March 14, 2003
SERBIAN PM'S ASSASSINATION: 'SPECTER' OF BALKANS' PAST IS PRESENT
** Global media viewed the assassination of
Serbian PM Djindjic as "an attack" on Serbia's democracy and a
warning that the "demons" of the Balkans' past had not been
** Most dailies, particularly in the Balkans,
were pessimistic that Serbia could continue on the path of reform and worried
that the "chaos" in Belgrade could reignite instability in the
** Honoring Djindjic as "the most talented
man in current Serbian history," Serb dailies pledged support for their
government's efforts against organized crime.
**West European papers admitted that the EU's
"negligence" may have enabled the tragedy.
'Assassin fired the last bullet in the Serb
future'-- Editorials were universally pessimistic about
Serbia's future, arguing that Djindjic's death "destroyed the
illusion" that the Balkans' troubles have been resolved. With a sense of foreboding, a Belgrade writer
in independent liberal Danas feared that the "shots that killed
Djindjic" might also kill "any Serbian hopes for normalcy." Nearly all expected Djindjic's death to set
back Serbia's democratic reform. Many
echoed Bucharest's independent Ziua in judging the murder a
"serious attack" against Serbian democracy, eradication of corruption
and "integration into western civilization."
Best way to 'avenge' Djindjic's death is to 'persevere with
reforms,' fight criminal enemies of democracy--
recognizing that Djindjic was not exactly "as white as snow," nearly
all credited him with renouncing Milosevic's "Mafia-type model of
government" and for "giving hope" to the Serbian people. "Djindjic was the personification of
European values and the stability achieved by Serbia," declared a populist
Belgrade daily. Bosnia's Croat-language Mostar
Dnevni List insisted the "best way to pay tribute" to Djindjic is
for Serbian leaders to continue his reforms and "thus prove that no
criminal act can defeat democracy."
Indignant that "war criminals have become the idols of
Serbia," Belgrade's pro-government Politika stressed that "we
cannot be calm" and "the architects of evil" must not be left
"untouched." Serbia's neighbors worried about the spread of Serbian
crime and the "phenomenon" of "illegal power." Croatia's Novi List preached that
Djindjic's death was a "lesson about what can happen if the task of
settling accounts with crime and mobsters is neglected."
Balkans were 'forgotten' by the international
community-- Djindjic's murder reminded
West European outlets of the "never forgotten dangers...smoldering on the
other side of the Adriatic" and an "alarming signal" that the
situation was "even more dangerous than many were willing to
believe." While some faulted the
international community for its "neglect," Paris's left-of-center Le
Monde directly blamed the U.S., dismissing its policy as one of "limited
financial... assistance" and sending "a high ranking official every
six months to brandish a new ultimatum."
EDITOR: Irene Marr
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey
is based on 56 reports from 23 countries, March 13-14. Editorial excerpts from each country were
listed from the most recent date.
SERBIA: “He Secured His
Place In a History”
Pro government Poliitka published an op-ed by Dragoljub
Micunovic, SAM Parliament’s president (3/14): "Zoran Djindjic left behind
history and myth. He knew, as a philosopher, who read Hegel that on the
historical scene there are no light plays but dramas and tragedies. He stepped
into a historical scene well aware of a possible tragic end, and brilliantly
played his role.… He saw possibilities to modernize Serbia but was frequently
disappointed by the passivity and resistance in society. Modernity was an obsession for him. He tried
to distant us from passivity.… He was a typical Balkan politician because he
did not search for excuses but for decisions... Apart from being a visionary,
Djindjic possessed creativity. He wanted that modern world, modern Europe to
come to Serbia… He was a courageous man, ready to take personal risks, but most
importantly, to take important decisions.… What is Serbia’s future without
Djindjic? Maybe similar to the one we could have with him, maybe completely
different. That depends on Serbian citizens and their willingness to support in
this sad moment Djindjic’s idea on a brighter future. A healthy, democratic the current political
elite and its ability to forget differences and animosities.…We would betray
Djindjic if we hesitate and if we wait to reach a decision. There should be no
more hesitation about cohesion of our forces to continue the prosperity of
Serbia...Zoran Djindjic was the best face Serbia could offer to Europe in order
to integrate with it.”
“The Youth Got Its Hero”
Populist Vecernje Novosti published an op-ed by former Yugoslav president, communist
dissident and according to some, the 'Serbian father of the nation' Dobrica
Cosic (3/14): “We, Serbs, are one unfortunate nation. Our best young men are
killed in wars for freedom and delusions. Now, the best among us is killed by
us, by Serbs. Zoran Djindjic’s killers are Serbs, no matter that they are
criminals. This crime brings the darkest mark on our national and civic
concept. The most talented man in current Serbian politics is killed. From my
experience, I know that there was no more modern, more strong, more pragmatic,
more politically intelligent, more energetic and more persistent man than Zoran
Djindjic, who could succeed in democratic and civilization renewal of Serbia…
In this generation, in this time, no one did so much in politics and achieved
so much as Zoran Djindjic did. That was a unique political career in times when
there are many unsuccessful people in politics.
He shared the destiny of all great reformers: glory belongs to the dead.
The youth of Serbia got its hero.”
"Assassination As Destiny"
Slobodan Reljic, independent NIN's Editor-in-Chief wrote
(3/14): "In crucial moments he was expected to do more than a man can
possibly do and carry out changes quicker than they could be carried out....The
PM's problems came primarily from two interest groups: One consisting of the
residues of the old state establishment with whom he had to work and
confront. The Hague Tribunal, as the
exposed instrument of Western pressure on Serbia, created directly and
indirectly the PM's other group of unrecognizable opponents.... That pressure united the war-profiteers
because their income and existence had been endangered.... At the same time the Western recognition and
serious support of the PM was becoming more vague. The government's position on Kosovo was
ruined, the verbal support [of the West] was becoming scarcer, followed by news
reports that Serbia would be left at the threshold of Europe. For those reasons statements [after PM's
assassination] that 'Europe lost its big friends,...or 'Serbia made a big step
forward thanks to people like Djindjic....' sound cynical. His opponents took Europe's backing from
Djindjic as a weakening of his positions.
