Saturday, July 11, 2009

Unlike Allies, on the Anniversary of Srebrenica

By Stevan V. Nikolic

New York, July 11 (Serbia Today) - It seems that Dutch are making again the very same mistake they made in Srebrenica years ago. Then, by standing aside and doing nothing they allowed terrible crimes to happen. Today, with the cancellation of the visit to the Serbian Government that is under enormous pressure from the radical nationalistic opposition, Mr. Verhagen took side of the very same political forces that made Srebrenica happen.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen has informed Belgrade that he has canceled a scheduled visit to Serbia on July 21.The reason for the postponement, according to most of the sources, were the formal and informal announcements by Serbian officials that the sole talking points with Verhagen would be unblocking the European integration process and cooperation with the Hague Tribunal.
The Dutch claim that neither of those two themes was on the agreed agenda. Reportedly, the Dutch Minister had only been due to discuss enhancing economic and commercial relations between the two countries, as well as technical aspects of the visa regime.

It is clear to everybody that statements by Serbian officials were in the service of the domestic political maneuvering. The present Serbian Government is far from perfect, walking on the very thin line of the public confidence, but EU leaders should stop for a minute and think of the options to a present ruling coalition in Serbia. The only argument that this Government still has with those that voted for them is a possibility to get closer to EU.

Everybody who is diminishing that argument plays straight into the hands of those political forces in Serbia that still see General Mladic a hero, not a criminal., - and that is exactly what Minister Verhagen did with the cancellation of his visit.

In the midst of the economic crisis more and more Serbs perceive EU as a “cow that gives milk and then kicks the bucket”. Srebrenica is not to be forgotten, but NATO bombing of Belgrade is still in vivid memory for Serbs. It is just possible that in some future elections we will see radical nationalists back in power. Then, Minister Verhagen will not have to worry about his visit, since most likely he will be “persona non grata”.

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