Letter: Serbia's obsession

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The assertion by many "democratic" Serbians that there will be no real peace and stability in the region unless Serbia embarks on the road to democracy is, unfortunately, specious.

In Serbia's free, multi-party and largely fair elections of 1990, the two main Serbian nationalist parties (of which Milosevic's SPS was one) polled 63 per cent of the vote; two years later, at the height of the war in Bosnia, where Serbian forces had displaced over two million Muslims and Croats in under six months - and went on to kill at least 200,000 Bosnians - Milosevic polled 56 per cent in Serbia's presidential election, hardly the record of a dictator.

The sad truth is that no candidate who espoused the admirable values of democracy and a liberalised economy came close to capturing the Serbian public's imagination. That is why, even during the anti-Milosevic demonstrations of 1996 and 1997, the person presented by Serbia's "democrats" as the answer to their country's problems was the ultra-nationalist Vuk Draskovic; members of his Serbian Renewal Movement were actively involved in atrocities in both Croatia and Bosnia, and Draskovic himself now serves in Milosevic's government as Deputy Prime Minister.

Serbia's political culture has been built on what the independent Serbian journalist Stojan Cerovic called "the constant, obsessive theme of building a Greater Serbia". This involves "purifying" Serbia by "cleansing" it of non-Orthodox people and "extending" Serbia so that it mirrors the nationalist ideal of encompassing Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and the Sandzak, something which can only be accomplished by genocide.

ASAD YAWAR

Wembley, Middlesex

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