Monday, January 21, 2013

For Our Freedom And Yours

Everything has already been said. It has become disdainful and cynical to talk about human rights without an adequate basis in the reality in which we all live. What is freedom of speech for those who are being held captive in the darkness of ignorance? What is the right to work for the hungry and the poor who have lost their jobs and who do not possess the basic means to begin anew? What is the right to vote for the uninformed and disillusioned? What is the freedom of movement for those who do not have the means to travel anywhere? What is the law in a country governed by violence, chaos, and the principle that might makes right? What is life itself without the hope that we will ever live better than we do today?

Everything has already been said, but much of what was said has long since been forgotten. Of course, there are those who do not wish us to speak at all, because while force and coercion may temporarily replace discussion and reason, speech will always retain its timeless power. Speech gives meaning to life, and for those who are willing to listen, it may even grant them the freedom of truth. And the truth is we have all become willing hostages of our own fear and uncertainties, and in that fear we have blindly allowed others to usurp our future and turn it into their own personal property. These others now live, while we sleep.

Perhaps it is now time to remind ourselves of that which has long since been forgotten – that equality, justice, fairness, and freedom are more than just words. They are opportunities.

The aim of every true society is to achieve the highest possible level of general welfare, peace, security, a better future, and genuine opportunities for all its citizens. This is why governments are established – not to serve their rulers, but to enable every person the enjoyment of their eternal and inalienable rights, to provide every individual with equal opportunities to exercise their natural aspirations for personal happiness and a life worth living. What are the goals of a government, what is its purpose, if not to protect those rights that are granted to each and every one of us at birth – to enable us to truly live, to make the most of this one and only life we have been given?

A government whose primary goal is something other than to help each of its citizens to live in freedom, to pursue their own happiness, is not government at all, but despotism. Citizens should not live in fear of their government. A government feared by its citizens is no government worth having.

If ever any form of government becomes an obstacle to the achievement of just goals, such as the attainment of prosperity and defense of liberty, it is the right of the people to change it, and to establish for themselves a new government that will better protect their rights and freedoms, and that will enable them to live as free and equal citizens.

This is the stark choice we are facing in this country. Do we wish to continue on as slaves, as children of a murdered democracy whose killers have set themselves up as our lords and masters, or shall we fight to reclaim the freedom and prosperity that is our right by birth?

If you do not see this truth, if these words hold no meaning for you, if the crimes that are all around us remain unknown to you, then continue to sleep. But if you see what we see, if you seek what we seek, then do not allow the murderers of our freedom to continue their tyrannical reign rule over our lives and future – join us in awaking from the dark nightmare in which all of us have lived for far, far too long.

It does not matter who you are, which religion or ethnic group you belong to, what part of the country you come from – all of these are artificial barriers established by the tyrants who wish to divide and conquer us. Freedom is universal. It belongs to each of us equally, or it belongs to none at all. The struggle for liberty belongs to all of us, or it belongs to none. Join us in that struggle. For our freedom and yours.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Untying the Gordian Knot of Kosovo's Independence

The Serbian government recently drafted a document, confirmed by a resolution of Serbia's national legislature, that is supposed to serve as its political platform in talks with the authorities in its former province of Kosovo. Some international observers that viewed the document in question have concluded that it is "unrealistic," since it refuses to recognize Kosovo's 2008 unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia, and because it requests a high degree of local autonomy for Serb-majority areas of Kosovo, especially in the northern municipalities bordering central Serbia.

It would be pointless to debate whether the requests outlined in the aforementioned document are "realistic" or not. The real question is why Serbia adamantly refuses to recognize Kosovo's independence in the first place, even though such recognition would help it improve relations with both Washington and Brussels (a stated aim of all Serbian governments since the October 2000 regime change in Belgrade).

The fact of the matter is that no government in the world would accept the solution that is currently being offered to Serbia by the ethnic Albanian authorities in Pristina and certain members of the international community, especially the United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany.

This may not make much of a difference from a practical standpoint, since it is patently obvious to any objective observer that there is nothing Serbia can do to reclaim the territory it lost in 1999. Kosovo is already effectively separated from Serbia, and effectively independent, regardless of Serbian protests to the contrary.

However, it is not just Serbia that refuses to accept Kosovo's independence. Many other countries will also never agree to it, not because of any great love they may harbor for Serbia, but because of the historically and legally inept manner in which it was attained.