After him, Serbia is faced with a dramatic institutional crisis. A state of emergency has been introduced,
shock is turning into fear.... Many things depended on Djindjic. Now, the government without its PM is
expected to work efficiently and to return to normal life. The assassination of
the PM in downtown Belgrade is a terrible and crucial moment for Serbia. Either the terror stops now, or Serbia will
become Europe's Colombia."
"Hostage to the Dark Forces":
Independent weekly Vreme carried the commentary (3/14):
"Assassination of PM Djindjic makes us feel that we are hostage to the
dark forces that are not even hiding carefully.
When the first assassination attempt took place, the assassin was
arrested, released and then disappeared,
it should have been concluded then that in Serbia, power is held not by those
people who we can see, but by a criminal-political underground that has huge
influence on police, attorneys and courts.
Zoran Djindjic ran as quickly as he could and pushed for reforms and a
modern Europe as best as he knew how. No
one in Serbia in a very long period of time expressed so much energy, power
willingness, capabilities and organizational skills. No one spread so much hope
and belief for a better future in a very long period of time. There can be no
replacement for such a personality....
The only thing that the government can do now is to declare a total war
on the underground. Police claims it knows everything about the underground but
it has no evidence. They should first arrest every suspect and we will wait for
the evidence; too many killers are walking freely around because of lack of
evidence.... Serbia must win, and
Djindjic must not become a victim in vain.
Serbia must become a country ruled by law and democracy, and open to the
world..... Let the state of emergency serve to that cause and no other."
"Symbol Of Resistence To The Darkness"
Vojin Dimitrijevic, Director of the Center for Human Rights wrote
in independent liberal Danas (3/14): "Zoran Djindjic resembles John
Kennedy.... People like Djindjic and Kennedy became legends instantly because
they were symbols... Their open political enemies lacked the radiance and their
hidden political enemies looked ugly and dangerous in the daylight..... The
most important thing is what they symbolize in the political sense. Their
symbols satisfied the public need for development, change, enlighten and
education - they become the symbol of the struggle against the 'old.' Such symbols encompass their political
programs, their party programs and their tactics. Their human imperfections
were forgiven while they were alive and forgotten after they passed away....
Djindjic was a serious danger to the conglomerate of fake fighters for Serbia,
killers of non-loyal Serbs, sadist torturers of non-Serbs and all those who
gained material profit form their alleged national efforts. That axis emerged under Milosevic and called
itself the 'legal-state' but was in fact organized 'lawlessness.'... The DOS
leaders believed that October 5 was the point from which return to the old was
not possible and hoped that the time of democracy had come..... However, the original DOS was wrong when it
had such a belief. Djindjic's death is a
tragedy...which however should not lead to apathy. This tragedy should inspire his supporters
and opponents that are not connected with corruption to use their political
responsibility to finish the job that the deceased Djindjic is symbolizing even
more now than when he was alive."
"Shots Into Serbian Hope"
Aleksa Djilas, novelist and a prominent Belgrade opinion maker
wrote in independent liberal Danas (3/14): "The shots that killed
Djindjic...maybe killed any Serbian hope for normalcy.... Is Djindjic's
assassination announcing a new era of killings?... Milosevic's toppling was tumultuous but
nobody was killed and Serbs had a right to be proud for ending a dictatorship
in a democratic and peaceful manner as they also handed over Milosevic
peacefully and without incidents. The relations in the region and with the West
were becoming normal and Serbs began feeling that they finally came to terms with
themselves and with the world.... Most Serbs believed that elections became the
dominant means of politics.... The immediate consequences of his death are
going to be tragic. Djindjic was seen by
the West as a reformer and reforms may stall now. Will Western assistance stop coming and will
Serbia again look like a country without rule of law and control? Although Djindjic was not very popular, only
extreme nationalists and Milosevic's cronies could take joy over this. They see the assassination as justified
punishment for the 'traitor' who turned over Milosevic and other Serbian
'heroes' to The Hague. The worst
consequence is belief that only authoritarian regime is good for Serbia.....
Djindjic's death showed the volatility of the situation, and that [foreign]
assistance should not be conditioned. For one short moment, extreme
nationalists and Milosevic supporters may feel triumphant...but they will never
return to power.
“Democracy And Violence: At the Height of Challenge"
Pro-government Politika’s journalist Ljubodrag Stojadinovic
wrote (3/13): "The assassination of PM Djindjic is the culmination of a
trend of killings that have been going on in Belgrade for a long period of
time..... The rule of crime and criminals has continued and they have been
attempting to be the masters of [life and] death and to be patriots at the same
time..... The regime tried to ignore the violent signals from the past, quieted
down the rebellion of Red Beret Special Units who wanted to control democracy
in Serbia. The case of Legija, a retired
member of the Special Units, indicated an extremely high level of arrogance and
the importance of violence. The crisis
of values has been threatening to annul all wisdom and creativity; the war
criminals have become the idols of Serbia.... If the regime doesn't start
haunting the assassins, they would haunt the regime..... Now, we are in a state
of emergency which does not bode happiness or tranquility.... It would be normal to expect that special
units would move to disarm the most important private armies today. If they do not do it, it would be too late
again.... It would not be good if the state of emergency would affect only
innocent people and leave the architects of evil untouched. The political wisdom of Serbia is now passing
the test of diplomacy. We cannot be
calm, because a very bad thing has happened, life in Serbia has become very
cheap.... However, a state of emergency has been going on in Serbia for a long
period of time, only it has not been declared.... It is high time to capture
the executioners in Serbia because it is too dangerous to await their next
“Shots In Serbia”
Populist Vecernje Novosti published an editorial on
assassination of Serbian PM (3/13): "Two and a half years after October 5,
and a decade after the break-up of 'big Yugoslavia,' Serbia is still in a
spasmodic state and at war - to purifying itself. Serbia became the land where heads roll -
heads of a PM and generals, politicians and businessmen, as well as ordinary
citizens - as if it’s a haunted state. Mafia make open threats and almost every
day shoot people on its black list. No
one can be safe or secure regarding one's life or regarding the state. The shots that killed the PM are shots on
Serbia, not only because Djindjic was the personification of the stability
achieved by Serbia and European values,... but also because the assassination
of a democratically elected PM is de facto an attack on the whole of Serbia,
its democratic institutions, on its attempts to break with violent past and to
enlist European democratic values and to become a normal state. Djindjic was decisive and pragmatic, warned
several times that most of the towns in Serbia have been run by mafia,
announced that time has come for 'us to get them [mafia], or else they would
get us' and stressed that organized crime has been a cancer in the Serbian
tissue, that it would be hard for Serbia to move forward until it untangled
that knot. .... If there could be anything encouraging in the tragic act of
assassination of PM Djindjic, it is the clear message by those who supported
him and those who didn't always agree with the PM, that this is the moment in
which Serbia must overcome all divisions and all games and truly, without
hesitation and dilemma, to act to fulfill his words which he left as a
testimony: 'Either we get them, or they would get us.'"
