The Replacement Quisling

Within a day of the Serbian general elections on May 6, it was apparent that widespread fraud had taken place. For a while there, it even looked as if there might be trouble with the presidential run-off vote, until the challenger promised to investigate the fraud if elected. Suddenly both the government and (most of) the opposition shut up about the fraud and focused on the vote. Held on May 20, the run-off resulted in a surprise defeat for the incumbent, Democratic Party boss Boris Tadic.

The victorious challenger, Progressive Party leader Tomislav Nikolic, was immediately derided in the domestic media apparatus loyal to the Democrats. This was echoed by the Imperial media, who relished in bringing up his past as a high-ranking official of the Radical Party and a "hard-line ultra-nationalist." Buried deep in the stories, if mentioned at all, was the fact that Nikolic was chiefly responsible for the demise of the Radicals, by hijacking their elected legislators to form the Progressives in 2009.

At first glance, this was a normal reaction of the U.S.-EU axis towards Serbia, which has always been considered too big and too Serb to be acceptable. But an alternative, and far more plausible explanation is that the criticism of Nikolic was designed to create an impression in Serbia that he was opposing the Empire, while in actuality he would be the true heir of Boris Tadic.

Promises to Break

Within days of the election, Nikolic was in Moscow, representing the Progressives at the United Russia party congress. It was a previously arranged visit, but Nikolic’s PR used it to argue that the president-elect was establishing closer ties with Russia. However, he weaseled out of addressing the congress by claiming he was just a private citizen, having resigned the party leadership in order to hold presidential office. Nikolic also told his Russian counterpart that he intended to "order [Serbia] according to the rules that exist in the EU."

On May 31, Nikolic broke his promise to investigate electoral fraud, by taking the oath of office before the new legislature, seated according to the contentious electoral results. And while Tadic’s first inauguration was a kitschy paean to the American Empire, Nikolic’s formal inauguration on June 11 took place under the EU flag, accompanied by the EU anthem, and with the introductory speech by the EU enlargement commissar, Štefan Füle.

To the media, however, the newsworthy detail was the absence of presidents from neighboring countries. They claimed affront at several of Nikolic’s statements, in which he questioned the myth that Serbia was a genocidal aggressor in the 1990s Balkans Wars. On the heels of their protestations came a flurry of statements from Brussels and Washington, warning Nikolic that any deviation from Official Truth would not be tolerated. Yet once Nikolic was inaugurated under the blue-and-stars, and proclaimed Serbia’s undying loyalty to the EU on a visit to Brussels on June 14, the subject was quietly dropped.

Nikolic’s problem was that the Empire and the EU demanded of him to prove he wasn’t a "nationalist" by pledging to continue Tadic’s policy of unconditional surrender. However, Tadic personally believed in Imperial supremacy and spoke of the need to "transform society" and "change the mentality" of the Serbian people so as to make them compliant serfs. Nikolic’s principal support came from the Serbs who refused serfdom: the frustrated and disenfranchised who valued their freedom, identity, culture, history and faith. He wasn’t their ideal candidate, but they voted for him because Tadic was worse.

Redefining "Is"

But as Nikolic finished his visit to Brussels this week, a realization began to manifest: the new boss was the same as the old boss.

Sure, Nikolic had said that he would break off the negotiations with Eurocrats if they demanded Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo. Once in Brussels, though, he said no one had never presented him with such a demand. No, said EU’s de facto president Herman Van Rompuy, we "don’t ask from Serbia to recognize Kosovo, but to accept the reality on the ground." (per Kurir, a daily close to the Democratic Party). Well what’s the difference?

Just as the ICJ tortured logic to redefine the "Kosovians" who declared independence in 2008, so that their act would somehow not be illegal, the EU is now torturing semantics. It isn’t "recognition" but "normalizing relations." What relations? Between governments. Aha! Van Rompuy’s statement made it clear that this wasn’t just an error in translation: the Eurocrats are really torturing language akin to Bill Clinton’s hairsplitting over the definition of "is".

Thus Nikolic’s statement that he was satisfied with the EU’s clarifications of the agreements made between Tadic’s envoys and the "Kosovians", wherein he saw “nothing that would violate the Serbian Constitution or Serbian interests,” (Tanjug) sound particularly hollow. If recognizing a separatist government laying claim to a territory the Constitution explicitly defines as one’s own isn’t unconstitutional, what is?

The UN Sideshow

The Serbs got another opportunity for self-examination this week, as their former Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic was elected chairman of the UN General Assembly. His election was a face-off between the Empire and its allies, who favored Jeremic’s Lithuanian colleague, and the rest of the world, led by Russia and China.

The Democrats, who are still trying to cling on to power by forming another mathematical majority, quickly declared Jeremic’s triumph a victory for Serbia. The truth, as usual, is somewhat different. In order to win, Jeremic basically abandoned Tadic’s policy of capitulating to the Empire, which he himself dutifully championed for years. The most notable example of this took place at the very same UN General Assembly, almost two years ago, when Tadic’s regime made a big show of eating its own resolution on Kosovo, and submitting one written by Brussels instead.

This exposed not just the idiocy of Tadic’s policy, but Jeremic’s own moral ambiguity in agreeing to it. He saw nothing wrong with it when Serbia’s future was on the line, but when the stakes became personal…

One Serbian commentator noted that Jeremic’s election indicated that most of the world’s governments had greater respect for the Serbia of Slobodan Milosevic or Vojislav Kostunica, both of which resisted the Empire, than for the Serbia of Boris Tadic (and Jeremic), “a puppet regime inspiring nothing but pity and contempt.”

The Foundering Ship

Pitiful and contemptible is about the right description of a political class given all the chances in the world to stand up for freedom and dignity, yet persistently choosing servitude and humiliation – for their people, anyway, as the arrangement was quite rewarding for them personally. One might even understand their fanatical commitment to the European Union a decade ago, but today, when the EU is foundering on financial shoals?

Spain is now begging for a bailout, having blown billions on white elephant construction projects and a housing bubble. A new Greek election is scheduled for this weekend. Though much of the Western media is obsessing about the "Golden Dawn," odds are the leftist SYRIZA coalition will actually triumph – and take Greece out of the Eurozone. This may not necessarily torpedo the EU financially, but it will explode the notion of irreversibility that has become the foundation of Brussels’ hegemony on the Continent. Simply put, once a country joins, that’s the End of History. No one has ever left. No one can ever leave. Well, the Greeks may be about to redefine that.

At best, it might take decades before Brussels agrees to take Serbia in – if the Eurocrats give up their belief that the only acceptable Serbia is a nonexistent one, and if the EU is still around by then. Yet Serbia’s new president is quoted as telling the Eurocrats, “I don’t even think about the possibility of a better future for Serbia and the Serbs anywhere else but inside the EU.”

So he’s not just a replacement quisling, but far worse: someone who apparently also lacks imagination.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for debuted in November 2000.