Serbia: strategies of false impressions and September agenda
Serbian political elites expect to start reaping the profit of “both Europe and Kosovo” politics in September 2008. Due to the fact that “Serbia will never agree to be blackmailed to give up Kosovo for the sake of European integrations” and that in spite of obvious messages of disagreement sent by the European Union (EU), Serbia will not give up the initiative to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an advisory opinion about the legality of the act of proclamation of Kosovo independence (as well as legality of acceptance of that act by 46 countries), there is an inevitable question: proclaiming the acts of international community illegal (and at the same time declaratively engaging in integration with that very same community), do Serbian elites make processes of harmonization with European standards meaningless, demonstrating the strategies of false impressions? The key point in relationship between Serbia and the international community is development of strategies of false impressions, whose characteristics are: a) legitimatization of various perspectives of parallel realities; b) transposition of ethno-nationalism into the form of legitimate Euro-scepticism; and c) a false impression that Serbia makes a concerted effort to follow processes of institutional harmonization: processes devaluated by disabling independent institutions: the strategy of false impressions, supported by the official introduction of identity-symbolic infrastructure (a three-finger salute as the fictional identity holy Trinity), arises again a dilemma whether current political elites recycle defence models of old politics or (just) of old rhetoric. And everything is in the light of the expected outcome of the meeting of Council of Ministers of the EU (waiting for the positive report of Chief Prosecutor of the Hague Tribunal), adopted formulation of the enforcement of Transitional Trade Agreement, as well as the advance on the road towards the cancellation of visa requirements.
It seems that the only result of dysfunctional politics (that do not correspond to the requirement and challenges of time) can be for all interested parties that design Serbian political agenda to keep on interpreting/believing in their own parallel realities. Serbian elites will still be characterized with the obvious absence of understanding of newly founded constellation: denying reality of independent Kosovo, and inevitably stimulating the groundless conviction that Serbia is still more important to the EU than the EU to Serbian society: it causes, in spite of expectedly unfavourable report of the European Commission (November 2008), certainty of Transitional Trade Agreement being activated. Dysfunctionality of politics that remain more on the trace of old politics defence (in spite of the fact that integration potential of nationalism as a legitimatization model in Serbia is getting gradually wasted) than on the trace of old rhetoric, can be seen in the initiative of arsenal of the strategy of false impressions, that promotes faith in our reality only.
Meeting the September agenda, Serbian elites trapped in dysfunctionality of politics that make all promoted priorities meaningless (making processes of harmonization of Serbian legislation with the EU legal contents meaningless: out of 50 legal bills necessary for harmonization with the EU legal regulations, only 2 were adopted in the previous session of parliament; making European institutional infrastructure meaningless by nominal creation of independent institutions such as the State Audit Institution, the
Commissioner for Information of Public Importance, the Ombudsman of the Republic of Serbia, and making it impossible for them to work properly; unreadiness to reinforce politics of regional reconciliation, etc) just demonstrate incompetence to lead “intelligent politics” and a lack of understanding/creating real regional partnership and a context of global partnership. Incompetence and a lack of modernization potential of Serbian elites are additionally blocked by systematic distribution of fear (knowingly built in the identity infrastructure): fear from Europe, Albanians, Vojvodina’s separatism, NATO, USA, fear from international companies, market competition, etc. Serbia is incapable of articulation/control over processes and challenges it faces, ignoring a fact that the greatest threat to itself: the most frequently used word that defines Serbian political strategy, even waiting for the September agenda is: never.
While the Minister of Foreign Affairs expects to manage to include the proposal of Serbia in the agenda of autumn session of United Nations General Assembly (when a decision is to be made on September 17 in General Committee), the Prime Minister of Serbia in the inaugural speech emphasizes that Serbia will “never” accept Kosovo independence; the President of Serbia underlines that “under no circumstances will Serbia bring into question the existence of the Republic of Srpska” and consequently Serbia “will refuse to become a member of the EU”, if a precondition for that is the acceptance of Kosovo independence. Therefore, for the sake of future, Kosovo “will always be a part of Serbia”, says President Tadić.
The “never” attitude can hardly be a new mobilization paradigm Serbia is looking for; only in political and intellectual vacuum of discredited and counterproductive attempts to defend the old politics, the incompetent Serbian elites with narrowed European visions and the “never” attitude are searching in vain for a new identity. Serbia has lived for 20 years in its own parallel reality with results of the politics of lost “never” and “we can be against the whole world” battles: it has lived in reality of transitional vacuum of both political ideas and new political/civil protagonists in which only a false impression can be created, the impression that a great effort has been involved in processes of institution/value harmonization with the Euro-Atlantic standards. The strategy of false impressions, based on rationalization of hypocrisy, does not understand the priorities of global agenda: energy security, climate changes, poverty, waste and destruction of natural resources, a rise of BRICM (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Mexico); global terrorism, etc.
The strategy of false impressions is blurring the political space where current and potential partners are identified: recognizing Georgian areas of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russia also indirectly recognized Kosovo independence and brought into question credibility of principled attempts to adhere to international laws. Thanks to Russia, dilemmas regarding the NATO role have disappeared: 60 years after it was founded, NATO affirms the importance of politics of building up global partnership and it is given a chance to redefine its own role.
The initiative for legality of the act of proclamation of Kosovo independence raises an issue of Serbia’s credibility and sincerity of attempts to adhere to the international laws, especially taking into consideration Serbia’s attitude, i.e. negligence of verdict of ICJ related to the lawsuit of Bosnia and Herzegovina, February 2007. Therefore, it is unusual to allude to credibility of verdicts of ICJ by the country that has been convicted for breaking the Convention on genocide and whose official politics do not give up its territorial and functional parting of ethnic Serbs from the Others in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo itself. What does Serbia get by opening the proceeding before ICJ? Strategic insulation based on the fact that it does not understand the agenda of the 21st century and frozen conflicts with the Euro-Atlantic community.
A confirmation of dysfunctionality of Serbian politics is also a process of legitimatization of ethno-nationalism through the form of desired Euro sceptical corrective and in that way Euro scepticism (that is nothing but ethno-nationalism) becomes the inaugurated state ideology. Euro scepticism based on good nationalism is functionalized and rolled in democratic wafer of patriotism, the modern Right-wing and historical revisionism. And last but not least, “European anti-Europeism” (Olivera Milosavljević).
In order for the strategy of false impressions to give up its place to the rational politics that understand the agenda of the 21st century and see facing new challenges in integration, regional reconciliation, building up institutions and the rule of law, it is necessary:
a. for Serbia to clearly define foreign-policy priorities and partners: it is essential for Serbia to show readiness to accept the EU/NATO role in articulation of rational politics towards Kosovo and to sign the Agreement on friendship with Kosovo, along with the Agreement of Serbia and EU on the role of EULEX mission;
b. for Serbia to clearly define integration with NATO as a foreign- policy priority, giving up a failed concept of military neutrality; to sign the Agreement on safe data exchange and to finalise the Individual partnership programme between Serbia and NATO for 2008/9;
c. for Serbia to initiate building up a strategy of regional approach: as a projection of improvement of relations in the region of West Balkans communicating with/understanding global tendencies and problems (with the emphasised, integrated approach to problems of collective security); to initiate talks of Balkans’ consensus on development, which would reinforce processes of regional reconciliation and co-operation (in the tradition of the European consensus on development, December 2005);
d. for all protagonists, governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations to adopt a unique Euro-Atlantic hodogram: using a strategic principle of Euro-Atlantic integration as a clearly defined foreign-policy priority, to
establish as a priority general-social agendas and not exclusive pre-electional promise of certain political parties;
e. for the important part of Euro-Atlantic hodogram to be a strategy of organizing systematic campaigns with the aim of informing citizens about all aspects of integration with the EU/NATO: explaining about the potential risks and benefits and demythologizing processes of integration with the EU/NATO; understanding and acceptance of European values and standards as a basic concept of strengthening and building up multidimensional European identity patterns. Getting to know and accepting values of the Euro-Atlantic community provide a chance to young generations to nurture and develop the European identity and to protect and promote values of European heritage;
f. for politics of international community to be inclusive and committing, and not politics of Serbia’s isolation. The inclusion principle is better than the exclusion principle: it is better for both Serbia and international community that Serbia is a part of a unique economic/political and security system;
g. for Serbia to give up strategies and politics of creating false impressions: to set up Euro-Atlantic integration with the first article of Government’s and Parliament’s agendas; to adopt more efficiently legal bills that should bring harmonization with European legal heritage and to create new institutions and reinforce the existing ones.
Novi Sad, August 28, 2008
Government of the Republic of Serbia: continuity, reconciliation and reforms
Achieved results of the Government of the Republic of Serbia formed on July 7, 2008 can provide an answer to the following question: does the fifth Government after October 5, 2000 have a capacity necessary to finalize processes of democratic consolidation, or Serbia will wait for the year 2012 in transitional vacuum of postponed solutions, incapable of terminating the frozen conflict with inherited post-Milošević era. The first one hundred days are ahead of the new Government, as well as the expected almost-full mandate which will test out emancipation and modernization capacities of Serbian governing elites gathered in the eleventh Government since a multiparty system was adopted in 1990. The Government has 24 ministers, and with one minister without portfolio and four vice presidents, it has 27 members altogether.
