After 24 hour-long opposition and intense negotiations with the Union and the Serbian authorities, the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic was arrested and sent to prison.
The way they arrested Milosevic was another demonstration of a profound split between Voislav Costunica, who represents moderate nationalists and democrats, and Zoran Djindjic, a politician of opportunist trend. There are many who erroneously consider Costunica to be the strongest politician in Yugoslavia. That is not so. Costunica is indeed very popular with the masses, which is largely due to his nationalist orientation. It is for this reason that Costunica, rather than Djindjic who is not very popular, was nominated as candidate from the united opposition with the immediate blessing of the USA. But, on the other hand, Costunica by himself would never suit the West as an alternative to Milosevic: the West needs those implementing the policy prescribed to them, but not leaders interested in promoting the national interests of their country. Right from the very beginning, Costunica has been mainly performing a symbolic function, acting as a cover for Djindjic and his associates who have concentrated real authority in their hands. Costunica has admitted repeatedly that his constitutional powers are limited.
On the part of Gjindjic, in the Yugoslav and the Serbian governments there are fanatical admirers of the West and advocates of absolute submission to it. One should point out the Yugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs, Svilanovic, who is trying his best for Yugoslavia to start co-operation with the Tribunal in the Hague and repeatedly spoke about it in public. The level of Svilanovic's ties with western governments can be judged from the fact that prior to the deposition of Milosevic he, as an active member of the "democratic" opposition, held political consultations with the US State Secretary, Madlen Albright, one of the main and most aggressive organisers of the NATO war against Yugoslavia.
At the same time Costunica, on his part, repeatedly spoke against co-operation with the Tribunal, emphasising its illegality as a political instrument of the USA, and adopted a firm stand on this issue at the meeting with the Tribunal's prosecutor Carla del Ponte. As a result, del Ponte called Costunica a vestige of the past and accused him of nationalism — almost word for word repetition of what they in the West have always said about Milosevic. Nevertheless, Washington seems to fear confrontation with Costunica because of his high popularity, and del Ponte's utterances received no support from any of the NATO capitals. Delay in arresting Milosevic and the promises he was given not to extradite him to the Hague, the role of the army, including that of its supreme command, a joint meeting between Costunica, Djindjic, general Pavcovic and the Minister of Internal Affairs Mihailovic — all this testifies to the internal struggle in the governmental circles, the struggle that can plunge Yugoslavia into a new internal and foreign policy crisis. Extradition of Slobodan Milosevic to the anti-Serbian Tribunal in the Hague (which cannot be objectively regarded as a judicial body), should it take place contrary to yesterday's promises of the ruling upper crust, is very likely to become a very powerful impetus to the new crisis.
Philip PANASENKO Tokyo Exclusively for PRAVDA.Ru
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