On 5 October 2000 the regime of Slobodan Milosevic was toppled amid popular protests, but the past 20 years have been anything but simple in Serbia.
October 5, 2000, is a Serbian metaphor for a dream of democracy. Like many dreams, it encouraged and mobilized those who shared it, while it was unrealistic about the scope and pace of changes after the defeat of Milosevic’s regime and naïve about the ways to move from traumatic experiences into a future free from fear.
Today, 20 years ago, hundreds of thousands of citizens gathered in Belgrade and assaulted the parliament asking for the resignation of the president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, who was accused of electoral fraud. The day after, he recognized the defeat in the presidential elections. Since then, Serbia underwent a democratic transition – a process that was never completed.
Last month, a member of a news crew tried to film the building of a company whose alleged involvement in corrupt activities was being investigated. He was told by a security guard to move away, and was warned that he might be “shot like a rabbit.” This incident vividly depicts the extent to which the journalism profession has been degraded in Serbian society.
Before the removal of Slobodan Milosevic from power in 2000, elections were neither free nor fair and were fraught with irregularities, threats, and abuses, with the fraudulent local elections of 1996 leading to 78 days of student demonstrations. Political change was not the result of a vote for the Serbian parliament: it took a parliamentary and presidential election for the Yugoslav Federation as it existed then, which was held on 24 September 2000, to start the process.
“Serbia isn’t a democracy anymore”. This will be the most important assessment that will follow the vote to renew the parliament in Belgrade on 21st June. The downgrade from democracy to “hybrid regime” was certified by the last report issued by Freedom House that confirmed the decline of the Serbian democracy in the last 10 years.
In May 2019, Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic and Chinese Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi signed a three-point memorandum of understanding in the field of security. Two of the agreed initiatives came into effect in September: joint police patrols and the installation of cameras with facial recognition technology. Together with Serbian colleagues, an undefined number of Chinese police officers will be deployed in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Smederevo.
Following a Constitutional Court decision in December 2016 and the EU's failure to turn the technical measures it tried to propose as part of an ambitious "Reform Agenda" into a comprehensive political strategy, Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing possibly its biggest political crisis after general elections will be held in October 2018 .
Most experts agree that Serbia has a "single-issue", the foreign policy of countersecession following Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence. This issue shapes Serbia's official discourse and foreign policy.