In Serbian “valley of transition” (Pszeworski), the new Government will test out one of the criteria for a successful democratic consolidation: a test of two shifts of elites. Completion of processes of democratic consolidation implies institutional consolidation: readiness to introduce fundamental reforms of police, judicature, security forces; readiness to build up various mechanisms of anti-corruption policy, promotions, protection of human and minorities’ rights and to make those mechanisms more efficient; readiness to improve efficiency of state administration. It is expected for the processes of democratic transition to be terminated with a promotion of new political and non-governmental organizations’ paradigm. Serbia needs new political options, new political and transformed civil protagonists who will initiate processes of political emancipation and modernization; who will make democratic rules “the only game in the city” and make processes of democratization more stable, building up credibility of institutions.
Forming the fifth Government after October 5, 2000 is the final act of processes of normalization and legitimatization of political options of the old regime: now the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), soon the Radical Party of Serbia (RPS): of processes that have been in progress for the last eight years. Co-ordinates of new political reality are drawn in reconfigured political space that is marked in the best manner by the political topoi: continuity, reconciliation (both national and political) and expose of the Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković bring an almost forgotten word – reforms – back into the public discourse. So, instead of the Action Plan of consolidation of democratic institutions, a concept of national reconciliation is being decreed. A newly formed Government is not the Government of changes (in spite of the fact that reform itself is the most frequently used topos in speeches of M. Cvetković), but the one of continuity, which will respect already defined rules of political game, incapable of introducing fundamental political, economic and social reforms of Serbian reality’s structure. Dilemmas regarding continuity and reconciliation can be easily clarified: if Ivica Dačić and Boris Tadić are ready to sign Declaration of political reconciliation, are they ready, for the sake of future, to offer their hand to Albanians in Kosovo and to accept/sign the offered Treaty of Friendship between two independent states?
The Government of continuity has symbolically started its mandate proposing the Resolution about continuity of state politics towards Kosovo. In less than a year, the
previous Government adopted three Resolutions about Kosovo: a symbolic message is clear: the processes of ignoring reality and wasting political energy against reality are continuing: in inaugural speech it is explicitly stated:
1.that Serbia will never accept Kosovo as an independent state and that it will do anything to slow down and make it impossible for Kosovo to access to international political and financial institutions. Therefore, the acceptance of independence remains the main dilemma: not the very fact of the acceptance of Kosovo independence, but the fact of Serbia’s independence: this Government will answer the question whether Serbian elites are ready to accept the fact that Serbia is an independent state that borders Kosovo. In the context of keeping national integrity and sovereignty, one of the main priorities of new Government is further deepening and strengthening of economic and political relations of Serbia with Russian Federation, the fellow-fighter for saving of Kosovo as a part of Serbia: spun in public to accept the fact of necessity to co-operate with economically reinforced Russia, the importance of Free Trade Agreement between Russia and Serbia (former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), signed on August 28, 2000 is especially emphasized. The public in Serbia deliberately ignores the fact that the Free Trade Agreement has been in a process of ratification in Russian State Duma since August 2001. In his inugural speech, new Prime Minister also emphasizes that “while taking diplomatic initiative for keeping Kosovo as a part of Serbia, the Serbian Government will co-operate closely with Russian Federation and all states that have not accepted Kosovo independence”. One more fact is also being ignored - that the EULEX mission was supported by all 27 EU members (including the ones that did not accept Kosovo independence): therefore, all EU members supported the activities of building up and establishing civil institutions of the independent state of Kosovo; on a Donors' Conference (July 11, 2008), financial support for building up institutional infrastructure of Kosovo was also provided by the states that did not accept Kosovo independence; a new passport of the Republic of Kosovo will be accepted by the states that officially did not accept the fact of independence.
2.Suffering from “the Cinderella complex” and blocked by the politics of “both Europe and Kosovo”, the Government of continuity will hardly manage to make some serious steps towards Euro-Atlantic community. A lack of modernization capacity of Serbian elites results in confusing messages about reasons for Serbia to join Euro-Atlantic structures (Europe as a timid excuse: it is obvious that excuses are constantly looked for when it comes to the politics of joining the European unity of nations: in that sense in Kosovo – in keeping Kosovo within Serbia – excuses/explanations are necessary for pro-European politics). The absence of a clear strategy for the integration of Serbia into the EU and the ambivalent attitude towards the European community of values and standards logically lead to the third sentence of the inaugural expose: “a full membership is of essential importance for the Republic of Serbia and its citizens. Joining the EU, Serbia will become a full member of European family of nations which, under unfortunate historical circumstances, it has been excluded from for a long time”. Another fact is being ignored, that Serbia “was not excluded under unfortunate circumstances”, but the status of European pariah is a consequence and a result of certain politics: responsibility for specific political actions was transferred to the sphere of irrational, Vis Major and force of circumstances we were unable to influence, conspiracies, etc. The indirect message is that processes of lustration for civilization downfall of politics in charge will not be initiated. The inaugural speech of future Prime Minister also emphasizes that “on the way of Serbia’s integration with the EU, it is necessary to introduce numerous additional reforms which will make legal and economic system in Serbia get closer to the EU standards within the next few years”. The speech emphasizes the importance of balance between legal and economic system, but not respect and acceptance of essential system of values: EU is based on respect for value and tradition of anti-fascism, freedom and dignity of citizens, humanity and solidarity; on respect for institutions and multi-dimension identity patterns of citizens. Euro-Atlantic values and integrations are not mentioned in the speech (focus is on European integrations), which makes it possible for politics of decreed oblivion (disguised as national reconciliation) to relativize anti-fascism and abolish politics and crimes of the ‘90s. While the new Prime Minister emphasizes that European integrations are a high priority, the new Minister of Internal Affairs emphasizes that co-operation with the Hague Tribunal is a must, but not a priority: “socialists have always been engaged in co-operation with the Hague Tribunal (SPS supported the first Koštunica’s Government which “voluntarily” extradited 18 person indicted for war crimes). However, the Hague is not a priority, but a must. Co-operation with the Hague has to be a two-way process (Koštunica was also in favour of two-way co-operation), because the latest verdicts show that this court is not just for everyone”, says Ivica Dačić.
Priorities are deliberately put in incorrect order: a requirement for getting a status of candidate for the EU is fulfilling the obligations towards the Hague Tribunal. Of course, the main requirement for integration with the EU is joining NATO. The importance of joining NATO was not mentioned at all. Moreover, ignoring the importance of joining NATO also marked the speech of last year’s mandate holder - Vojislav Koštunica (May 2007): the impression is that political elites see ignoring NATO and the importance of Euro-Atlantic integrations as a step towards national integrity and political reconciliation; it seems easier to bridge a gap between exclusivism and eclectivism of postmodern Serbia ignoring NATO; that gap that has not been bridged even by all sacred convocations for national homogenization. For the second government of V. Koštunica, not to NATO meant not to the EU. Time will show the meaning of the NATO acronym for this government: there is still hope that the NATO acronym, full of meanings in Serbia, will not be used once again for feeding anti-Euro-Atlantic resentments.
Why is a relationship with the NATO important? In Serbia, the relationship with the NATO is a test of authenticity and strong will to build up processes of democratic consolidation that clearly define a foreign-policy position of Serbia: institutional, economic and political integration with the Euro-Atlantic community of values.
3.It is obvious that there is a reformist lack of Government members: the majority was formed from ministers or high officials from the previous Government (15 of them are to be ministers or vice presidents for the first time): their CVs show a lack of understanding of processes of democratic transition and the absence of work efficiency. Membership cards of political options that support the Government (19 in total) are the only (and obviously sufficient) reference for reaching important positions (mostly for minor political figures). Willingness to introduce reforms was confirmed at the previous Parliament convocation: 76 laws, rules, declarations and international agreements were adopted. If the Parliament keeps working like this (up to 80 laws a year), it will take 40 years for our legislation to be harmonised with European.
The new Government is a term of misery of ambivalent or non-existing ideologies (mostly worn out) of 19 political options. And it is not about a lack of political capacity only of populist parties or Serbian Radical Party: the exhaustion of political capacity is obvious, as well as ideological non-articulation and a lack of understanding of global political agenda of the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSDV), the Serbian Renewal Movement, the Party of Democratic Action, etc. The way in which Government is formed introduces implicitly presidential form of governing: ambition of the president of Serbia to co-decide when it is about Government's politics is obvious. Nurturing delegated charisma, the Prime Minister draws autority from President's charisma. Strenghtening of a role of President's collaborators and advisors is also obvious: a strong unofficial center of power is created. (It is even more evident presence of President's advisors in media, related to various issues: directions and advice about wanted and expected are synchronously coming from the President's office).
4.Government's work and political stage of Serbia are and will be permanently marked with keeping balace of blackmail capacity of small parties that do their best to compensate a lack of their own political capacity with a role of “European” or “moral” correction factor: along with SPS and G17+, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) also has an important role in practising “disciplining” and “correcting” of “non-cooperative” ones: “We should point out ratification of Partnership Agreement on European affairs, with the Democratic Party (DP)«. Hidden behind the necessity of reconfiguration of political space, a “noble political lie” is introduced into political speeches. There are attempts to conceal a fact that there is a co-operation with SPS, insisting on one-sided co-operation (partly said statements of LDP or LSDV) with the coalition United for European Serbia or with DP. Another side of that fact is ignored: a co-operation with DP represents fundamental co-operation with SPS: “a noble political lie” does not manage to “morally correct” reality: reality is an interesting co-operation in which from pre-electional promises remains that much as it remained from pre-electional attempts of LDP to perform depolitization of leading positions in Belgrade state enterprises.