Serbia's refusal also prevents Kosovo from joining many important international institutions, which is why a new approach should be looked at – one that would allow the Serbs to accept reality in good grace, and agree to that reality, but one that would also make sure that this time the whole process is conducted under the correct international auspices. This would have the additional benefit of ending Serbia's semi-pariah status, while simultaneously facilitating the entry of both Kosovo and Serbia into the EU and NATO, at some point in the future.

In 2008, the then newly-elected Kosovo legislature issued a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) from Serbia. The UDI was immediately recognized by some countries, especially those NATO members whose armed forces took part in the 1999 bombing campaign against Serbia. Other UN and EU member countries, particularly those with separatist problems of their own, refused to recognize the UDI.

A UDI is an exceptionally rare document in modern international relations. One of the few times it was used in modern times was in November 1965, when the white-minority regime of Ian Smith and his Rhodesian Front party issued a UDI proclaiming Southern Rhodesia's independence from Great Britain (under a racist white-minority government).

At the time, the UN Security Council determined that Southern Rhodesia was a non-self-governing territory, in terms of its status under international law, and that the UDI was illegal, null, and void.

Kosovo was placed under international (i.e. UN) supervision following the 1998-1999 Kosovo crisis and concurrent NATO bombing campaign. All Serbian government institutions, including the police, military, security services, courts of law, etc., left Kosovo's territory, in compliance with the terms of the Kumanovo military-technical agreement that ended the NATO bombing, thereby effectively transferring Serbia's sovereignty over the province (in all but the most technical sense) to the United Nations.

Following elections for a new Kosovo legislature in 2007, ethnic Albanian separatist parties gained an absolute majority, and shortly thereafter issued the UDI. This was preceded by long and generally failed talks on Kosovo's final status between the ethnic Albanian authorities in Pristina and Serbian government representatives.  The United States, a country usually averse to unilateral moves in international relations, recognized the UDI, stating that it was legitimate because Kosovo represented a "special and unique case" (sui generis), in terms of international law.

The problem with that argument is that no system of law readily recognizes "special and unique cases," and that is also true (perhaps especially so) in the case of international law.

When Kosovo's legislature issued the UDI, the province was still a part of Serbia, in terms of international law, since the last UN Security Council Resolution on Kosovo (UNSCR 1244 from 1999) explicitly recognized Serbia's sovereignty over the province, and obliged UN member countries to respect its territorial integrity.

Therefore, it cannot be effectively argued that Kosovo represents a "special and unique case." It can only be said that the countries that have recognized the Kosovo legislature's UDI believe that Serbia itself is a "special and unique case," since the UDI directly affects Serbia's national sovereignty and territorial integrity, equally as much as it does Kosovo's final status.

The fact of the matter is that Kosovo was a classic non-self-governing territory, at the time its legislature issued the UDI. It was governed by provisional institutions of self-government established and supervised by the UN, much as the self-governing colonial authorities in Southern Rhodesia were established and (at least ostensibly) supervised by Great Britain prior to the Smith administration's UDI of 1965.

Another important point is the democratic legitimacy of the UDI. There is little doubt that the ethnic Albanian majority overwhelmingly supports independence from Serbia, and that this desire was reflected in the election of separatist parties to the Kosovo legislature in 2007.

That being the case, it should also be said that no referendum on the question of independence was held in the province, after the 1999 withdrawal of Serbia's security forces and other government institutions. Separatist parties in the Canadian province of Quebec, such as the Parti Quebecois, have often held majorities in that province's legislature, yet no referendum on Quebec's independence from Canada ever received majority support from Quebec's residents.

Therefore, the legislature of a non-self-governing territory that was under UN supervision issued a unilateral declaration of independence from a UN member country whose national sovereignty and territorial integrity over that same territory were expressly guaranteed by a UN Security Council Resolution, and without even a referendum on the question of that territory's independence. That is the situation that Serbia was asked to accept and recognize. It is plainly clear why it refused to do so.

The right of nations to self-determination is a fundamental principle that has been enshrined in the UN Charter and other international documents. It can be argued, from a historical standpoint, that the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo is a nation. Serbia should not, at all costs, prevent the right of that nation to self-determination, yet a mechanism for establishing that right must be found that does not result in Serbia becoming a "special and unique case" in world history, wherein local legislators, or even a self-proclaimed group of people, can carve out a piece of its territory for themselves, simply by issuing a UDI. That is absolutely unacceptable from the standpoint of any sovereign country, and could also easily provide a precedent for other separatist groups in Europe and beyond to emulate.

