Serbia: a choice endorsed by the election of the President of the Republic
Mauro Ungaro (*)
Serbia's future is in the European Union. A certainty further sealed, if it were necessary, by last weekend's election of the new Serbian President of the Republic. In a surprising twist Tomislav Nikolić won the elections: certainly not a new name in the political scenario since he was running for the third time for the post of Head of State and has been a Serb MP for twenty years, plus posts as deputy prime minister in Milosević's governments. The majority of the voters (even if less than 50% of the total electorate) voted out president Boris Tadić, survey's favourite for a third mandate. The Country's economic conditions have taken their toll with inflation up to 7% , 23% unemployment and many factories closed. Data with little hope for short or medium term recovery, considering lack of competitiveness in many production sectors caused by poor new technology implementation. In 2008, Nikolić headed the split of the Serbian Radical Party (expression of the independent nationalist movement whose historical leader Vojislav Šešelj, has been on trial since 2003 for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in Hague) that led to the creation of the more moderate Serbian Progressive Party. Even if against Kosovo's independence, the new political group has taken definitely a more pro-Europe position. The new president's program includes the need to favour foreign investments (today community funding is around 200 million euros) fight against corruption and streamlining of state red tape. Serbia is a Parliamentary and not Presidential Republic and its head of state has many analogies to the Italian one. Nikolić's victory is an important sign of Belgrade's intention to follow the European avenue. After the long pause, following the enlargement process of 27 Member States and search for a new identity to tackle political and economic challenges, Brussels resumed its interest towards the Balkans. The announcement of Croatia's accession on July 1, 2013, shortly preceded the dialogue resumption (achieved thanks to important EU mediation) between Kosovo and Serbia, last February, on Pristine's presence at regional summits and the possibility of the Kosovo government to sign trade agreements with third countries. Acknowledgement of the Balkan's cultural, historic and religious wealth accounts for an important aspect of that Europe which must breathe – as Blessed John Paul II repeatedly pointed out- with two lungs: the western and eastern one.