The soft military coup, post-election consolidation of power and a peek in the future

[auch in Deutsch!]

All Milosevic's people holding executive positions resigned today. Some had to be talked gently into it. Some had to be prodded with guns and threatened with other possible choices (prison, one-way trip to The Hague), etc. But they are gone now.

Kostunica also announced that he wants elections for federal and Republic of Serbia's parliament to be held in the next 90 days.

And the EU approved $2 billions for Serbia (but check the fineprint).

The supply and demand laws of the market immediately made Deutschmark plunge on Montenegro black market from 30 to 25 dinars for 1 DM.

So, that's the good news.

The "October Revolution" in Serbia was simply too well organized, to well executed - not to have been planned in advance and perhaps even rehearsed. How is it possible that the death and injured toll is so low? In the spontaneous outbursts of mob anger that toll is usually much higher - i.e. there is the sign that the Belgrade events were controlled and not entirely spontaneous. Which is not bad in itself - after all it is admirable to have only 2 deaths in a transfer of power that everybody in the world believed would end up in catastrophic violence.

Also, it seems unfathomable that the mob would not march on the White Castle in Dedinje suburb and drag Milosevic by his balls out and hang him up. And they did not. Of course, Milosevic's villa WAS protected by the Yugoslav Army, but it is not quite clear whether it was on Milosevic's orders, or whether the Army kept him there as a prisoner, a valuable hostage, a bargaining chip with Kostunica and with the West.

A Serb gladly goes to battle... Finally, Djindjic came out and admitted that the 'mob' in Belgrade had at its core 10,000 young military reservists, with recent military experience, trained and rehearsed for that operation, presumably by general Momcilo Perisic, an opposition member, who was the last Yugoslav Army chief of staff before Milosevic fired him and replaced him with general Pavkovic. Also, it is now revealed that both Pavkovic and Perisic visited Kolubara mine at the same time. This all gives a taste of Milosevic's ouster being a coordinated military operation born out of opportunistic cooperation between the former and current chiefs of staff. It is not quite clear whether they answer to Kostunica, Milosevic, Ivanov or anybody for that matter, now. It is also not quite clear whether it would bother the West to have Yugoslav Army, who carried out most of the violence in the wars of Yugoslav succession in the past decade, continue having such a strong hand in the political life of Serbia. It is however clear that Momcilo Perisic, despite his glorious achievements for democratization of Serbia, would perhaps be unacceptable in any political role for the neighboring Croatia, where he is sentenced to 20 years in absence for his role in shelling of the coastal city of Zadar. The coal miner pictured on the left - went to Belgrade to topple Milosevic, but he could, dressed like that, and displaying the familiar three finger salute, have been going to Vukovar, Dubrovnik, Srebrenica, Sarajevo or Kosovo - should have that picture been taken at an earlier date.

The right wing Croatian parties lead by HDZ are already gaining support in accusations of new Croatian government for uncritical cooperation with the West. It seems that Croatia is the only country in the region that cooperates with The Hague, and it seems that Croatia takes whatever shit the West throws at it with an open mouth. Currently, Miroslav Tudjman the son of the late president is campaigning among the emigres in Canada and the U.S. on that platform. As usual, the people seem to be forgetting that some of the worst 'deals' with the West were brokered by his late father - like the one with the Enron corporation of the U.S.

The Serbian economy recovered under the sanctions. The Croats have begun paying 25% more expensive electricity bills a few days ago. About three months ago, the US ambassador in Zagreb appeared at the 20.00 tv news to angrily warn the Croats that they have to respect agreements: in this case, it was a disastrous contract that the Enron multinational group had pushed on them to buy electricity at 30% above market price, plus a very fishy agreement to build a giant power station. It was Tudjman who sponsored the agreement, two years before, since he had been promised that he would be received by Clinton in return for the favor. The present government did some attempt to renegotiate that disastrous deal. The fighting behind the scene must have been fierce, since something of it even made it to the media. Yet, what is actually written in that contract never came to public opinion in its entirety. But Croats know by their electricity bills by now. And Mesic and Racan did go to Washington. Lots of "business meetings". Everybody was overjoyed. But nothing happened.

