Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 03:09 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 03:09 | SYDNEY

Serbia: Moving forward slowly


Fergus Hanson


12 May 2008 12:50

Last year I was following the war crimes trials at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)* in The Hague. So when I visited a friend in Belgrade I was surprised to see the face of one of the Tribunal's most well-known accused, Vojislav Seselj, splashed over every available piece of billboard space in the busy capital. Despite the fact he is an accused war criminal and in custody in The Hague, Seselj remains President of the Serbian Radical Party, which won around 29% per cent of the vote in yesterday's Serbian elections.

Boris Tadic's Democrats 'For a European Serbia' won the largest share of the popular vote (around 39%), which is a reassuring sign in the wake of Kosovo's declaration of independence and after pre-election polls had his party just trailing the radicals. Slovenia, formerly part of Yugoslavia and now holder of the EU presidency, had the honour of welcoming the "clear victory" of pro-European forces, although with no party winning a majority of the vote, wrangling will still need to decide the ruling coalition. 

While it failed to outdo Tadic's alliance, the ongoing strong support for the Serbian Radical Party goes to show that Serbia is still some way from moving on from its wartime past. And as the caveats on the recently signed EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Agreement reminded us Serbia is still to hand over some of the men most wanted by the ICTY. Serbia is making progress but it's slow.

*At the time I was working at the Australian Embassy in The Hague.