Memorandum submitted by Gabriel Partos
1.1 Vojislav Kostunica's victory in the
Yugoslav presidential contest on 24 September 2000confirmed
with the help of pro-democracy protests that culminated in a mass
demonstration in Belgrade on 5 Octobereliminated various
nightmare scenarios in Serbia. These included prolonged international
isolation and continuing impoverishment of the population under
Slobodan Milosevic, leading to possible unrest, a military coup
or even civil war.
1.2 Kostunica's success was followed up
by the landslide victory of his 18-party alliance, the Democratic
Opposition of Serbia (DOS) in the Serbian parliamentary elections
on 23 December. The DOS landslidethough foreseen as soon
as early elections were calledwas crucial in the dismantling
of the Milosevic regime because under the constitution of the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) key powers are in the hands
of the two republics, Serbia and Montenegro. Even in areas that
belong to the federal authorities' sphere of competenceforeign
affairs, trade and monetary policy though not in defenceMontenegro
assumed de facto control over its own territory during
the final phase of the Milosevic regime. As a result, Serbia and
Yugoslavia are now largely synonymous.
1.3 With the fall of Milosevic's pariah
regime, the "black hole" in the middle of the Western-sponsored
Stability Pact for south-eastern Europe has been removed; this
will make regional reconstruction a more realistic proposition.
Belgrade has a central role to play in any Balkan-wide co-operation
project: Serbia lies along on the busiest land route between the
Middle East and Western Europe; it controls a stretch of the Danube,
the main shipping artery between the Balkans and central Europe,
which is expected to be cleared of debriscaused by the
NATO air strikesby April; and over the years it has traditionally
nurtured links with both East and West (though not always at the
1.4 The FRY is well on the way to being
reintegrated into the international community. It has already
joined the UN and the OSCE as a full member; it has been admitted
into the IMF and the Stability Pact; it has restored diplomatic
relations with Britain, France, Germany and the United States
(and neighbouring Albania); and it has established diplomatic
ties with the former Yugoslav republics of Bosnia-Hercegovina
1.5 Parallel to its reintegration into the
international community, Serbia has started receiving foreign
aid, in particular from the EU, which has contributed 200 million
euros in emergency funds to help Yugoslavia through the winter.
For the moment, most of this is humanitarian rather than reconstruction
1.6 But pressurelinked to the withholding
of aidmay be expected to mount on Belgrade to meet its
international obligations, including the extradition of suspected
war criminals, first and foremost, Milosevic, to The Hague Tribunal.
The ex-leader remains an embarrassment and a potential threat
to the DOS leadership. Therefore, Milosevic may well end up in
gaol either in Serbia or The Hague; or he may be "encouraged"
to find asylum abroad.
1.7 The international community's enthusiasm
in welcoming back "the prodigal son" and lavishing aid
on Serbiaor at least holding out the prospect of doing
sois causing considerable resentment in the region among
loyal pro-Western states and those who view themselves as victims
of Serbian aggression in the 1990s. Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria,
Croatia and Romania, as well as Kosovo and Montenegro, are among
the countries or entities that fear they may be neglected in the
West's rush to go to Serbia's aid.
1.8 How Belgrade responds to these challenges
will depend, in part, on the outcome of the rivalry between the
two key players in the post-Milosevic era, President Kostunica
and Zoran Djindjic, Serbia's Prime Minister. Kostunica, a cautious,
conservative nationalist is less likely to co-operate with the
West than Djindjic who is a pragmatic, outward-looking politician.
Another factor of uncertainty is the lifespan of the improbably
broad-based DOS alliance which is unlikely to last longer than
18 months to two years. Once it breaks up, fresh elections may
need to be called.
2.1 Kostunica's election has not changed
the Montenegrin leadership's determination to go for some form
of new constitutional arrangement that would acknowledge Montenegro's
de facto independent status. Over the past two years the
Montenegrin political elite under President Milo Djukanovic has
got used to governing without interference from Belgrade.
