You don’t want to piss off the European Union.
If you do, they’ll mobilize all their divisions and… oh, no, wait a minute, that’s not right… umm… they’ll issue administrative directives and, er, appoint a commission to investigate your malfeasance.
Yeah, that’s what they’ll do!
And maybe — just maybe — they’ll ask NATO to bomb the crap out of you again.
But the Serbs are flipping them the bird, anyway:
Angry EU officials attack Serb’s blocking of pact with Brussels
The European Union criticized Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica of Serbia on Wednesday after the nationalist leader blocked plans to sign a political and economic agreement with Brussels.
He called the agreement a “deception” aimed at tricking Belgrade into conceding the independence of Kosovo.
The pro-Western president of Serbia, Boris Tadic, who won re-election Sunday, had backed the accord, which would expand trade, ease visa restrictions and improve student exchanges between Serbia and the Union. But after Kostunica accused the EU of trying to trick Belgrade into letting Kosovo go, the EU said his unwillingness to back the deal had made it legally impossible to proceed with a signing ceremony planned for Thursday.
Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner responsible for the Union’s expansion, made little attempt to conceal his anger. “I deeply regret the obstruction by certain politicians in Belgrade in blocking the signature,” he said. He accused Kostunica of ignoring the will of Serbian people, as expressed in the election of Tadic, who made EU membership the centerpiece of his campaign.
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Rehn attacked the prime minister by name for linking Serbia’s EU membership aspirations and the future of Kosovo. “It is truly sad for Serbia, if politicians continue to put power games ahead of their own citizens’ interests,” he said, adding that “certain politicians” were seeking a “divorce before the marriage has even been agreed.” He also chastised Kostunica’s nationalist Democratic Party of Serbia for opposing the deal.
Kosovo, a breakaway province of Serbia that is expected to declare independence this month with the backing of the EU and the United States, has been under United Nations administration since 1999 after NATO intervened to halt Slobodan Milosevic’s repression of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority. Serbs consider the territory to have been their medieval heartland and it is the location of several important Serbian religious sites.
Analysts said Kostunica, a constitutional lawyer who helped lead the revolution that overthrew Milosevic in 2000, was determined not to go down in history as the Serbian leader who lost Kosovo, even if that meant destroying the country’s future within the EU.
“Serbia is heading toward disaster,” said Zoran Dogramadziev, a Serbian commentator. “Kosovo is lost and now we also risk losing Europe as well.”
Kostunica’s intransigence was buttressed by the strong showing in the presidential election by the nationalist Radical Party candidate, Tomislav Nikolic, a former Milosevic ally, who argues that Serbia should punish the West for its support of an independent Kosovo by turning toward Russia and China.
Tadic, who supports closer ties with the European Union and Washington, also is vehemently opposed to Kosovo’s independence. But he made it clear during his election campaign that he was not willing to sacrifice Serbia’s European future.
Ministers of his Democratic Party have demanded that Kostunica convene the cabinet, where they hold a majority strong enough to endorse the Brussels pact. Kostunica has refused to do so. Instead, he is pushing to take the issue to Parliament where he can rely on the votes of the Radical Party, Serbia’s strongest single party, to back him in what promises to be a showdown over the country’s direction.
Dogramadziev said the crisis would probably cause Kostunica, whose Democratic Party of Serbia rules in a coalition with Tadic’s Democratic Party, to collapse the government and force early elections. There is widespread speculation in Belgrade that Kostunica will try to form a new majority with the Radical Party. But Nikolic has clashed with Kostunica in the past and it remains unclear whether he would now embrace the prime minister.
Kostunica’s stance hardened after the EU announced this week that it had approved plans to send a supervisory mission to Kosovo to take over administration of the province. Kostunica said Tuesday that an accord with the EU as it prepared to take over administration of Kosovo would be tantamount to Serbia’s giving a blessing to its dismemberment.
“The EU’s proposal to sign a political agreement with Serbia while at the same time sending a mission to break apart our state is a deception aimed at getting Serbia effectively to sign its agreement to Kosovo independence,” Kostunica said.
Officials in Kosovo said they would proceed toward independence, regardless of the political crisis in Serbia. Several said Kostunica’s actions could accelerate independence because Kosovo’s leaders might declare independence sooner.
Stephen Castle reported from Brussels.
It’s time for everyone to support Serbia in its resistance against the establishment of an independent Kosovo.