There is a 60-70% chance that Serbia will have a democratic pro-European government by the end of June, the country's Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic assured journalists in Brussels on 12 June.
Djelic, who was addressing an event organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, said two small parties - United Serbia, a breakaway former partner of the Socialist Party of Serbia (led by Dragan Markovic-Palma and which has three seats out of 250) and the Bosniak 'List for European Sandzak' (led by Sulejman Ugljanin and which has two seats) - had decided to join a coalition led by President Boris Tadic's list 'For a European Serbia'.
Boris Tadic. Photo: Reuters
Split in two
'For a European Serbia' secured 102 seats in the May 11 early parliamentary elections. Together with its allies, the Liberal Democratic Party of Cedomir Jovanovic (13 seats), and new partners which also include the remaining five ethnic minority seats, it now has 125 seats in total, just one seat short of a majority.
This of course means that the opposition camp, consisting of the Radical Party of Voislav Seselj (78 seats) together with the Democratic Party of Serbia of outgoing Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica (30 seats) would also be short of a majority, even if they were joined on the list by the Socialist Party of Serbia and the Party of United Pensioners of Serbia (17 votes).
One solution, which Djelic did not spell out, would be for the Socialists to join Tadic's camp, or as he said, "new elections".
But Djelic rejected this option and expressed strong optimism that his country would avoid the vicious circle of repeated elections. Serbia has held six elections in the last 18 months, he recalled.
Fit for EU by 2012
"For the first time after the fall of Milosevic we will have four years of political stability and coherent power, and that's an opportunity we should not miss," Djelic said.
The deputy prime minister, who is expected to keep his post in the next government and be responsible for European integration, presented an impressive book of several hundred pages to the audience, entitled "National Programme for the Integration of Serbia into the EU". He stated that his country was determined to ratify the SAA agreement before the summer, obtain candidate status by the end of this year and be "EU-fit by 2012".
Djelic circulated a non-paper showing that of the 46 indictees of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia from Serbia, Belgrade has already transferred 42 to the Hague tribunal. Commenting on the Netherlands' refusal to ratify the Association and Stabilisation Agreement (SAA) before all high-profile war criminals are handed over to the Hague tribunal, Djelic said he hoped that nobody would hold up progress of a country "because of two or three people".
Alluding to yesterday's apprehension of war criminal Stojan Zupljanin near Belgrade, Djelic said he had received a text message from Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn reading: "You Serbs have unbelievable timing." He explained that the news had arrived in the middle of the weekly commissioners meeting, but that was "only a coincidence".
Hard line on Kosovo
However, Djelic confirmed his government holds hard positions on Kosovo.
"We will never accept this independence. One should not expect any changes to this policy on the side of the future government," he warned.
He expressed the determination of his country to obtain the adoption of a UN resolution in September calling for "negotiations", adding that "there is no sustainable solution on Kosovo without an historic compromise between Belgrade and Pristina".
Concerning plans for the EU mission for Kosovo, EULEX, Djelic said "Serbia is not against the EU presence in Kosovo," but stressed that "if its mandate is the Ahtisaari plan, which does not legally exist, we are against this mandate".
Asked by EurActiv to comment on his country's position on Russia, Djelic said Serbia is very grateful to the Russian Federation for its principle position on Kosovo. He added that his country was systematically suspected of having become a Russian pawn, but in reality "each time we meet with the top leadership of Russia, we talk about the European future of Serbia". He added that this future was not viewed with distaste in Russia but in fact supported by Russian leaders.