IS TADIĆ ENTITLED TO THE THIRD TERM OF OFFICE?

The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans. IFIMES has analysed the current situation in Serbia in view of the recently held Democratic Party's Election Assembly and the tacit intention of Serbia's President Boris Tadić to win the third term of office as President of the Republic of Serbia. The most interesting parts from the analysis entitled "Is Tadić entitled to the third term of office?" are published below.

SERBIA:

IS TADIĆ ENTITLED TO THE THIRD TERM OF OFFICE?


In our previous analyses we stated that Serbia's President Boris Tadić was the key political personage holding the absolute power in Serbia (links: http://www.ifimes.org/default.cfm?Jezik=En&Kat=10&ID=566 29 November 2010 http://www.ifimes.org/default.cfm?Jezik=En&Kat=10&ID=554 1 October 2010 and http://www.ifimes.org/default.cfm?Jezik=En&Kat=10&ID=547 3 September 2010).

The key problem for Serbia and other West Balkan states is that the top of the political and criminal hierarchy has been led by more or less the same individuals. Fighting organised crime and corruption has thus become a void political phrase. At the Democratic Party's Election Assembly, which was held on 18 December 2010, Boris Tadić was once more re-elected its president, being the only candidate. This re-election reveals Tadić's intention to become President of the Republic of Serbia for the third time, arguing that Serbia has become an independent state which entitles him to the third term of office. He does not count his first term of office as Serbia's President (2006) since he served it in the former State Union of Serbia-Montenegro when Serbia was not an independent state yet. His second (present) term of office, which started in 2008 and is to end in 2013, is actually his first term of office according to the new constitution. Although his intentions are still concealed from the public, Tadić will not give up his idea to win the third term of office as President (2013 - 2018), although this would be a violation of Serbia's present Constitution.

In any other normal country the loss of Kosovo and 17% of the state territory on 17 February 2008 would mean the end of the president's political carrier. Paradoxically, in Serbia Tadić has become even more popular presenting himself quite successfully as the leading politician not only in Serbia but also in the wider region. After the loss of Kosovo and in view of his devastating politics, the question is what Tadić can lose in the "third term of office"? Will it be Sandžak, the Preševo Valley or perhaps Vojvodina?

Tadić often avoids or postpones the resolving of key issues. However, it is of vital importance for Serbia to establish a true dialogue with the Albanians and the Bosniaks, primarily with those living in Serbia and subsequently also with those in the neighbouring states. This is the precondition for long-term stability in Serbia and the region. Unless the rule of law is in place and functioning, the citizens of Serbia may not expect any progress, especially as on behalf of the state certain individuals are trying to liquidate those who do not comply with the present regime. Some representatives of the regime have even joined the attempts to exert control over the Serbian Bar Association.

THE BAR ASSOCIATION UNDER EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY'S CONTROL?

The judicial system in Serbia was destroyed through the failed judicial reform prepared by the current regime which allegedly promotes the European values. Changeability of authorities is one of the fundamental principles of democracy. According to that principle it would be logical to change those who are responsible for the collapse of the judicial system, notably Minister of Justice Snežana Malović and State Secretary Slobodan Homen. Instead, Snežana Malović has announced that the complaints of non-reelected judges will be unconstitutionally regarded as not existing in the Constitution and the law. Although as the Minister of Justice she was responsible for the preparation of the package of judicial laws which have brought about the collapse of the judicial system, she has announced that she will personally prepare new better laws. At the same time State Secretary at the Ministry of Justice Slobodan Homen, who was together with Minister Malović responsible for destroying the judicial and legal system in Serbia, has been publicly announced as one of the candidates for the highest position in the Presidency of Boris Tadić's Democratic Party. Minister of Justice has been presented to the Serbian public as one of the candidates who will personally write down new laws in the field of justice and rectify the mistakes. The Bar Association is under fierce pressure because the governing regime is trying to assume its control through State Secretary Homen.

