Serbia: The Price of Appeasement

The downfall of the Milosevic regime in Belgrade was widely expected after the arrival of NATO troops in Kosovo last June. Optimistic scenarios depicted an angry and disillusioned Serbian population removing the President. It was widely believed that military defeat would be enough to bring demonstrators onto the streets, and that the Together opposition coalition, under Vuk Draskovic and Zoran Djinzic, that dominated events in the winter of 1996-1997 could be reassembled with Western help.

The World Today
6 minute READ

James Pettifer

Author of The New Macedonia Question, Palgrave 2001

In America especially, analysts predicted a pattern of events closely modelled on the 1989 fall of the Romanian dictator Ceausescu. This failed to materialise, and instead, President Milosevic is busy rebuilding his power, largely at the expense of the states that opposed him.

Opposition demonstrations certainly have taken place throughout Serbia, and in the immediate aftermath of the Kosovo defeat there was widespread anger and disillusionment with President Slobodan Milosevic. But divisions in the opposition remain deep and with the arrival of winter, the mass movement has largely petered out.

A mood of fatalism affects many people, perhaps best summed up in a headline in the Belgrade press in August, suggesting that the devil had taken over the country and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

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