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          • Autor: Marko Drajić
          • Serbia and Hungary: Hammering Democracy

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        • The Security Sector in a Captured State
          • Publications

          • Autor:
          • The Security Sector in a Captured State

          • Report on state capture in Serbia is BCSP genuine and pioneering work aiming to document and deconstruct ongoing process of state capture in the security sector through presentation of mechanisms, actors and consequences of this process.

        • The Security Sector in the State of Emergency: Testing Democracy
          • Publications

          • Autor: Isidora Stakic, Jelena Pejic Nikic, Katarina Djokic, Marija Ignjatijevic, Sasa Djordjevic
          • The Security Sector in the State of Emergency: Testing Democracy

          • This analysis by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) concludes that during the 52 days it spent in a state of emergency, Serbia failed the test of democracy, thanks to a series of failings and irregularities in the conduct and control of the security sector.

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          • Autor: Isidora Stakic, Maja Bjelos, Marko Drajić
          • The Masks Have Slipped: Serbia in a Geopolitical Pandemic

          • Masks have slipped and the interests of Serbia’s foreign policy were exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. These interests are not based on the principles of common goods, but on mechanism for preserving the existing internal order. This is one of the conclusions in the foreign policy analysis ...

        • Crime in the Western Balkans Six at the Time of Coronavirus: Early Findings
          • Publications

          • Autor: Sasa Djordjevic
          • Crime in the Western Balkans Six at the Time of Coronavirus: Early Findings

          • Did organized crime groups continue with their activity at the time of Coronavirus, which trends in the criminal activities in the Western Balkans can be noticed in the first six weeks of the pandemic and which scenarios can be envisaged for the future, analyzed BCSP Researcher Sasa Djordjevic.

        Serbia and Hungary: Hammering DemocracyThe Security Sector in a Captured StateThe Security Sector in the State of Emergency: Testing DemocracyThe Masks Have Slipped: Serbia in a Geopolitical PandemicCrime in the Western Balkans Six at the Time of Coronavirus: Early Findings
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          Local citizens have not resolved yet the dilemma as to whether their home country can, wants and knows how to ensure sufficient security for them. Even if they find an acceptable answer, they are still left bewildered. It is not, in addition to other aspects, easy for them to cross-reference and to properly evaluate two sets of messages sent to them from the local government and media.

          The key place in the first set of messages is occupied by the warning that Serbia and Montenegro - together and individually - are still targets of significant security threats. External, although unspecified, threats are in the forefront. Hence, the terrorist threats made it to the top of the list in the Defence Strategy of Serbia and Montenegro (SCG), which was barely accepted in 2004. Giving primary significance to such undefined terrorism can be interpreted two ways. First, it can be viewed as (uncritical) acceptance of the dominating (US) interpretation of acute threats, and second, as an intention of SCG authorities to, at least nominally, join the world’s anti-terrorism front.

          A problem, however, surfaces from local interpretations of terrorism, which is in the Serbian public a synonym for "Albanian terrorism". It appears that, regarding Kosovo and Metohija, the new government remained within the confines of Milošević's approach. Just as a reminder, it was based on a premise that the use of military power becomes (even internationally) legitimate if the adversary is declared to be a terrorist. The realization that George Bush’s administration is using the fight against terrorism for the violent "spreading of democracy" is of little or no benefit.  Since the Serbian State does not live at the Kosovo address anymore, it is apparent that the government and its opponents use this disqualifier for collecting political (electoral) points with the domestic public. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that both have uniformly labelled the violence against Serbs in Kosovo in March 2004 as terrorism. By doing so, moreover, they easily missed an opportunity to examine whether it might have been the parastate terror of (il)legal Kosovo institutions, which in fact would not be possible without silent and/or deliberate passivity on the part of KFOR and UNMIK. 

          In the centre of the second set of messages are local security sector and legacy armed forces - the military, police secret services and parapolice forces. Numerous paramilitary formations that were used to ignite and spread the wars in former Yugoslavia are, however, still excluded from the topics of public discourse. The authorities are constantly proving to the citizens that the reform of this sector and the armed forces is already well under way and that their security, despite everything, is continuously improving. Added to that are the claims that SCG already meets the conditions to enter the Partnership for Peace (PfP) Program and, right after that, NATO.

          The citizens of SCG are equally frequently addressed, directly or indirectly, by the officials of EU, NATO and the USA.  In the plethora of their frequently conflicting messages, the local citizens can identify, without any remaining doubts, only ultimate flavoured with allusions about new sanctions. In addition, there is the foreign entrants’ contribution to the increase of cognitive and political confusion within the domestic population. 

