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When on 28th June the government of Serbia, led by the hyper-pragmatic prime minister Zoran Djindjic, extradited Slobodan Milosevic to the Hague war crimes tribunal, many in the west acclaimed the Serbs for rejoining the European family of nations. But this compliment did not make me happy.

Western Europeans have never had much interest in Serbia, the Balkans or indeed eastern Europe. Most associations they do have are negative ones. Only experts on the region know that Serbian frescos are an integral part of European medieval art or that Serbian epic poetry is a worthy heir to Homer. Nor am…

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