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Anthony Edwards
Anthony Edwards

Made In Serbia [2005]

The quality of this movie - its directing, cinematography, aspect ratio, uncertain positioning between documentary and re-enactment, even the competence of the boom-mike operator - is as wretched as the Serbian porn made in it, and the lives of the people it depicts.

Made in Serbia [2005]

This last is what gives it a certain fascination - you'd never have guessed that middle-aged porn participants were basically seasonal farm laborers, making videos to score groceries and winter firewood. Nor that the Hungarian porn industry could be made to look like the promised land. I think it deserves a full star because I'd still prefer to re-watch this to a movie that doesn't understand the Three Laws of Robotics or depicts Tibet as Mandarin-speaking.

Serbia and Montenegro is a loose union of two republics which face different human rights challenges. In 2005, inadequate official responses to intimidation and violence against ethnic minorities continued to be a problem in Serbia. Cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) depended on the government of Serbia, where most of the ICTY indictees resided years after the tribunal brought charges against them. Also in Serbia, treatment of human rights defenders took a marked turn for the worse. In both republics, the judiciary appeared subservient to the executive.

National Democratic Governance. The state union became almost entirely dysfunctional and irrelevant in 2004 owing to the continued usurpation of its decision-making powers by the republic-level governments of Serbia and Montenegro. During the year, for example, the Montenegrin government announced that it would avoid its constitutional obligations and not hold direct elections for the assembly of the state union in 2005. Creation of the Joint Court of Serbia & Montenegro, which is tasked with matters of constitutional law, has still not been completed. Government ministers and deputies at the state level remain answerable to their member states rather than the public. The joint military, for its part, lacks democratic oversight.

Electoral Process. In 2004, the Parliament removed Serbia's voter turnout requirement and finally made possible the first election of Serbia's president since 1998. The Parliament also removed the 5 percent electoral threshold for ethnic minority parties. The new Law on Financing Political Parties, which made the process by which parties receive and manage their funds more transparent, became effective on January 1,2004, but it was largely not adhered to during the June 2004 presidential elections. In its electoral report, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe praised the electoral process, assessing that elections in Serbia are generally held in agreement with democratic and European standards. Economic themes and corruption are becoming more dominant in local electoral campaigns. The 2004 presidential and local elections indicated a slump in the government's popularity and an increase in popularity of the pro-reform Democratic Party. However, the 2004 elections also bolstered the morale of the Serbian Radical Party, which is still one of the most popular parties in the country.

Serbia's judicial framework and independence rating remains at 4.25 because the Serbian judiciary is still unable to deal with war crimes cases yet made progress in harmonizing the judicial system with European standards.

Corruption. Both the Serbian and Montenegrin governments showed no progress in fighting corruption in 2004. The new Serbian government did not try to investigate the three big corruption scandals from 2003: the sugar affair, the Janjusevic-Kolesar affair, and the Sartid affair. Each of these implicated former or current government officials and were substantiated by reports made by the Council for the Fight Against Corruption. The government ignored these reports, which is indicative of its powerlessness and lack of will to tackle vested interests both in the government and among tycoons who seek to retain economic monopolies.

Outlook for 2005. The future of the state union, which was created in 2003 under much arm-twisting from the EU, seems uncertain. It depends on the outcome of the referendum on independence that will be held in Montenegro in spring of 2006, as permitted by the 2003 Constitutional Charter. In the meantime, the so-called twin track, which created the possibility in 2004 for Serbia and Montenegro to pursue EU membership separately and enjoys the support of the European Commission, will enable both Serbia and Montenegro to pursue integration at their own pace. Once the twin track system is in place in 2005, EU assessments of Serbia and Montenegro will no longer focus on the economic harmonization of the two states. In the case of Serbia, for example, the EU focus will be on cooperation with the ICTY.

In 2005, the Serbian government is expected to undertake a restructuring of the public sector, implement new bankruptcy procedures, enliven the privatization that stalled in 2004, restructure state finances, and reduce public spending. Much courage and political determination will be required to tackle these objectives, because serious restructuring of the economy will threaten vested interests. If the Kostunica government remains unwilling to cooperate fully with the ICTY, this will hold back Serbia's progress toward negotiations on the Stability and Accession Agreement with the EU. Serbia will likely try to patch up relations with the United States and the EU by urging war crimes suspects to give themselves up to the ICTY. Serbia could also face early elections in 2005, since the two most popular parties (the Democratic Party and the Serbian Radical Party) are not in the government. The Serbian Radical Party will remain a threat to democracy and a market economy. However, since the parties that removed Milosevic and set the country on the path of reform in 2000 grew aware of the necessity to create a coalition, it is expected that some reformist-oriented coalition will remain in office after these elections.

The Montenegrin government's major goal for 2005 and 2006 is to split from Serbia and achieve independence. It is expected to avoid direct elections for the state union's assembly (which is mandated by the Constitutional Charter for spring 2005) in favor of a referendum on independence. The future of the Djukanovic government seems to be entirely dependent on the outcome of the referendum. Its ability to succeed in this agenda could bring about instability in the region but could also contribute to a quickening of the pace at which Serbia and Montenegro approach the European integration process. Much will also depend on whether the twin track system will enable the countries to move toward the EU faster separately than jointly.

Governance at the state union level was troubled from the outset, and conditions continued to worsen in 2004. At the heart of the problem is the fact that the institutions of the joint state are more concerned with harmonizing the two governments' separate policies than engaging in genuine policy making. Likewise, decision making at the state union level is entirely dependent on the decisions of the member states, and no decision even within the five areas under each state's prerogative can be made unless the two respective governments endorse it. Although the state union was established to facilitate a faster accession process for Serbia and Montenegro, its confederal manner of decision making has actually turned the state union into one of biggest obstacles to EU integration.

In 2004, the functioning of the state union was deliberately obstructed by the Montenegrin government. Although the Belgrade agreement mandated direct elections for the joint parliamentary assembly in 2005, the ruling Montenegrin coalition announced in 2004 that it would not participate. In its view, these elections would strengthen the federal character of the state union. Instead, the Montenegrin government proposed to hold a referendum on independence in 2005. To further undermine the functioning of the joint state, the ruling majority in the Montenegrin Parliament also refused in November 2004 to pass the Law on Elections for the Assembly of the State Union.

The Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), which overthrew Milosevic in October 2000, made the electoral promise to adopt a new Constitution within one year. Changing Serbia's Constitution is a difficult process, requiring a two-thirds majority in the Parliament and a majority of the electorate to endorse the amendments in a referendum. Though the DOS coalition controlled two thirds of the Parliament in 2001, a new Constitution failed to be accepted, prompting the Kostunica government to put forward a draft of a new Constitution in 2004 in order to rebuild the constitutional consensus. The government's draft is more or less a replica of the 1990 Constitution. It preserves the existing government structure, maintains the country's low level of decentralization, and defines Serbia as the state of Serbs and ethnic minorities living within its territory. The reform of the Constitution remained deadlocked at the close of 2004.

The first post-Milosevic government (2001-2003), elected by over 50 percent of voters, was composed of 17 political parties but essentially led by Zoran Djindjic's Democratic Party (DS) After the murder of Premier Djindjic in March 2003, the new premier, Zoran Zivkovic, was unable to maintain harmony among the 17 parties, and the government foundered in October 2003 after Social Democracy (a small party with 10 seats in the Parliament) withdrew its support. The second post-Milosevic government, formed in March 2004, is a minority government composed of 4 parties. It is under constant threat of collapse because the Socialist Party of Serbia, still formally headed by Slobodan Milosevic, supports it from the opposition. To survive, the government made potentially damaging promises to the Socialist Party of Serbia, such as not extraditing alleged war criminals. As a direct result, the government has been under constant pressure from coalition partners G17 Plus and the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) to fulfill the country's obligations to the International Crime Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague. 041b061a72

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