5.The attempts to roll up economic reforms in a wafer of socially just state in expose of the new Prime Minister represent a school standard of social demagogy: noble attempts “to make ordinary people participate in the results of economic progress”, building a society where “every citizen has a chance to climb up the social ladder”, and “free higher education is available to all hard-working pupils and students, all poor citizens are provided with free health care and all citizens of Serbia are protected from extreme poverty”, impose a question: how? The Government that perceives itself as a Government of a left centre will be able to use only mechanisms of neo-liberal politics in the process of achieving those objectives. Principles of proclaimed “and – and” politics are not helpful: or distribution of poverty and equality in misery or opening of market and rejection of social-demagogic senseless terms.
6.There is still an open question whether this Government will be able to define a basic consensus about fundamental political values that are a condition for termination of processes of political and democratic consolidation. In order to consolidate democratic order, it is necessary for the old regime to regain authority: “so that we can see if their behaviour in different conditions differs from the behaviour in those conditions under which non-democratic regime collapsed”. DP and SPS announce ratification of Declaration of Political Reconciliation. Ratification of that Declaration will represent violation of clauses of currently valid Law on Lustration: Boris Tadić’s statement that “after so many years, lustration is not possible” (Impression of the Week, January 14, 2007) is at odds with clauses of that Law (adopted in 2003, valid for 10 years). A part of a democratic consolidation process is also a search for/defining political identity of both SPS and DP: time will show to what extent a claim that SPS “does not give up its identity, but now we can find a common identity” (B. Tadić) will affect consolidation transitional processes. Symbolically, defining new identity/SPS consolidation will be done by the “20th Congress of SPS”, when Ivica Dačić will demonstrate discontinuity with the politics of the ‘90s, submitting “Khrushchev’s paper”.
7.Last but not least, Government mandate will show whether Serbian political options are capable of understanding modernization agenda and of facing a challenge of time. A space opens up where new political elites and new participants of civil society will grow up: the political space where there will be a clear strategy that will define Serbia’s integration with NATO and the EU as conditio sine qua non foreign policy perspective. If a political structure of current Government falls apart in less than three years, permanent political crisis and political state of emergency will remain the only political pattern of normality for Serbia.
Novi Sad, July 21, 2008
11 July 2008: will Ivica Dačić and Boris Tadić kneel down together in Potočari?
Is Boris Tadic’s appeal to “national reconciliation” between political powers of the 90s and those who “have led Serbia since 2000” aimed at initiation of political-emancipatory processes of democratic consolidation of Serbia, or is it an introduction to historical finals of legitimization of the politics that led the whole region into war devastations, crimes and “fall of civilization into barbarism”?
Provided that the appeal to national reconciliation is considered a necessary step for the processes of political transition and democratic consolidation of Serbia to be completed, declared discontinuity in politics of the 90s is moralia minima: the essence of such politics reflects in committed war crimes (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo) and genocide in Srebrenica. In this case, by appealing to national reconciliation, it is expected Boris Tadic to show readiness to establish the new vertical 11 May – 11 July: to really stimulate the processes of changing predominant nationalistic identification matrix, and to demonstrate the symbolical meaning of discontinuous politics by the act of bowing (including all national reconciled politicians) to the victims of the genocide in Srebrenica. Functioning as the new beginning of identification, the vertical 11 May – 11 July will not “pacify the citizens”, nor will it “defuse tensions” or “clear up misunderstandings”, but it will uncover the truth, and consequently, cause upset. Readiness to raise the issue about responsibility and guilt means coping and dealing with the consequences of the war politics, as well as working on them. Therefore, if the Government of the nationally reconciled euro-reformist powers (For a European Serbia, together with pivotal Democratic Party) and coalition Socialist Party of Serbia-Party of United Pensioners of Serbia-United Serbia is formed, the crucial question is: will they demonstrate the readiness to abandon the realization of the defeated project “all Serbs in one country”.
Or the appeal to national reconciliation means logical termination of at least eight-year long process of legitimization and normalization of the politics of Serbian Radical Party and Socialist Party of Serbia, supported by democratic political options: the statement that the “principled politics of Socialist Party of Serbia in the last decade of the 20th century experienced full legitimacy of all relevant political factors in Serbia” (Branko Ruzic, high SPS official) is explicit confirmation of that fact. Within the context of legitimization of the politics of the 90s, elections held on 11 May can be understood as final verification of renovated post-milosevicism, accepted as legitimate framework for organization of elections on all levels by all the participants in this political race.
The indicators of the renovation of post-milosevicism are obvious: all the relevant politicians on Serbian political scene have been active in last 18 years; both the election campaigns and post-election processes remain situated in recognizable political field: the field of testamentarily gained charisma (politicians obtain participatory legitimacy from charisma of central politicians in Milosevic’s era: either from the representatives of the politics which lead to civilization destruction, such as S. Milosevic and V. Seselj, or
from Z. Djindjic’s paradigm of changes towards modernization); central political messages were based on fear: fear from returning to the 90s (euro-reformist powers), at the same time defending the document which is the resultant politics of the 90s: Resolution 1244. Public discourse leads to normalization of political reductionism: reducing consequences of the politics of the 90s on personal and political accountability, as well as the one of values boiled down to S. Milosevic’s personality, and almost not mentioning the causes and consequences of the politics which led to wars, crimes and the destruction of all the premises of a political community.
Serbian post-war society has not defined the basic consensus around fundamental political values which are the precondition for terminating political and democratic consolidation. Will we by means of national reconciliation with the powers of the 90s (the politics of the 90s caused political, economic and civilization collapse) achieve the consensus about central political values of an incomplete, institutionally damaged, unstable country: consensus about foreign policy priorities; necessity of institutional consolidation; accepting the reality by Serbian elites that Serbia is an independent country which has a common border with Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Croatia: especially whether the politics of national reconciliation averts the possibility of introducing/imposing authoritarian political solutions, and finally, whether national reconciliation implies readiness for depolitization of security service, and also readiness to continue the campaigns against organized crime: reforms in judicial system and anti-corruption politics are necessary premises.
Accepting the fact of reality by Serbian elites that Serbia is an independent country which has a common border with Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Croatia is a precondition for regional stabilization. Pacification can be reached only by deconstruction and demystification of Serbian national project, which maintains the relationship with Bosnia and Herzegovina on the identical premises, especially in relation to the revival of the thesis about decomposition of borders (connecting the status of Kosovo with the status of the Republic of Srpska). Will nationally reconciled Serbian political and intellectual elites demonstrate consensus by firmly insisting on retaining the regulations of the Dayton agreement by which the entity of the Republic of Srpska was constituted (a part of pre-election priorities of Socialist Party of Serbia), clearly reflecting the attitude (that they believe) that the question of the borders on the Balkans has not completed yet relying on marking new ethnical borders?
Will potential coalition partners, the nationally reconciled send a message about the importance of reinforcing regional stabilization processes (since the Stabilization and Association Agreement is very often interpreted from the point of view of the importance of preserving Kosovo within Serbia, and consciously neglecting regional stabilization component) and will the nationally reconciled Ivica Dacic and Boris Tadic kneel down in Potocari on 11 July 2008?
Within the context of understanding the appeal to national reconciliation we should not ignore the verdict of International Court of Justice (February 2007) according to the suit
filed by Bosnia and Herzegovina: nor the convocation of National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, nor the president of Serbia (Boris Tadic during his first mandate), nor Democratic Party never showed a minimum of political and civilization responsibility and solidarity with the victims: they did not even initiate bringing symbolical apology declaration. Absence of the act, and symbolical solidarity with the victims of the only genocide committed in Europe after World War II makes space for understanding the verdict of International Court of Justice as abolition of the politics of the crimes committed during the wars in the 90s: “by the verdict that Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is not responsible for the genocide in Srebrenica, the stories about command responsibility of Serbia are becoming deprived of sense” (Ivica Dacic) and unreadiness of Serbian political elites to discontinue with such politics is clearly demonstrated.
There are a lot of indicators which cast doubt on readiness of the elites nationally reconciled to initiate processes of political emancipation and modernization of Serbia. On 21 December 2004, in National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia present partners in coalition For a European Serbia – Democratic Party and Serbian Renewal Movement adopted the law on equating the rights of the members of the Chetnik Movement (Ravnogorski Movement) and Partisan Movement: redefining both movements as anti-fascist, revitalizing chetnicism, they abolished the crime committers in the wars of the 90s. Assembly of Sarajevo Canton (May 2005) strongly condemned the statements of Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs (at that time Vuk Draskovic, the president of Serbian Renewal Movement) by which Draza Mihajlovic’s the Chetnik Movement was made equal with anti-fascist movement, and also the adoption of the resolution in which the government was required to proclaim Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs persona non grata in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Only the MPs of Socialist Party of Serbia and Social Democratic Party voted against the law on equating the rights of the Chetnik Movement and Partisan Movement.
