Transitional justice contradictions between Serbia and the European Union : Post-war Serbia on its way to Europe through critical geopolitical eyes

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According to the latest EU progress report a lot of progress has been made towards accession of the EU. The dialogue with Kosovo has improved and led to an agreement whereby Kosovo and Serbia agreed that Kosovo has the legal authority over the region. Also the cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) remained fully. Thereby progress is made in the fight against corruption and President Nikolic has apologized on behave of Serbia for crimes that have been done in Bosnia during the war. All these aspects are signs that Serbia is on the way of getting a date in order to start the negotiations for EU accession. This research focuses on contradictions that are still there between Serbia and the EU over transitional justice, including the aspects named above. I have looked at the latest developments and new players and their role within this discourse. To prove if new developments are made and if the discourse around accession of Serbia is still on the same track. If you look closely at those aspects of transitional justice, you still find some contradictions. Serbia still doesn’t recognize Kosovo as an independent state and also the sentiments within society about the Kosovo-agreement are not positive. Although it is currently not a demand of the EU for Serbia, it needs to recognize Kosovo one day because Kosovo can’t become a member of the EU because it has no international status J.M. Wiersma, interview 8 May 2013). Also the sentiments about the functioning of the ICTY are still not positive and are clearly visible at certain moments. This comes to light when the Croat general Ante Gotovina was released from the tribunal. He first was sentenced to 24 year to prison for war crimes against the Serbs in 1995. But after that, Gotovina was released because of the lack of evidence. “then the Serbian politics, the officials, prime-minister and the president, everybody was furious and then the real interrelation between these countries is visible.” (M. Nazar, interview, 28 May 2013). There are also strong doubts about the politicians within Serbia. They are clearly divided between the demands and conditions of the EU and what the sentiments within society are. According to the experts I have been interviewing, there is a policy of schizophrenia “we have right now a schizophrenic situation that the groups who represented themselves as completely anti-European, for example the social party, the radical party, most of the people right now in the political leadership belonged to the radical party, right now are open pro-European. It is a problem of trust”(M. Podunavac, interview 29 May, 2013). In terms of corruption there are still some contradictions. The EU wants a good working investigation and police force, independent judges and a certain number of convictions. In practice, Serbia is working on it, but is on the other hand deeply involved within the network of corruption. Primeminister Dacic became the talk of the town when it came to light that Dacic had contact with one of the spokesman of the biggest drugs barons of Serbia, Saric. Saric is on the run and seems not to be found. Dacic traded some relevant information for Blackberry telephones (The Economist, 4 February 2013). The trust in politicians is very low. Everybody expects en knows that politicians are corrupt and that they have ties with different organizations. On the outside they pretend to fight corruption, but it is naïf to think they are totally clean (M. Nazar, interview, 28 May 2013). Suspicions of corrupted politicians and the interweaving of state policy within the economy make it hard to fight corruption. The protection of minorities is another point of focus. Several gay parades are cancelled because of violent threats or even attacked in the past. Although recently there is been a new law which sentence hate crimes. So legally LGBT rights are protected, but In practice there still needs to be done a lot in order to gain acceptance and tolerance within the Serbian society. “As regard the human rights it there is not any kind of sensibility to people who demonstrate different kind, not only ethnic, but also sexual identity, LGBT , population. This is an open clash between extreme political groups which are very strong in Serbia right now”(M. Podunavac, interview, 29 May 2013). There are still groups of Hooligans, youth who is influenced by the Orthodox church who come to Belgrade to attack any parade regarding the LGBT-population (M. Nazar, interview, 28 May 2013). The Roma population is also a problem. There is a huge drop out from schools, they are forced to live outside of the city and are being discriminated on the labour market. This is a short outline of the biggest results of my research. Within my research I have looked at the aspects named above. I analyzed these contradictions by approaching them in a critical geographical way. It appears that the struggle over justice is also a struggle over space.
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