          We would like to examine preliminarily whether and based on what the citizens and taxpayers of SCG can, at least approximately, evaluate the security capacity of the country. This demands of us to consider, first, whether and to which degree SCG (member states) and its citizens are in authority over their own security. We contend that only in that context will it be possible to ascertain the initial list of real threats to which they are exposed.

          Reduced Jurisdiction

          It is indubitable that the security of the Western Balkans today, and therefore of SCG, mostly depends on the United States, NATO and EU. From the moment they, although belatedly, banned the war and imposed peace, they became the only guarantors (enforcers) of the mutual security of the newly created countries. For this purpose, they deployed their military forces in the region. Along the way they established Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH), as well as Kosovo and Metohija, as their protectorates. At the same time, they gathered the local states, except BH and SCG, within the PfP and directed them towards NATO. By doing so, they completed a triple restraint of the local militaries and their commanders. First, the Dayton agreement curbed their manpower numbers and the type and the quantity of their arsenal. After that, their freedom of internal movement and the usage of military force were limited. At the end, as a part of the preparations for joining the PfP (NATO), new reductions and announcements of changes in their role followed. It appears that the local militaries will be less engaged in defending their countries and territories and more frequently participating in peacekeeping missions and/or interventions. This will be taking place beyond the Western Balkans, of course, as needed and ordered by the strategic managers of security crises.

          Therefore, the external security of SCG, as well as its neighbours after all, depends less and less on power (or the lack of power) and desires of the authorities. Even if they possessed sufficient force, they would not dare change the map of the region. Even more so because it is evident that NATO and/or EUROFOR will stay in the Western Balkans for a very long time (indefinitely?). Consequently, an international war for territories is hypothetically possible only with the silent approval of foreign factors. Because of this, the security capacity of SCG or neighbouring countries cannot be measured with classical methods, which are derived from the security dilemma and based on size and strength comparisons of rival militaries.

          Local residents and their leaders, on top of everything, can no longer make independent decisions about the shape and the permanence of their countries. Foreign entrants, namely, have retained a discretionary right to potential modifications of the composition of these states and the region. Thus, through the will of such factors, Bosnia and Herzegovina will be established (will be left) as a unitary state very soon, whereas SCG will be lingering in a stateless space for a very long time. It appears that Brussels and Washington will keep the (Pseudo) State Union of Serbia and Montenegro alive until they structure the status of Kosovo and Metohija according to their own needs. They will keep it in existence, probably, for as long as they need this creation for easier monitoring of the ruling elites in the member states.

          A scenario of all Western Balkan countries joining, as a group, the Euro-Atlantic community is, of course, not excluded. No one, however, can estimate whether and when such a scenario will be implemented. It seems that the foreign entrants have not estimated yet which alternative brings more benefits to them or which one is causing less damage. Hence, they have not decided yet whether to accept these countries as a package into Euro-Atlantic organizations (and, by doing so, to support the establishment of democratic order in them) or to delay their entry until they fulfil on their own already set (but stretched if needed) conditions.

          A country’s relinquishing of its jurisdiction over external security does not necessarily mean a handicap - especially not under the circumstances of ever-strengthening cooperation and integration within the Euro-Atlantic community and its surroundings. Acquiring of a powerful protector frequently was (and, it seems, still is) the modus vivendi for small and, in particular, weak countries. A number of these countries, after all, used such a position for their economic and political growth.

          However, when this is, like SCG case, accompanied with the lost right to decide on the nature and the permanence of the State Union, disparate results ensue. Truthfully, ultimately this is a consequence of wrong doing on the part of the Union’s domestic founders. As we recall, Milošević and his clique in Montenegro created the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992 only after they had failed to unite with the forces of "all Serbian states". At the same time, they wanted to stop at their gate the violent dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. However, the Yugoslav war-game burst into their house through Montenegro and Kosovo’s windows. Afterwards, the foreign factors denied (temporarily?) their successors the right to create new countries whenever and however they wanted. Therefore, with crucial support from local participants, they have retained SCG in the stateless zone. The authorities in Belgrade and Podgorica derived from this their frequently used alibi for inaction. Namely, they use the unresolved status of the Union to justify delays in conducting radical reform of the security sector and the legacy armed forces.