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: "Is Organized Crime
Miso Relota observed in Croat-language Mostar
Dnevni List (3/13): "This murder has been assessed as a criminal and
cowardly act. It was stressed in the
first reactions that this assassination was an act of terrorism and insanity
and that the best way in which Serbia could pay tribute to Zoran Djindjic was
to continue the changes that he had commenced and thus prove that no criminal
act can defeat democracy. The
international community representatives said that they would continue
cooperating with the Balkan countries in order for this region to purge those
who think that the future lies in weapons, not in ballot boxes.... The assassination is an attempt to stop
Serbia's development and democratization and to turn Serbia into an empire of
criminal groups. Serbia's leadership
has a huge responsibility now to continue down Djindjic's road for the
transformation of Serbia and to persevere with reforms. This murder is an attempt to stop Serbia on
the road toward Europe and at the same time is proof that the situation in the
region is not stable yet.... Serbia was going through a difficult period and it
is quite certain that this murder will slow down its progress toward
"Shot In The Future"
Mirjana Kusmuk held in privately-owned with
close ties to the Independent Social Democrats of the Serb Republic, Banja
Luka Nezavisne Novine (3/13): "The assassin fired the last bullet in
the Serb future yesterday. Serbian
Prime Minister [Djindjic], who was the only one carrying in his pocket the last
ticket for the democratic world, which ticket the Serbs bought at least 10
years too late, was murdered yesterday.
The man who knew how to play the game for his people has been
murdered. He played wisely, honestly,
and comprehensibly for the whole world.
He was killed perfidiously, with a sniper bullet from behind, but how
else could it have been? Only a wretch
and a coward could shoot at Zoran Djindjic.... In all the assassinations that
have taken place in Serbia in the past 10 years the murderers have been
insiders infiltrated in the victims' security forces several months before the
'D day.' All of them won their
superiors' greatest trust very quickly.
It is hardly likely that it will be discovered who the insider in
Djindjic's case was.... There were many reasons for the murder of the Serbian
prime minister and one was mentioned by everyone. That was his resolute intention to enter a
showdown with organized crime and the announcement of an imminent start of that
showdown. Criminals were faster in that
last race. They killed him in hope that
their empire would last forever, but, mafia, you should not rejoice, because
Serbia is full of such personalities.
CROATIA: "Postponement Of Balkans
Zagreb-based government-owned Vjesnik in
commentary by Zoran Vodopija argued (3/14): “With Serbia and Montenegro,
because of the completely unpredictable future, once again a threat just like
they were in 1995, it is up to Croatia to quickly redefine its position in
Southeastern Europe. It must also
redefine its economic and geopolitical interests and secure support for a
faster arrangement with NATO and the EU, even though it is still far away from
formal membership. Its role in the
region is now stronger, but also more vulnerable, because Serbia and Montenegro
are no longer a Mecca for foreign investments, but a black hole in which
everyone who has invested there, is trying to find traces of what belongs to
"Army In A Chase Through Serbia"
Inoslav Besker commented in Zagreb-based
mass-circulation Jutarnji List on (3/14): “When the army, even when invited to do so,
gets involved in running a country, it isn’t a good symptom of its health,
especially its democratic health....
Time is not on the government’s side (with Kostunica, Djindjic’s main
critic and the most probable candidate for the President of Serbia, waiting
just around the corner), nor is it on the side of stability and democracy. Djindjic’s orphans in power have played a
‘win or lose’ game by announcing total war on the ‘Zemun group.’ The waste of time has already boomeranged on
Djindjic himself, and every additional wasted day will open space for new
disturbing scripts on our eastern border.”
“Non-Democratic Outcome Hurts Croatia”
Zagreb-based mass-circulation Vecernji list
in commentary by Zeljko Kruselj held (3/14):
“If the outcome of political events in Belgrade was heading toward a
non-democratic option, it is easy to assume that the international community
would respond by imposing economic sanctions.
Experience has already shown that not only would investments in that
country fall through, but Croatia would suffer significant indirect damages
from such a blockade. That’s why
official Zagreb should invest effort into assisting in continuation of Serbian
"Yesterday Belgrade, Zagreb Tomorrow?"
Jelena Lovric commented in Rijeka-based Novi
list (3/14): “In Serbia, it has
proven mistaken the assessment that removal of Milosevic and arrival of the new
government will be enough for transition of the society. The international community made a big
mistake there. They have been waiting
for things to start moving into the right direction on their own. However, the hurdle of crime and Mafia,
formed during the war times, has spread throughout the society, taken the
positions, and now, obviously, doesn’t want to give them up.... A country cannot stabilize itself on
reconciliation with crime and Mafia.
Because it is being built on rotten foundations. Serbia is the example that implosion follows
sooner or later.”
"Serbian Time Of Settling Accounts"
Zagreb-based government-owned Vjesnik
carried a commentary by its Foreign Affairs Editor, Jurica Korbler asserting
(3/13): “Crime and politics have in the
past ten years gone hand in hand in Serbia.
What politicians haven’t been able to accomplish (publicly), mobsters
have completed (secretly). Political
ideology has served only as a screen for gaining power and money, while both
politicians and mobsters have enriched themselves.... The next few days will show what Djindjic’s
murder means for Serbia today. Will it
strengthen those forces which were defeated with Milosevic’s departure for The
Hague, and which are still pulling strings?
