|07BELGRADE1623||2007-12-06 12:35:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Belgrade|
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1. Serbian political parties, including the Radicals, have rejected
comments by a Prime Minister advisor that war over Kosovo would be
"legal" defense of Serbia's interests. The reactions demonstrate
that the full spectrum of Serbian political parties do not consider
armed conflict as a reasonable modality to oppose Kosovo
independence. End summary.
SIMIC: WAR IS AN OPTION
2. Aleksandar Simic, an advisor to Prime Minister Kostunica, told
state-run television RTS on December 4 that Serbia should defend
Kosovo by using all "legal means," including war. He said that
while Serbia was now "more prudent and cautious" because of
"negative experiences" in the wars in the 1990s, "state interests
[were] defended by war as well." Simic added that so far, "Serbia
had failed to say decisively it will defend its national interests
with all available means, if not now, then in future". When asked
by the journalist what he meant by all available means Simic replied
that "war was also a legal means, when no other options remained."
MAJOR PARTIES: NO, IT'S NOT
3. Officials from Serbia's ruling parties, including his own
Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and the Radicals, rejected Simic's
statements. Milos Aligrudic, vice president of the DSS, said that
that Simic's comments were taken out of context and wrongly implied
that there is any support for war over Kosovo. Dragan Todorovic,
Serbian Radical Party (SRS) Member of Parliament, said his party was
"against war" and favored instead looking to Russia to help Serbia
4. The strongest reaction came from President Tadic's Democratic
Party (DS), which issued a statement rejecting Simic's "menacing,
dangerous comments." The DS said that "at a time when Serbia has
pledged itself as a factor of peace and stability in the negotiating
process, Simic, in his role as prime ministerial advisor, comes out
with these menacing, dangerous comments that jeopardize Serbia's
position before the Security Council, sending the message that
warmongering was being conducted in Serbia," reads a DS statement.
G17 Plus leader Zeljko Ivanji said that "threats with war will bring
5. Simic has a history of making provocative comments (reftels).
In August 2007, Simic was the first government official to accuse
the Ahtisaari plan of making Kosovo into a "NATO state." Later that
month, Simic told the press that "the time had come" to send Serbian
security forces to Kosovo. In September 2007, Simic again drew
attention for calling Montenegro a "separatist quasi-state."
Simic's comments have not preceded commensurate actions by Belgrade.
While in this instance DSS repudiation of Simic was anemic, all
ruling parties and the Radicals quickly reacted to distance
themselves from Simic's incendiary and irresponsible comments. Post
continues to assess that Serbian leaders will not respond to
developments in Kosovo status with armed conflict.