EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The assassination of Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic on 12
March 2003 means that Serbia has lost its most skilful and realistic
politician. The great question is whether the assassination provides a catalyst
that energises the governing coalition to restart the long-stalled reform
process and thoroughly clean out the interlocking nexus of organised crime, war
criminals, and police and army officers hiding behind
"nationalist-patriotic" slogans and organisations. There are some
initially encouraging signs: the police appear to be energetically pursuing the
prime suspects, and sweeping reforms of the military have been promised. Djindjic's
successor, Zoran Zivkovic, has yet to acquire his predecessor's authority,
however, and he will need encouragement – both carrots and sticks – from the
international community to hold the course that should have been pursued from
Djindjic's killing is believed to have been carried out by
shadowy elements in the closely linked local underworld and the state security
apparatus that had long exploited the struggle between Djindjic and former
Yugoslav President Kostunica to gain protection from one or the other of the
contenders and prevent reforms. Djindjic's victory in that duel in late 2002
left them more vulnerable. Those alternate power structures were originally
created by Milosevic to finance and protect his regime, and in order to unseat
Milosevic, Djindjic and DOS were forced to make deals with them. However, while
Djindjic was sensitive to Western pressure on delicate matters like cooperation
with the Hague War Crimes Tribunal,
wanted to reorient the crumbling socialist era economy to the free market, and
was keen to align the country with Western European institutions, those same
forces were the greatest source of opposition to any program of reform and
modernisation. Recently, more confident of his political position, he had begun
to move more vigorously on Hague cooperation, against organised crime and state
corruption, and to some extent on economic reform as well.
That process must continue but there are real doubts that,
left on its own, the deeply fissured Serbian body politic will be up to the
challenge. It needs at this crucial time continued and increased international
help. In particular, Djindjic's assassins should not be rewarded by a softening
of the international community's terms of conditionality. The new state of Serbia
and Montenegro needs to eradicate the poisonous legacy of Milosevic from its ruling structures
before it can be admitted to the Council of Europe, NATO's Partnership for
Peace, or begin negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement with
the European Union.
And demonstrable progress – not only on cooperation with the
Hague but also on specific steps to clean out corrupt and criminalised
structures, to establish definitively civilian control of the security
services, and to put transparent and democratic modes of governance in place –
ought to be the clearly stated prerequisite for significant economic
There are a number of causes of concern about Serbia's
future. Much of Serbian society and political culture has appeared to be
drifting towards the nationalist right, accompanied by the emergence of
strongly conservative clerical elements in alliance with segments of the
security forces. Intolerance towards national minorities, for example, has been
on the rise, as have ethnically and religiously-motivated attacks.
Belgrade has also continued to oppose the international community's
goals in both Bosnia and Kosovo, and it had been fanning the flames of regional tension in both
areas prior to the assassination. Until it changes those policies, it cannot be
viewed as either a reliable partner or a guarantor of regional stability.
The new state of Serbia and Montenegro,
created as a successor to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for a trial run of three years
under heavy European Union pressure, is a country in flux, an amorphous creation that
neither of its constituent members really wants. Djindjic's death could well slow
down the development of the joint institutions it is supposed to acquire.
In all these areas, each tied in some fashion to the still
oppressive legacy of Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia either faced difficulties or was
creating difficulties for its neighbours before 12 March. With the strong and for
the most part progressive leadership of Djindjic removed, there is more need than ever for
the U.S., the European Union and other key donor nations to remain deeply involved.
If the international community is to play a useful role
helping Belgrade's beleaguered reformers put their country irrevocably on the path
that Djindjic was promising, there is no case for drawing down troop levels and financial
assistance to the Balkans any time soon. Indeed, it may well have to devote
more, not less, financial and military resources to maintaining regional
stability. Otherwise, there is a real risk that the assassin's bullet will have
killed the dream of a progressive and prosperous Serbia
as surely as it killed that dream's strongest champion.
To the European Union, the United States and others in the donor community:
1. Provide clear incentives, including increased financial and
technical assistance, to Belgrade's reformers to combat organised crime and corruption.
2. Provide Serbia's
reformers with access to law enforcement specialists and intelligence sharing.
3. Apply strong conditionality in order to help reform forces
advance their program:
(a) maintain existing conditionality requirements – full
compliance with the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague,
implementation of civilian control of the military, and respect for the Dayton accords
and UN Security Council Resolution 1244 – for membership of the Council of
Europe or NATO's Partnership for Peace, or commencement of negotiations for a
Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union; and
(b) condition new and substantial economic assistance upon
demonstrable progress in cleaning out corrupt and criminalised structures and
putting transparent and democratic modes of governance in place.
4. Resist all Serbian efforts to link Kosovo's final status to
that of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
5. Monitor closely the contacts between the armed forces of
Republika Srpska and of Serbia and Montenegro, and impose sanctions if they are in breach
of the Dayton Agreement.
6. Encourage links between the Ecumenical Patriarchate (and
other liberal orthodox churches) and the Serbian Orthodox Church.
To the government of Serbia and the government of Serbia and Montenegro:
7. Arrest and prosecute those responsible for the series of
political killings culminating in the 12 March assassination of Zoran Djindjic.
8. Comply with the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague by taking
into custody and transferring the remaining indictees, including as a priority Ratko Mladic.
9. Institute clear codes of conduct and financial disclosure
statements for all elected officials, election candidates, political parties
and military officials in Serbia.
10. Enforce civilian control over all the security forces,
including paramilitary structures outside the regular army.
11. Stop trying to link Kosovo’s final status to that of Republika Srpska.
12. Stop encouraging Republika Srpska’s nationalist diehards to
believe that they have a future outside Bosnia and Herzegovina.
13. Restart the economic reform process using the original G17+
program as a template.
14. Remove the mechanisms for state control of the media and
cease harassment of independent journalists.
15. Carry out complete lustration of the Serbian judiciary,
coupled with a process of general reappointment.
16. Increase support for the newly formed office of the Special
Prosecutor, who is designated to lead the war against organised crime.
Belgrade/Brussels, 18 March 2003