Serbia. In March, the EU decided to grant Serbia status
as a candidate country, and there were hopes that membership
negotiations could begin in 2013.
countryaah, President Boris Tadić resigned unexpectedly in April,
almost a year in advance. As a result, it became a new
presidential election at the same time as the parliamentary
elections in May. Tadić's purpose was supposed to be to
strengthen the chances of the Democratic Party (DS), which
was a leader in the government coalition. EU friend Tadić
ran for re-election in the presidential election and was
But in the first round, Tadić got about as many votes as
the closest challenger Tomislav Nikolić. In the second
round, Nikolić rallied and won with just over 51% of the
vote against just under 49 for Tadić. Nikolić had lost the
2008 election against Tadić, but then left the
ultranationalist SRS and formed the SNS, a more downtrodden
nationalist party. Former Russian-friendly Nikolić now
called himself an EU friend.
The outside world, however, looked anxiously at Nikolić's
victory. It was reinforced when he said that the 1995
massacre in Bosnian Srebrenica was not a genocide and
claimed that Croatian Vukovar was a Serbian city. His first
trip abroad also went to Moscow, not to Brussels.
In the parliamentary elections, SNS became the largest
and Tadić's party DS the second largest. In third place came
the Socialist Party, former leader Slobodan Milošević's old
power party. Government formation dragged on in time. Tadić
tried to form a new coalition, but failed. Finally, the
assignment went to Socialist Party Ivica Dačić, who was
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior in the
outgoing government. Thus, for the first time since
Milošević was deposed in 2000, the Socialist Party resumed
the government post. Only at the end of July, almost three
months after the election, was a new coalition government,
dominated by nationalists and socialists. The new government
said that the road to EU membership was firm. Like the
previous government, the new opposition resisted all ideas
of recognizing Kosovo's independence.
Nevertheless, Dačić attended a meeting with Kosovo's
Prime Minister Hashim Thaši in Brussels in October. It was
the first time the heads of government in the two states
met, which was seen as a breakthrough. Both parties were
pressured by the EU to at least try to normalize relations.
In June, the Belgrade Criminal Court sentenced former
soldiers and militia members to prison for up to 20 years
for brutal murders of 70 ethnic Croats in 1991, when the
disintegration of former Yugoslavia began. The trial was
seen as an important test for the Serbian judiciary and its
ability to convict Serbs for war crimes.