Challenges for the new president

Kostunica now recognized even by China as the president of FR Yugoslavia faces immense challenges both to preserve his position and to make it useful for digging Serbia out of the gutter in which Milosevic's government put it.

There is an 18 party coalition he has to keep somehow together despite their disparate agenda's and ego clashes.

There is Milosevic still promising to keep the political role, just waiting for his moment to stab the president-elect in the back. He already - just the second day after his deposing - started to re- assert his role by returning his wife's asset Yu Info TV channel under the "family" control.

There is Yugoslav Army that, it is now apparent, orchestrated the "bloodless coup" and that therefore obviously holds keys to real power (as we are usually accustomed in Latin American regimes), and the new president has to placate them as well.

There is destroyed economy - the years of misrule, corruption and stealing, sanctions and NATO bombing - making Serbia hugely dependent on foreign help, help that was generously offered as a reward for the democratic change, but that now, following the experience with other post-communist countries, including Russia, will be conditioned by numerous clauses, slow in coming and often connected to the unfavorable contracts (like Enron in Croatia).

There is the ICTY that is rightfully going to demand extradition of Slobodan Milosevic and Milutin Milutinovic and there is the new president's electoral promise that he would not do that - and there is the State Department that is likely to be less forthcoming with the lifting of sanctions if the elected president decided to be stubborn about that promise.

There are Russians who at the right moment dropped their backing for Milosevic making it possible for Yugoslav Army to change its allegiance with no second thoughts. But they also did not discourage Milosevic from continuing to keep political role in the country. Their demands may be opposite of those from the West.

There is Kosovo, formally still a Yugoslav province, but under full UNMIK government with the population that does not want a return to Yugoslav federation under any government and in the any shape, way, or form.

There is Montenegro, that sent its delegates to Kostunica's inauguration - late, and they came to tell that they are NOT recognizing him as the president of Yugoslavia, but solely as "a representative of the new democratic system in Serbia" - good that they didn't call him the "keeper of the position formerly held by the Yugoslav president Milosevic" - giving me the deja vu with the Greek refusal to accept the name of Macedonia and forcing the entire world to call the country FYROM.

There is Serbia that contrary to Montenegrin delegates sophism, do not yet have a democratic system. In fact the Republic of Serbia is still ruled by Milosevic's SPS party.

There is Yugoslav parliament in which although the 18 party DOS coalition has majority, the largest single party bloc is held by Milosevic-Markovic SPS-JUL 2 party coalition, and they already started putting roadblocks down - they managed to delay inauguration by 4 hours with procedural b/s.

There are regional neighbors suspicious of the new president because of his nationalism - nationalism that has helped him get elected in Serbia is not welcomed in Croatia and Bosnia.

This is a very thin and a very high and a very slippery tight-rope on which he is walking: to please all those contradictory interests and constituencies - which will be necessary for him in order for him to remain in power and do something meaningful with that power in sense of helping Serbia get out of its pariah state - seems nearly impossible, but so often situations after revolutions do. The time is crucial, of course. The understanding that to bring Serbia to Europe, Serbia will have to listen to the grievances of its neighbors and accept certain responsibilities which may collude with its national pride, as Germany, France and UK did to become parts of European Union, is also crucial. The neutralization of Milosevic's political role is an obvious survival priority. Because the killing machine that he set in motion did not stop: his son's criminal associate Bokan just yesterday got killed in front of his villa in Greece...

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