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Seselj Rails Against Coalition Parties
The head of the Serbian Radical Party, SRS, Vojislav Seselj, has openly attacked his partners in the ruling coalition, Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party and the Yugoslav Left headed by his wife Mira Markovic.
His remarks expose tensions within the government and may signal his intention to run an independent pre-election campaign.
In a recent interview with the Belgrade weekly, Nedeljni
Telegraf, Seselj condemned the domination of various institutions by
people close to the Yugoslav Left, JUL. He also lambasted the Yugoslav
Army, VJ - an institution normally considered beyond criticism -accusing its leader
General Nebojsa Pavkovic, of creating his own
Seselj complained that the general was elevating his own role by publishing
books through the Yugoslav Army. "It's all very well for General Pavkovic
to write and publish books privately in his spare time, but it is not
acceptable for his work to be published by the Yugoslav Army," he said.
The VJ's publishing house recently published "On the Media Front", a
compilation of Pavkovic's interviews and media statements, and a book about
the Yugoslav Army leadership, which included an exhaustive
portrait of the general. Extensive photographs of Pavkovic in both
military and civilian life were included.
Seselj compared the books to the
various tomes of former Yugoslav ruler, Josip Broz Tito, saying they
had "no academic value". He also complained that Pavkovic's public
pronouncements are "frequently ideologically tainted, which is not good at
By attacking Pavkovic, Seseljl was sending an indirect message to
the ruling couple. The general is known to be closely linked to Mira
Markovic's party JUL. The Pavkovics have often been seen in public with the ruling
couple, who use their public appearances as a coded way of bestowing
approval on selected companions.
Seselj also criticised SPS and JUL influence within the Serbian
Security Service, SDB. He said JUL members should be removed from the leadership of
the national oil company, NIS, and the Politika media enterprise.
Conflict first arose between the SRS and JUL over a controversial
JUL-sponsored anti-terrorism law. Opposition from
Seselj's precipitated its defeat in the federal
parliament. Although Seselj said his party had withheld support because
of a "lack of precision and clarity", it was thought the real reason
was a fear it might ultimately be used against him and his party.
Political observers in Belgrade agree that by criticising state
institutions, Seselj has not only exposed conflicts in the ruling
coalition, but may also be laying the groundwork for an independent
pre-election campaign. By skilfully distancing himself from JUL, he is creating a platform for
himself. Moreover, he needs to find a way to win back supporters who
abandoned the SRS when it joined the SPS-JUL coalition. Their votes are
sorely needed if the SRS is to improve its ratings.
Istvan Molnar is the pseudonym of an independent journalist in Belgrade
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