‘Oslo Reversals’ Reveal West’s Enduring Clout

To follow up on my WPR column from Friday, at the last minute, several of the countries that earlier in the week had signaled they would boycott the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Liu Xiaobo reversed their positions before the start of the ceremony.

Serbia found itself caught between its close relations with China -- which has steadfastly supported Belgrade's position on Kosovo -- and its desire to pursue integration with the European Union. Serbia's initial decision to honor the Chinese demarche was not welcomed by the European Union, and this past Thursday, in Belgrade, EU Enlargement Commisioner Stefan Fule, during his press conference with Serbia's Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, made it clear that a country seeking membership in the EU ought to "follow agreed EU foreign policy positions, especially concerning human rights."

Serbia seems to have then adopted the approach that Vinod Sharma had advised for India -- sending not its ambassador but a Serbian official as a representative of the prime minister. That uneasy compromise represented Serbia's attempt to balance out the contradictory sets of pressure it was under.

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