PAGE 2/3


NO 115-116

PAGE 2/3 ::: 1 | 2 | 3

INFO   :::  Helsinki Charter - PAGE 2 > Helsinki Charter No. 115-116 > Text


Helsinki Charter No. 115-116

January - February 2008




By Sonja Biserko

The Belgrade rally against the proclamation of the "false state" of Kosovo was the latest manifestation of the fatal nationalistic autism and denial of the realities. By defending Kosovo rhetorically Vojislav Kostunica tried to impose it as a "fundamental state and national question" so as to fog over his political defeat but also to prevent Boris Tadic from taking over the leadership of the so-called democratic bloc.

The Kosovo myth played an important role in the creation of a modern Serb state in the 19th century. Ever since the Balkan wars in 1913 St. Vitus Day (assumed to coincide with Serb defeat in the battle of Kosovo) has been marked as the day of "heroism and conquest of the evil." It became a paradigm of bloody and ruthless revenge against everything "Turk" or Muslim in general. Liberation of Kosovo and the Kosovo pledge, as Radomir Lukic put it, became "a vertical of the Serb history since the Serb have never forgotten that they had been expelled from the land that had been a treasury of everything precious in their history." For Serbs, therefore, liberation of Kosovo and Metohija in 1912-13 was "a return to the homeland once snatched away from them."

Such attitude towards the Kosovo myth was skillfully misused for political homogenization of the Serbs in early 1980s despite the fact the realities in Kosovo had changed long before. The Kosovo myth was used to "transfer the conflict from the sphere of politics, economy and history to the timeless sphere of myth." Back in 1970s Miodrag Popovic indicated the possibility for misuse of the Kosovo myth. "The cult of St. Vitus Day that merges historical and mythical realities, and actual struggle for freedom and the remnant of pagan affiliations (revenge, slaughter, sacrifice and revival of historical ancestors) potentially includes all the traits of the environments with untamed mythical impulses. It was historically unavoidable as a phase in the development of national thought. However, when turned into a lasting state of mind the cult of St. Vitus Day might be fatal for those unable to free themselves from its pseudo-mythical and pseudo-historical meshes. In those meshes modern thought and human spirit could experience another Kosovo, an intellectual and ethical defeat," wrote Popovic.

The Kosovo myth - that is, the loss of Kosovo - was this time in the function of "internal aggression" and showdown with liberal forces in Serbia. Vojislav Kostunica also uses the Kosovo question to secure his own political future. Simultaneously, he uses Kosovo to curb European orientation of the citizens of Serbia. "We want to join the EU, but Europe must first decide to have in its membership a whole than a dismembered Serbia," he messaged Europe.

Under the pretext of Kosovo Kostunica tried to negate the outcome of the presidential elections. The rally itself was meant to delegitimize Tadic's presidency. Vojislav Kostunica had not sided with his coalition partner in the presidential race. Namely, Kosovo independence has consolidated the conservative bloc and laid bare its opposition to changes in Serbia, particularly those taking Serbia closer to Europe. Tomislav Nikolic was the bloc's favorite - they hope he would take over the presidency from Boris Tadic. Despite the fact that he lost the election (from the same opponent for the second time) Nikolic behaves like a co-president of Serbia. He manifested his power by organizing the rally. And the rally passed on clear political messages to international and domestic publics. The main message was the one that Serbia would respect no rules. And threats were conveyed to the world but to "domestic traitors" as well.

The very fact that the rally was scheduled for late afternoon indicates that the timing was so planned to suit best para-formations creating chaos. Whereas Kostunica was invoking "dignity" TV cameras were testifying that para-formations had clearly defined target. The CIA made no bones about taking the Serbian government responsible for everything that happened in the streets of Belgrade. The action plan (assuming they called it so) was not carried through in full since crowds did not reach a critical mass. The Serbian Radical Party had organized buses, trains and trucks to bring people from all over Serbia. Citizens of Belgrade mostly stayed at their homes. And the Belgrade fiasco failed to generate violence in other towns in the days that followed. It turned out that citizens were more mature than their leaders - and they instinctively shun violence. Organizers of the rally announced new protests but obviously do not enjoy popular support. This indicates that there must be a serious political drama behind the scenes. Minister Velimir Ilic cynically explained to the Serb public that "the Liberal Democratic Party was directly responsible for the outburst of violence in the streets since it supported Kosovo's independence."

Nontransparent political scene adds to citizens' anxiety - for, Serbia's course is still uncertain. Serb nationalism and radicalism are obviously exhausted. Serbia is now in the process of self-destruction. Its inability to cope with the past and the present alike isolated it from everyone, even from its own citizens. Petty political interests have brought Serbia to the verge of economic collapse. Inflation threatens to spiral and annihilate not only everything that has been achieved at home but also the international community's efforts over past several years. Vojislav Kostunica's plan to destabilize Serbia by inciting disorder and provoking the alternative failed. Yet another attempt to prevent a public forum Pescanik organized in Pancevo was also abortive as both the audience and speaker strongly opposed the intruders from the Dveri organization. In Sombor, an anonymous group of citizens organized "bread distribution" to prevent citizens from shopping in local bakeries run by Albanians. For their part, the police tried to prevent students' action titled "There is no alternative to Europe."

Actually, the epilogue of the Serb drama in the late 20th century and the early 21st is only logical - it logically derives from Milosevic's legacy and denial to give up the Greater Serbia project. Though not military defeated, Serbia is defeated from within. The entire period from October 5, 2000 to this day laid bare the ideological orientation of Milosevic's opposition. That is why breakthroughs are almost impossible - the once opposition to Milosevic has been doing its utmost to finalize the project by diplomatic means and by invoking its democratic legitimacy. The international community's attitude notably after Djindjic's assassination (who paid his breakthroughs with his life) almost played into the regime's hands. Nicolas Burns warned the Serbian government and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic that turning a blind eye to the history of crimes committed in the 1990s in the Balkans was hypocrisy.

A part of the government has not given up "production of chaos" yet. Even the state-run media remark that "the line has been crossed." A columnist warns that "the anti-European front exceeds the circles of the new patriotic rights, frustrated clericals and Russophiles.It enjoys strong support from the rear by those swimming perfectly in the chaos: from tycoons to corrupted bureaucrats dreading regulations and order."

Serbia is a threat to the stability of the entire region and, therefore, needs to be "saved." CIA Director also prognosticates that Kosovo's independence declaration "could aggravate interethnic relations in Bosnia-Herzegovina." The international community will have to adjust its strategy to new circumstances and, in the first place, take into account the fact that Serbia lacks energy for change. Russia that has been fueling Serbia's delusions will also have to find a way out of the maze Serbia had led it into, and start searching for that exit pretty soon. Serbia has no more room for lies production. Now that some 70 percent of Serbia's citizens opt for Europe their positive sentiments should be seen as a welcome opportunity for starting a "a citizens' coalition for Europe." All segments of the society looking forward to Serbia's move towards the EU should make up the coalition: civil society, small and medium-size enterprises, the media, youth and student organizations, professional associations, trade unions, etc.


NO 115-116

PAGE 2/3 ::: 1 | 2 | 3







Copyright * Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia - 2008

Web Design * Eksperiment