Will the Commission’s suspension of talks with Belgrade lead to long term isolation for Serbia – or is it just a short term negotiating tactic?
Many from the region hope that the door will be left open for a resumption of dialogue, as Greek MP Anna Diamantopolous told EuroNews:
“The Balkans represent a very important place and history for the peace and development of europe. Serbia cannot be a blackhole in Balkans. We all know and we agree that there is a need to respect deadlines and the decisions of the European Union. But at the same time, European Union is a political entity and not a court. So, I believe there is still room for manoeuvre, for diplomatic work”.
The difficulty for the Serbian Government is that Ratko Mladic still has a positive image among hardcore nationalists, a minority in the country, but too sizeable a minority to ignore.
This leaves Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica facing a difficult juggling act to keep his ruling coalition in tact – and the danger is that the commission’s move will only further radicalise Serbian politics. Gergona Noutcheva of the Centre for European Policy Studies:
“All political forces in the government are willing to turn the general in. But they just don’t know how to communicate it to the public. For them, it’s a matter of doing what they have said they would do and yet keep domestic popularity. But this is part of the process of reconciling with the past”
The demands for Mladic’s arrest come at a difficult time for reformists, already having to deal with separatist pressure in Kosovo and this month’s referendum in Montenegro on withdrawal from union with Serbia.