SERBIA: G17 PLUS SECRET PLANS?

Until 5 October 2000 Serbia was ruled by Slobodan Milosevic and his Socialist Party supported more or less wholeheartedly by the satellite parties.

The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, constantly analyses events in the regions of the Middle East and the Balkans. From its comprehensive analysis of the current political situation in Serbia the most important and interesting sections are given below:

Until 5 October 2000 Serbia was ruled by Slobodan Milosevic and his Socialist Party supported more or less wholeheartedly by the satellite parties.
After the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djiindjic on 12 March 2003 the turbulence at the political scene of Serbia has achieved its maximum extent. The expected profiling of political groupations – typical for the countries in transition – and emphasising of political differences have developed a new dimension – the fabricating of affairs.
The present Government of the Republic of Serbia led by Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic is supported by three strong parties: the Democratic Party (DS), the Liberals of Serbia (LS) and the Demo-Christian Party of Serbia (DHSS). The former two parties are the targets of all the attacks of the political opponents while the latter manoeuvres successfully hiding behind its campaign for the independent Serbia. Other members of the government from other parties are careful in their statements not to lose anyone's favour and trying patiently to establish their position in the coming election race.
Since Aleksandar Vlahovic and Branislav Lecic joined the Democratic Party there have been actually no more »independent ministers« in the Serbian government, especially if we are aware of the fact that Minister Milosavljevic is a member of DHSS and the man who was the main link between the Zoran Djindjic - Vladan Batic relation.
The current affairs (none of them are proved and received the court epilogue) and their sensational presentation to the public directed by G17 Plus clearly points to the creation of a political front with the Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions which announced mass strikes and marches along the streets to be held in October. Moreover, the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) with their announcement of a meeting gives a clear picture of the political movements in the future period, i.e. the attempt to destabilize totally the positions of the Government and to provoke early parliamentary elections in Serbia.
According to the information of the IFIMES International Institute, already halfway through last year Mladjan Dinkic and Miroljub Labus had thought of a strategy which should have brought them the leading role in the Serbian state. According to that plan, the resources of the National Bank of Yugoslavia then led by Dinkic as well as of those commercial banks the management of which is directly controlled by G17 Plus were to be activated, however, not for the public good and to the benefit of all the citizens of SRJ and Serbia but to the benefit of the party. This would ensure enormous financial support for any subsequent activities of G17 Plus. In their project, Dinkic and Labus also planned the systemic distribution of their favourite staff to the key positions in the state and the placing of the whole economy and finance under the direct control of the two strategists. That would turn the time in Serbia back to the period before 2000 when only two people, Slobodan Milosevic and Mirjana Markovic, made independent decisions on all the key issues in the state. However, the democracy which was brought to Serbia on 5 October 2000 could not support such a plan after its disclosure. The promoters of democracy are therefore in the way of the two collaborators.
The support to Dinkic's and Labus's strong desire to overthrow the present Government of Serbia arrived from where it was expected - Kostunica’s Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS). Although incompatible on the outside, the two parties have more or less the same goal: the absolute power in Serbia. Both groupations are prevented in achieving such a regulation of Serbia by the parties which participate in the Government work at the moment. The contacts with the new ally were intensely built upon already at the beginning of 2003 and were at first very discrete.
The key goals of the Dinkic and Labus plan were: First of all, to ensure constant financing of the G17 Plus party which was formed in December 2002 from the previous non-governmental organisation with the same name. Another goal was to form the elite of financiers composed of the members of G17 Plus, their friends and co-operators as well as of all the frightened bankers and businessmen which would through its monopoly enable further loyalty of the employees in the private and public sector. The model is in many respect similar to the plans of the leaders of the notorious Yugoslav Left (JUL) to establish the so called interest control of everything and everybody in the country ruled by Slobodan Milosevic. Furthermore, in such a system it would be easy to increase the number of the staff enthusiastic about Dinkic and Labus.
However, while the JUL and Milosevic system of government was dominated by primitive and simple officials whose intentions were easy to find out, the new couple at the top of the G17 Plus party have a much more refined relation to the public, potential voters and the members. Their public speeches are full of concern for the democracy in Serbia and its economy and abundant in expressed wishes to improve the standard of the citizens. They can only be contradicted by arguments since they both master the skills of public appearance and know when and how to avoid the unpleasant and compromising questions.
