about icg 
  Latin America 
  Middle East 
  by region 
  by date 
  by keyword 
  media releases 
  articles/op. eds 
  media contacts 
contact us 
donate to icg 

 home  programs  europe  balkans  serbia
  Serbia: Reforms under Siege

Belgrade/Brussels, 21 September 2001: The 3 August 2001 murder of former State Security official Momir Gavrilovic has triggered the emergence of a long-hidden feud within Serbia’s ruling DOS coalition. Inflamed by Yugoslav President Kostunica’s closest advisers, the ‘Gavrilovic Affair’ could spell the end of the coalition in its present form, with regional and international consequences. It also clearly exposed Kostunica’s Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) as a conservative nationalist party intent on protecting the Milosevic legacy in several key respects.

In a new report released today – Serbia’s Transition: Reforms under Siege - the International Crisis Group (ICG) argues that the fallout from the events surrounding the ‘Gavrilovic Affair’ will be widespread and is likely to affect Yugoslavia’s cooperation with the international community and its neighbours.

In regional terms, at stake in the current struggle within DOS are the continuation of FRY funding for Bosnian Serb Army, Belgrade’s stance towards the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), and the question of further cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Domestically, the quarrel might lead to entirely unnecessary elections that could prove harmful to the political, constitutional and economic reform process.

Internal rivalries and disputes have dogged the nineteen-member DOS coalition since it defeated the regime of former Yugoslav President Milosevic in the September and December 2000 elections. While the pro-reform faction is centred mainly around Serbian Premier Djindjic, the more conservative and nationalist elements have grouped around federal President Kostunica, and have proved significant obstacles to continued reform.

ICG Balkans Program Director Mark Thompson said: "The international community rushed to accept Kostunica in the hope of strengthening Serbian democracy. But apart from the arrest and transfer of Milosevic to The Hague, leverage on Yugoslavia to comply with international goals for regional stability and peace has been manifestly ineffectual. The DSS has yet to formulate a vision of a modern economy or society, except in terms of state-building and nationalist goals that are unlikely to deliver either internal development or regional stabilisation."

If the international community seriously wishes Yugoslavia to continue down the path of democratic reform, it should examine the role that Kostunica is playing, as well as his party's platform and positions on key issues such as cooperation with the ICTY, support for Republika Srpska and its military, support for Serb-run 'parallel structures' in northern Kosovo and the role of the Yugoslav army in political life. It should also urge Kostunica to take an unequivocal public stance backing the difficult economic, social and judicial reforms required by donors and desperately needed by Serbia.

Media contacts: Katy Cronin or Sascha Pichler at ICG Brussels, +32 2 536 00 64 or 70; [email protected] This report and all other ICG publications are available on our website www.crisisweb.org


copyright privacy sitemap