Will Serbia sink even deeper into uncertainty and apathy and allow the
mobsters to lead the dance? Does Zoran
Djindjic’s physical disappearance also mean the end of reforms and cooperation
with the West? As history has taught us,
Serbia, obviously easily, remains without leaders, and Zoran Djindjic is just
one in a row of those who have ended their political careers with of a bullet.”
“Djindjic’s Assassination Is A Threat To Croatia
Zagreb-based mass-circulation Jutarnji list
in commentary by its Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Davor Butkovic held (3/13): “After Djindjic’s death, Croatia no longer
knows who its neighbor is, and what it can expect from this neighboring
country. What we have in mind isn’t
something that could happen today or tomorrow, but rather a more permanent
situation of uncertainty in relations between Croatia and Serbia and
Montenegro, a country which we have to consider as one and for which we don’t
know who is in power and what its policy is....
Chaos in Serbia once again shows that it is necessary for Croatia to
join NATO as soon as possible, because joining the alliance will guarantee the
long-term security of borders with Serbia and Montenegro.... In the end, after all the geopolitical and
economic questions provoked by the assassination of the Serbian Prime Minister,
we have to face one important fact.
Namely, we cannot exclude the possibility that criminal organizations
which are ruling in Serbia, will expand part of their criminal-business
activities into Croatia, as a neighboring, linked, and undoubtedly, more
affluent market. Zoran Djindjic’s
assassination is certainly a serious threat to Croatian national security too.”
“Shot At More Normal Serbia”
Jelena Lovric judged in Rijeka-based Novi
list (3/13): “Serbia is paying the price of the war it
led. And the price of government which
led the wars. During the thirteen years
of his rule, Slobodan Milosevic turned Serbia into a black hole.... Djindjic’s assassination is bad news for
Croatia as well. Serbia is its first
neighbor, and it is not unimportant whether our first neighbor will be a stable
and decent country, or a powder ked.
Chaos or a state of emergency in Serbia could become a source of new
instability for the entire region. It
will, at the least, stop its process of normalization. Within the international community, it could
provoke new reservations, not just toward Serbia, but toward countries in its
neighborhood as well.... At the same
time, Djindjic’s assassination is a lesson about what can happen if the task of
settling accounts with crime and mobsters is neglected. Or, what’s even more dangerous, if one enters
into agreements and arrangements with them behind the scenes.... There are forces in Croatia which are trying
to provoke implosion into chaos and emergency.
The recent bombing in Zagreb, and the general impotence of the police in
locating the killers and stopping mobsters, leads to the conclusion that the
problem will be taken seriously only when politicians become victims. It is high time for the Croatian government
to start contemplating if it really wants to wait for that moment.”
KOSOVO: “Djindjic Was Killed By Serbia”
The leading independent, mass circulating Koha
Ditore had a comment by its publisher and editor in chief Veton Surroi
(3/13): “In the coming days there will be different interpretations as to who
killed Zoran Djindjic, the first prime minister of Serbia after Milosevic. I
believe that among different conspiracy theories it will not be easy to accept
my own interpretation, that Djindjic was killed by Serbia. He was a key man in
removing Milosevic from power and the key man in establishing a new order in
Serbia. Milosevic was removed but not the people who supported his idea, and
they were the majority.... Djindjic’s policy was projected not to deal a lot
with the past, especially because he personally participated in the dark side
of that past, by eating meat with Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic while the Serb
forces pounded with cannons the civilian population in Sarajevo. He was
certainly focused on the present, wanting to create his own line for an
independent Serb state, by reaching an agreement with Montenegro, removing
Kostunica from public functions and buy taking the initiative on Kosovo issue.
And he had a projection about the future, with a European orientation, at least
pro forma. His assassination only proves how difficult it is to deal with the
problems of today’s Serbia, even if superficially.... For Kosovo it will not be easy after
Djindjic’s assassination. These days he became a negative figure in our public
life because of a well thought offensive for uncovering the Kosovo issue in a
way that will favor Serbia’s interests.... However, this dramatic departure of
Djindjic does not mean stability, neither for Serbia nor for Kosovo or any of
Serbia’s neighbors. For a long time to come Serbia will face an internal
transformation and for a long time Serbia will not be a stable country. Instead of stability Serbia will consume
instability, and even export it, primarily to Kosovo.”
“Who’s Shooting There”
The leading independent, mass circulation Koha
Ditore had a comment by the director of Kosovo Action for Civic Initiative
Ylber Hysa (3/13): “Djindjic’s assassination marks the return of the situation
that favors conservative forces. These
forces are incapable of seizing the power...nor will allow the consolidation of
reformist authorities. This means that there will be a time of instability as
Covic attempts to establish a state of emergency. But, even if the latter
happens, it will be a fragile authorities and a transitional solution that will
challenge the shaky consensus within DOS (Democratic Opposition of Serbia)
itself. This condition of a coalition with security forces (still
unreformed)...will inevitably result in early elections. In that period conservative forces could try
consolidate themselves by launching a leader that would attempt to seize power.
In this way, the vacuum that is created will serve to the axis of organized
crime and to the conservative structures so they can strengthen their positions
in the political life. From the aspect of the democratization of Serbian
society, this would be a waste of time full of risks. On the other side, the
assassination of Djindjic is a victory of the organized crime in the
region.... This is happening now that
Europeans are trying to take a greater role in projecting a more stable future
for the Western Balkans and when the Americans should be dealing with Iraq and
are very sensitive about the schemes of the organized crime and the penetrating
channels of Mafiosi in this part of the world.... So, from the aspect of
Serbian society trauma, the assassination of Djindjic creates a sort of ‘Serb
Kennedy” case and at the same time marks a divorce of the forces that jointly
completed 'The velvet revolution' of October 5 when Milosevic was ousted. The
confrontation of these two forces...will take long and will be painful.”
