Serbia’s future: in Europe or back to Milosevic?

DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images Thousands of Serbs took to the streets of Belgrade again Wednesday, but not to burn embassies or protest Kosovo’s status change. Instead, they gathered in memory of Zoran Djindjic, Serbia’s westward-looking prime minister who was assassinated five years ago to the day. The commemorative gathering fell on the eve of Serbian President ...

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595997_080313_serbia2.jpg

DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of Serbs took to the streets of Belgrade again Wednesday, but not to burn embassies or protest Kosovo's status change. Instead, they gathered in memory of Zoran Djindjic, Serbia's westward-looking prime minister who was assassinated five years ago to the day.

The commemorative gathering fell on the eve of Serbian President Boris Tadic's decision to dissolve parliament and call for new elections on May 11. The decision came after Serbia's ruling democratic coalition split irreconcilably over the Kosovo issue.

DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images

Thousands of Serbs took to the streets of Belgrade again Wednesday, but not to burn embassies or protest Kosovo’s status change. Instead, they gathered in memory of Zoran Djindjic, Serbia’s westward-looking prime minister who was assassinated five years ago to the day.

The commemorative gathering fell on the eve of Serbian President Boris Tadic’s decision to dissolve parliament and call for new elections on May 11. The decision came after Serbia’s ruling democratic coalition split irreconcilably over the Kosovo issue.

Local and international experts alike agree that the May election could well determine whether Serbia eventually joins the EU and prospers or remains isolated over Kosovo.

While Serbia’s election may be about its future, it is also a choice between legacies of the past –- between Djindjic’s hope for a European Serbia, as embodied by the pro-European party of President Tadic, and Milosevic’s nationalist scheme for a Greater Serbia, a banner carried on by former PM Vojislav Kostunica in coalition with the Serbian Radical Party.

Europe is hopeful that elections will produce a Serbia that leans westward. But with Kostunica’s willingness to pander to the emotional loss of Kosovo, Europe might find itself short a key Balkan player, and Serbs might find themselves, yet again, poor and alone.

Lucy Moore is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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