What can be done at this stage? It is possible for the UN to temporarily restore full supervision over Kosovo, following a retraction of the UDI by Kosovo's legislature. The UN Security Council could then bring down a new Resolution that would authorize the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to hold a free and fair referendum on the question of Kosovo's final status, in full cooperation and agreement with the Serbian government.

All those born in Kosovo, including Serbs and other non-Albanians that left the province before or after 1999, should be allowed to vote in that referendum. Since ethnic Albanians constitute an absolute majority in the territory, allowing for full enfranchisement of all those who live or were born in Kosovo would not change the results of the referendum, if independence is truly what the ethnic Albanians living there desire.

Prior to the referendum being held, the Serbian government would need to agree to abide by its results, much as the government of Sudan agreed to abide by the results of South Sudan's referendum on independence in 2011. This would mean, in effect, that Serbia agrees to grant independence to Kosovo, if that is the desire of a clear majority of that province's inhabitants. Since there were many such instances in the past, it would not constitute a "special and unique case."

Serbia's national sovereignty and territorial integrity would no longer be compromised, and no "special precedent" would be created in the process, which would allow countries that have separatist problems of their own (i.e. Russia, China, Spain, Romania, Slovakia, etc.) to recognize Kosovo's independence, without fear that such a decision would endanger their own territorial integrity at some stage in the future.

This would be a "win-win" situation for all those involved, including the Serbian government, Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, the United States and its NATO allies, the countries that currently refuse to recognize Kosovo's independence because it might become a precedent in international law, and any other interested parties.

Such a solution would require a great deal of faith, good will, and understanding from both Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority, yet it would serve to untie the Gordian Knot that is preventing all sides in this conflict from moving forward and improving the living conditions of ordinary people living in both Kosovo and Serbia.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Arrest of Mladic 2: My Dearest "Cathy"

On May 26, 2011, Serbia's authoritarian President, Boris Tadic, held an impromptu press conference to announce the arrest of the former Bosnian Serb military commander, General Ratko Mladic, who is wanted by the Hague war-crimes tribunal for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992-95 Bosnian civil war. The arrest coincided perfectly with a visit by the European Union's foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, to Belgrade that very same day. It seemed obvious to a great many commentators, especially those who have followed the Mladic case, that the Serbian government knew exactly where the Bosnian Serb general was located all along and was just waiting for an opportune moment to arrest him. Tadic is counting on Serbia becoming a candidate for EU membership by the end of the year, and this is considered key to Tadic's own reelection prospects. If Mladic had not been arrested, the chances of Serbia getting candidate status this year would be next to zero, so it was no surprise that the Serbian government "finally discovered where he was hiding," just in the nick of time. But the fact that Catherine Ashton's visit coincided with the exact same day Serbian security forces "unexpectedly stumbled onto Mladic during a routine search" seems beyond far-fetched. It is actually a insult to the intelligence of any observer, but that is not uncommon in Serbia, a country whose government treats its own citizens little better than indentured servants.

During the press conference, a journalist asked Tadic whether the arrest would affect the tone of the meeting he was scheduled to have with Catherine Ashton. Tadic insisted on calling Catherine Ashton, a member of the British House of Lords and one of the most influential individuals in the European Commission, "Cathy" Ashton. Even after the same journalist called Catherine Ashton by her proper name for a second time, Tadic kept insisting on calling her "Cathy" and stressing the "excellent personal relationship" he supposedly has with her.

What was Tadic trying to prove by giving a "pet name" to the EU foreign affairs chief? Tadic is not a European Union political insider and he never had any "close personal relationship" with Baroness Ashton, yet he insisted on calling her "Cathy." If any close personal relationship does exist between them, it is certainly not a matter of public record. And Baroness Ashton's attitude to Tadic during a joint press conference held later that day was, at best, cordial. Despite this, Tadic keeps calling her "Cathy." Has he lost his mind? Does Baroness Ashton's husband have something to worry about? Does Baroness Ashton have something to worry about?

My Dearest Veselinka/Irina...

Tadic is known for having "interesting" and often problematic relationships with women. Even though his father is a well-known figure in Belgrade's snobbish intellectual circles, Tadic's own early career was less than spectacular. He met and married Veselinka Zastavnikovic, the beautiful daughter of a non-commissioned officer from the Croatian city of Osijek. Tadic's parents disapproved of the marriage, because Veselinka didn't belong to the same "social class" as their son (i.e. unlike Tadic's own rabidly communist parents, Veselinka's family didn't slaughter most of Belgrade's wealthy residents during World War II, in order to move into their apartments and steal their personal belongings when the war ended), and they practically disowned him during this time. The couple lived in poverty in a small one-bedroom apartment that didn't have its own bathroom, but Tadic's friends from that time insist the couple were happy and in love.