“Return Of The Balkans In World Headlines”
Independent, mass circulation Zëri had a
column by its publisher Blerim Shala (3/13): “A country in which the prime
minister is killed in that way cannot avoid assessments that hit the very spine
of its stability. So, Serbia continues to be a country that is further away
from creating a democratic society than the West imagined. Moreover, with
Djindjic’s assassination, the West has lost its key partner in the process of
reforming Serbia, a country that was responsible for 9 years of wars and
suffering in the Balkans. After this murder, Serbia will enter a deep crisis of
legitimacy....The prime minister of Serbia has had a primary role in the
relations of Serbia with Montenegro. After him, the chances for the existence
of such a Union (that were slim anyway) are almost none. Finally, in the recent
three months Djindjic was the politician who led an aggressive strategy for the
ethnic federalization and partition of Kosovo. It was an obnoxious and
dangerous policy. This policy will, most likely, continue to dominate among
Kosovo Serbs who are still refusing to recognize the reality of Kosovo. The last
consequence of this assassination is the delay (unspecified in time) of
"Serbia Commits Another Crime Against
Pro-LDK, mass circulation Bota Sot had an
editorial stating (3/13): “Serbian prime minister Djindjic was killed yesterday
in a series of assassinations that have characterized Serbia in the recent
years. This is another crime that Serbia is committing against itself, with its
own hands.... After year 2000, prime minister Djindjic engaged a very fierce conflict
with the last President of what was called ‘Milosevics Yugoslavia,’ Vojislav
Kostunica, especially after Djindjic organized the arrest and handover of the
chief criminal Milosevic to the Hague. In that time Kostunica attempted to have
Milosevic stand trial in Serbia. As a result of the creation of
Serbia-Montenegro Union, Vojislav Kostunica lost his post on March 4, 8 days
before Djindjic was killed. The Serbs will also not forgive Djindjic for the
handover of the main butchers, Milosevic and Seselj to the Hague. In Serbia
always triumphed the pro-Russian political campus and this fact has become a
rule in its history that resulted in endless series of assassinations at the
top of the Serbian leadership. The international community should take appropriate
lessons from this and from all other developments in Serbia, this Mafiosi
country that has no way out. As soon as the international community finally
understands that only a Serbia tha t looks simply after its own business; a
Serbia that does not ride roughshod on its neighbors; a Serbia that gives up of
the strategy for the Greater Serbia; Serbia will be accepted in the future by
its neighbors in the Illyrian Peninsula. With Djindjic’s assassination Serbia
finally returns in the era of the main butcher, chief criminal Milosevic.”
“Assassination As Political Means”
Independent, urban magazine Java had a
comment by the head of the Association of Professional Journalists of Kosovo
Baton Haxhiu (3/13): “One thing is clear, the Balkans has lost a courageous,
open and charismatic politician. On the other side, Kosovar politics has
perhaps lost a potential interlocutor, a politician who was nationalist maybe,
but open to discuss all problems. He is the first politician who openly said
that he was ready to talk even about Kosovo independence. But also about
Kosovo’s partitioning. It looks like this readiness of his has cost him his
life. After this assassination the Balkans remains a place of conspiracies. A
place of political eliminations. A place that has killings in its blood, not
dialogue. A place that overturns every initiative that has to do with
dialogue.. In the end, one must say this as well: Djindjic’s assassination is
not only about killing the democratic process in Serbia, it is also a reflection
of the political process in the region. This naturally reflects in Kosovo too.
From now on, the most difficult will be to continue the process of the
Albanian-Serbian dialogue. We are going to face now a Serbian Byzantine-ism and
a process that will have a different outcome. Not to mention that it will be
much different and much difficult for the Albanians.”
Evridika Siskova commented in privately-owned,
critical of both government and opposition Skopje Makedonija Denes
(3/13): "Serbia is literally
beheaded. After the two unsuccessful
attempts to elect a president, that country is now left without a prime
minister. A dangerous political
situation for its stability. But the
destabilization of Serbia and the impact of its internal situation on the
region probably benefit most of all the network of organized crime stretching
nearly all over the Balkan peninsula.
Crime is currently flourishing in Serbia. All attempts to crack down on it, which
Djindjic personally pledged to undertake, have been taken very seriously by the
Mafia bosses. There are suspicions that
even some people in the Serbian police may be involved...as well as some
foreign structures which absolutely did not like his insistence on a solution
to the Kosovo problem.... But the first
question that arises is: who is responsible for the heinous act? Not as a direct perpetrator -- for it does
not take much intelligence to figure out that these people have been recruited
from low criminal groups -- but for the phenomenon in general which
scandalously started in Sofia less than a week ago with the two murders of
well-known businessmen. And, finally,
who will raise the low value of a person's life in the Balkans, no matter if
that is the life of a statesman or an ordinary human being?"
"Post-Milosevic Serbia Shaken"
Mustafa Nano commented in major independent Tirana Shekulli (3/13): "Djindjic wielded enough power, but the
illegal power there is more powerful than the legal one. This phenomenon can be seen in many Balkan
countries. Speaking of it, in Albania,
too, we have many powerful people, but the power that they control in an
alleged legal way is much smaller than the power they do not control or that is
controlled by the others. In these
circumstances, the more intransigent the legal power, the more threatening the
hidden power. Precisely because of this
way of behaving and acting, Djindjic never became a popular figure even though
he became the most powerful man in Serbia.
Was his assassination an act of revenge for all the things he did? Was it a desperate move by the Serbs' as a
reaction to his efforts to reform Serbia?
The answer is difficult to tell.... Yesterday's murder seems to be one
of those events that can have unpredictable effects in the internal political
plane (in Serbia) and in the external plane (in the region). A Western diplomat said right after the
assassination, 'Djindjic's murder has blown up the card of Serbia's
Europeanization.' In my view this is
not an exaggerated statement. It is not surprising either that this event might
have an impact also on the region in general.
We do not say this because we want to play up the existing panic and
raise any false alarm, but it is not unlikely that the Serbian policy may fall
into the wrong hands and for things to return to where they were before the
democratic reforms began. All of us must
wish for Serbia to pass this hard and sensitive moment in its history successfully. We must wish that legality wins over
illegality, democracy over the nostalgia of the Milosevic regime, and law over
BELGIUM: "The End Of A Shock Democrat"
Christophe Lamfalussy in independent La Libre
Belgique (3/13): "At the moment when the United States and a few
allies are considering overthrowing Saddam Hussein's regime by force, it would
be useful for the international community to wonder what it did of the
countries where it used the cannon policy. NATO strikes in 1999 ended the
Yugoslav war but they did not lead to Serbia's democratization. The latter is
the result of a much more patient effort, restoring all a country's vital
functions -- its economy, its justice, ands its Parliamentary institutions. Yet
the West -- including its media -- tends to consider that simply changing a
regime is sufficient to solve a problem. That is clearly not the case in Serbia
-- nor in Kosovo -- where much still needs to be done. That won't be the case
in Baghdad either."