2.2 With a democratic regime under Kostunica
and Djindjic in charge in Belgrade, Podgorica is no longer being
held back from moving towards independence by the presence in
Montenegro of the Yugoslav army and of a militant pro-Serb minority
that could be manipulated from Belgrade. These factors had caused
fears in the Milosevic era that early moves towards independence
might precipitate unrest, possibly even civil war in Montenegro.
2.3 Montenegro has raised the stakes by
renewing a referendum callwith plans to hold it soon after
parliamentary elections, due on 22 April. President Djukanovic
is demanding virtual independence within a loosely-knit confederation
with Serbia (which would give each republic its own separagraphte
seat at the UN, etc). In the absence of a deal, Montenegro would
go for outright independence. Current opinion polls suggest that
the pro-independence parties would win the elections; and that
the independence call itself would probably get a clear, albeit
relatively small, majority.
2.4 The Podgorica leadership is hoping the
long term economic benefits of separation from Serbia will persuade
the diminishing pro-Serb elements to go along with independence.
With its Adriatic coastline and mountains and a population of
just 650,000 Montenegro believes a revival of tourism would bring
it prosperity while Serbia struggles to overcome the economic
legacy of Milosevic's rule.
2.5 The international community remains
strongly opposed to Montenegrin independence because it would
reinforce the Kosovar Albanians' similar demands. Besides, the
demise of Yugoslavia would make it unclear what entity, if any,
Kosovo belongs to since UN Resolution 1244 implies that Kosovo
is part of Yugoslavia, rather than an integral part of Serbia.
But given the Montenegrin leadership's determination to go for
some form of independence, there is little that can be done to
3.1 The municipal elections on 28 October
produced an overwhelming victory for pro-independence candidates
among the dominant ethnic Albanian majority. The strong support
for pacifist leader Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo
in preference to the ex-KLA fighters' successor-group, the Democratic
Party of Kosovo, does not dilute that demand for independence.
3.2 The ethnic Albanians are now pushing
for presidential/parliamentary elections as early as possible,
leading to an independence referendum afterwards. Hans Haekkerup,
the new head of the UN Mission in Kosovo, says a proper electoral
framework needs to be established first, but otherwise he is not
opposed to elections at a relatively early stage. However, a referendum
is not on UNMIK's agenda for the time being.
3.3 UNMIK is resisting the independence
demand because of the concern shared by much of the international
community that it could encourage further fragmentation in the
Balkans. It might encourage separatist ethnic Albanians in regions
neighbouring Kosovoprincipally the Presevo valley in southern
Serbia and in the western and northern part of the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedoniato go for the options of autonomy/independence/merger
with Kosovo. It would also lend ammunition to the Bosnian Serbs
who would want to unite with Serbia rather than reintegrate with
Bosnia's other entity, the Bosniak (Muslim)-Croat federation.
3.4 Rugova and other Albanian representatives
are reluctant to get involved in talks with Kostunica or Djindjic
on Kosovo's future status on the grounds that Kosovo proclaimed
its independence as far back as 1990. The Albanians want an independence
referendum (which would deliver a huge majority in favour) accompanied
by talks with UNMIK and the international community on how it
should be implemented. The Albanians' strong commitment to independence
will make if difficult for UNMIK to register progress in any negotiations
on Kosovo's future status.
3.5 UN/KFOR are likely to be viewed increasingly
as something of an occupation force/administrationand then
may have to act more like one, particularly if they want Serb
refugees to start returning, and stem the flow of guerrillas and
supplies across the boundary between Kosovo and the Presevo valley.
However, large-scale confrontation between UN/KFOR and the ethnic
Albanians is unlikely in the foreseeable future because of the
locals' continuing reliance on the international presence for
finance and security against Serbia. But relations between the
two sides are probably going to sour.
3.6 UN/KFOR are heading for a long-term
presence: 10 years or more is not an unrealistic expectation,
particularly if Kosovo's status remains undefined. In the shorter
term, if the Bush administration carries out its pre-election
threat to withdraw US forces from the Balkans, the European NATO
allies will have to make up the shortfall.