a day, it’s unique, I’ve never heard of anyone doing that. He interrogates his political loyalists in the morning and in the afternoon, and he knows that he will lose with any solution to the Kosovo issue.
Moreover, opening up the Kosovo problem at least partially, he, if I may say so, can always appear as a national leader, father of the nation and so on. Now there is one BUT – at the same time he is scaring the West, and considering the war in Ukraine, I don’t think he has taken that into account enough, and the last thing Europe and the US want is a conflict in southeastern Europe, which would also give Russia some chance to intervene. I think he misjudged it, we are nowhere at the moment. The agreement we had the other day regarding the missing persons, I think is completely justified and should be implemented. Vucic was given a big concession by the West that he does not have to sign the Ohrid Agreement, but it is understood that he accepted it. But, basically, this nervousness that he shows is not only because of these monstrous crimes, but also because he is running out of time regarding the Kosovo problem. He has already received a warning – an article in the New York Times, which is an independent, intellectual, liberal newspaper, the most influential American newspaper outside the USA. So, he received a warning that it is known what he is doing and the nervousness is great: he has the Kosovo problem, loss of control of what is happening in the country, these crimes, of course, and thirdly, he has a very bad economic situation in the country.
Geopost: In addition, maybe he is aware that Russia is losing the war in Ukraine, although he does not want to admit it?
That with Russia is an interesting thing. Serbian nationalists are waiting all the time for Russia to appear again as a great power and return everything to them. I honestly can’t even imagine what it means to return Kosovo, because I honestly wondered, let him give a theory, but there are two million people living there, none of whom want to live in Serbia. Honestly, in the most well-intentioned way, I don’t see that option, because the state is people, not territory.
But that is the dream of Dobrica Cosic, that is the dream of all Serbian nationalists – great Russia helps the Serbs. How much of a mirage it is, we can talk about that and what they think… and now it has happened that Russia is completely isolated, completely lost its reputation and it will be for the next 10-15 years, even if the West starts trading with Russia, its reputation is very low. So Serbia actually lost that Russian ticket and Vucic sees it, he actually has no political support anywhere. You cannot be politically active in this world without anyone supporting you. In fact, paradoxically, he is still mostly supported by the USA and part of Europe, expecting that he will make some rational move, which is to finally make an agreement with Kurti. And the West, I’m missing the right word, we in psychology have a term shaping – they are constantly trying to shape him, in Serbian they would say ‘nutkaju ga’, in my opinion quite without results. This has been going on for years, but now it is slowly happening …
Geopost: Can a wolf be made into a lamb?
I could give you very strange examples, I would just say that before the creation of the state of Israel, Begin (Menachen), who was a terrorist, and Yasser Arafat, who was the model of a terrorist, in the end, when the agreement was concluded, they received the Nobel Peace Prize. Life is strange, that’s possible. If your question is whether we expect a change from Vucic, unfortunately, I have to say that I do not expect it from him. He has something fundamental from that radical period, and these are his real views, although he is constantly portrayed as a man sympathetic to the West, that he wants to go to the West, and basically, like all Serbian nationalists, or the majority, he has no confidence in the West, he has an inferior attitude towards the West, he does not trust the West, he thinks that it is against Serbian national interests and although, of course, he would have to try very hard to show us how Russia was on Serbia’s side, sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn’t. And to tell you the truth, Austria-Hungary or Germany once helped Serbia, we can open that topic as well, how the Serbian-Bulgarian war ended and Bulgaria, which reached Nis when the Serbian army was defeated, so Austria-Hungary actually forced Bulgaria to withdraws.
Definitely, Serbia is a European country, it has a place in Europe and outside of these European integrations there is no other policy, that is the essence. Now Russia has also left him, and that shows how bad a politician he is. Vucic is an excellent government technologist, but a completely illiterate politician. I would ask him ‘what do you expect, that you will constantly balance’, because it will end badly in the end and it is already causing suspicion in Europe, above all the Baltic states and the Visegrad Group, except for Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. You have aroused suspicion as little Russia, little Putin, you depend on those countries one day for European integration. Are you sure that you will always have the support of the entire EU because some of those countries are really afraid of Russia.
Geopost: A recent poll by Gallup showed a decline in support for the US in almost all countries in the region, with the exception of Kosovo. How do you see this?
They (the West) certainly don’t want that, but German Chancellor Scholz said that empty promises obviously don’t work anymore. That’s what Angela Merkel said, that’s why she started the Berlin process, but she left power somewhat discredited because of her support for Putin. One thing is certain, Biden did not change his policy because he had other problems – that is the state of the economy in Russia, and above all China and its increasingly aggressive role in Asia and the war in Ukraine. So only now there is no concentration on the region and they do not consider it strategically important – they only care that there is no war, no conflict, that’s about the only thing. It is unfortunate, but the problem is also the EU, which at the moment has no intention of expanding, some call it enlargement fatigue, I would use uglier words, but I will not talk about them.
Here’s an example – Pristina was only recently granted visa liberalization, and all European countries, including Ukraine, which has 55 million people, all have visa liberalization. Obviously, that way they will not put pressure and discriminate against the citizens of Kosovo. I think that at the moment Europe does not have a particularly active policy in the region. This can be seen above all in Bosnia, where everything was left to Schmidt, the high representative, in Montenegro, Europe and the USA have completely failed. They were particularly fascinated by the possibility of Đukanovic losing power, that they subordinated everything to that, which in my opinion is a kind of political illiteracy. I guess you should watch who comes, with what political ideas. Until recently, they were relatively passive around Kosovo. So we are not a priority region for America, but unfortunately neither for Europe.
Europe is somehow in a kind of passive foreign policy, is the reason for that Brexit, is it changing, a bit extreme right is coming to some European countries, some democratic countries like Denmark. I can say that we are in a bit of a jam in world politics.
Geopost: You just detected what Janusz Bugajski presented as evident examples of the tripartite plan of Brussels and Washington for the region. Bugajski does not exclude the possibility of armed conflicts. What do you think?
Andrej Plenkovic (Croatian Prime Minister) has one specific problem – there are not that many Croats in BiH, and most of them live in Croatia today and most of them are part of the HDZ electorate today, he is the HDZ president. So Plenkovic has the problem and refuse to willingly deal with that problem because he has a problem with his electorate, one part of which is the extreme right, which he does not represent and whom he is afraid of. As for Montenegro, the mistake has already been made and we will see how it will go further and it is a mere desire for political change, I can understand it, but it cannot be the only criterion for evaluating what is happening. As for Kosovo, it seems that everyone has come to terms with the fact that Kosovo remains partially unrecognized in Europe of five countries and somewhat isolated.
But what is allowed to Rama and Vucic fascinates me a bit. It is that America supports the Open Balkans, which in itself is very unclear, the protagonists are dubious, I don’t trust it either, just imagine how much some in Montenegro and Bosnia believe it.
I think that America is going into that too simplistic way of thinking that once good economic relations are established, everything will be solved. Let me give you an example: Turkey and Greece have excellent economic relations, but they do not have very good political relations, often on the verge of crises. There are other examples where the economy is not a criterion for political relations. America has an idea here that is wrong. Here, for example, Serbia exports the most to BiH and Kosovo, so I don’t really see that it has excellent political relations. It’s an American simplification and that’s probably why they support it, and the Berlin process has stopped. I am a partial pessimist, the most important thing for the West at this moment is that there is no armed conflict, and that is a terribly small expectation from the region, but they expect it and it has been fulfilled so far. /TheGeopost/