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NO 99-100

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INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 2 > Helsinki Charter No. 99-100 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 99-100

September - October 2006



By Teofil Pancic

Judging by growingly sharp public-political-media rhetoric on the eve of "final resolution of the Kosovo issue," Serbia hurls to disaster. Well, that's nothing new, we've got used to it. All I doubt is that we could go through it once more - under present international circumstances, after all we've already gone through, and for such disputable goals that are being imposed on us. In what form this disaster could befall us this time? The form of a populist dictatorship, I would say. Somewhat "softer" but not less disgusting - a dictatorship wherein irrationality and violence outstrip those of the dark age of Milosevic's rule. That will make Milosevic himself nothing but a prelude to the Just Cause, to a hopeless and bottomless Empire of Darkness in the Balkans. Oh, is there any hope for us? Luckily, we still stand a chance. It is to be tracked down in domestic political elite's widely known light-mindedness, irresoluteness and unreliability. Almost without exception, they make a group of mediocrities with less than modest ability to anticipate and even less than miserable capacity for doing some really evil deeds, let alone noble ones. In other words, we have once again hit bottom and can pull through only by relying on the fact that our political caste - along with its intellectual-media menagerie - is not to be taken that seriously.

The reason why Serbia is again in the position of a suicide, standing on the bridge rail, assessing the waters below and collecting his courage to take a plunge is Kosovo, once again: Kosovo, "the dearest word in the Serbian language" according to someone's trivial imagination. It can be said that ever since 1981 Serbia has been suffering from the dangerous Kosovo fever that incapacitates her reasoning and reasonable acting, let alone makes her fit for mature reconsideration of her place and role in the universe. And ever since 1987 she has actually been in a state of emergency under arbitrary, impressionist tyranny of the maniacal Leader (who has departed in the meantime) and all sorts of rampaging Services (that have remained, lucky us!). It seemed to us for a moment or two that that state of emergency was over after 2000. But as it turned out, it was coming back, step by step, and is now almost in full swing with its fangs barred. Worst of all, however, is that no one seems to be concerned with the danger facing us and that all this is not even on the margins of interest of political actors or those supposed to analyze developments, anticipate trends and warn of the consequences spoken words could produce. The entire analytical production over here boils down to Today is the Day, i.e. dissection of present moment: when shall we have elections, what will referendum bring us, will Velja go in coalition with Kostunica or the other way round, what shall we do with the billion-odd Telecom(ic) Euros and the like.All in all, with Hannibal ante portas we have decided not to hear the alarm bell. Who cares! Once Hannibal breaks through the gate we shall be wondering what has befallen us.

But let's try to analyze the realities. If not by the end of this year than surely by the spring of the next, the status of Kosovo will be formalized. Not decided on - to all appearances, such decision was made long ago - but pronounced. A serious person wouldn't bet on anything else but independence. The only dilemma relates to modalities: whether Kosovo will be immediately called independent or "just," by some revision of the famous Resolution 1244, de jure institutionally disconnected from Serbia while formal recognition of a new state in the Balkans will be left to "the passage of time." Anyway, this was how - in phases and segments - the Kingdom of Serbia freed herself from Istanbul. And yet, one should bear in mind that this epoch is by far more dynamic than the 19th century. What humiliates and bothers anyone who hasn't given up common sense is not just wasting of time and energy on a lost cause. Though there certainly is a serious and justifiable argument or two against Kosovo's independence, no one voices it. For no one seriously deals with Kosovo. They talk rubbish instead. They either go for irrelevant, mythical and emotional discourse ("Kosovo is our cradle"), or infantile and anti-historical denial of today's Serbia institutional and "obligatory" connection with Milosevic's Serbia (Why punish us for his sins?"), or moronic caprice of the following types: "How could you expect us to accept that a part of our territory is snatched away from us?" "No state has ever given up its territory!" "One cannot establish a state on the territory of some other, internationally recognized state" and the like. One need not use his grey cells at all. One just has to listen to this day-in-day-out mantras - which, as it seems, will go on till the end of this millennium - to give up all hope. Those people not only believe that their subjects are incurably stupid, this is what they take the entire world for! For centuries every single state has been created on the territory of some other state. Where else could it be created? On Neptune? Ever since a European "discovered" and colonized American and Australian continents, there has been no "unoccupied" paddock on this planet, i.e. the one that makes not "a part of the territory" of some state. And that hasn't stopped states from emerging, dying, enlarging, diminishing, associating and separating. Modern Serbia has emerged on the "part of the territory of the internationally recognized" Ottoman Empire. The first and all other Yugoslavias have emerged on the territory of Serbia, Montenegro and "the inalienable part of the territory" of Turkey and Austria-Hungary. Norway has emerged on the "part of the territory" under the sovereignty of the Swedish crown. Pakistan has emerged on "the part of the territory" of India, Bangladesh on the "part of the territory" of Pakistan, Republic of Ireland on the "part of the territory" of the United Kingdom, etc.

