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INFO   :::  Reports - PAGE 1 > Self-Isolation: Reality and the Goal


Self-Isolation: Reality and the Goal

Serbia 2007

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YET ANOTER WASTED YEAR - Helsinki Committee's Annual Report for 2007 -


The nature of political changes in Serbia in October 2000 and later, in December 2003 (after the assassination of Premier Zoran Djindjic), could not have secured a consensus on the basis tenets of the modern world, human rights included, that should make the foundation of the Serbian society. This is reflected in the public discourse and predominant arguments about "threatened Serbhood" and "world conspiracy" against the Serbs because of their dedication to justice. In this context, denial of any responsibility for crimes and massive violation of human rights is nothing but a natural outcome Serbian elites' strategy for preventing a social dialogue on the recent past, says the 2007 annual report by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia. By accepting (though unwillingly and incompletely) the international law - that will significantly motivate the protection of human rights in the long run - Serbia obtained a frame necessary for the advocacy of the human rights concept. However, in 2007, the same as in preceding years, Serbia failed to fully cooperate with The Hague Tribunal. Moreover, the cooperation almost came to a standstill, while extradition of Ratko Mladic and other three fugitives was taken off public agenda. Speculation in the media about Ratko Mladic's whereabouts and former Prosecutor Carla del Ponte's blind belief in the possibility to convince the Serbian Premier to extradite Mladic banalized and marginalized this crucial topic.

According to the 2007 report, in the shade of Kosovo status settlement, uniformity and national homogenization, uniform values, and unity of nation and religion are advocated through the media and from the parliamentary rostrum. In parallel with the rhetorical defense of Kosovo, the media blame "domestic traitors" for the overall situation and the loss of Kosovo, thus turning them into "scapegoats."

In its latest annual report titled "Serbia in 2007 - Self-Isolation: Reality and Goal" the Helsinki Committee underscores that the year 2007 was yet another wasted year for Serbia in the search of identity and vision. For, nationalism has remained its predominant political option without a respectable alternative. The Serbian political class and elites have not given up territorial aspirations even though the settlement of the Kosovo status marked the final stage of ex-Yugoslavia's disintegration. Serbia could not have become a functional and modern state given that the state question (territorial expansion) has always been prioritized at the detriment of civil values, citizens' sovereignty and participative democracy.

On over 500 pages, the Committee's report for the year 2007 broaches the topics grouped in the following chapters: "Elite and Alternative," "Socioeconomic Processes," "Transformation of State Power Structures," "Religious Communities," "Constitutional and Legal Framework," "Regional Challenges," "Education," "The Media Scene," "National Minorities," "Serbia and The Hague Tribunal," "Redefining Foreign Policy Course," "Kosovo's Independence" and "Serbia and Neighbors."

Looking back at the year 2007, the Helsinki Committee pinpoints that messages that Serbia can be a partner of the EU only "as a whole" question its commitment to European integration. Accusations against US and NATO of fomenting Serbia's fragmentation and creating "a false state," resistance to the EU mission in Kosovo, withdrawal of ambassadors from the states that have recognized Kosovo, praise of the police after the scandalous rally in Belgrade and failure to strongly condemn violence and looting lead to dangerous polarization of the society and cannot but make minority communities and liberal citizens feel uneasy.

In the Helsinki Committee's view, the new government should, therefore:

- Resume the level of diplomatic relations with the world that used to be in place before Kosovo's independence declaration;

- As soon as possible stabilize the political climate so as to restore trust of foreign investors and banks;

- Immediately resume SAA negotiations with the EU so as to open access to the EU funds necessary for the country's economic and social renewal;

- Finalize privatization of public companies as soon as possible;

- Pursue policies that motivate small and medium-size enterprises;

- Fully cooperate with the ICTY and extradite all the indictees hiding in Serbia;

- Reform the educational system in accordance with the Bologna Declaration and the spirit of the times - this is imperative for building human resources for structural changes in the society and economy;

- Create a positive climate for opening of a social debate about Milosevic's legacy so as to take stock of the two-decade failed policy and create conditions for the discussion of alternative options for Serbia's future;

- Curb absolute rule of political parties and enable professionalization of the state administration and all governmental agencies and institutions;

- Create the atmosphere propitious to the concept of human rights and develop a policy of equal opportunities for minorities' inclusion into political, social and economic life;

- Secure sensibility of governmental agencies for socially vulnerable groups of population such as children, elderly people, persons with disabilities, etc.


The 2007 annual report, circulated both in Serbian and English, is published thanks to the assistance of the Swedish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. The report will soon be available at . Hard copies can be obtained in the Committee's offices - Rige od Fere St. # 20/V.


Belgrade, June 2, 2007

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