C.I.A. Confidential

The Serbs and the West

A thousand editorialists have described Vojislav Kostunica, Yugoslavia's new president, as a "moderate nationalist." In fact, Kostunica is no more "nationalistic" than Jacques Chirac or Vaclav Havel. He is a self-described Serbian patriot, who says he wants for his people no more—and certainly no less—than he is prepared to grant to others. That is enough to make him suspect to those who want Serbia to remain a black hole in the heart of the Balkans.

During a decade-long acquaintance with Kostunica, I have had ample opportunity to hear his views on the way Serbia should develop its relations with the Western world in the post-Milosevic period. Those views were summarized in his presentation at a conference organized by the Lord Byron Foundation in Belgrade last January (at which several Rockford Institute representatives spoke, including Christopher Check, Thomas Fleming, and myself.) His remarks, made months before his rise to international prominence, reflect his real views, frankly stated, unburdened by the requirements of diplomatic niceties.

"The question of what the Serbs have to agree to in their future relations with the Western world, and what they must never accept, is central to our future," Kostunica said, warning that "democratization"—as applied to the Balkans from Washington—does not necessarily mean the creation of democratic institutions...

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