KIKINDA: SERBIA AND EUROPE
The first public debate within the project "Helsinki Charter:
Promoting Serbia's Europeanization" realized with the assistance of
the Norwegian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
Kikinda, April 16, 2010.
Implementation of one of the project activities - notably focusing the
Helsinki Charter issue No. 135-136 published under the headline "The Balkans and
European Challenges" - started in Kikinda with a launch organized in the town's
Cultural Center. Historian Latinka Perovic, Seska Stanojlovic, editor-in-chief of the
magazine, and Gordana Perunovic Fijat, contributor for the Helsinki Charter from Kikinda,
introduced the project as a whole, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia and
the Helsinki Charter bimonthly, whereas Zeljko Bodrozic, editor-in-chief of the Kikindske
weekly addressed the role of the media in Kikinda.
Speaking about the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, Seska
Stanojlovic notably referred to the organization's rich publishing activity resulting in a
number of major historic-documentary editions and the Helsinki Charter magazine, published
for fifteen years now despite all the challenges and obstacles standing in the way of the
print media committed to the truth, professional ethics and journalistic courage. Latinka
Perovic broached the wars of 1990s and the atmosphere of lies, plunder and crime still
plaguing Serbia - for, regardless of actual facts and tons of evidence, Serbia continues
denying its responsibility for the tragic developments in ex-Yugoslav region, including
the Srebrenica genocide.
"Eight thousand people were killed there in three days only. The
executioners must have had logistic support, grave diggers, machinery and people who
cleansed the terrain after the massacre. This was indisputably an operation planned well
in advance," said Ms. Perovic. The audience applauded her words. According to
reliable information the most frequently punished journalist in the history of journalism
in Europe, Zeljko Bodrozic spoke about the media landscape in Kikinda and the problems
facing the town's press. Bodrozic had been charged for libel thirty times and most
proceedings ended up in fines he had to pay. Relevant international institutions decided
that Bodrozic could not been subject to legal actions or proclaimed guilty for his
professional work. Nevertheless, he has never been compensated by the state of Serbia.
Speaking about the way she presented her town in the Helsinki Charter, Gordana Perunovic
Fijat said that the picture of the once prosperous town of Kikinda - where young experts
from Belgrade and Novi Sad came to seek jobs - was practically erased in 1990s.
The audience assembled in the Cultural Center mostly posed questions to
Ms. Latinka Perovic. What they usually wanted to know was whether historians could have
predicted the tragic disintegration of ex-Yugoslavia. "The SFRY might not have
dissolved had the then political elites of ex-Yugoslav republics been capable for dialogue
- or at least it wouldn't have disintegrated in such a terrible way. Since the
establishment of EU fifteen new states emerged in Europe without any incidents whatsoever,
whereas domestic political elites still demonstrate neither courage nor readiness for
dialogue," replied Latinka Perovic. The audience was composed of university and
secondary school students, representatives of town's civil sector, the media and political
parties (Liberal Democratic Party, League of Vojvodina Social Democrats and League of
Vojvodina Hungarians). One Eastern Orthodox priest in civilian clothes was also there and
so were two hard-core "white-collar" nationalists. The latter two silently left
the hall once they realized that the audience was captured by the ongoing debate.
The latest and back numbers of the Helsinki Charter were distributed to
the audience after the debate. The town's media announced and covered the event. Latinka
Perovic and Seska Stanojlovic guested on a special talk show aired by VK Television and
were interviewed by TV Rubin and Radio Kikinda. As for the interviewed participants in the
debate, most of them said they hoped the Helsinki Committee's teams would come to their
town more frequently.