During a dinner party that Veselinka didn't attend (because it was organized by Tadic's parents), Tadic met Tatjana Rodic and the two of them began an adulterous affair soon after. When Tadic's wife learned about the affair, she divorced Tadic, and (amazingly enough) this is how his political career actually began.

Tadic's influential parents welcomed the news of their son's adultery, and they were especially happy to learn their son planned on marrying his former mistress. Tadic is a psychologist by vocation, and his parents soon found him a job teaching psychology at a local high school in downtown Belgrade. They also jump-started his political career, securing him a place in the leadership of the newly-formed Democratic Party (DS) in 1990.

After betraying his first wife, Tadic is said to have had numerous affairs, especially with underage female pupils at the high school where he taught. This seems to have pleased his parents even more, as they continued promoting their son's political career and ambitions. It seems the more twisted Tadic became, the more support he received from his parents and their "friends in high places."

Tadic was said to have been disliked by the late Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, and only Djindjic's assassination in 2003 saved Tadic from being relegated to the dustbin of Serbian political history. After Djindjic was killed, Tadic (a virtual nobody in Serbian politics at the time) skyrocketed to first become Serbia's Minister of Defense (in 2003), and then its President (in 2004). This series of articles dealing with Mladic's arrest will explore how and why Tadic came to power overnight after Djindjic's assassination, but for now we will focus on his strange comments about "Cathy" Ashton and his other bizarre personal relationships.

When Tadic began his unexpected rise to power in 2003, Veselinka Zastavnikovic, his ex-wife and the great love of his life, suddenly decided to flee Serbia and go to Kosovo (the Albanian-held territory that fought a bloody war to gain independence from Serbia), where she became a Serbian Orthodox nun. The message was quite clear for anyone who had the sense to interpret it properly. Veselinka knew her ex-husband better than almost anyone else in the world, and she knew it was far better to flee Serbia and go be a nun in a country where Serbs are hated, than to remain in Serbia and live under her ex-husband's government (even though some of Kosovo's top Albanian leaders have been accused of kidnapping and killing Serbs, and then selling their internal organs on the black market).

Veselinka took on a new name and identity (Sister Irina). She lives quietly in the Serbian Orthodox monastery in Pec, never speaking with journalists and avoiding most other forms of contact with the outside world.

"George is my friend, ain't you George?"

Upon taking office in 2004, Tadic decided to write a bizarre personal letter to the then U.S. President, George W. Bush. In its childish and sycophantic tone, the letter is reminiscent of speech patterns by the fictional character, Lennie Small, from Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck's 1937 novella Of Mice and Men. In the novella, Lennie, a man of immense strength, but limited mental capacities, is always looking to his far more intelligent friend and companion, George Milton, for answers and assistance about everything in life. The unsolicited letter that President Bush received from Tadic included strange references to some of Tadic's own personal health issues (that he had been sick during the previous week, but was taking his medication now, that he was feeling all better, etc.).

As he was recovering from this "mild ailment" in a Belgrade hospital, Tadic wrote the supposedly personal letter which he sent to President Bush. Within a day or so, the letter was "leaked" to the press, and published on September 19, 2004, in the daily newspaper Kurir. In an open letter to Kurir the following day, Tadic admitted the purloined letter was authentic, but defended it as an "effort to further Serbia’s national interests." The tone of the letter, and its implications, were just downright embarrassing for both Tadic and the Serbian public, which reacted to the letter's publication with what could only be described as apathetic indifference.

Serbia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Vuk Jeremic, one of Tadic's former pupils from his days a high school teacher, always tries to claim that he and Tadic enjoy "close personal relationships" with some of the most powerful heads of state and government in the world. As soon as he was first introduced to the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergey Lavrov, Jeremic asked if he could call him by his given name, "Sergey." Not surprisingly, Lavrov refused.

Why is it then that officials of Serbia's ruling regime are so obsessed with creating the image that Tadic and his closest associates have "close personal relationships" with powerful foreign leaders, if such relationships don't actually exist? The key to understanding this issue lies in the Serbian mentality, something most Western analysts rarely take into consideration when examining this country and its affairs.

