Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Anxiety in Croatia, Jubilation in Serbia on Trump's Victory

Adelina Marini, November 10, 2016

This morning (November 10) the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential elections is on the front pages of all newspapers in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. Opinions, however, are polarised. All comments in Croatia express concern about the future of the region, while in Serbia they are rejoicing with Mr Trump’s victory. In smaller countries like Montenegro, Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, positions are rather neutral, some even satirical. The front page of today’s Jutarnji list announces on black background that Trump is president. “Conquered America, shocked the world”. The newspaper is full of commentaries on the subject. “A continent at crossroads, our region is in danger” is the headline of the commentary by Janusz Bugajski, who believes that Russians will attempt to lure Trump into a new operation on the partitioning of Europe, which will encourage Serbia. 

“It is quite possible that Kremlin will attempt to lure Trump into a new partitioning of Europe in exchange to a grandiose anti-terrorist coalition, which serves Moscow. Such approach will encourage Russian allies and partners, like Serbia, in taking on a greater role in the Balkans with no fear of any sizable American reactions in a moment of chaos in Europe”, writes Janusz Bugajski, but warns that there is the risk, however, that Russia will not estimate Trump well and try to dominate in the relations with Washington. Trump, however, might turn out to be a person, who reacts stronger to something he sees as an insult by Moscow or any other state. “Such unpredictability could lead to a sharp and much more dangerous international confrontation”, is the analyst’s conclusion. 

Inoslav Bešker analyses the reasons behind Trump’s victory, focusing on media. “All elite media were against Trump (from the 300 leading newspapers just three backed him). These elections demonstrated the amount of influence that was lost by institutional media in forming popular opinion. Influence to a great degree has moved to the internet (for example blogs and social media), where there does not exist a mechanism for checking and considering data (which is mandatory in institutional journalism), where one can work with slogans and, if willing, use hate speech. Trump took copious advantage of these opportunities”, writes Jutarnji’s columnist. He adds that Trump’s victory is a triumph of disinformation. 

The billionaire’s election victory is the headline of Vecernji list as well which, also on black background, writes: “A new age. He conquered America, could he do the same with the world?”. Half the newspaper is dedicated on the election results and reactions from Croatia and the world. In a commentary for the newspaper, Dražen Ćurić gloats about the position of conservatives in Croatia (HDZ). “How will the Croatian elite look Trump in the eye now?” is the headline of the comment.

“Death to political correctness! This is one of the most important messages, which American voters sent to the political establishment. The American message needs to be read with great attention by the Croatian political, public and media elite, which is full of Clinton-lovers, which is just a little nicer term than being mediocre. If the Croatian elite wishes to conserve the little dignity it has left in the eyes of the people, it needs to spice-up its sterile political talk a little with the occasional juicy Trump-ism, meaning clearly defined positions on some prickly societal and political issues. (In order not to be understood wrong by public hygienists, I would like to clearly state that I am not preaching those Trump-isms which in any way offend people on national, religious, gender, or any other basis). It will be quite interesting to witness the alignment with the new situation of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who proudly stood for photographs with State Secretary Hillary Clinton during one of her visits to America”, continues Dražen Ćurić.

Novi list focuses on another aspect. The Rijeka daily newspaper reports that Hillary Clinton lost the elections and her biography “Hard Choices” had its price lowered at the Zagreb “Interliber” book fair this week from 249 kuna (approximately 35 euro) to just 79 kuna (approximately 10 euro). “The Croatian translation of the biography of US presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose presentation yesterday, the day of the announcement of long awaited election results, at Interliber, presented by Profil [publishing house] was not accompanied by popping champagne corks, like the publisher wished. On the contrary, coupled with readers’ interest, following the election loss the price dropped as well from 249 kuna to just 79 kuna”, reports the newspaper. 

To the Index internet site, the greatest winner in the American elections is Vladimir Putin. Commentator Petar Stošić reports that Putin respects power, but prefers weakness and it is exactly the thing Trump is offering him. “In the end of the day, Moscow will have its hands free to continue undermining the EU and NATO. Instead of the hated Brussels and Washington, perhaps we will get Moscow as the centre of power between the Ural and the Atlantic – a region named Eurasia in Russian geostrategic plans. Any likeness to the state from Orwell’s 1984 is probably coincidental”, writes the author. 

Trump’s victory gives hope to the Serbs

State-owned television channel RTS quotes the statements of opposition politicians. The leader of “United Serbia” Dragan Marković, the leader of the Serbian People’s Party Nenad Popović, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement Vuk Drašković, and the president of the Serbian Radical Party Vojislav Šešelj are unanimous that Trump’s victory means a positive change in the USA policy towards Serbia. “The great difference is in the fact that he won, and not the Clinton family. They bombed Serbia, while Trump promised good cooperation with Serbia. We will never forget the Clintons because of the bombings and sufferings of civil citizens, for which they need to be prosecuted”, said Marković in an official statement.

“Not so much because of the changes of the foreign policy course of American politics on the Balkans, but rather because of the fact that the loss of Hillary Clinton also hit the biggest supporters of her policy in this region - Hashim Thaçi  and Milo Đukanović“, says Popović, quoted by RTS. According to Vuk Drašković, Trump’s victory is an opportunity to renew a century-old union, “which the regime of Slobodan Milošević destroyed and turned into a military feud"

In front of Blic, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić expresses hope that Trump will visit Serbia soon. The newspaper reminds that Dačić was very sharply criticised for his meeting with the businessman three years ago in New York. Back then, the two of them spoke of possible investments in Serbia and building a hotel in Belgrade. “I am very curious what will those who criticised me back then, because of my meeting with him, have to say now”, said Mr Dačić for Blic. The newspaper also asks whether Trump is the new Putin for Serbs. Polls with Serbian citizens following the elections show that most are happy with Donald Trump’s victory. “Trump loves Serbs”, “Trump returns Kosovo to us”, “Trump never did anything bad to Serbia like Hillary Clinton and her husband”, are some of the citizens’ commentaries. 

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić admits that in his party as well there are people who are overjoyed with the victory of Trump. “First among them are those who have felt pressure for decades and now think that it will weaken. Another reason for my concern is that the people of Serbia believe that it is always someone else who is responsible for their failures and avoid their own responsibility. The third reason is Serbian hard-headedness, the small, minute revenge of seeing the political end of someone who has brought them only troubles”, explained Vučić. 

In a commentary for Politika, titled “Kosovo without the Clintons” Živojin Rakočević quotes the statement of Hillary Clinton from her visit to Priština four years ago that to her, her family, and the American people Kosovo is more than a foreign policy issue. “It is a personal matter”. Back then she visited her husband’s monument, walked along “Wesley Clark” and “George Robertson” streets, and bought some knick-knacks from the “Hillary Clinton” boutique, writes the author. “Now, when the Clinton family is packing their bags for the road towards common and personal history, two questions remain: will Albanians and their nationalism remain unconditional American pets and could the Albanian political elite do  a U-turn, with which several years from now on Vranjevac, at the other side of Priština, a monument to Trump will be erected and Melania will have her own boutique?”.    

Bosnian media mainly inform on the protests of tens of thousands of Americans against the election of Mr Trump. Klix publishes opinions of Sarajevo analysts, who believe that there is not to be expected any sizable change in US foreign policy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of the analysts - Šaćir Filandra, Dean of the Faculty of Political Science in Sarajevo – admitted that he wanted Trump to win. “Trump bombarded the general public with statements which, I hope, will not turn into real policies, and in this sense I do not believe that it will get to any sizable changes regarding foreign policy”, he believes. 

Montenegrin Vijesti reports that Trump’s victory could bring quite a present to Putin in the form of removal of sanctions. The newspaper warns, however, that it is likely that on many subjects Trump and Putin will have different opinions. Vijesti also informs that Trump’s victory was applauded in the Russian Parliament. 

Macedonian Dnevnik reports on its first page that Germany insists on an emergency meeting on Sunday. In a commentary for the newspaper, Darko Janevski writes that Donald Trump is facing the dilemma whether he should be himself, Billy Sanders, or Alexis Tsipras. During the campaign, Americans heard for the first time that their election system is devastated and that their media are dishonest and corrupt to the core. If he does not want to be Tsipras, Trump will have to deal with this system, writes the author.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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