Boris Tadic uses politics of social justice as a cover for the appeal to national reconciliation. Serbia will get “socially responsible government, which will lead the country towards European integrations with Kosovo preserved” and those politicians who demonstrate “and-and” ideology will decide on the righteous distribution of social goods: and Kosovo (in public discourse it is widely accepted that NATO bombing was aimed at creating an independent country of Kosovo: causes and consequences of confrontations with the rest of the world, and terror and crimes committed on Kosovo are not mentioned any more, and victims are important only to the Humanitarian Law Centre) and Europe (but decidedly “if I have to choose between Europe and Kosovo, I will choose Kosovo”, B. Tadic); and socially responsible government and criminal privatizations; and the 90s and 5 October; and Chetniks and Partisans (cleaned up from the communist past); and “fulfilling international commitments” and decriminalization of Milosevic family; and pro-European Democratic Party and tradition of Arkan’s Tigers; and Srebrenica and “everyone involved committed crimes”.. And the attitude of Liberal Democratic Party that the most important is to form a majority in the parliament which would “prevent Vojislav Kostunica and radicals from ruling”, and it is possible only by forming coalition between Democratic Party and Socialist Party of Serbia. Therefore, “and-and” Serbia as a post-political zombie” (Srdjan Pulig).
In the atmosphere of highly strung elaboration of inevitability of “and-and” processes, politicians, analysts, NGO representatives are spinning the public and normalizing the fact of national reconciliation; mutual points of Democratic Party and Socialist Party of Serbia are being singled out: social democracy, anti-fascist orientation, and internationalism: a special emphasis is placed onto the benefits which Socialist Party gets as soon as it enters the process of national reconciliation. The tendency is to put behind the differences “which were huge and crucial at one moment”. What is neglected is the fact that those “huge and crucial” differences are related to the crime politics of the 90s. Lustration, facing the past, transitional justice… are only the motives of successfully applied projects. Nationally reconciled key politicians of Serbian public scene (including the civil sector) speak solely about democratic capacities of Socialist Party of Serbia and distinctive pro-European politics of Democratic Party, ignoring the fact that the act of the first Boris Tadic’s inauguration took place on 11 July 2004, since it slipped the president’s attention that this date overlapped with the anniversary of genocide in Srebrenica.
There has been synchronized avoidance to answer the question why it is important for Democratic Party and pro-European powers to normalize the role of Socialist Party of Serbia.
Because of the ambivalent attitude towards Euro-Atlantic integrations (consciously reducing Euro-Atlantic to only European integrations) Democratic Party needs Socialist Party of Serbia as a patriotic and ideological identification: having the representative of the politics which confronted the whole world for a partner, Democratic Party represent themselves as a genuine advocate of European values (even when they participate in the obstruction of Euro-Atlantic hodogram together with Democratic Party of Serbia); compared to traditional cadres of Socialist Party of Serbia (some of them evoke painful associations) the cadres of Democratic Party are regarded as modernization paradigms; affairs in which some of the members of Socialist Party of Serbia are involved, perception of Democratic Party cadres as corrupted (according to a survey) are gradually changed and softened; with Ivica Dacic next to him, Boris Tadic represents himself as a European par excellence: it is not necessary to say “I am a European man” (which he has not done so far). The same goes for Liberal Democratic Party who see the support to pro-European nationally reconciled government as a way out of political immaturity, and also the way to overcome the attitude of moral superiority (without any right) and eternal winner, although only as opposition. The reflex of “fundamental Jacobinism” (as some political theoreticians understand the politics of Liberal Democratic Party), by supporting the nationally reconciled government, is transforming and Liberal Democratic Party is getting a new role, “the European corrective of Democratic Party”. The support to the nationally reconciled government opens the door to new understanding of anti-fascist/anti-Milosevic engagement as to other members of coalition For a European Serbia (for instance, League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina).
The processes of democratic consolidation in Serbia are limited. And they really imply, paradoxically, the termination of the processes of democratic transition, among other things, by normalization of the political powers of the 90s (now Socialist Party of Serbia, soon Serbian Radical Party). However, the process of normalization of the political powers of the 90s necessarily assumes the answer to the question: what was the reason for making wars and who takes on the responsibility and guilt for the committed crimes. As its basic premise, the process of national reconciliation requires: political consensus of respecting the Law on Lustration (Accountability for Human Rights Violation). The experience of those societies who have already gone through the political and economic transitions is precious: the processes which have started in Serbia may remain in the vacuum of half-completeness if the consensus of basic political values and democratic institutions fails: eternally postponing the consolidation of democracy. The postponed consolidation under the cover of national reconciliation will be the final verification of renovated post-Milosevicism.
Novi Sad, 25 May, 2008
A Narrowed Vision of Euro-reformist Forces
A wide range of conflicts between the recent coalition partners in the Government of the Republic of Serbia can be summed up in one single question: what is the main discord which has caused the new schedule of early parliamentary elections? The main cause of the potential crisis culmination, when the Prime Minister gave back his mandate to “the people”, is the indicator of essential problems which the Serbian elites are trying to solve in the exalted patriotic election effort. The elites (no matter if they are referred to as Euro-reformist or patriotic, as being defined by analysts) are trying to sell the idea of “collectivist asylum” (bounded by the co-ordinates of senseless waste of political energy against the acceptance of reality), rolled up in a wafer of pre-election slogans (mostly for Serbia: European, strong, with Kosovo, social justice, etc). While the elites are trying to sell this idea to the citizens of Serbia as a ticket for the salvation from poverty, isolation or uncertain life in an unfair world, there is still a conflict between former political partners. What is a cause of the coalition breakdown? Is that the attitude towards the Kosovo issue or towards the European integration, under the shadow of the recognation of independent Kosovo by the majority of EU countries?
As the Euro-reformists (here the term Euro-reformists stands for the political group leaded by the Democratic Party (DP)) desperately intend not to cast doubts on Kosovo as a patriotic legitimation, in order not to be considered by the public to be “the slaves of the West, who would sacrifice the cradle of their culture and 15% of their territory, all that for a mere insecure road towards the EU”, the main cause of the coalition Government breakdown can be, conditionally, taken as a conflict of the Serbian elites' conceptions related to the foreign policy priorities. The desirable patriotic legitimation is also the acceptance of legalization of military neutrality politics: as a demonstration of political-patriotic solidarity of Euro-reformist forces, the denounced term “Euro-Atlantic integrations” is being avoided in the public discourse, as opposed to the term “European integrations”. The fact that the adopted language constructions are the indicator of a lack of both understanding of the Euro-Atlantic integration processes and of modernization capacities of Serbian elites is a proof and a referential frame which is being accepted by every player of a pre-election match. This frame can be summed up in one single term: post-Milošević era. The acceptance of: a) recalling and creation of fear from the '90s (“the closure of these elections will be marked with a great victory which will make sure that Serbia after May 11 could never go back to the '90s, to the road of conflicts, wars and destruction, that Serbia will never be a problematic country again, but the key country of Europe”, Boris Tadić at the pre-election convention of the DP in Novi Sad); b) calling of the implicite or explicite facts to the testamentary legitimation of current politics which have been drawn from the symbols of politics of that period by the main political players (no matter if it is about the symbols of civilization destruction of Slobodan Milošević or Vojislav Šešelj, or about the symbols of modernistic power of Zoran Đinđić), says a lot for the acceptance of the post-Milošević era contex as a legitimate frame of the elections on May 11, 2008.
The next logical question is whether Serbia is in the phase of the post-Milošević era restauration, which has been accepted by everyone (a. all main players of the pre-election match have been on the public stage for 18 years; b. it is not heresy to consider a possibility of post-election coalition between the DP coalition and the Socialist Party of Serbia), due to the fact that in a dominant context of post-Milošević era all political players declare themselves to be soldiers in a battle against or for the same heritage; the iconography and RESISTANCE, as a part of the spirit of that period. So, the question is: is there a conflict between the two political visions and conceptions, both pretending to promote the authentic pro-European and pro-patriotic politics? Although the terms Euro-reformist and nationalistic (being one possible approach to the classification of political parties) contain numerous characteristics of the main political options, they seem to be deficient, especially the term Euro-reformist forces. If the term “European“ implies the striving to “problematize and exceed the world which is given as self-explanatory“, if the process of Europeization is “the opening up of space to the questioning walk of mind“, then the term European force contains the reformist potential as well. Is a necessity to reinforce the engagement of political options that are for „European Serbia“ with the self-explanatory content, the expression of distrust of their European and modernization capacity?
It seems that the mere constructions narrow the perspective of understanding of the European Serbia vision. “When you face a problem which you are unable to solve, then do broaden your context“, said Jean Monnet. In Serbia, on a site for democracy, how to find forces that are ready to problematize the perspective? The narrowed European perspectives make the messages about the reasons for the integration of Serbia with the Euro-Atlantic structures not clearly defined. They also cause the absence of a clear strategy for the integration of Serbia into the EU and the ambivalent attitude towards the European community of values and standards. On the one hand, there is a denial of the EU mission in Kosovo (whose mandate has been supported by all 27 countries EU members) in the statements that “ Pieter Feith, the special representative of the EULEKS mission in Kosovo, does not have a mandate to engage in the elections in Serbia, because the mission he is in charge of, is illegaly in Kosovo, due to the fact that “Feith implements only those decisions of the countries that recognized the illegal and one-sided proclamation of Kosovo independence“ (Boris ??dić). On the other hand, the political parties actively lobby the EU institutions to sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement before the elections, May 11: “The officials of DP in Brussels are trying to convey the interest of Serbian citizens in the European future to the EU institutions’ officials and to convince them that, in spite of the irresponsible statements that are made in Serbia by those who want to isolate the country, the citizens of Serbia can see themselves in the EU” (J. Marković, the spokeswoman of DP).