After Djindjic, Dusan Mihajlovic is another target of the group. G17 Plus and DSS agreed that Mihajlovic is unpopular among one part of the public especially after Slobodan Milosevic was arrested and that therefore attacks at Mihajlovic and at the Ministry of Interior which he leads can bring Dinkic and Labus plenty of votes from those who would otherwise not be in favour of them. Due to the pressure exercised by G17 Plus Mihajlovic would be forced to resign to the satisfaction of especially DSS so this is another point of common interest of the two parties. The IFIMES International Institute believes that the Liberals of Serbia (otherwise the members of the European Liberal Democratic Reform Party) led by Dusan Mihajlovic can be the bridge between politically opposing parties in Serbia bringing them together to pursue their common goal, i.e. accession of Serbia to the Euroatlantic integrations. The Government of Serbia is facing a long struggle with the organised crime and only if it wins this fight Serbia will regain its credibility in the international community.
One of the specific features of the current political situation in Serbia is the expressing of diametrically opposed political statements. The G17 Plus party as one of the main advocates of redefining the federation and Miroljub Labus as the signatory of the Belgrade Agreement – the basis for establishment of the union of Serbia and Montenegro – are now advocating the idea of independent Serbia using the slogan »Serbia at the first place«. Miroljub Labus has shown a negative political transformation from the modern Western politician (which he used to be at the recent presidential elections in Serbia) to the typical Balkan politician who manages to maintain his position in the political scene by producing affairs.
The present government in Serbia should be supported at all levels in order to be engaged as much as possible in the reforms instead of dealing with answers to various produced affairs. The National Assembly of Serbia meets regularly and passes laws which are of vital importance for the continuation of the undertaken reform process. The adoption of the laws mostly requires the support of a minor opposition group and usually it is the party composed of the members of the former Socialist Party of Serbia led by Branislav Ivkovic. Thus, the parliamentary majority exists but is always very tight. The parliament is also the subject of the present affairs which are aimed at invalidating retroactively the existence of the quorum as in case of the election of Kori Udovicki as governor of the National Bank of Serbia.
It is the general impression that the showbiz attitude and the intensity of the affairs eventually lead to saturation and the loss of interest of the public in those topics. Though the political benefit has been reaped at the moment, in the long run the affairs brought to the public during the past period will not leave a lasting impression on the voters especially if the trend continues and the creators of the campaign decide to carry on fabricating affairs.
Nevertheless, public opinion research shows that there have been no substantial changes at the political scene of Serbia and that DSS, DS and G17 Plus still dominate. However, it is interesting to notice a sudden increase of the popularity of the Democratic Party Vice-President and present Defence Minister Boris Tadic as well as the constantly high rating of the former governor and Vice-President of G17 Plus Mladjan Dinkic. It should be pointed out that there is certain reservation about all the public opinion researches carried out and published since they are treated as biased and favourable to certain political groupations.
The media in Serbia represent a variegated picture. The newspaper media with largest circulation (Kurir, Blic, Balkan, NIN etc. are explicitly critical towards the government while the leading electronic media (Pink, BK and RTS as the national house) are favourable to the cabinet of Prime Minister Zivkovic. The influential – though limited in reach - B 92 radio station is also critical towards the activities of the government.
The IFIMES International Institute believes that the current political situation in Serbia can be regarded as normal for a country in transition taking account of all the specific features of the region and therefore the Government of Serbia and especially the Ministry of Interior should be supported in their efforts to fight crime. The political situation should be stabilised in order to carry out the presidential elections where Serbia would finally choose its president. If the fabrication of affairs continues there will most probably be a mass abstention of voters and another unsuccessful election. Serbia should continue with the democratisation and decriminalisation processes and prevent the creation of monopoly of any kind – especially of the monopoly of any party. Serbia must show the world that the Milocevic era is ultimately defeated and can never again be repeated, that there is no more room for secret plans in Serbian society which instead expects complete transparency and that Serbia wishes to become a respected and equal member of the international community.



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