The False "Czar" Stephen the Little

Montenegro, a small mountainous country to the south of Serbia, is inhabited by Montenegrins, the closest cousins of the Serbs. There is virtually no difference between the Montenegrins and the Serbs. They share a common language, history, culture, religious beliefs, literature, and have been on-and-off allies for centuries. Many Montenegrins consider themselves Serbs, so it's safe to say they also share the same mentality (Tadic is himself a Montenegrin on his father's side of the family).

Like their Serbian cousins, the Montenegrins have always loved and admired Russia, considering it their ancestral homeland. In 1767, a farmer and herbalist from Dalmatia, Scepan Mali ("Stephen the Little"), came to live and work in Maine, a small village near the Montenegrin coastal town of Budva on the Adriatic Sea. At the same time, news spread through Montenegro that the Russian Czar Peter III had been killed and succeeded by his wife, Catherine the Great.

Rumors then started that Scepan Mali was in fact none other than the late Russian Czar Peter III. It was claimed that Peter had not actually been killed, but rather that he was driven into exile from Russia, and that he was now living in Montenegro under the assumed identity of Scepan Mali. The Dalmatian farmer and herbalist went along with this bizarre nonsense, and he even claimed he had documents proving he was the Russian Czar. The Montenegrins accepted all of this at face value (not their brightest moment), and they instantly proclaimed him the absolute monarch of their small principality.

Scepan Mali quickly formed a personal bodyguard of eight men who would go around the country terrorizing anyone who was against the new regime. He also centralized power and attempted to remodel some government institutions. He was later killed by one of his loyalists who had been paid off by the Ottoman Turks, but the story of how and why he came to power is still one of the strangest in European history.

By simply claiming to be an exiled foreign ruler (who was dead, by the way, but why quibble over small details), Scepan Mali instantly attained absolute power in Montenegro.

The Serbs have always been impressed by foreigners. They also have a tradition of granting authority to those they believe have the best connections to powerful foreign powers. This is a strange aspect of the Serbian national mindset, but it is something that Tadic and his entourage know full well and are using to their advantage.

By "showing" that Tadic has "close personal relationships" with foreign dignitaries, the regime is attempting to frighten Serbia's citizens into submission. Tadic's own version of Scepan Mali's personal bodyguard can then freely go about its business of terrorizing anyone and everyone that disapproves of Tadic's corrupt and autocratic rule.

When they allow Tadic, Jeremic, and other members of the regime to call them by their "pet names," foreign officials are actually enabling Tadic to continue his reign of terror and oppression over Serbia. It seems fairly obvious that this doesn't bother EU officials, since they could seem to care less about what the lives of Serbia's citizens are like under Tadic's government.

In this sense, Mladic's arrest is yet another propaganda ploy by the regime to show Serbs that Tadic is part of the "global system," that he has "friends in the highest of places," that he is "admired by world leaders," etc. It is more for internal propaganda purposes and media "consumption" by Serbia's own citizens than anything else.

Whether anything of what has been said about Mladic's arrest is actually true or not is absolutely irrelevant to the regime. It only matters that Serbs believe it's true, so that Tadic, like his long-dead countryman, Scepan Mali, can continue to use lies and deceit as a cover to oppress and plunder his "subjects," all the while playing at being the "Czar" that he's not.

In the next article in our special series on the arrest of Ratko Mladic, we will explore how this gravely-ill senior citizen supposedly "deftly evaded" capture for years, not changing a single aspect of his personal appearance and not even bothering to take off his trademark gold ring, all the while waiting to be arrested on the same day Catherine "Cathy" Ashton came to visit Tadic.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Arrest of Ratko Mladic 1: War, Lies, and Videotape

On May 26, 2011, after years of "hiding," the former Bosnian Serb military commander, General Ratko Mladic, was arrested by Serbian security forces in the village of Lazarevo, near the northeastern Serbian town of Zrenjanin. Mladic was living with a relative, Branko Mladic, a farmer who lives and works in that community. The fact that Mladic's relatives live in Lazarevo had been known for some time, and he is said to have visited them frequently during the 1990s. Despite this fact, the Serbian police who were looking for Mladic supposedly never thought to check this village. Mladic is wanted by the international Hague war-crimes tribunal for alleged crimes against humanity committed during the Bosnian civil war in the 1990s. His arrest and extradition are a key precondition for Serbia joining the European Union.