The main political players obviously do not want a change of the perspective and do not have a capacity to broaden the context of understanding of Europe: there is an evident lack of modernization capacity of Euro-reformist forces to redefine their own political concepts in a broader strategic (including a range of wider regional interests) or existential sense (with an acceptance of the concept of European multidimensional identities, and with a deconstruction of dominant nationalistic legal patterns). The answers to the questions about the direction of strategic development, posed in a broader European context, give the answers different from those we listen to every day. It seems that all political players, captured in political paradigms of the past and being parasites on the heritage and fear from the ‘90s, make their own political identity in Serbia, captured by premodern, modern and postmodern impulses and incapable of understanding of those processes and of articulating them by the acceptance of different political and mental paradigms.
Is there the politics of change?
What are the main political messages of pro-European forces? What values of global political agenda do they communicate with? Overpowered by the reflex of unity and emphasizing the necessity of coalition of all political forces at the crucial historical moment, a dominant vocabulary of majority of the players in the elections’ match, including the forces that are fighting for European Serbia is premodern: “curses” are mentioned too often, and the elections’ conventions in the spirit of collective pagan lurking around the enemies establish the ritual damnation of political enemies. Political eclectivism of premodern and postmodern is the cause of inability of Serbian elites to communicate and understand the main problems of global reality: the premodern world belongs to another time zone, and as a consequence, the elites create Serbia as the terra nullius (the no-man's land). Serbia, the terra nullius, is a union of narrowed European visions: focused only on Kosovo (slogans: Kosovo is Serbia; both Europe and Kosovo) and in Kosovo on one ethnic group, devoted to “searching for the lost time”.
The issue of political identity of the elections’ players narrows down to the following questions: are the main confronted political options able to survive without each other? Are they able to affirm an answer to the question of political identity of Euro-reformist political options through their own ideology and political concepts which are based on the supposed enemy (fear from the '90s, Koštunica, Russia, NATO, etc)? Do they have credibility of a positive and constructive political player, without the incorporated identity-ideological support of a necessary political opponent? Is it clear enough that Serbia is now in need for the Euro-Atlantic conceptual map with defined key priorities? At this moment, the modernization potential and clearly defined Euro-Atlantic profile are carried by the political options of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, but Serbian political stage of narrowed European visions, captured under the mask of cultural racism can hardly jump over its own shadow and use the capacity of the political party that directly opens up a space for communication with the EU, to create a new conceptual Euro-Atlantic map (Hungarian institutions officially lobby the EU institutions for the abolition of visa requirement for the citizens of Serbia).
When are the messianic owners of the truth, light, good, love and future, as a guarantee of sense, with no calculations, going to say: I am European? When are they going to introduce the term Euro-Atlantic integration to the public discourse, as a guarantee of sense, with no delay? When are they going to be ready to destroy the vicious circle of poverty, backwardness, national arrogance and vanity and to broaden the vision of Euro-Atlantic peace, modernization and civilization project, instead of insisting on the importance of integration of Serbia into the EU only because of Kosovo, because “being a member of the EU would enhance our credibility in the world, our economy and also help the defence of our territorial sovereignty and preservation of Kosovo and Metohija” (B. Tadić)? The unreadiness to accept the identification of a citizen of Europe and to pronounce “I am European” means that Serbia not only opens up a chapter of frozen conflicts with the Euro-Atlantic community of values, but also keeps on hibernating in a frozen conflict with itself.
Novi Sad, April 13, 2008
The Political Carnival of Sans-culottes: Kosovo in the Parallel Dimension of Reality
The political carnival of Sans-culottes organized by the Serbian elites in the week from the 17th to 23rd of February 2008 proved to be a futile and failed attempt of translating ethnosymbolic content into a language appropriate for political communication. The kitsch newly proclaimed prayer service parodying of political events culminated in the sansculottization of the Kosovo ideal and the rally “Kosovo is Serbian” charged with artificially induced religious-national trance has not sent a single political message readable in the codes of modern political language. Finally, the state organized rally wasn’t conceived as an attempt of addressing the world: the messages were sent exclusively to citizens of Serbian ideally molded to the type, who read and write only in the Cyrillic alphabet, understand the mythical neokosovar speech and pledges, for “the bullies want us to relinquish our Serbian identity, promising us that we would be better off without remembrance and roots”, and ready to count time by Sansculottides (complementary days in the new calendar). The ideally molded citizen of Serbian, therefore, lives a parallel dimension of desired self-imposed isolation and is allowed to vandalize, burn, steal and kill in righteous wrath. The political carnival relies on the allowed wrongdoings, thus the prime minister understands the destruction of young Sans-culottes as the message that “the Serbian youth if for law, justice and freedom and rejects the western policy of force”.
The hungry and angry Sans-culottes have compensated for the deficit of modernistic content of Serbian with new entries. The mental maps of violence and vandalism were desperately drawn, and the symbolic geography whereby “Kosovo is the holy city of Jerusalem” was defended. The speakers and participants of the rally have emphasized the obstinate drawing of symbolic maps and non-acceptance of regional borders: those who tried to realize the project of “all Serbs in one state” through war in the 1990s, as well as the representatives of the Republic of Srpska, Montenegro and the Republic of Srpska Krajina by showing readiness to continue the realization of the state-building project of Serbia which is “powerful and knows what it wants”; to hold a referendum in the Republic of Srpska; to recognize the autonomous Republic of Srpska Krajina. To continue with life in the parallel reality known only to us, in which Kosovo remains the criterion of all things “which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not"; in which Kosovo figures as a mother of all reasons: the reason to sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement and join the EU, the reason for civilized and democratic protest, the reason to present ourselves as the standard of God’s and man’s justice, as res publica Christiana.
The rally “Kosovo is Serbia” interpreted as an attempt of obscene carnivalization and Sans-culottesization of reality marked the year 2008 as the year of missed Euro-Atlantic perspectives and the deficit of new paradigms for defining the key courses of Serbia’s strategic development. The incapacity of elites to communicate with the real political, economic and social context of the 21st century has surfaced in all the misery. Alongside the refusal of signing the offered Political Agreement with the EU, the year of 2008, the year of missed Euro-Atlantic perspectives bleakly indicates the oncoming decade of lost life perspectives. Additional apprehension is caused by the announcements of the cooling and suspension of diplomatic relations with all EU and NATO members that recognize the reality of Kosovo’s independence.
Paradoxically, with the Declaration of Kosovo’s independence Serbia was finally given a historical opportunity to form a new political paradigm and to turn to solving its own problems.
In the end, the protest called Kosovo is Serbia has faced Serbia with the problem of ruined institutional, economic and civilization potentials. Unfortunately, the deficit of modernization capacities and the unwillingness of the elites to turn to their own problems can be viewed through the announcements of recycling the obscene carnivalization of reality, and by wasting political energy and nonexistent economic resources of the impoverished and Sans-culottesized Serbia to generating the processes against: insisting on the obstruction of admitting the internationally recognized state of Kosovo into the international financial and political institutions. The promoters of the policy of labeling Kosovo as a “fake state in which everything is fake: fake geography, laws and history” and where violence and vandalism are not considered to be criminal acts; instead, in the context of normalized culture of violence and cruelty, these are seen as problematic only for the reason that they damage “our fight for the preservation of state and national interests”.
United in defeat, instead of the national strategy for the consolidation of Serbian democratic institutions, with a blatant lack of the sense of reality and the newly established constellation, the personae dramatis are targeting the enemies: the USA and NATO: for this unprecedented lawlessness is the fault of the destructive, cruel and immoral policy of force practiced by the USA for their own military interests”; the European Union, so that the “European future of Serbia is threatened because some EU members have recognized Kosovo’s independence and led Serbia into a situation from which there is no way out”. The targeting of enemies by the officials of the Serbian government led to burning, vandalizing and stoning of the embassies of the USA, Croatia, Canada, Turkey, Belgium, Great Britain, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The processes of fascization of reality, which rest on the dichotomy of friend-foe are indicated by banners with the swastika next to the name of the USA, as well as a call for lynching national traitors listed by name.
The communities which stubbornly cherish cultural, racial and conceptual are collapsing under the isolationism and terror of their own elites. The lasting direction of the Serbian elites is self-isolation, and the social climate of targeting the enemies and xenophobia, as well as ignoring the modernization processes brings into the public sphere new generations which are objectively incapable to perceive the world outside the self-imposed boundaries. The generations of young Sans-culottes that were growing up in the nineties, were not needed by the elites as rational and responsible subjects and conversational partners: the elites of all Serbias (the first, the other, the nth) needed this generation solely as extras and listeners: as a cover for successfully applied projects of falsified reality, especially during the last eight years, and especially from the side of civil Serbia. After the year 2000, the advocates of the civil, different Serbia began to talk to themselves: the same speakers to the same listeners in closed parlor: that is a legitimate approach, but as a logical and expected consequence, a generation has come of age that destroys and vandalizes Serbia, extols Legija and Mladic and cheering “Kosovo is Serbia”.
In the context of obvious legitimization of the policies of the SRS and SPS, with the support of democratic political options (“the consistent policy of the SPS from the last decade of the 20th century has gained in these difficult times full legitimacy from all relevant political factors in Serbia”, B. Ružic), it is not unexpected that the young generation accepts as socially desirable the attitude that “we were bombed and put into a state impermanence by the Brussels commissars, and we are being threatened with new integration associations by dissolving the Republic of Srpska and by coercing Serbs to live in a labor camp of multiethnic Kosovo, alongside their assasins”. And that the generation of those who were five in 1995 is hiding behind the banner saying “Farewell, EU”. And to build the dichotomy of friend-foe into the code of the politically aware being. A generation of politically aware beings is coming of age in a self-sufficient and isolated country which just needs to “grow strong and wait”; to strengthen its economy and buy out Kosovo. Another Serbian generation will exhaust the essence of its political engagement in waiting for its political Godot (D. Radosavljevic). Another generation that will bring to the EU only the Curriculum Vitae of ruffians and hooligans.