You take that will not be the case with Kosovo? OK, I'm talking nonsense. You may simply, with your mind at peace, stop reading this piece. It deals with a non-existent problem anyway, doesn't it? But if you are still with me let's go on. All you've read in the paragraph above is generally "common knowledge." Anyone who hasn't tumbled down in Serbia straight from Pluto is fully aware that chances for having Kosovo's status unknot is some way utterly different than the one described above are poor indeed (notwithstanding absurd pretensions of that KGB-man in Kremlin, who anyway balances the books and tries to strike a bargain for himself and Russia, rather than for "us" in this newest act of the Balkan tragedy). So the question is not "What will be with Kosovo" but "What will be with Serbia?"

Things are moving in a dangerous direction, the more so since some force able to stop this suicidal trend and make a U-turn in Serbia is nowhere in sight. Serbia is about to pass a new constitution to be followed by elections - regular or early, it makes no difference. Ruling politicians are doing all in their power to get over with all that as soon as possible. Probably because of the belief - both at home and "abroad" - that "democratic forces" (whatever that means) would stand better chances should elections be called before "Kosovo solution." Obviously, even domestic big-mouthed big shots are fully aware what kind of solution that would be and are, therefore, eager to entrench themselves in power before it's too late. Fabricated and entirely artificial hysteria about Kosovo - actually a "six feed under" problem as Milosevic did it in back in 1999 - will do for those who are creating it. For, according to the publicized denouement of the Sad Story before elections, the Radicals and the Socialist will come to power - the rogues who do nothing but produce destruction and parasitize on it. Well, that's rather embarrassing but, hurrah, we still have a card up our sleeve. All we have to do is make sure that "democratic forces" (the actual coalition plus the Democratic Party, or even the Liberal Democratic Party plus Vojvodina autonomists) stay in power no matter what happens to Kosovo. But, dear, even that will be in vain. Namely, the establishment has drawn a new constitution the preamble of which para-poetically pledges that "Kosovo is an inalienable part of Serbia" and the like. Kostunica, his ministers and other aides hold fierce speeches on the topic, the Radicals sing the same story by default and I see not that Tadic's Democrats have a single argument against. Though they insist on a "softer approach" and are more susceptible to accepting the realities, the Democrats are above all frightened of any "undermining of the national consensus" regardless of the fact that this consensus derives from a notorious lunacy.

We could easily witness the following scenario: Kosovo gets this form of independence or other, but Serbia's new, turbo-democratic - rather than, say, Radicals' - constitution would not even listen to it. Simultaneously, Serbia still has high hopes about joining "European integrations," Dinkic - this one or some other - piles money from all sides, everything is just like in a fairy tale, we have managed to avoid the Radicals' plague and are now running into Brussels' arms! And then EU - and UN to be sure - says, "Hey, you people there, take off that rubbish from your constitution. Do you really believe you can join Europe without recognizing a neighboring country? No way, give us a call when you grow up!" And then Kostunica & Co. once again ritually plegde that no one would ever tear off Kosovo from their patriotic hearts or from the Constitution for that matter. "Do as you please, but we shall never accept the Imposed Solution," empathically says the entire political elite. And then priests and poets seal it all with their dignified murmur. And Serbia is again in dire straits, entrenched in the middle of nowhere, in the mutant replica of the 1990s isolation. And she has nothing to look forward to this time, as she lacks a strong, promising alternative. What is it that Europe will do in such case? Nothing. No European document states that a country shall be in the EU membership even though it does not want to, or that a state or people shall be forbidden to commit a collective suicide in stages. True, there shall be an embarrassing hole in the midst of the Balkans, but the continent will be coping with it just fine. Therefore, the bottom line is whether - and how - Serbia will survive her own elite's arrogant immatureness.

We should think about all this before it's too late. Such "black scenario" might not take place at all - at least due to the banal reason quoted at the beginning: those people do not really mean what they say, all they want is to score a political point or two. And yet, I wouldn't rely on such reason. If the Radicals & Co. seize the opportunity of general confusion and come to power, the isolated Serbia will be doomed to some form of populist dictatorship. However, I wouldn't reject just like that Kostunica's pathetic discourse. In my view, his potential for autistic nationalistic fanaticism has been generally underestimated over here - and even by his mortal opponents. As if everyone keeps forgetting that he has fought with Milosevic himself over "national question" (in Bosnia in the first place) and claimed that Caligula from Pozarevac was - much too lenient. In other words, why do we need the Radicals at all when even our "democrats" are radical enough? Therefore, I can easily imagine Serbia striking the Kosovo iceberg notwithstanding her formally democratic regime, and kissing goodbye to a better future because of the worst and most absurd reason of all - stubborn fanaticism.


NO 99-100

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