Friday, December 22, 2006

"Fools' Crusade" Chapter Three [15]



The third paragraph kicks off with this odd claim:

"The 1974 Constitution had increased the independent decision-making powers of all the republics except Serbia."

Johnstone does not explain what she means by this. It may be that she is correct; she provides no examples or explanations of how Serbia's ability to function as a republic was hampered by the establishment of the two autonomous regions within Serbia. This is not to ignore the fact that the granting of autonomy to Kosovo and Vojvodina did diminish the area that the republic government in Belgrade controlled. Cutting Serbia down to size was certainly one of the primary motivations for the creation of the autonomous areas, but it wasn't just Serbia that went from having one out of six seats at the table to one out of eight, after all.

The paragraph continues:

"Because of the veto powers of its two autonomous regions, Serbia was almost as hamstrung as the Federal government, also located in the Serbian capital, Belgrade. The Serbs sought a constitutional revision that would reverse the trend and enable Belgrade to carry out policy in an effective way."

This 'veto power' remains unexplained. Veto power over what, exactly? Over the internal affairs of Serbia proper? Not at all--the provisional government in Pristina had absolutely no authority outside of Kosovo. Over Serbia's voice in the Federal government? No--the other five republics faced the same reduction of the relative strength of their votes as well, as noted above.

The only veto power I can imagine she means would be over Serbia's control over those regions. This is not an unreasonable point--since Kosovo and Vojvodina were still autonomous regions within Serbia, certain issues internal to those two areas were certainly relevant to Serbia's larger interests. Infrastructure issues and other concerns would have been harder to coordinate once the autonomous areas were established, no doubt.

However, I doubt that this is what she means. She has not once mentioned the fact that Serbia was, by far, the most populous republic in Yugoslavia. And the fact that the Federal Government was located in Belgrade was an advantage to Serbia, even if Johnstone chooses not to acknowledge this.

I could get bogged down in trying to figure out what Johnstone is driving at here. Instead, I'll move on--but first, note that in the final sentence of the above quoted passage, it is somewhat unclear whether she meant for "Belgrade to carry out policy in an effective way" at the Federal, or Republic, level. The ambiguity might be unintentional, but I hardly think it's meaningless.


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