This is the official version of events regarding Mladic's arrest, and as with most things that concern Serbia, it is almost pure fantasy. The arrest was carefully stage-managed and scheduled by the ruling regime to coincide with the visit of Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign affairs representative, to Belgrade that same day. The prosecutor of the Hague tribunal was scheduled to deliver a highly-negative report on Serbia's cooperation with the tribunal to the UN Security Council in a week's time, which would have seriously hurt Serbia's chances of becoming a candidate for EU membership this year. Getting candidate status before the end of this year is considered crucial for the reelection of Boris Tadic, the authoritarian President of Serbia, and his increasingly unpopular Democratic Party (DS).

Mladic's arrest is no "turning point" in the region's history, as this and upcoming articles will show. The wars that destroyed the former Yugoslavia and swallowed the lives, health, wellbeing, prospects, hopes, and aspirations of entire generations in the Balkans were not started by Mladic. They were the result of ethnic hatred that has plagued this area for centuries. They were also a (successful) ploy by war profiteers and various criminals to make use of that hatred to plunder and usurp the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Those same war profiteers and criminals are now among the closest supporters and financiers of the current Serbian regime.

The arrest is simply part of Tadic's plan to remain in power at all cost. His regime has almost completely annihilated the Serbian economy, lost all legitimacy to govern, and many people from Serbia are now doing their best to flee the country. Tadic believes he can remain in power with the help of propaganda stunts like Mladic's arrest, but no amount of "media spin" will change the reality on the ground in Serbia.

Tadic personally announced Mladic's arrest at a special news conference where he laughably attempted to imitate the U.S. President, Barack Obama, who recently announced the killing of the al-Qaeda ringleader, Osama bin Laden, by U.S. Special Forces in Pakistan. Tadic's impromptu news conference was conducted mostly in English, which clearly shows what "target audience" Tadic was trying to reach with his message. The arrogance and hubris displayed by Tadic at this event is especially interesting, as we will see in an upcoming article.

The current government of Serbia is a criminalized, corrupt, and autocratic regime. It has transformed Serbia's democracy into a complete and utter sham, with rigged elections that involve tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of dead voters (whose names were never stricken from the voter registry) "taking part" in elections. It has allowed human traffickers, drug dealers, arms smugglers, Antisemitic neo-Nazis, spies, terrorists, and other major criminals to have free reign and complete impunity in Serbia, while ordinary citizens are denied the most basic human rights and civil liberties.

All of this is tolerated by the EU, because the Serbian government is "cooperative" when it comes to matters like the arrest of General Mladic. But by allowing this to go on, even though the war ended over 15 years ago, the EU is causing damage not only to Serbian citizens, but its own long-term political, economic, and even security interests.

In this special series of articles, we will present the real story behind the arrest of General Ratko Mladic, including some information that will be presented here for the first time. We will look at the true motivations behind his arrest, as well as taking a closer look at the Tadic regime and its blatant criminality, corruption, and fundamentally undemocratic nature.

For years, the EU has been fawning over Tadic, as well as propping up his regime with huge donations and favorable lines of credit from European financial institutions. In return for this EU support, Tadic has labeled his regime the "pro-European government of Serbia." He has added the words "European" or "pro-European" everywhere and anywhere he could in Serbia.

But he has also enacted broad legislation to curtail judicial independence, the freedom of speech and assembly, as well as transforming the country's legislature into a "rubber-stamp" Parliament, which is the exact opposite of what the EU is supposed to stand for. On the other hand, numerous "pro-European" laws aimed at tackling widespread poverty, discrimination, and corruption were enacted, but intentionally never enforced by Tadic's regime. Simultaneously, the economic situation has worsened to the point where a majority of Serbia's citizens are now living below the poverty line. And all of this comes amidst endless lies and broken promises by Tadic and other regime officials about the "bright European future" that is always "just around the corner," but never quite in sight.

Before Tadic and the current government came to power, support among Serbian citizens for EU membership was around 73%. Now, after years of oppression by a despotic regime which consistently claims everything it does is "pro-European," only 57% of Serbs (and possibly much fewer) still support their country joining the EU. If the EU was really serious about allowing Serbia to join, it would not allow a patently undemocratic regime to abuse the promise of EU membership to cover up its own rampant corruption, authoritarianism, and criminality.

This is directly related to the arrest of General Mladic, as Tadic and his criminal cohorts do all that they can to save their iron grip on power. We will show how this corrupt regime has used deceit and treachery as the primary mechanisms of its rule for the past three years, and how the arrest of Mladic is just another attempt to replace good governance, the rule of law, and genuine democracy with empty "media spin" and more war, lies, and videotape.