Posted 03.08.2012 11:21:33 UTC
Updated 07.08.2012 14:05:57 UTC
None of the political parties received enough votes to set up the government on its own and the picture which emerged indicated that it would take long for the new Serbian government to be formed.
Following trying bargaining, the new government was set up by the parties which ruled Serbia during the tumultuous years of the 1990s. What the policies of the new Serbian government will be is being awaited and questioned curiously by the media of both the region and the world.
October 2000 is of crucial importance in terms of Serbian history. That was when the rule of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic came to an end. History recognizes Milosevic, who started gaining power as of 1987, as the figure who dragged Serbia to wars and who played a massive role in the disintegration of the Yugoslavia of Tito. Following October 2000, Serbia, leaving behind a 50-year period of Communism and the 13-year rule of Milosevic, started moving in a different direction. The domestic pressure mechanisms created by Milosevic were destroyed and Serbia became a country generally opting for constructive ways in the settlement of problems.
The political legacy of the Milosevic era began sitting at the helm of the country again on July 27, 2012. The policies of the Socialist Party of Serbia and the Serbian Progressive Party, which lead the new coalition government of Serbia, had no policies that they could be proud of in the 1990s. The policies they pursued not only paved the way in the geography of former Yugoslavia for a slew of problems but also caused the Serbian people to suffer extensively.
Among the problems of the period taken over from the Milosevic regime in the post-2000 period were such strikingly unpleasant factors as an unemployment rate of 35%, deep poverty and a salary average of about 90 German Marks. The majority of the population was either on the poverty line or had a subsistence existence.
A high inflation rate, unstable foreign exchange rate, steep domestic and foreign debts, outdated technology and a low competition power became the country's basic economic indicators.
It is very likely that neither the Socialist Party of Serbia nor the Serbian Progressive Party wants to remember the indicators of those years. What is more, both parties give the message to the world that they have changed. It may be possible to say that Socialist Party of Serbia did show it changed by setting up alliances with reformist and pro-western parties in 2008. Whether the mentality of the founders of the Serbian Progressive Party has undergone any change in earnest is something we will see in the forthcoming period.
The government programme made public contains some messages attesting to a change. For example, it says that Serbia is going to embark upon cooperation with all countries and will act in the Balkans as a factor of peace and stability.
As a matter of fact, almost half of the ministers in the new Serbian government were also in the administration of the country in the post-2000 period. Given Serbia's changed position both in the regional and international system, it may well be possible to predict that there will be no serious alterations in Serbia's domestic and foreign policies in the upcoming period. What the steps will be of the new government especially where the economy, Kosovo and Russia are concerned is what is most called into question. Serbia's new Prime Minister Ivitsa Dacic signals that he is more likely to pursue populist policies. He also says that the government will never recognize Kosovo as an independent state. That was something repeatedly said by the previous governments of Serbia.
However, the new government in Serbia does not make secret of its inclination to see Kosovo divided as a solution to the problem. Even if the new rulers of Serbia cannot achieve that, the attitude they are in reveals that they will not be subservient to the interests and instructions of Brussels as they were before. This is something which the western countries are concerned over. Another point which the West is wary of is Serbia's relationship with Russia. The new government has said Serbia's EU bid will be upheld but it is also known very well that Serbia is very close and sympathetic to Moscow.
Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia also have their reasons to view the Serbian government with some caution and suspicion. The coming to power of the political figures from the Milosevic era was a worst-case scenario. But the Serbian people carried them to power by granting them another chance. Those at the helm of Serbia should not miss the opportunity of making a new start with the lessons they were taught in the past.