LEGALISED RACKETING OF FOREIGN LAWYERS

After the executive authority gained control over the public prosecution system and the judiciary in Serbia through the implementation of the failed judicial reform, its final blow against the protection of human rights from being abused by the authorities can only be achieved by destroying the Bar as an independent organisation with a public mandate. To this end the Minister of Justice Snežana Malović and State Secretary Slobodan Homen, assisted by certain individuals from the Management Board of the Serbian Bar Association led by lawyer Dragoljub Đorđević, are trying to change the legally elected president of the Belgrade Bar Association Slobodan Šoškić. The goal is to ensure undisturbed functioning for certain law offices which have earned huge amounts of money through the privatisation of socially owned companies. Another goal is to adopt a new Law on the Bar in order to oblige foreign lawyers authorised to work in Serbia that they would have to be assisted for three years by Serbian lawyers, i.e. lawyers favoured by the present authorities. This would represent legalised racketing of foreign lawyers and a new form of corruption committed by those who allegedly advocate Serbia's accession to EU and promote European values. In order to enable all that, a "secret" plant was devised behind the back of the official working group on the preparation of the Law on the Bar which would enable Dragoljub Đorđević whose term of office has ended to preserve his leading function in the Management Board of Serbian Bar Association. The Law would enable the Management Board of Serbian Bar Association to arbitrarily wind up the basic bar associations and establish new ones, to abolish their public mandates conferred on them by the Constitution and to change the management of the basic bar associations. The authorities would thus fully destroy the independence of the Bar. Moreover, an incident was staged in the Bar Association in order to change the legally elected president of the Belgrade Bar Association who opposed the announced solutions in the draft Law on the Bar. The Bar Association of Vojvodina has also expressed a strong protest against having its mandates taken away and called the Minister of Justice, the Management Board of Serbian Bar Association and the basic bar associations to urgently take all the necessary measures in order to harmonise the Law on the Bar with the legally acceptable solutions agreed upon in the working group.

KARIĆ TRIAL CALLED OF DUE TO MONITORING

The continuation of trial in the Karić case was scheduled for 14 December 2010 and the hearing regarding the seizure of the Karić family's property was also expected to be continued. The claims lack the legally prescribed elements and are estimated by the experts as completely unlawful, representing another act of unjustified prosecution of the Karić family by the current governing regime. Namely, the proceedings were initiated when Bogoljub Karić and his political party called the Serbian Strength Movement (PSS) threatened the power of the then minority government, since Karić had the realistic possibility to win early parliamentary elections and become the mandatary for forming the new government. The media covered court proceedings related to the provisional seizure of the Karić family's property have also attracted the attention of the international professional public and human rights protection organisations, whose opinion will eventually influence the final assessment on Serbia's democratic capacity for EU membership. After those organisations demanded the monitoring of the court proceedings the hearing that was set for 14 December 2010 was rescheduled for 26 January 2011.

Analysts have pointed to an increased number of politically motivated court proceedings and the need for domestic as well as international monitoring of those processes in which the accused are sentenced in advance. Fortunately, some human rights organisations at the international and regional level have announced that they will participate in monitoring those politically motivated court proceedings and timely inform the public on the development. The question is why the Serbian organisations in the field of human rights protection avoid participating in the monitoring of those proceedings and why the Human Rights Ombudsman Saša Janković has not reacted to the above mentioned and similar cases?

TADIĆ AND HIS DEMOCRATIC PARTY WOULD LOSE EARLY ELECTION

Although the situation in Serbia has long been ready for early election, its President Boris Tadić has no intention to announce the election since he would surely lose it according to the public opinion polls. Thus Tadić wants to wait for the regular parliamentary election in March 2012 and in the meanwhile he is trying to consolidate his party, which contains a large number of corrupt politicians who have accumulated extreme wealth in the past few years. Such consolidation would at the same time enable the preparations for his unconstitutional third term of office as President of Serbia, which he would probably continue to perform together with the function as president of the political party, thus remaining the only president in Europe performing a double function.

If President Tadić wanted to prove that he is actually fighting organised crime and corruption, his regime would have to apprehend and prosecute several ministers and state secretaries from his Democratic Party. The analysis of the highest political sphere in Serbia has shown that in several aspects it functioning resembles that of an organised criminal group. Unless President Tadić undertakes appropriate severe actions all his promises will remain nothing but void political phrases.


