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NO 117-118

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Helsinki Charter No. 117-118

March - April 2008

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By Sonja Biserko

The Radicals and the Socialists are now skillfully placing the responsibility for Milosevic's decades-long devastation of Serbia and all its institutions on the democratic forces. Moreover, they are accusing them of having adopted a neo-liberal concept Europe abandoned back in the 19th century. They are advocating dignity for the sick, old and poor as if those vulnerable groups had shouldered the heaviest burden while the war was ravaging Bosnia and Croatia. They seem to have forgotten the hyperinflation that drove mad citizens of Serbia for whom that period - coinciding with genocide in Bosnia - was Milosevic's biggest crime against the Serbs. Even the Democrats seem to have forgotten that they had arrested Milosevic for financial malversation and impoverishment of Serbia. Why is it that they all ignore the times that to this very day cause Serbia's stagnation?

So, Djordje Vukadinovic, Kostunica's analyst, claims, "No country worldwide would survive without a scratch that many improvisations and geopolitical wanderings." "That many wanderings would have deranged any nation and culminated in general confusion in its heart and soul," he adds. That confusion, according to Vukadinovic, has not "dropped from the clouds" but was deliberately produced and would have been by far smaller was there not for political and media elites - which, in fact, "systematically spin or, to be precise, craze and rape the Serb public opinion, and often the fundamental logic and common sense." The ongoing propaganda campaign according to which it was the so-called democratic Serbia that destroyed Serbia is nothing but a follow-up to Milosevic's propaganda though propagated from somewhat different angle. Actually, the same media and the same spin doctors of confusion make up the apparatus Milosevic installed in late 1980s. The actors of this apparatus are still the omnipresent people such as Brana Crncevic, Momo Kapor, Bogdan Tirnanic, Mira Markovic (who made a triumphant comeback in the Pecat magazine), Milorad Vucelic and many others.

Paradoxically, they are the ones that are raising moral issues of the Serbian society. Milosevic died as an innocent man - a fighter who raised his voice against globalization on behalf of small nations. (The Serb elite treats globalization as a world war three since NATO intervention failed to challenge Russia.) Many publicly calculate that Vojislav Seselj would smash The Hague Tribunal and become Serbia's new premier, while presenting the "changed" Tomislav Nikolic as a new Sanader! The Radicals' mouthpiece is still named after the Greater Serbia the project for which many Serb politicians are on trial in The Hague. The Radicals freely circulate not only through the Serbian parliament wearing badges with Seselj's picture but also through the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg. What is the bottom line here? The bottom line is that the crime has been normalized despite the 15-year work of the tribunal in The Hague. And the world, too, accepted that normalization despite repeating claims that Mladic should be arrested and extradited to the ITCY. Belgrade has actually managed to outplay The Hague and the Main Prosecutor not up to her task in many aspects. The tribunal's exit strategy played into the hands of Belgrade, which understood it as a green light to continual postponement of full cooperation particularly when it came to providing the documents from its military archives. Belgrade's strategy scored high in the International Court of Justice as well. Its decision on Serbia's responsibility was interpreted over here as a confirmation of the thesis that "Serbia has never been at war." Commercialization of the cooperation with the ICTY (in the "let's bargain a criminal for a positive report to the Security Council" style) underrated the idea of justice, remorse and shame.

Any clarification of the situation in Serbia need to start from the fact that Slobodan Milosevic started up Yugoslav wars and that Belgrade is responsible for the country's disintegration. That's the main cause of Serbia's troubles today. The denial to give up the Greater Serbia project laid bare Serbia's political scene and testified that the project was still kept high on the agenda of its political class at all costs. No one, except for the Liberal Democratic Party, touched on the issue of responsibility during the election campaign. The Democratic Party will remain hostage to the populist bloc as long as it hesitates to accuse the Socialists, the Radicals and Kostunica for Serbia's downfall or to distance itself from the Greater Serbia project. And the Democratic Party will be the one to blame, therefore, in the event of the populist bloc's comeback.

The Radicals' comeback to power in tandem with Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia would actually strengthen Milosevic's coalition that would hardly resign once more. The populist bloc managed to impose itself on the media scene (through Politika, NIN, RTS, the new weekly Pecat and numerous tabloids) by raising social questions but also by sticking to the Greater Serbia project and defaming Western values, capitalism, market economy and Euro-Atlantic integrations. It disputes democracy one the one hand, while promoting and glorifying Russia's and China's attainments on the other. The great majority of the media picture the United States as a country on the road to ruin with no value system at all.

The same media either question or ridicule the democratic bloc's - they label "yellow ideological believers - campaigning for accession to the EU at any price. According to them, Serbia should accede "under its own terms," since, as a columnist put it, "defense of national freedom is reasonable and non-resistance to Euro-Atlantic imperialism is sheer lunacy." "Serbia's terms" imply Kosovo within Serbia's borders. The advocates to such theses count on the arrival of Russian troops in North Kosovo - for them, that would be the first step towards improvement of Serbia's overall situation. The Voice of Russia takes that Serbia and Russia still have a chance to stop the train of events in Kosovo and turn it in the opposite direction. At the same time a monument to Yeltsin - so infamous in Serbia - is erected in Russia in the presence of Putin referring to him as "the greatest Russian politician in the 20th century." This indicates that Russia, notwithstanding its wanderings, still banks on all its identities and has not boiled down itself to one-sided self-definition.

From today's perspective, the brief period of the democratic bloc's triumph while Premier Zoran Djindjic was at its helm resembles an incident that shred luster on the path with no alternative. This is why the memory of Zoran Djindjic is being distorted and forged - for, as the time goes by, the power of this orientation just grows stronger and stronger. Carla Del Ponte's recently published book - abundant in Zoran Djindjic's quotes - clearly shows that he was aware of the sum and substance of Serbia's crisis and perceived the cooperation with the ICTY as the only road leading to Serbia's moral renewal. Unless it earnestly restores humanistic ideals, Serbia will waste out both its energy and opportunity for a decent future. Simulation of humanistic ideals by the promoters of Milosevic's policy of crime nothing but discredits humanism as the only welcome and appropriate ideal for any society worldwide.


NO 117-118

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