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NO 95-96

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INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 2 > Helsinki Charter No. 95-96 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 95-96

May - June 2006



By Ivan Torov

For Serbia's nationalistic elite the outcome of Montenegro's referendum independence was the hardest blow ever. The time - the months to come, rather than years - will show that even Kosovo's "parting" from Serbia will not be so traumatic and dramatic experience as "the betrayal of Serbian brothers," "the blossom of the Serbian nation." Nowadays it doesn't matter much what caused such bitter feelings in the first place - Serbian nationalists' certainty that something like that could never happen, the sense that on May 21 Montenegro might have finally put to death the longstanding and stubborn Greater Serbia project, or both.

Actually, the "national" Belgrade is in shock. Unlike the rest of Serbia that remained rather indifferent to the referendum's outcome and behaved as if something like that was to be expected. Anyway, hasn't an outcome as such been systematically prepared in Montenegro and even in Serbia, though without much enthusiasm in the latter? As psychologists would put it, Belgrade is in the zone of specific post-referendum frustration. The loudest advocates of the Serbian Montenegro are experiencing mixed feelings of resignation and disappointment, while those most militant among them cannot hide their revolt, fury and even syndromes of revenge.

True, some kind of hope that this is nothing but "an episode," that actually "nothing of crucial importance has taken place, since Serbia-Montenegro still exists though without a part" (as Milos Aligrudic, high official of the Democratic Party of Serbia put it) and that Montenegro would soon "come to its senses" and "realize it made a hasty decision," i.e. that it made a strategic, historical, national, political, economic and social mistake when it removed itself from Serbia's brotherly hug remained in the air. Montenegro acted to its own detriment, say Serbian nationalists. For, ever since 1991 - when Milosevic begun to implement the Memorandum ideology through nationalism and wars, with the hearty support of the then and actual masterminds of Serbian nationalism - from Dobrica Cosic to Ljubomir Tadic, Matija Beckovic and others - and started the tidal wave that swallowed the former Yugoslavia, Serbian nationalists have been deeply convinced that anyone renouncing Serbia would perish in a perspective of history.

Fifteen years later, everyone, except for Serbia, has reached some goals or is moving towards them in hope to attain them eventually. They have all distanced themselves from Serbian nationalistic elite's endless mission: they have distanced themselves from people such as Milosevic, the executioner of a lunatic policy, through Dobrica Cosic to - Vojislav Kostunica. Now that Montenegro's peaceful and democratic separation closed the curtain, Serbia is left on her own, hostage to her own historical, mythical, hegemonic and nationalistic delusions and with protagonists of her latest drama who would not even try to provide a sober and rational answer to a quite simple question - why is it that no one wants to stay with them? Their fundamental misunderstanding of the spirit of times and reality, causes and consequences, and their stubborn persistence on the obscure and destructive ideology of some "natural" supremacy and dominance were the reason why, in early 1990s, some analysts foresaw that whatever started in Kosovo in mid-1880s, then moved to Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and once again returned to Kosovo would be a catastrophe for Serbia and tragically end up in Serbia proper. Some thought that would have to do with Kosovo or the neighboring area (which is about to come true), some opted for Belgrade streets, while others predicted a new, actually a modified version of the same, old vicious circle of nationalistic blindness, xenophobia, self-isolation and confrontation with everyone taking that this country would remain stuck in the mud of the past unless it squarely and thoroughly faced its roots, protagonists, consequences and responsibility, and the ideologies that had given shape to that past. As Serbia did little or almost nothing about the latter, it is only natural that her agony - no matter how quasi-democratically dressed up - protracts.

What's actually going on in Belgrade, even in some official places, is the following: facts and reality are firstly being denied (if you keep repeating nothing happened, then nothing really happened at all, that's the reasoning) and then ignored and boycotted in the hope something would be gained eventually through a gentlemanly coerced agreement. The roles of Serbian policy's mouthpieces would be clearly defined: one side, the head of the state and the foreign minister, Boris Tadic and Vuk Draskovic, would try - for political pragmatism at least - not to burn all bridges with Montenegro; the other, represented by Premier Vojislav Kostunica and his nationalistically embittered associates, ministers of all sorts, heads of offices, coordinators, advisers and "objective" analysts would endeavor to maintain tension or at least to conserve the state of affairs till some next, more favorable occasion. In the meantime, they will be more or less taciturnly obstructing everything, bombarding us with ideological tirades, occupying major media and ordering newspaper columns from their tribal buddies. Those are the centers with far-reaching tentacles entrenched in high-circulation dailies, Politika and Vecernje Novosti, the NIN weekly, the partially state-owned and state-controlled "public service" known as the Radio and Television of Serbia, in mushroomed tabloids and "unbelted" radio stations with national frequencies the programs and editorial policies of which are meant to prove - with the assistance of well-known distributors of semi-truths, misinformation, invented affairs and compromising materials - that all that's going on (in Montenegro, Sandzak, Vojvodina and Kosovo) is a "vile anti-Serb conspiracy" staged by the international community on the one hand and by "extremists" and "ideologists" of the so-called Alternative Serbia on the other.

A nationalistic frustration as such, marked by growingly quarrelsome statements by Premier Kostunica himself, mostly manifested itself once the results of Montenegrin referendum were publicized. That was the point when frustration turned into fury. No wonder, therefore, that the Premier directly blamed the European Union as if the latter had forged the referendum results and no wonder that the analysts ideologically close to him accused Javier Solana - the actual creator and the strongest advocate of the state union - and Olli Rehn of having influenced the outcome of Montenegrin referendum by canceling the negotiations with the EU on its eve. They launched a large-scale verbal war against Europe, using even "witty" remarks about football and insults. So, as some thought, the official Washington will have to get involved to the official Belgrade heart's content before "it's too late."

At the same time, the regime's propaganda machinery bombards the public with "reliable information" about preparations for "Serbs exodus from Montenegro," airs lengthy reportages and circulates almost racist stories according to which the Serbs in Montenegrin villages bordering on Serbia are about to sell their houses and property only to Albanian families with ten kids at least. Evidently, the tension of Podgorica's parting must be maintained at least till parliamentary elections in Montenegro this September and Belgrade nationalistic circles' pre-referendum warning that no one but "Serbs' sworn enemies," Albanians, Bosniaks and Croats, would secure Montenegro's independence must be justified. And since those sworn enemies have enthroned Milo Djukanovic "lord of a private, mafia state," they say, it is to be expected that he would have to pay his dues. In other words, in a year or two Montenegro will be either a part of a Greater Albania or a Greater Croatia, or partitioned between those two regional "superpowers."

So, finally and in spite of all, Milosevic's rusty record with songs about monkey businesses, world conspiracies and immature nations plays again. People are again deluded that the "independent autonomous province" of Andrijevica is about to call a referendum on separation from Montenegro, and that Marko Jaksic and Milan Ivanovic will do the same in North Kosovo. Neither the famous social democrat and once fierce opponent of Pale's warlords, Milorad Dodik, couldn't have resisted the temptation of turning his coat on the eve of parliamentary elections in Republika Srpska and demanded a referendum for the Serbs in this entity. Constantly fueled psychosis is the best surrounding possible for nationalists of all sorts. They will spare no effort to make us and the world realize that nothing in the Balkans should be taken for granted.

Indeed, has Slobodan Milosevic really died?


NO 95-96

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