TADIĆ WISHES TO RECRUIT THAÇI IN THE SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL

The intertwining of the political scene in Serbia is confirmed by frequent meetings between Boris Tadić and Tomislav Nikolić, President of Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), the strongest political party in Serbia. If Nikolić wishes to present himself as being in true opposition, he should stop his practice of co-habitation with Tadić that will eventually only bring him political damage.

Tadić, whose Democratic Party is a full member of the Socialist International, has been making efforts behind the curtain for some time to affiliate Thaçi's Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) in the Socialist International. Thus Hashim Thaçi participated as guest at the Socialist International Council held in Athens on 30 January 2006 where Tadić was present, too.

SECRET COMMITTEE FOR JUSTICE

The secret committee for justice, one of whose members is also the President of the High Judicial Council Nata Mesarović, was established in early 1960s as a product of the communist regime. The existence of such secret committee which secretly monitors important court trials such as the trials against Bogoljub Karić, Slobodan Radulović, Branivoj Lazović and others represents a serious threat to the democratic society which Serbia claims to be.

The fact that Tadić's regime is not overly concerned with human rights is confirmed by the absence of Serbia's official representative at the presentation of Nobel's Peace Prize to the Chinese activist. Serbia was thus the only European country which had no official representative at the award ceremony. Participation of Human Rights Ombudsman Saša Janković can not be regarded as Serbia's official participation, since he is an independent state body responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights. The Ombudsman controls the executive and other branches of power in terms of respect of human rights and as such he can not represent the Government of Serbia.

ŠEŠELJ REMAINS IN THE HAGUE, NEW VIOLENCE AGAINST THE KARIĆ FAMILY

Serbian President Tadić's intention to return the Hague war crimes suspect Vojislav Šešelj to Serbia in order to weaken Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), which has been the strongest political party in Serbia for quite some time, definitively represents mission impossible according to an information source from the Hague. Boris Tadić and his adherents have therefore focused all their efforts to present the leader of the Serbian Strength Movement Bogoljub Karić and members of his family as an organised criminal group. Instead of dealing with corrupt ministers Tadić is exerting pressure against Karić's Serbian Strength Movement and their followers in order to weaken this political movement which had entered in coalition with Tomislav Nikolić's SNS. Tadić still has not apprehended any of his tycoons, although he has pointed to them several times and called upon them to "build bridges". The government has processed only the cases which it has estimated to be of its own interests in order to remain in power. Decisions are made on the basis of daily political needs. Thus refusing the bail of 5 million EUR offered by Stanko Subotić can not be justified since in the case of Bojana Bajrušević a bail of 350.000 EUR was accepted for the same offence. This proves that the government fears that the truth related to numerous privatisation processes would be revealed, including companies such as Novosti, Sartid, Nacionalna štedionica, Mobtel etc. The sale of Mobtel should be re-examined since during the sale of Telekom Srbija Karić's 13% share in the mobile network of this company will certainly become an important issue. That is why the falsified sales agreement was marked as state secret by Koštunica's government. Is the present government by political prosecution of the Karić family trying to keep Bogoljub Karić out of Serbia while protecting Martin Schlaff, a controversial Austrian businessman who took Mobtel from the Moscow-based BK Trade? According to available information the Russian administration of justice has initiated the proceedings to return Mobtel and to determine the responsibility of all members of Koštunica's government for this malversation.

TADIĆ IS WINNING, SERBIA IS LOSING

Analysts have pointed to a difficult situation in Serbia as well as to the misplaced politics of EU representatives towards Serbia and unjustified support they have offered to Serbian President Boris Tadić. This is not the first time the EU has offered support to the wrong politicians in Serbia and the West Balkan region. Through his very powerful public relations department President Tadić is trying to present his politics as the winning direction. But in reality, Serbia will be constantly losing as long as Tadić is winning through his PR. The economic situation in Serbia is very serious, the unemployment rate is high and the society is marked by general apathy. However, the current government is primarily interested in completing the privatisation processes in socially owned companies which have not been privatised yet. Of course, the representatives of the regime are trying to conceal their intentions from the public.

Ljubljana, 4 January 2011
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