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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

Impact of the EU in Serbia's transition and political behavior in 2008-2013

P. 275-287.
The European Union, like European integration, is the determining factor in the modern development of the Balkan states. In 2013, Western Balkans turned to the rest of the Balkans making European integration both more attractive and more difficult. Since 2000, the European Union has been shaping the political scene of all the Balkan states, leading the more convenient and profitable players of that time to power. The most interesting and challenging state is the Republic of Serbia. For a decade, the EU both openly and latently, but quite successfully, solved all the political and social crises that occurred in Serbia. These included a series of conflicts between the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic and Vojislav Kostunica, and later Vojislav Kostunica and Boris Tadic. It also included talks on Kosovo's status. Crises arose constantly. The biggest crises for the political situation in Serbia were the crisis of 2006, the elections of 2008 and elections of 2012. All of these were resolved by EU methods of economic pressure and strong political lobbying; for example, the rise to power in Serbia in 2012 of the famous nationalist Tomislav Nikolic and his rapid political reorientation. There is no doubt that the EU consciously rejected Tadic. There were at least two reasons for that. Firstly, Boris Tadic, in fact, had not kept his promise given to the European Commission to sign an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. Secondly, the public dissatisfaction with the Democrats was so strong and the results of their ten year rule so poor that even if Tadic had signed the agreement he probably would not have been accepted either by the public or by parliament. The EU made a bet "on the left". This has led Nikolic to victory and to an actual full stop in the Kosovo issue which is believed to be the most acceptable of the currently existing solutions. Indeed, it is the only possible of all existing solutions, but with a few “buts”. The first “but”: the Serbs for the thirteen years of their transitions, coupled with excessive pressure, double standards from the global players in general and the EU in particular, have been unable to develop any foreign policy strategy. This is neither as a real activity nor as a legal document. As a result, Serbian diplomacy and the political establishment are constantly rushing from one side to the other, in deadlock moments trying to gather support of Russia or China, but as soon as they feel that there is room for manoeuvre, they make all decisions on their own or in reliance upon the European partners. The complete absence of alternative options is making Serbia an extremely weak player. It gives the opportunity for the European Union and other partners (as well as for Russia, China or Arab countries) to force any decisions, including frankly no-win decisions, upon Serbia. If the *Entina Ekaterina is an Associate professor (PhD) in Political Science at National Research University, Higher School of Economics, , Moscow, Pokrovskiy boulevard, 11, Address: 20 Myasnitskaya Ulitsa, Moscow 101000, Russia 276 Serbs were a little wiser, if they held a real policy of strategic cooperation with Russia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, without abandoning a European perspective, they would not have been so controlled. The second “but”: over the decade, the EU has formed a political scene in Serbia and tied its internal development to European processes, resulting in most of the Serbian diplomats and political leaders constantly being engaged in negotiations in Brussels or Strasbourg. They almost cannot concentrate on the East. The third “but”: the signing of the agreement between Belgrade and Pristina only partially solves the Kosovo problem. Perhaps it may be put aside if the EU quickly improves the financial situation in Serbia which has long been virtually bankrupt. If it does not, it is the Kosovo question which will be the starting point for the escalation of social and ethnic tensions. Finally, there is a danger that the previously successful EU will not be able to cope with the solution of the national question in the Balkans. In addition to Albanian, there objectively exist Serbian, Bosnian, Macedonian and Hungarian questions. Open support of one ethnic group while ignoring the interests of the others in the history of the region has always led only to new conflicts. The EU should remember this as well as their negative experiences in dealing with the Yugoslav conflicts during the 90s. Key words: political transformation, Serbia, European Union, foreign policy of Serbia, internal politics in Serbia, party transformation.