The agreement of all political constituents on the illegitimacy of declaring Kosovo’s independence and on the illegitimacy of EU’s civilian and military mission as well as the agreement on the measures and diplomatic acts which are to be taken regarding the countries that recognized the independent Kosovo is unquestionable. Thus the strategy on Kosovo has been supported in unison and does not exist as a problem for the political elites. The citizens of Serbia have taken a clear position toward Kosovo as well: public opinion polls exactly show that this is the fourth or fifth most important problem; DSS, a party which inaugurates Kosovo as the exclusive political platform is losing support. In the first two weeks of Kosovo’s declaration of independence, the demonstrators in Serbian cities were mainly high school children, football fans and hooligans. The Serbian elites artificially generate the false problem of Kosovo: Serbia’s only problem is Serbia itself. Therefore it is necessary for the elites to accept the fact that the state of Serbia, which borders with Kosovo, exists.
The Serbian elites must base their answer to the challenges of time in a new mobilizational paradigm: in an ethics of responsibility by rationally dismissing the false dilemma – either Kosovo or Europe. Serbia is in need of elites ready to open the Euro-Atlantic chapter and close the chapter of real and metaphorical battles with the world. Serbia is in need of elites which would not generate suspended conflicts with the European community. The elites which would not cut off contacts with neighbors, EU and NATO members. The elites ready to show political maturity by constructively continuing the cooperation with the EU’s civilian mission and KFOR forces in Kosovo. Ready to contribute to the strengthening of regional stability and peace.
Novi Sad, February 24th, 2008
Euro-Atlantic perspective of Serbia: the inauguration of self-imposed isolation
Were the citizens of Serbia in the second round of the presidential elections (February 3, 2008) actually choosing between “the conquest of Europe” and a return to the 90s, “with all our heart”, for impoverished Serbia which needs “a house with two entries and two exits”, in which “Russia and the West would meet”? The Prime Minister and some ministers from the Democratic Party of Serbia (a coalition partner of the Democratic Party) proclaimed that very same Europe “the ideological target” and “a manifest of dogmatic consciousness”. Did the citizens of Serbia, with the voters' response of 68,11%, really demonstrate the responsibility of a free acter of democracy and send a clear message: that they do not accept the status of European pariah and that they expect the president of the country to be ready to establish a modernisation dialogue with the Euro-Atlantic community of values?
The answer can be found in the events which introduce the planned inauguration of the winner of the fifth presidential elections (after 2000) like the innauguration of self-imposed isolation of Serbia. On the eve of the second round of the presidential elections, some Ministers from the Government spoke with dishonour about “the bright European future”, which for the citizens of Serbia does not exist without Kosovo and they equated the ratification of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the validation of Kosovo independence. Leading impoverished Serbia into the state of political imergency of discredited institutions, they explicated that “the state was more important than the pre-association funds of the EU”. What could have been a realistic choice of the citizens of Serbia in the campaign that had been marked with the eclecticism of political styles and rhetorics, in which the political post-modernism shone, erasing the borders between political programmes and messages? The political mimicry was defeated when it is about the Euro-Atlantic integration of Serbia: the unwillingness of the Democratic Party's candidate to clearly distance himself from the acts of discredit of Euro-Atlantic hodogram (also with including the political attitudes of the Democratic Party of Serbia about the military neutrality of Serbia in the text of the Kosovo Resolution, adopted on December 26, 2007 in the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia) was just a preamble to the first post-winning week of the suspension of work of the Government and the Parliament. The unwillingness of the Democratic Party's candidate to defend the Euro-Atlantic processes, even at a cost of a loss in the elections, gave Serbia one more complex - “the Cinderella complex”: we started looking for the form of the Euro-Atlantic processes, there are many different views of content, but it is difficult to find a political option which would defend both form and content. The exception is a programme of Ištvan Pastor - the candidate of the “Hungarian coalition” from the first round of the presidential elections. In the first article, his programme explicated the future of Serbia in the political structures of the EU and NATO.
A context of the second round of the presidential elections can be summed up in one word: fear. Both candidates generated citizens’ fear talking about the ‘90s, about poverty and the expected frustration because of the loss of national dignity and territorial integrity, and manipulating with the ethnic minorities’ fears. But the deepest anxiety and fear were created by what was not explicitly stated. Both candidates played the game of
stated/unstated and present/absent. And those very unstated messages and indirectly involved participants had the greatest influence over the results of the elections. But they also influenced the events in the first post-election week. In the case of the candidate of the Serbian Radical Party (SRP), the unstated but implied was that he still supported the Greater Serbia Project and that there was not a discontinuity in the war politics of the ‘90s. That was what brought him to a defeat. In the case of the candidate of the Democratic Party of Serbia, loyalty to the Euro-Atlantic strategies that was not stated clearly enough (the importance of the SAA ratification was explained only from the perspective of keeping Kosovo within economically stable and strong Serbia) directly caused the events in the first post-winning week.
Attaching great importance to the Democratic Party of Serbia (and in the first round eventually focusing on the Kosovo issue, which is considered forbidden by the DPS) and also proclaiming the indirectly involved Vojislav Koštunica the key protagonist of these elections, the Democratic Party prepared room for a “silent political stroke” launched by the Prime Minister. Beside Koštunica, directly non-present Vladimir Putin also served as an ideological support and preferable strategic partner to the candidates fascinated by his political Eros. The unreadiness of Boris Tadic to take a stand towards the Euro-Atlantic foreign-policy strategies and to raise the key issues of modernisation of Serbia have led Serbia into the state of suspended reality, reinforcing the positions of those political options which real capacities have been exhausted and which are gradually becoming a part of political past. The important message of the fifth elections after 2000 is that the Democratic Party of Serbia and New Serbia (the Serbian Radical Party entered the long-lasting but irreversible process of de-radicalization) have exhausted their political capacities and that they do not correspond with a political agenda of the modern world. There is still a question if the Democratic Party and Boris Tadic have an understanding of modernisation agenda and if they are ready to meet the challenges of time.
The election rhetoric of Boris Tadic has shown that he still does not have enough strength to leave the shadow of fatalistic discourse, that he does not communicate with the agenda of global problems, that he does not raise the issues of energetic and ecological security, global warming, immigrants and global terrorism. It has also shown that the conquest of Europe still does not imply the synchronised and clearly defined campaign of Serbia’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic structures, but that Boris Tadic, suffering from “the Cinderella complex”, still wavers between preferable and possible contents that would satisfy the aspirations of all the potential coalitional partners. The appeal to the citizens to vote in a referendum on the strategic priorities was not the appeal to free and rational democratic protagonists. It was the appeal to disappointed, passive and impoverished citizens to take the responsibility for both positive and negative results and consequences of governing of political elites in the last eight years of transition. In spite of the fact that the elections have been degraded as a constitutional institution and a political act (the date of the election was known only in the nick of time), the citizens once again showed political maturity and responsibility. That was glaringly obvious in Vojvodina, in spite of Boris Tadic’s attitude that Vojvodina is not “a
constitutional issue, but the issue of development and the point in Serbia nearest to Europe” and that was obviously shown by the corpus of voters who supported Ištvan Pastor in the first round, despite the unwillingness of Boris Tadic to accept the candidate of “Hungarian Coalition” as a relevant, the third strongest political option in Vojvodina. In spite of the reality of corrupted and discredited institutions, the citizens showed the respect for the democratic procedures and sent their message about the direction of expected political, economical and social changes.
Trying to tie all the flags together, on October 5, Boris Tadic neglected a few facts: in October 2000, “the Colour Revolution” happened in Serbia, but the processes of political transition have not reached yet the point of democratic consolidation from which it is not possible to go back to the autocracy. The identity of Serbia as a political community has not been configured yet, and the exposure to the contradictory political impulses of the inauguration of the first president of the independent Republic of Serbia will be interpreted as an act of the inauguration of self-imposed isolation. If Boris Tadic continues wavering, both Kosovo and Serbia will join those political groups and protagonists that do not correspond to the agenda of the modern world, and they will become the protagonists of political past.
Paradoxically, a new chapter of the Serbian political history would have been written if the elites from Belgrade: had invited the EU civilian police mission to come to Kosovo (the preparations for the mission’s arrival have been made in the last two years); had prepared the office of a representative of Serbia in Kosovo (then Serbia would have been the first to send its ambassador to Priština) and had supported the presidential candidate of the “Hungarian Coalition” and his victory. With a president from an ethnic minority and with an ambassador in Priština, paradoxically, Serbia would have written a new political chapter and would have lived to see October 6, that has been wanted and waited for eight years. Litmus of a deep political crisis, of the absence of willingness and capability of Serbian elites to start writing a new political chapter is also the unreadiness to sign the offered Political Agreement with the EU. Are Boris Tadic and the democratic political options ready to meet the challenges of time? Are they ready to overcome a complex of winning losers? The citizens of Serbia have sent a clear message that they do not accept the status of European pariah and that they want a president who is competent and ready to establish a dialogue with the Euro-Atlantic community of values. We are waiting for Boris Tadic’s response.
Novi Sad February 10th, 2008
When will Ištvan Pastor become president of Serbia?
