Friday, May 11, 2007

A Deal, At Last

Better news from Belgrade, where parties have finally agreed a coalition deal more than three months after Serbia's general election. The really good bit is that the agreement keeps out the largest party in the parliament, the ultra-nationalist Radicals. Their Milosevic-style rhetoric and firm opposition to an independent Kosovo had caused plenty of people around the world to wonder whether Serbia might go back to the bad old days of the 1990s.

Within a couple of hours of the agreement being announced, the draft resolution on Kosovo was circulated at the UN. Despite grumblings from Russia, the political deal in Belgrade makes it a lot more likely we'll see an independent Kosovo fairly soon. It also means joining the EU is back on the cards for the Serbs, with what they call pre-membership talks certain to restart once the new government's in place.

Serbia's mainstream politicians have proved with this agreement they can turn their backs on the old ways. But they, the EU, the UN, and everyone else, must do a better job of convincing the Serb public of the way forward. The rise of the Radicals proves many are still inclined to flirt with the worst kind of nationalism.

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