The way Enron does business around the world is well documented by Human Rights Watch, Corporate Watch and similar organizations. The way they send US ambassadors and political delegations to weak countries, just out of a war (apart from Croatia, they did it in Kuwait), or with "developing" economies (see what they did in India, what they are trying to do in China, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines). They pave the ways for "deals" where these poor countries will buy electricity from Enron at disastrous prices. Let them build enormous power stations which are not fit either for the economic system or the environment of the country - always at disastrous conditions. Now that Serbia is finally a democratic country, it will enjoy such benefits of globalization, too, I guess. The charts on the left show that Serbian economy actually recovered and experienced growth under the sanctions - the GDP rose, the industrial output surged, the unemployment became nearly non-existent, and thatís the IMF data. It got hurt only by bombing in 1999.

A Serb gladly goes to battle... On Kosovo, there is even bigger panic over Kostunica's victory than there is in Croatia. Koha Ditore published Kostunica's picture with AK rifle, and Veton Surroi called him a "nationalist by conviction" - there are fears that now as Serbia is reintegrated in the world community, it might once again being entrusted with control over Kosovo, something that practically entire Albanian population there would find unacceptable. It doesn't even matter what kind of government Serbia is under, really. Kostunica's hand is made even weaker with being slow on the release of prisoners. Yes, he did release the foreigners, but there are still hundreds of Serbs and thousands of Albanians political prisoners. Amnesty International called for the immediate release of Miroslav Filipovic and Flora Brovina. Unlike with the extradition of Slobodan Milosevic, Kostunica can release those people with no political cost to him. So, it is not clear what is he waiting for. Why is Ivan Stambolic still in prison? Why is Miroslav Filipovic still in prison? Why is Flora Brovina still in prison? In fact, if Kostunica moves to release all Kosovo Albanians from Serbian prisons, he might win some good standing on Kosovo, and maybe get Rugova and Demaci to talk to him. Right now no Albanian leader in Kosovo can do that and not get ostracized at home.

Then there is the long term trouble of giving refuge to Slobodan Milosevic, not only because he will eventually devote all his time to unseat Kostunica, but because his presence tends to provoke exaggerated response wherever he goes. He will be like a walking time-bomb, if Kostunica doesn't get rid of him. Ariel Sharon of Israel is the perfect example for that. Instead of at least banning him from political life after his responsibilities for the massacres in the Palestinian refugee camps became public, Israel allowed him to hold a seat in parliament. Now, when he went to visit the Joseph's Tomb, in the middle of currently Palestinian administered neighborhood, the time-bomb went off, and the worst cycle of violence erupted between Israelis and Palestinians in the recent decade. The usual charade is in place - Palestinians fight back, but Israelis are those who have all the US weapons and Palestinian kids are those who get "caught in the crossfire." The UN Security Council is issuing another lame resolution, which US is threatening to veto, apparently as not lame enough, responding to the special interests of the Israeli friends in Congress. The same like Bosnia, only it lasts for forty years - apparently Serbs had a very weak hand in the US Congress, and as soon the Kissinger school run State Department was out, they became the whipping boys. The Ariel Sharon visit of the Joseph's Tomb however, brings me to the idea of what would happen if Milosevic visits a Pec/Peja monastery on Kosovo, once NATO forces leave. This brings me to a double conclusion - either both Milosevic and Sharon should be shipped to The Hague, or both Kosovo and Palestinian enclaves in Israel should be forever placed under UN supervision.

Essentially, FR Yugoslavia is promised a $8 billion loan to re-build, by the same countries who made that re-building necessary in the first place. Europe pledges $1 billion immediately to clear up Danube. Loans, of course, have to be paid back, and with interest. Plus, they usually come with strings attached - like requirements to hire companies from the money-lending countries. Itís good business: it is like I set your house on fire, and then lend you money to pay me to build you a new one.
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