Elections are set for January 21.
Milosevic died in March 2006 of natural causes in The Hague, where he was being tried for crimes committed during the 1990s Yugoslav wars.
DECADES NEEDED TO OVERCOME HIS LEGACY: RFE/RL Balkans analyst PATRICK MOORE comments on the funeral of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and what it says about Milosevic’s legacy in his homeland.
RFE/RL: Things have gone quietly for Milosevic’s funeral today despite the fact there was a potential for violent confrontations between Milosevic’s supporters and opponents. Is the calm surprising?
Patrick Moore: Part of the reason we didn’t get violence, or at least have not had it so far, is that the kind of people who would be most likely to engage in such behavior are precisely Milosevic’s supporters, and they are the ones who right now have an interest in a peaceful funeral. The kind of people who turned out half-a-million-strong in 2003 for the funeral of [assassinated] reformist prime minister Zoran Djindjic are probably looking on all this with disgust and would not see any reason to turn out and would otherwise go about their business.
RFE/RL: The media attention today was on Milosevic’s supporters and their efforts to give him a hero’s sendoff. Why do his supporters feel so strongly he was a good leader?
Moore: In any society, when you have someone who at one time stood at the helm and went through several wars, then this person will always have a certain kind of following, and this is certainly true in Milosevic’s case. He fooled a lot of people for a long time, people’s selective memories take hold, and I heard some Serbs commenting today that their standard of living was higher under Milosevic. Well, in fact, Milosevic had one of the highest inflation rates in modern Balkan history. So, this is a selective memory working here; there is a bit of a nostalgia element.
RFE/RL: Most of the world sees Milosevic as a war criminal who was on trial for four years at The Hague before he died in prison before he could be judged. How would you sum up his legacy for Serbia?
Moore: He contributed to, reinforced, a very negative element in Serbian political culture that is narcissistic, that is engaged in blame and denial -- [the attitude that] the entire world is to be blamed for Serbia’s problems, just Serbs are not. More importantly, he left his own people, the Serbs, a legacy of poverty, crime, corruption and a democratic deficit. It’s going to take them years ,if not decades, to overcome this.
THE COMPLETE PICTURE: For an archive of RFE/RL's coverage of the trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, click here.
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