Serbia will have a new constitution. The turnout at the referendum to approve the new constitution was very low, but the vote cleared the required minimum of 50 percent in the long run. According to the new law, the autonomous region of Kosovo was announced an inseparable part of the country. This paragraph of the law has raised serious concerns among the Albanians. The international pressure on Serbia with a requirement to recognize Kosovo can only intensify in the near future.
It was unclear if the referendum was eventually going to take place because of the low turnout. The voting continued for two days starting Saturday, October 28, but electors were hardly showing any interest in the event. The population of the country is currently staying at the state of depression after the separation of Montenegro, the ongoing massacre of Serbs in Kosovo and the pressure on the part of the Western community.
President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica addressed to the nation several hours before the end of the vote. The officials stated that Serbia would not be able to become a full-fledged state without the constitution. Apparently, the people listened to the words of their leaders. As Sunday was drawing to its end, the turnout exceeded the level of 50 percent. More than a half of the country’s population voted for the new fundamental law of Serbia.
The question of Kosovo’s status has become the key issue to attract attention to the referendum. According to the new constitution, Kosovo has been declared the inseparable part of Serbia. However, the Albanian population of the region has not been included in the lists of electors: they have been boycotting all elections in Serbia since 1990. Nevertheless, their representatives have already said that no one in Belgrade asked their opinion.That is why they continued their independence-oriented policies.
Moderate nationalist, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, warned the international community against the recognition of Kosovo’s independence. If it happens, Kostunica said, Serbia will revise its relations with all countries that agree to make such a decision. The prime minister said previously that he was certain of Russia’s and China’s intention to veto the resolution on Kosovo’s independence at the UN Security Council.
Kostunica’s words are not likely to change the positions of the USA and the European Union. The Western community continued to prepare for the referendum on Kosovo’s separation describing it as an event of special significance, which would not lead to any other similar occurrences.
As for Brussels , the European Union can use the situation to put more pressure on Serbia to delay the negotiations on the country’s EU incorporation and to cancel the visa-entry regime with Serbia. Brussels-based officials will simply claim that Serbian authorities are unwilling to deliver the leaders of Bosnian Serbs Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic to The Hague Tribunal.
Both Serbian President Tadic and PM Kostunica are ardent supporters of the country’s membership in the European Union. The president continuingly emphasizes that Serbian special services never make a stop in their search for Mladic and Karadzic. Therefore, another wave of pressure on the country may weaken the pro-Western forces. Furthermore, the followers of the now-deceased President Slobodan Milosevic or representatives of radical anti-Western forces may come to power in Serbia.
It is worthy of note that the issue of separatism still exists in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Western Europe. Basques in Spain, Corsicans in France and Flemings in Belgium may declare their rights for separation too.
Russia may find itself in a very complicated situation as well. The West will accuse the country of double standards against the background of the conflict in Abkhazia, North Ossetia and Georgia. On the other hand, it was separatism that launched the war in Kosovo in 1997. Georgians return to Abkhazia whereas Serbs prefer to stay away from Kosovo over the fears of extermination.
The West also refuses Bosnian Serbs the right to reunite with their ethnic fatherland. To defend the Serbs against genocide, Russia will have a right to stand up against the separation of Kosovo.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov