Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Let the Revolution Begin ; Serbs Are Only Liberated and Still Need a Civic Cleansing

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Let the Revolution Begin ; Serbs Are Only Liberated and Still Need a Civic Cleansing

Article excerpt

Was the ousting of Slobodan Milosevic a true revolution?

Or just the liberation of a people from a despot who put them through four wars and shrunk their economy by two-thirds?

Knowing the difference between the two will make all the difference for Serbia - and for finally creating a peaceful Balkans within Europe.

The real revolution will require a wholesale transformation of most of the institutions that Mr. Milosevic corrupted for his political survival. That's only begun with moves this week to elect new lawmakers. (See story on page 7.)

And what of Milosevic himself?

This man, whose warmongering led to the deaths of 200,000 people since 1991, was the anvil on which the US was forced to hammer out its role in the post-cold-war world. Yet he remains free from being tried in an international court for crimes against humanity. And he's still a hidden hand in Belgrade's political struggles.

A revolution it wasn't.

People power

Rather, the outraged people of Serbia only liberated themselves from his direct rule, and did so rather smartly, nonviolently, and courageously.

They voted their conscience against Milosevic on Sept. 24, and then with proper restraint, stormed the parliament and the government TV station on Oct. 5 to show him again that he had lost.

The hundreds of thousands of voices on the street forced the Army to show Milosevic the door. It was the biggest event in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

But only now can the revolution of a government begin.

Reconstituting a nation

Fortunately, it's being led by a low-key constitutional lawyer, Vojislav Kostunica, who was elected president. He has a deep understanding of democratic principles and a moral commitment to peace - two qualities that Serbs need most to reject their past tendency for ethnic dominance and war.

Institution by institution, Mr. Kostunica will try to remove officials not aligned to his principles and to rewrite the rules of government that were used for suppression or corruption under Milosevic.

He has the task of overturning a system that was in place for a half-century - first created by Communists, and then used by Milosevic to whip up a jingoist fervor for war against the other parts of the old Yugoslavia with the dubious goal of creating a Greater Serbia. …

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