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Time for Truth

February 4, 2008

Serbian President Boris Tadic has won re-election on a pro-European platform. DW'S Sanja Blagojevic says that it's now time for Tadic to share some unpleasant truths with his people.

Opinion symbol picture

Serbia has sided with Europe. Boris Tadic, the democrat, might have only received a thin majority, but it's a very important one. Despite all fears, Serbia in the end voted against the radicals and against an orientation towards Russia.

President Tadic once again banked on the politically enlightened group of Serbs, who are aware how dangerous the radicals are for the country. His plan worked out and he won.

But fear of radicals alone cannot serve as a basis for politics in the long term. Serbs, who are smart enough to figure things out, realize that the democrats don't offer them much.

Since last May, they've had a government that was formed out of fear of the radicals. Premier Vojislav Kostunica is a nationalist in democrat's clothing, who did not want to stand up for his nationalism in public -- until five days ago, when he refused to support Tadic. He gave the president's pro-European stance as a reason. But Kostunica's tactic backfired.

Now, with victory in the bag, Tadic could finally begin to talk about things that have long been avoided.

He needs to tell Serbians the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it is. Truth No. 1: Kosovo will become independent, there's no way around it. Truth No. 2: Serbs have conducted ethnic cleansings in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo during the 1990s. They did so, because they wanted a Greater Serbia and not because they wanted to protect innocent Serbs living in these places. This has to have consequences. The past has to be examined. War criminals have to be extradicted.

Tadic has to finally explain to people that they live in a small, poor and corrupt country, and that they -- and not other countries that are often blamed for problems -- carry responsibility for what happens in Serbia.

People need visible improvements, which above all means an improvement of their living conditions. They need a perspective.

The people have voted for Europe. Now they want to see that Serbia's path is really leading towards that goal.

There's much to do for the old and new President Tadic. Boris, get to work!

Sanja Blagojevic heads DW-RADIO's Serbian service (win)