It is necessary for Serbian elites to be ready to initiate the modernistic dialog with Europe, in order for the democratic infrastructure of political community to be reinforced. In that context, the twelve points of Ištvan Pastor’s pre-election programme are a foothold in setting in motion a process of political emancipation of Serbia. The processes of political and civilization emancipation can be encouraged if Serbia: joins the Euro-Atlantic integration structures; confronts and deals with the past, by extradition of the convicts for war crimes; abandons the war Kosovo matrix; reinforces the institutions of a law-governed state; understands a new concept of global safety and reinforces a role and identity of Vojvodina as a European region, with the full observance of standards of human and minority rights. The processes of political and civilization emancipation rise the issue of the elites' ability to pass the reforms, but they also rise the issue of understanding of numerous mutually conditioned processes which characterise the globalised reality.
The fact that only one out of nine presidential candidates in 2008 has the pre-election programme which presents the Euro-Atlantic future of Serbia as a basic principle, reflects a serious crisis of the elites which are not able to meet the challenges of time. The twelve points of Ištvan Pastor are a precondition for a modern, constructive dialogue with Europe which can open up the future of different Serbia.
Therefore, the essential issue of the fifth presidential elections after the year 2000 is the issue of identity of Serbia as a political community in the 21st century: the issue of the elites’ ability to make a historical discontinuity in the predominant nationalistic legitimate model and to achieve consensus on the universal political and moral principles which correspond with a real historical and political context. The indicator of the Serbian elites’ crisis is also a lack of capacity for making and managing social changes, so they hopelessly remain trapped in the Kosovo myth (“the world should know that Kosovo is our home and nobody has right to grab it: there is no dilemma about defense of Kosovo and Metohija, even under arms”, Milutin Mrkonjic, the presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of Serbia), moulding the 21st century Serbia into the organic pre-political society.
In the eighth year of transition, Serbian elites showed the incapability of making a stable system, a lack of creative civilization potential and they also generated a new frozen conflict between Serbia and the Euro-Atlantic community. In public discourse (especially in the pre-election speeches), Serbia is both “a fatherland and a homeland” which has two problems that are being resolved: “how to keep our common past and how to define our common future at the same time”.
The (un)expected reactions to Ištvan Pastor’s candidature are a symptom of the majority elites’ crisis and a symptom of captivity in the nationalistic mental system which disclaims any responsibility. The accumulated democratic nationalism blocks up and destroys every attempt to make democratic changes (“We do not want to change our fatherland. Serbia will never accept the independence of Kosovo and any one-sided
solution would destabilise the region”). Therefore, there logically follows this question: if a process of democratic elections is a process of “institutionalised suspense”, why is then, in advance and with certainty, Pastor assigned only votes of Vojvodina Hungarians, with the remark that “the majority of that population votes for the Democratic Party, G17 Plus and the Liberal Democratic Party” and why is the minority candidate condemned in advance for wasting the votes? While the representative of CeSID (Centre for Free Election and Democracy) “cannot see the purpose of Pastor’s candidature”, and Belgrade analysts believe that it is about “a locally directed move: this is a chance for the leader of Vojvodina Hungarians to become more prominent in the public life and there is nothing more that that”, the candidate of the Democratic Party and the current president of Serbia says that “it is unusual for an ethnic community to have its candidate in the presidential elections”. Potential 80,000 votes are being talked about with disrespect: the possibility that the citizens of Vojvidina and Serbia (not only the Hungarians) might vote for this candidate has been rejected in advance. The (legal) Declaration of support of a group of 21 Hungarian intellectuals to Boris Tadic affirms the ethnic legitimate model. Emphasizing a danger of “checking a political pulse of Hungarians” because of “pulling away the voters”, the group of intellectuals emphasizes that “only with Boris Tadic as a president of Serbia, we can make such a democratic society in which knowledge and work, not nationality, come into play”. Boris Tadic’s convention in Novi Sad was supported by Milorad Dodik, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Srpska, and Alexander Alexeev, the ambassador of Russia, attended the convention in Niš.
The reactions to the candidature of a minority party leader are just a sign of a deficiency of understanding of minorities as heterogeneous groups, divided by different interests and socially classed. The biggest political parties have a sponsoring relation with tame, invisible and silent minorities, which will be given symbolical, politically important role only by patronage of politically mature and more experienced ones (leading the minorities from the exotic and folklore sphere). That is a matrix that practically cannot be changed. Will the candidate of the Hungarian coalition manage to take over some votes from the candidate of the Democratic Party? That is a question of quality of his political programme. Will he manage, in the second round, to capitalise politically his party’s position and to impose the interests of the citizens he represents as a politically important issue? That is a question of his political skills. The political rhetoric has been exhausted for years, through the phrases about “the protection and clear legal definition of national minorities’ rights and decentralization”. Basically, there remains a lack of comprehension of the citizens’ identity issue: and of Vojvodina identity which would impose itself as an alternative to a dominant parochial-traditionalist matrix, by supporting different kinds of civil commitment and reinforcing civil matrices which would confirm Vojvodina and Serbia citizens’ loyalty to a set of liberal values. Even the nominal promoters of liberal-democratic standards in Serbia can hardly understand the essence: liberal democracy is based on the institutions of a law-governed state. A logical slogan would be: “Law is life”, not the other way around.
A campaign with the slogan “For Serbia in which everybody will do well” is supported by the National Assembly of Bunjevci, the “Krstaš” Association of Montenegrins, the
Bulgarian National Assembly, and a support of the Democratic Forum of Macedonians in Serbia is also expected. In the media, there was reported the news that after the decision about the support had been made, “the Bulgarian National Assembly came under pressure from the local officials of the Democratic Party in Dimitrovgrad”.
The political capital carried by every vote for Ištvan Pastor is of great importance for Serbia. The provincial Belgrade-centred perspective of the advisors and analysts underestimates and denies the importance of projected political benefits of all the players in this political match (from the perspective of the support for Ištvan Pastor) and especially the potential symbolic and political capital, bearing in mind the province and local elections in the spring. Not corresponding to the challenges of time, not ready for their own change and the change of political and economic preconditions for an operational country, ready to generate indefinitely “the subculture of despair and poverty”, Serbian elites (mostly the protagonists on the political stage in the last 18 years), do not have political future. Hence the question in the headline is not formed with “will…” but with “when will…” Ištvan Pastor, as a paradigm of the Otherness who opens up a new strategy of democratic development and demands changed, when will a representative of modernistic elite represent the interests of Serbian citizens. Serbia needs a new political paradigm. The political matrix of Serbia as a democratic political society will be articulated (hopefully, in the next presidential elections) by a representative of civil Serbia, supported by the political options of majority.
Novi Sad, January 6th, 2008
Serbia in 2007: the year of political hibernation
Serbian elites spent the year 2007 spinning the processes of normalization of permanent political state of emergency, which are notoriously being finalized with bringing discredit upon the Euro-Atlantic hodogram and with production of new frozen conflict between Serbia and Euro-Atlantic Community, and also with prolongation of making key political decisions. The year 2007 is economically lost and it is expected for the next year, 2008, to be lost as well, because of the expected rising inflation rate. With the act of legitimating a forum of advisers and analysts as the only valid suprapolitical arena from which the potential enemies are being named synchronously, in which neo-Kosovo ideology is being developed and from which transitional frustration and loser ship are being manipulated, Serbian elites impose a patriotic blockade on rational consideration of socio-political context in which the domestic and foreign political priorities for the year 2008 are being defined.
This year, which is coming to its end, has been marked with “deep political divisions” which made “the reforms slow down”. The elites, focused on the Kosovo problem, are ready to trigger the process of regional destabilization, for the sake of realization of the concept of “having all of the Serbs in one country”. Serbia, a “captive country”, which “is not likely to fulfill the EU conditions in the near future”, meets criteria for flawed, half-consolidated democracy intertwined with “creeping partiocratic dictatorships”.
A constant in the year 2007 is political disregard and arogance founded on the Democratic Party of Serbia (DPS) / New Serbia (NS) platform in the period of negotiations over the formation of the Government of the Republic of Serbia. That platform presents all the issues except for the issue of consensus on national interest as being unimportant. That disregard and arogance are being confirmed in the synchronized statements of the Prime Minister and the Minister of foreign affairs. The former thinks that “the frequent statement of American officials in favour of the Kosovo independence lead to deterioration of the relations between Serbia and the USA” and the latter, considering EU membership to be “the main goal of Serbia”, still emphasizes the fact that Serbia will be forced to reconsider its relations with “the countries which decide to endanger Serbian sovereignty with unilateral declaration of Kosovo independence”. There is a confirmation of a matrix of political autism and disregard of reality, which can be found in a declaration on confirmation of the relations between Serbia and Kosovo and Metohija, with which a delegation of Kosovo Serbs asks the Serbian Prime Minister the following question: “if some of the EU countries declare the Kosovo independence, do we automatically become accomplices in the process of extortion of a part of our state territory?”. Public calls of Tsar Lazar’s Guard to the Serbian uprising for the defence of Kosovo are on the same trace.
On May 11, Serbia started a six-month period of being in the chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, with the slogan “One Europe, our Europe”, but under the shadow of a verdict of the International Court of Justice which is written in the legal and historical register, where Serbia is the only country so far which has been convicted of breaking the Convention on Genocide Prevention and Punishment. The unreadiness
of political elites to cease the politics from the ‘90s can be seen in the acceptance of the verdict of the International Court of Justice as the abolition of the politics of crimes from the wars in the ‘90s (“the verdict according to which the Federal Republic of Serbia is not
responsible for genocide in Srebrenica makes the stories about the military responsibility of Serbia meaningless”, Ivica Dacic) and the refusal of the fact that the realization of the project of Great Serbia meant the fall into barbarism and destruction of one civilization worth model.