BULGARIA: "More Bad News From The
Center-right, pro-West Dnevnik (3/13)
commented: "With its new
name--Southeast Europe--the peninsula attempts to find its place on a united continent and in a
predictable and orderly world. The Balkan countries have come a long way, but
despite that, they still have a long way to go to reach the standards of
democracy and civility which would make sure that murders like Djindjic's
murder would be the exception rather than the rule.... The weak statehood, organized crime's power over the rule of law, and an
underdeveloped civil society are still the characteristic traits of the whole
region despite the up-beat political declarations and the obvious advances of
the civilized world."
"Djindjic's Murder -- A Setback For The
Center-left Sega held (3/13): "For the time being the Balkans remain a no man's land on the map
of a United Europe. Political murders
are a sign that no matter how good the political elites' ideas are, the
opposition to these ideas could be overwhelming, especially when these
societies are impoverished to the extreme and believe in political charlatans."
FRANCE: "Forgotten Serbia"
Left-of-center Le Monde in its editorial
(3/14): "Djindjic's death must force those who have deplored his
assassination to honestly wonder about how they are serving Serbia's democratic
process. It seems that Serbia has been somewhat forgotten. While President Bush
paid tribute to the fallen prime minister, what does Washington's policy
towards Belgrade consist of? It is made up of limited financial and material
assistance and the sending of a high-ranking official every six months to
brandish a new ultimatum about sending new faces before the International
Crimes Tribunal.... While Djindjic was not a liberation hero as the West knows
them, he managed to surround himself with men above suspicion and defended his
nation's cause to the fullest. He may have died for it. Let us not forget
"Serbia Thrown Back Toward Abyss"
Muench noted in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of
Munich (3/14): “Serbia, which moved a
few steps away from the abyss under Djindjic, has now been thrown back. By quickly presenting a few murder suspects,
[the interim leaders] want to suggest that the fatal shots caused a salutary shock,
but there are serious doubts about this, since the quagmire surrounds the
entire state. Those who want to move
something in Belgrade, must also be willing to enter into a pact with the
devil, as Djindjic said; and he called it realpolitik. A change will now become even more difficult
than before. Where is the new political
leader who is willing to tell the truth to the people about the penetrating
links between crime, political corruption, and war mongering? And where are the people who want to hear
this and be confronted with their own guilt of the wars in the Balkans? The investigation of the assassination will
not turn things to the better. At issue
should be the discussion over Serbia’s past.”
Martin Winter judged in an editorial in
left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (3/14): “The shots from Belgrade destroyed the
illusion that the Balkan cause had been basically settled. For the EU, this development comes at the
worst possible moment. At odds with each
other about Iraq, it does not have the time and the leisure to dedicate
sufficient time to the successor states of Yugoslavia and its neighbors. Following the Kosovo war and the promising
start of the Stability Pact, everything seemed to have been settled. First, the Balkans disappeared from the
headlines and then from the radar screens of big politics.... This was a mistake not only because the
situation in the Balkans is more dangerous than people wanted to believe, but
because it is a testing ground for the foreign and security policy skills of
the EU.... Excessive expectations and a
negligent ignorance will mix up into an explosive situation in the western
Balkans if the EU does not understand the assassination from Belgrade as an
alarming signal to pay full attention to the problematic region again.... The fact that the EU made the second step
before the first can no longer be changed.
But now it must develop ways and means to fill the room in between.”
Paul Georg Hefty had this to say in a front-page
editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/13):
"Djindjic's murderers have finally prevented him from realizing his dream:
to make Serbia mature enough to join the EU.
The prime minister knew that the requirements for an accession could be
met only in the long run. Nevertheless,
he set himself and the world this goal, because goals are all the more
attracting, the more distant they are, and because he rightfully feared that
his real goal would be of no interest for anybody outside of Serbia's
borders: the political, economic, and
moral consolidation of Serbia. His
violent death is tragic evidence of the fact that he has not reached this goal
either. All indications are that the
killing of the prime minister is symptomatic for the state of the
"Murder In Belgrade"
Karl Grobe opined in an editorial in
left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (3/13): "The assassination
attempt, which killed Serbia's government leader Zoran Djindjic, is bringing to
a standstill efforts to create a stable order in the heart of the former
republic of Yugoslavia. Djindjic, a
nationalist who was able play different political roles, had committed himself
to creating a democratic new order, but he had never had reliable allies. Djindjic inherited the structural weakness of
the Serbian, post-Yugoslav society.
Under former communist Slobodan Milosevic, who turned to a tough
nationalist and who played his intriguing games with the existing democratic
institutions, the society was atomized and exploited by demagogues from the
extreme right in particular. In such a
social atmosphere, criminals grow."
"Demons In The Balkans"
Michael Stuermer had this to say in a front-page
editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (3/13): "The shots
fired in the Balkans have the tendency to make history. The killing of Serbia's Prime Minister
Djindjic is of this kind. This political
murder has implications that go far beyond Serbia's neighborhood. Those who have the say in the Balkans, do not
determine Europe's weal, but Europe's woe.
This political murder must remind Europeans and Americans that they will
succeed or fail together in the Balkans.
The great reconstruction work of the Europeans will be at stake if the old
demons will come to the fore again."
“In Memoriam Djindjic"
Senior columnist Endre Aczel viewed in leading
Hungarian Nepszabadsag (3/13): “What makes Djindjic’s case different
from President Kennedy’s case is that the Serbian man ‘at least’ received a
warning earlier. It wasn’t even a month
ago that a truck with an Austrian number plate attempted to hit Djindjic’s car.
The truck driver then happened to be a well-known mini-gangster from Belgrade,
called ‘Bugsy’. Previous attempt(s) already suggested that the Serbian gangster
world had some problems with the Serbian Prime Minister. But the whole issue is
more complex. It was most probably the
[Serbian] organized crime network that carried out the assassination. Because after Milosevic’s ouster it became a
question, whether these elements could continue to do whatever they want or
face elimination. In a country, that, forgive my words, has become so utterly
chaotic in morals, a premier ought to expect a ‘challenge’ like the most recent
one. If you say that this challenge is a
South American type of challenge, I agree.
