Today’s rejection puts the North Kosovo attacks on local Serbs in a clearer perspective. Boris Tadic was, in fact, pushed against the wall to show his loyalty to the Euro-integrations. The attempt to overrun North Kosovo Serbs was timed to coincide with the run-up to the Decision. It couldn’t have happened at any other time because Tadic wouldn’t feel as pressured to oblige as a month before the decision his political career hinges on. The Euro-agents got him stuck between a rock and a hard place with this final exam. Tadic failed – but he’s getting a second chance. Only this time the trap is set more firmly. March is far enough from now and leaves enough time to have other issues, maybe related to Vojvodina or Sanjak, surface and make the EU Council rethink Serbia’s “grade” yet again. That’s a speculation, but not without merit. The seed for such occurrences has been sown, but they are not imminently needed as pretexts. Forcing Kosovo Serbs down on their knees is what is imminent. Boris Tadic has two months to get it done.
The signals are clear and irritating: Serbia’s done a lot, but not enough – only this one more little thing. This key issue of Kosovo recognition – presented to the Serbian public only months ago as a non-issue – must be resolved. Serbia must accept the independence of Kosovo, nothing short of that. Full of praise for the way Serbia improved and cooperated, EU ministers introduced new and improved ways for Serbia to humiliate herself further. Not only border crossings and freedom of movement, but help with Kosovo’s participations in international conferences and organizations. An implicit recognition. A nod to all the countries that refused to recognize: Serbia is fine with the independent Kosovo, now you can be, too. Once Kosovo becomes a UN member, who cares if Serbia recognized it? The predicament Serbia would be put in if this implicit recognition happened would be even more difficult. It would open a new Pandora’s box of pressure tools: open borders, diplomatic relations, economic and cultural exchange – normalization can mean whatever the Eurocrats deem it to mean - and all of these features of normalization of relations will get more emphasized if both Serbia and the independent Kosovo meet on the path to joining the EU. Meanwhile, delaying the Decision can go on forever, with new conditions being set. Today’s non-issues may very well turn into serious issues tomorrow. True assassins do it bullet at a time. Didn’t Tadic say that “Kosovo is Serbia” and “Europe has no alternative” in the same breath? How ignorant and dimwitted a Serb had to be to believe that?
Six months ago, Tadic assured the Serbian public that the EU will not set the Kosovo recognition as a condition for candidacy. Wikileaks-published diplomatic cables from the US Embassy in Belgrade, sent in January of 2010, contained clear and unequivocal stand: Kosovo will be a condition. I repeat: true assassins do it bullet at a time. If the North Atlantic community of powers heaped all the demands on Serbia at once, no administration would have been able to control the popular outrage thus provoked. The hostile intentions of the EU would be magnified to the point where they would be impossible to spin. Slipping them in gradually, veiled in different contexts, ensured the alleviation of abruptness Serbs are prone to overreact to.
This phase of Serbia’s demise is over, regardless of the postponement. Whatever happens between now and the next Decision will just be fallout of December 9. The false notion Democratic Party’s last election campaign pivoted around – Serbia in the EU with Kosovo in Serbia – is effectively dead and must be declared so. The spin to squash the unwanted conclusion will kick in right away, but Tadic’s failure to win candidacy while rhetorically hanging on to Kosovo amplifies the qualification that his election was entirely based on false promises, rendering new elections imminent. In any democracy, a failing administration must resign and new parliamentary elections must be called. In Serbian democracy, this will largely depend on the autocratic mood of Boris Tadic, on his willingness to deal with the EU conditions he lied to the people about – to let Kosovo go – and on the foreign support his attitudes may or may not garner. When the new election will be called also depends on the amount and intensity of pressure from the Serbian democratic opposition, which is in ideological and directional disarray, leaderless, and offers nothing coherent and unequivocal.