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Belgrade Expects Kosovo Boost From Non-Aligned Movement Meeting

Officials from more than 100 countries are attending the Non-Aligned Movement's meeting in Belgrade.
Officials from more than 100 countries are attending the Non-Aligned Movement's meeting in Belgrade.
Serbia is hosting a two-day meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to commemorate the establishment of this group of states in Belgrade exactly 50 years ago.

The gathering is seen by analysts as a doomed foreign-policy exercise in the Balkan country's attempts to roll back Kosovo's three-year independence.

About 600 delegates from 105 countries are attending the two-day conference and Serbia's foreign minister, Vuk Jeremic, has hailed the event as the greatest congregation of world leaders after the General Assembly of the United Nations, a fact that he hopes underlines Serbia's improved standing in the world.

The meeting is taking place at the former Yugoslav parliament, the same venue where the late Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito launched the movement at the height of the Cold War along with India's Jawaharlah Nehru and Egypt's Gamel Abdel Nasser.

Back then, NAM offered a third way between the U.S.-led capitalist West and the communist world dominated by the Soviet Union.

But it has largely lost both its political significance and importance in security terms since the old bipolar certainties came to an end.

Serbia Pushing Its Own Agenda

Nowadays, it deals mainly with economic issues, and Serbian foreign-policy analyst Vatroslav Vekaric believes the Belgrade meeting will be largely ceremonial.

"The political results of this gathering will be relatively modest, not only because the Non-Aligned Movement has changed its role, but also because the host country is not the same country that founded it," he told RFE/RL.

Yugoslavia, in which Serbia was one of six republics, disintegrated bloodily in the 1990s and Belgrade is now not even a member of the NAM.

It currently has observer status along with fellow former Yugoslav republics Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro.

Nonetheless, in the past two decades, Serbia has tried to portray itself as Yugoslavia's successor and it has exploited the nostalgic feelings that some developing and third-world countries have for the movement in order to promote its own foreign-policy and economic agenda.

For example, it kept silent about the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi in Libya because of the extensive business and military interests it has had in the North African country for decades. It only recognized the new Libyan government last week.

Jelena Milic, the director of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, suggests that Belgrade is trying to create the false impression that it has global support in its "efforts to prevent further recognition of Kosovo's independence."

So far, 81 countries have recognized Kosovo and 32 of these states are members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

-- Nedim Dervisbegovic, with reporting by the Belgrade bureau of RFE/RL's Balkan Service

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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