I have no knowledge though that any drug cartels [in South America] for
instance, would shrink away from assassinating one, who is in the way.”
IRELAND: "Foul Deed"
The center-right, populist Irish Independent
judged (3/13): "His killers may have acted from a variety of motives, but
their crime will assuredly not serve the interests or the region. Although
Djindjic has been accused of corruption and dirty tricks, his record was on
balance benign. Of all the major Serbian political figures, he was the most
committed to democracy. He had insisted on sending Slobodan Milosevic to
justice. He had negotiated a peaceful settlement of the Montenegro question. At the moment, the region stands at a
crossroads...This is an exceptionally bad time for the bloody removal of a
freely elected leaders. One moderately encouraging sign is that the dangers are
appreciated in EU capitals. The Union can have an important part to play in
Serbia and throughout the Balkans."
ITALY: "The Cold Peace And The Man Of The
Prominent foreign affairs commentator Franco
Venturini wrote on the front page of centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (3/13): "The assassination of Zoran Djindjic...shows that
terrorism has many different faces, it shakes up our memory and it recalls the
never forgotten dangers that are smoldering on the other side of the Adriatic
Sea.... The Serbian Prime Minister's murder is the last one in a series of
'excellent murders' (never really clarified) that for years have filled with
blood the 'pacified' Serbia. It would be
totally useless, at this point, to try to understand whether the hand of the
assassins was armed by a political rival or by the very powerful organized crime,
or, instead, by General Mladic's supporters.... What is more important is to
understand which symbol and which political flag have been attacked.... Djindjic was considered 'the man of the West'
since he did not mind dialoguing with Washington and he had put Serbia's fate
within the European framework.... It is
this symbol of the change, it is the 'man of the West' who was killed yesterday
THE NETHERLANDS: "Djindjic
Influential liberal De Volkskrant has
this editorial (3/13): "The problems in Serbia are still humongous. Milosevic might be gone but Serbia is still
wrestling with his legacy and had only just started to clean up under
leadership of pro-West leader Djindjic....
The international community never clearly dealt with the problems and
fancy plans for a Marshal Plan II disappeared from the agenda after September
11.... Rebuilding stable democratic states, so-called nation building, is an
extremely complex process which requires full attention and input from the
international community. This process is
not running smoothly in the Balkans and also not in Afghanistan. This gives us
reason for concern about the rebuilding of Iraq after a possible war."
POLAND: “Serb And European”
Editor-in-chief Adam Michnik wrote in liberal Gazeta
Wyborcza (3/13): “Not only Belgrade is in grief. The death of Zoran
Djindjic has made the entire European democracy mourn.... Zoran Djindjic was
the pride of Serbian democracy and its priceless treasury. Men like him are not
born every day.”
“The Specters Of The Past”
Bronislaw Wildstein opined in centrist Rzeczpospolita
(3/13): “The Balkan powder keg-the term coined in the early 20th
century-described a bloody chaos which is impossible to bring under control.
The term became even more apt after the collapse of Yugoslavia.... The death of
Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic suggests that it can barely be consigned to the
dustbin of history.... Paradoxically,
his death is evidence that his policy was right.”
ROMANIA: "Region Marked By A Lack Of
Political analyst Cornel Nistorescu commented in
the independent Evenimentul Zilei (3/14): "We don't know exactly what the reason
was behind this horrible assassination, but this attack shows us clearly that
Serbia is far from having found its way toward European normality. After Djindjic's death, the whole region is
marked by a lack of trust."
"Attack Against Serbia's Orientation Toward
In the independent Ziua, political
commentator Constantin Balaceanu-Stolnici wrote (3/14): "One of the most
disgusting and despicable acts that may take place during political
confrontations is, obviously, murder. In
addition to that, the killing of Zoran Djindjic is a serious attack against
Serbia's orientation toward democracy, eradication of corruption, and
integration into western civilization.
It is also the expression of the traditional violence in the political
life of our neighbors, such the assassination in Sarajevo of the Archduke Franz
Ferdinand in 1914, but also the ethnic cleansing ordered recently by the
"Situation In Belgrade Draws Attention Of
Editor in chief Ioana Lupea wrote in the independent, centrist Cotidianul
(3/13): "The Belgrade tragedy points out to the entire world the fact that
the mafia structures of the Balkans are not led by Grga and Zarije, the two
amusing and grotesque characters in Emir Kusturica's 'Black Cat, White
Cat.' Arms trafficking, drugs, networks
of beggars, prostitution, coordinated by people from the Serbian secret
services, raised the money with which powerful rings were built, that are
capable of controlling the entire Balkan region.... The situation in Belgrade
also draws the attention of western Europe, which is focused on the dispute
with the United States over Iraq, that again something is rotten in the
Balkans, and that they have a black cat in their yard."
RUSSIA: "Djindjic Miscalculated"
Official government Rossiyskaya Gazeta
concluded in a report by Konstantin Chugunov in Belgrade (3/14): "Djindjic
attempted to play by his own rules, possibly thinking he could become another
Milosevic, even though he called himself a democrat. He had the reputation of a pragmatist. But he severely miscalculated and had to pay
for the mistake with his own life. He
will stay in Serbia's history as Milosevic's dethroner."
"Serbia's First 'Regular' Leader"
Vitaliy Portnikov said on page one of reformist Vremya
MN (3/13): "Djindjic, admittedly, was the first 'regular' leader, 'one
of our guys,' who, liked or even loved by many, inspired no fear or owe in
anyone. The Djindjic government, for all
the hard changes Serbia has been through, gave hope to the people. It also renounced the Mafia-type model of
government Milosevic built carefully and cynically for years, turning the
nation into a hostage of his criminal regime.
Under Djindjic, Serbia started moving back to the geographically close
but politically distant Europe.
Following that path and breaking with the criminal past entails
"More Instability In Offing"
Maksim Chizhikov remarked in reformist
youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (3/13): "Djindjic's death will
make the situation in the Balkans and Serbia even less stable. Up to now there has been no elected president
in that country. As if this is not
enough, it has been left without the Prime Minister.
