BALKAN

I tata ćemo sad?

Never before has it been so unequivocally exposed to what extent Serbia, even in apparently "strictly internal issues", depends on the European and world context.

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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

The song, which I think everyone in Serbia has learned in recent weeks and everyone sings its chorus ("an artist must be healthy"), ends with the question: what are we going to do now?

This issue fits perfectly with the results of the elections in Serbia, including the repeated elections in a smaller number of polling stations, which did not bring any changes, at least those that part of the opposition hoped for.

The matter is, therefore, seemingly perfectly clear: Vučić is still personally unassailable, his party is seriously started but not yet close to losing power, Belgrade is divided, but so that the power is held by the "stronger" half.

This, however, is not the conclusion: this is only the beginning of the real story. Because it could be said that nothing is quite as it seems, and that the outcome of the election raised many more new questions than it gave convincing answers to those earlier questions. Some of which are no longer valid.

Elem, never before has it been so unequivocally exposed to what extent Serbia, even in apparently "strictly internal issues", depends on the European and world context. And how much that context will determine a lot of things in Serbia in the coming period, maybe even the composition of the government at local levels.

The war in Ukraine and Vučić's post-election speech

All of this is, of course, to a crucial extent, a consequence of the great tectonic shift brought about by Russia's aggression against Ukraine. The Ukrainian war helped Vučić (and Orban even more) to strengthen his ruling position, because he pushed all internal disputes and opposition "scheming" to the third plan, but now that "favor" must also be returned.

Simply put, since February 24 and the first Russian tank that crossed the Ukrainian border, some foundations of Serbian policy, not only foreign policy - because foreign policy is always to a significant extent a reflection of internal policy - have become completely unsustainable. Vučić knew this on February 24, and especially on April 3. And hence his, for some, surprising post-election speech, which announced the possibility of realignment with far-reaching implications.

It's not that Vučić wants something like this: he was perfectly fine the way it was. And it's not that they won't still try to maintain that situation as long as possible, but in the end, it's all just buying time, there's no political substance there.

The key question from the government's point of view could be reduced to this: can Serbia make a permanent and unequivocal turn towards the West without: 1. "angrying" the Kremlin to a degree that could be dangerous in any sense of the word; and 2. can Serbia carry out that transition so that it does not seriously damage the positions of the government itself and the way it is used to ruling?

Orban as a role model

Is there anything like that that would be according to Vučić's standards: in the West, but with an "Eastern" model of governance? It exists, as soon as you cross the northern border of Serbia and enter the "principality" of Vučić's recent political role model Viktor Orban. But Hungary joined the European Union at a time when Orban himself was not an "Orbanian" in today's sense of the word, and it is not Orban's fault that the European Union is organized as a club from which you cannot be kicked out even if you destroy all the inventory.

But that does not mean much to Serbia, because it is not "inside". And there are clear rules for membership. Not so clear, admittedly, that it could not be softened when a higher need dictates it, but even that has limits. Serbia, as it was created in these ten years of Vučić's rule, as a country of destroyed and senseless institutions and a parody of the rule of law, cannot go anywhere as it is. Something has to change, if only to keep everything the same.

Is there serious internal resistance to such a change? If it exists, Vučić does not have to look far for it, because he will find it in his own party and in the government structure in general. This government is the generator of authoritarianism and "Putinophily" and everything else that keeps Serbia shackled on the wrong side of history.

For that, he doesn't need the "right-wing opposition", which has supposedly grown a lot. The right in Serbia does not have any program that is not essentially plagiarized from the government itself, or parts of it. And it did not increase in any significant way, but only profited from the psychosis of war and the irrational and unprincipled lowering of the electoral census.

On the other hand, Vučić has a choice of potential allies, if he really wants to end the unsustainable position Serbia has been in for too long.

And will they? Or maybe: it won't, but it must? Or even: will, but must?

Therefore, even before the election, Konstructa asked the key question: "so what are we going to do now?". The answer is known in advance and in fact there are no serious other possibilities, but it is still possible to avoid a clear answer again and to resort to the continuation of obfuscation and procrastination indefinitely, so what is the cost. In that case, even winning Eurovision wouldn't help us at all.

(Free Europe)

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(Opinions and views published in the "Columns" section are not necessarily the views of the "Vijesti" editorial office.)