          Then, the invalid (non-)State, as it would be expected, cannot adequately provide their citizens with a necessary level of security. The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro does not have, first of all, a unified security space. Although the Union has its military forces, it remains unclear from the Constitutional Charter what their purpose is, i.e., whom and what they protect. All other security functions and components of the armed forces are under the jurisdiction of the member states. And there is nothing much to add to this situation having in mind the nature of the undesired Union. The problem lies, however, in the fact that its local founders avoided accepting the mutual obligation for cooperation on, at least, security. Therefore, it is no surprise that they have not even tried to define a joint security policy. To make the paradox even greater, it does not stop them from making everyday noise about their determination to join the EU and NATO, which, by the way, rests on the dedication of their members to collective defence and common security. 

          An (Un)Changed List

          Multifaceted invalidity, however, does not exclude or protect SCG from the coupled effects of new, primarily non-military, threats to global, regional and national security. Their potential effects are, however, facilitated and thus modified by the fact that SCG, objectively, is not in charge of its own external security. It means that SCG cannot, when necessary, autonomously undertake measures for its prospective protection. If it is forced to defend itself, it will need consent from and cooperation with the EU and NATO.

          To make it more difficult, the new (external) threats have intertwined and melted together with internal security threats, whose nature is primarily defined by the fact that this is a (post)conflict and (post)authoritarian society.  Namely, the painful transition has, in addition to other factors, accelerated the crystallization and aggregation of internal security threats.  They actually represent a form of materialization of the impending final consequences of the Yugoslav wars and the refusal of the majority of citizens and their elites to pay the full price for democratic transformation. These consequences are, certainly, transformed in different ways into security threats to the citizens of each member state.

          Their impact in Serbia is reflected in the fact that pro-democratic order has not taken root yet; i.e., we should not completely exclude the possibility of the return of the old regime.  This is further supported by the fact that the new authorities widely utilize the previous technology of governing. In addition, the lack of radical discontinuation with the old regime stimulated the revival of national-populist ideology. It made easier the consolidation of war elites, which are not satisfied anymore just with being spared from criminal charges, but are rushing to return to power and to start with revenge. A possible involution is nurtured, above all, by a deep-seated - socio-economic and political - crisis within Serbian society. This crisis can very easily become an internal conflict. If it somehow happens, the citizens will, unfortunately just then, face the consequences of the new government’s inability to reform radically and on time the military, police and secret services. As a testimony that this is not mere speculation, there has been an uninterrupted chain of military and police incidents (with the assassination of Zoran Djindjić as the most significant one) since October 5th, 2000, whose key participants are (were) the members of the legal, but also illegal, armed formations.

          The specifics of Montenegro are contained in the fact that the overthrowing of the authoritarian regime and the eternal leader is still pending. All the more so because they irreversibly lost their pseudo-democratic (self)legitimacy after Milošević departed. By manoeuvring with requests for an independent state, Djukanović & Co. succeeded in redirecting the attention of the local public away from the deep social crisis while increasing the price of resolving it in the future. It is no surprise, then, that the local rulers, despite their verbal avowals on Europeanism, have been strengthening all this time their power apparatus (instead of reforming it) in order to protect their own positions. Along the way, of course, they freed themselves from all responsibilities for their participation in igniting the Yugoslav wars and for plundering missions in neighbouring Croatia in the early 1990s. Consequently, in Montenegro there does not (and probably there will not) exist a typical contest for political power. It will only occur, certainly, when a true opponent and rival emerges. Then there will be much more at stake than just a simple change of leadership. At that moment, it will become known to whom, why and how loyal Milo Djukanović’s armed guards really are. In other words, the true nature of the latter one’s dedication to democracy will then be apparent.

          Therefore, we are convinced that the summary provided here justifies the overarching thesis that the security of citizens in both member states is endangered, most of all, by internal threats. No matter how much they are similar (and apart from the fact that they stem from the same sources), these threats do not have the same impact. In Serbia, they are obvious and present daily. This gives Serbian citizens and authorities somewhat of an advantage because they have an opportunity to prevent or remove such threats. On the other hand, the aforementioned threats are suppressed and silenced in Montenegro, so a possibility of them arriving to the local scene in a destructive fashion should not be excluded. Consequently, the security capacity of SCG and its member states can only be measured against the likelihood for normalization of the native societies and abilities of domestic leaders to create sufficient conditions for irrevocably establishing pro-democratic order.

        • Tags: Security, challenge, risc, threat, Serbia, Montenegro, strategy, Defence
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