SPAIN: "More Than The Assassination Of An
Left-of-center El País carried a signed
piece by Hermann Tertsch statined (3/13):
"The poisoned legacy of Milosevic's criminal and 'kleptocratic'
regime has ended with Djindjic's life.
One can only hope that it will not also end the democratizing
aspirations he embodied. Because there should be no doubt that this is the
intention of the killers."
"Assassination in Belgrade"
Left-of-center El País wrote (3/13): "The assignation yesterday
showed that the Serbia transition is far from being concluded.... The
regeneration of Serbia, a scared and ill society, and its incorporation to the
Western system of values have much greater reach than the police fight against
organized crime, or the orthodox practices of a representative Government. It is related to a intimate and essential
collective settling accounts with History, which is still pending."
SWEDEN: "The Gunshots Against Serbia"
The independent, liberal morning daily Dagens
Nyheter editorialized (3/13): "The gunshots against Prime Minister Zoran
Djindjic in Belgrade removed a force that symbolized modernization and
adjustment to the West. This was the image of the man who opposed the regime of
Slobodan Milosevic and who two years ago reached his goal--to remove
Milosevic.... The former Yugoslavia to a
high degree still remains-- seven years after the Dayton agreement and massive
international support--in a post-war state...The murder of Zoran Djindjic
occurred at the moment when the new state Serbia-Montenegro is to be formed.
This process will now be more difficult and more uncertain. The murderers
likely will not object to that."
Enemies Of The Open Society"
The conservative Stockholm morning Svenska
Dagbladet editorialized (3/13): "Considering Serbia's blood-stained
traditions and the previous assassination attempts the murder of Djindjic was
not a total surprise, taking into account that politics in the Balkans still is
stained by showdowns between various corrupted interests and
gangsterism.... Disregarding the motives
the deed is a strike against the reform forces, a destabilization of an
unstable nation in an exposed region, which in the last decade has suffered
regular wars and ethnic cleansing."
"The Gunshot In Belgrade"
The independent, liberal Stockholm tabloid Expressen
commented (3/13):"The murder of the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic
sent waves of shock all over the world. An unstable Balkans is the last thing
needed before the deciding moment in the Iraq crisis.... Like many Serbian politicians Djindjic was
not white as snow, but he played an important and decisive role in the
democratization process of his country....
The murder is a step backwards, but continued democratization is the
only way for Serbia to become a normal European country."
TURKEY: "Djindjic Was Victimized By Foreign
Ferai Tinc commented in mass-appeal Hurriyet
(3/14): "Djindjic was killed on the eve of a meeting to shape Kosovo's
future structure. Although a decade has
already gone by, the process of the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia has
not yet been concluded. Djindjic was one
of the victims of the 'divide and restructure' process..... Djindjic had found
himself trapped between his efforts to clean out the country's underworld
figures and organizations on the one hand, and foreign pressure about Kosovo on
the other. The internal situation also
did not help him, as some ultra nationalist movements continued to flourish at
a time of economic difficulty. The
demise of Djindjic opens a new page in the Balkans story. It also shows that none of the Balkan-related
problems, including Bosnia, has been resolved."
"Djindjic Assassination And Determination In Upholding Reform"
Leading Independent Kompas commmented
(3/14): "For countries in transition such as Serbia and Indonesia, the
determination to eradicate the bad practices inherited from the old regime
should indeed be clearly visible. We
here also see how such practices not only still remain but will also prevail if
they are not dealt with firmly. On the
other hand, the new regime has also to learn that those who have already
enjoyed facilities do not wish to lose what has thus far made them rich and
powerful. They will certainly use any
means to defend their privilege."
THAILAND: "Is Enough Done After The Bombs Fall Silent?"
The lead editorial in top-circulation,
moderately conservative, English language Bangkok Post read (3/14): “The
North Atlantic Treaty Organization elected to intervene in the Balkans in 1999
after a prolonged conflict in Kosovo which included allegations of ethic
cleansing and other atrocities over a period when Slobodan Milosevic was the
leader of Serbia. When the bombing
stopped, the United Nations and NATO were left with the task of establishing a
new hierarchy. Politically, the region
has been, until this week, a partially democratic and redefined area with some
ethnic groups refusing to participate in elections. Re-establishing the Balkans has been at a
cost. European peacekeepers have been
accused of allowing mass slaughter to take place under their noses. Killing by ethnic groups continue and many
who fled their homes have not been allowed to return... The Balkans remain pitifully poor and,
judging by Wednesday’s assassination, politically unstable… With the absence of a prime minister in
Serbia adding to the political unheaval and the lines dividing communities, one
wonders if this generation will ever enjoy the aftermath of NATO’s
Hope Shot dead"
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press
commented (3/14): "Since the fall of Mr. Milosevic, Serbs have been
politically apathetic. Twice they have failed to turn out in democratic
elections in sufficient numbers to elect a president. Serbia now has an acting
president, an acting prime minister, an acute political crisis - and a
challenge to ensure that the good that Zoran Djindjic accomplished is not
interred with his bones, that his dream of a free, democratic, prosperous Serbia
does not die with him."
"A Murder In Serbia"
The leading Globe and Mail (3/13):
"We hope the world sees this [assassination of reformist Prime Minister
Zoran Djindjicas] more than just another in a line of troubles that have
historically made the Balkans a powder keg. We hope its concern is for the
country as it is today, for the reforms and constitutional rule taking shape,
and the well-being of its people."
"Serbia's Reformer, R.I.P."
The conservative National Post opined
(3/13): "Mr. Djindjic was a controversial politician who often had bitter
disagreements with his own democratic-minded colleagues. But he will no doubt
be remembered as a democratic hero. The best way for Serbians to avenge his
death is to continue with Mr. Djindjic's political reforms and anti-crime
crusade. As Mr. Djindjic himself noted in a tragically prescient interview
following a botched assassination attempt against him last month, the death of
the reformer need not necessarily spell the death of his reforms."
"Forces That Oppose Democracy"
An editorial in conservative afternoon La
Segunda noted (3/13): "Recent events in Serbia highlight the survival
of forces that oppose democracy...and thus, oppose strengthening ties between
the former Yugoslavia and the European Community, as Djindjic had intended to