The year 2007 is the year in which Serbian elites, paradoxically, by the act of signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement (the technical negotiations over the first general contractual relation with the EU were brought to an end two years after they had begun), signed a state of longed-for military and political neutrality. In spite of reality, as an answer to the opinions of majority, the elites promote trivialized, senseless Russophilia. The ideological Eros of Vladimir Putin is being inaugurated as the only political platform, and the shared appearance as the only political strategy of Serbian Government in the negotiation over Kosovo, emphasizing that “the common politics of Serbia and Russia and the two nations’ friendship are not directed against anybody, but they aim at respect of international rights and preservation of lasting peace and stability in the whole region”.
Numerous threats which discredit the international community can be summed up in the message that Serbia, self-sufficient and military neutral, is ready to redefine its foreign-policy priorities, at the cost of isolation. “No to NATO” means implicitly “no to the EU”. In the state of political schizophrenia, Serbia is closing six (successful) months of being in the chair of the Council of Europe, under the shadow of a proclaimed Declaration of Military Neutrality. One year after Serbia had entered a NATO Partnership for Peace programme, the expected full co-operation with the Hague Tribunal was not established and Belgrade did not sign the Information Safety Agreement with NATO.
The year 2007 was marked with a latent paralysis and systematic destruction of almost all institutions. Moreover, the institution of elections was also discredited, because once again Kosovo, as a national reason, is an excuse for (announced) breaking of legally defined deadline for the elections. The Serbian elites’ institutionalized lust for power is an overture to the established practice of governing of the loyal ones instead of the best and/or the most competent ones: there are many indications that lead Serbian imperfect democracy to the reign of the worst (kakistocracy). The National Parliament, the highest legislative echelon, is an empty locus of power: day after day, it is being discredited by incompetence, rudeness and speeches of hatred, being its adopted standards of communication. We all witness deterioration of democracy and a competition between legal and privatised centres of power. With the obvious deficiency of democratic capacity, Serbia is not able to join the Euro-Atlantic integration processes on its own, with no help from outside.
The post-election distribution of political power showed that political elites are not ready to terminate the forgery of reality. They are unwilling to accept the reality of independent Kosovo and try to replace their own dislocation from the real European context with the inarticulate language of Resolutions. The process of redefining regional borders is not over yet for Serbian elites, and the referendum in the Republic of Srpska is being drawn
from the arsenal of the “having all of the Serbs in one country” politics as a threat, which is not taken seriously, because Serbia is, at the moment, the greatest threat to itself. Belgrade obviously intends to use Serbs from both Kosovo and the Republic of Srpska as the hostages of historically failed politics. The readiness to recycle a fake reality can be recognized in the opinion of the Minister of foreign affairs that “we do not ask for the reintegration of Kosovo into our system. The essential autonomy means that Kosovo runs its own business, but Serbia has not given up the symbolism of its sovereignty.”
Poverty, collapsed institutions, a high level of corruption and organized crime and the absence of political willingness to bring a fundamental change coincide with discrediting of the idea of civil Serbia, which is being misused by recycling of programmes and projects which do not correspond with the needs of realistic citizens. Narrowed down to the leitmotif of the successfully applied projects, civil Serbia is unable to deal with the processes of a fascist society creation and to impose the alternative agenda of problems which, having a high priority, are defined by the International Community: problems of global safety and terrorism, problems with energy, global warming, immigrants, etc.
The question is: are Serbian elites competent to open a Euro-Atlantic chapter in which an image of isolated and jubilant loser gives way to Serbia which is ready to respond to the challenges of time? Are the elites ready to cease the state of political hibernation and to terminate the frozen conflicts which have been knowingly induced? Is Serbia going to spend the year 2008 recalling hopelessly the memories of real and metaphorical battles we have fought against the whole world? Will Serbia manage to leave the shadow of the altar and a sword and to turn a new page in history: to accept independent Kosovo as a regional and strategic partner with which it is going to build Euro-Atlantic future and stability in the region? Will Serbia be able to resolve the key issues of democratic consolidation: the issues of essential institutional reforms which are a precondition of the Euro-Atlantic partnership? Will Serbia be able to jump over the shadow of its own arrogance and over the false impression of our own truth, in which Serbia, “with powerful and irrefutable arguments, confuted Ahtisaari’s plan in the Security Council”? Is Serbia going to find a rational and acceptable solution? Will Serbia terminate Kosovo instrumentalization, being the elites’ necessary “institutional lie” which wastes Serbian political energy?
The year 2008 requires a consensus of political elites about the future of Serbia. It is necessary to discard all the fake dilemmas about the foreign-policy priorities and to take responsibility, along with the awareness of the consequences of irrational and historically failed actions. It is also necessary to emphasize the importance of politics of active participation in all the international institutions, especially in the Partnership for Peace programme and in NATO and the EU in the future. In the year 2008, the ambassador of Serbia in Priština should constructively support the actions of the EU civil mission and thereby demonstrate responsibility of the future member of the EU and NATO. Serbian elites carry the responsibility for citizens’ protection from risks that can be avoided. They also have an obligation to terminate the manipulation of fear, incorporating it into the construct of national identity. In the year 2008, Serbian elites have to terminate the state of political hibernation which is leading Serbia into the inevitable isolation.
Novi Sad, December 10th, 2007
There is a question whether Serbian elites, paradoxically, by the act of signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement, signed a state of longed-for military and political neutrality. The answer to this question can be partially found in the analysis of circumstances under which technical negotiations over the first general contractual relation with the EU were brought to an end two years after they had begun. The public received the outspoken satisfaction of negotiators and signatories with silence. The absence of active pro-Euro-Atlantic campaign (the result of the absence of political consensus about defined foreign-policy priorities) made it even more difficult to animate all the protagonists of political and civil society to familiarise citizens with the expected benefits of the signed Agreement. The expected indifference of uninformed citizens was not missing.
The signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement confirmed: the evident willingness of the European Community to make the additional effort to co-ordinate Serbia institutionally with the corpus of political and economic rules and regulations of the EU. It also confirmed that, paradoxically, Serbian elites presented benevolence of the International Community as the acceptance of the “adequate-for-us-only” reality, as a mutual acknowledgement of the existence of a frozen conflict between Serbia and the Euro-Atlantic Community (the Stabilization and Association Agreement was signed a few days after the ambassadors of five Contact Group countries had taken some steps to warn Serbia and appeal to it to take the constructive attitude towards the political processes in bordering Bosnia and Herzegovina). The finalization of the negotiations over the Kosovo status is the moment which is being used by Serbian elites to reincarnate a Serbian role as “a patient in the Balkans” and to misuse the Stabilization and Association Agreement as a new ideological fallback. Along with Kosovo, the pre-election appearances will be additionally enriched with another frozen conflict: Serbia vs. the Euro-Atlantic Community. The state of political hibernation continues indefinitely. Officially signed.
Numerous threats which discredit the international community can be summed up in the message that Serbia, self-sufficient and military neutral, is ready to redefine its foreign-policy priorities, at the cost of isolation. “No to NATO” means implicitly “no to the EU”. In the state of political schizophrenia, Serbia is closing six (successful) months of being in the chair of the Council of Europe, under the shadow of a proclaimed Declaration of Military Neutrality. Military neutrality is “the best and the safest way for Serbia to keep its national sovereignty, integrity and independence as a foundation of its free overall progression and to provide a dignified life for its citizens”. Is military neutrality a guarantee of progress and dignified life of citizens, in the community on the edge of political and economic bankruptcy, which, according to the opinion of the European Commission (the report about the Strategy of Enlargement) “is not likely to fulfill the conditions for association with the EU soon”? Is military neutrality a guarantee of dominance of the state of political confusion in the community in which “deep political divisions made the reforms slow down” and the elites are focused on the Kosovo
problem, ready to trigger the process of regional destabilization, in order to realize a concept of “having all of the Serbs in one country”? If military neutrality is a sign of “strong Serbia’s orientation against the politics of force”, why the following fact cannot be accepted: that the most straightforward sign of orientation “against disturbance of the peace” is improvement of the relations of Serbia with Bosnia and Herzegovina and with Kosovo, by obeying the clauses of the CEFTA agreement as well as Regional Council.
“A certain advance” in achievement of the political EU standards by formation of “pro-European reform government” (the estimation of the European Commission), perceived through the prism of political everyday life, is being confirmed by the concrete political acts: after the expiry of all the deadlines, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia ratified the agreement of CEFTA; the laws which are necessary for the process of visa regime liberalization were adopted in the nick of time; there is no willingness to establish a dialogue between institutions and citizens and to explain the process of association with the Euro-Atlantic structures as being beneficial and positive. The processes of joining the EU and NATO have been separated on purpose, manipulating the fact that the NATO’s Study on Enlargement from 1995 directed a political and economic mainstay of memberships to NATO, compatible to the EU membership conditions: following basic democratic principles and human rights protection, market economy protection and regional stability. With the proclamation of the Declaration of Military Neutrality, the principal board of the Democratic Party of Serbia does not mention the fact that the co-ordination of political, economic and security surrounding is a precondition of certainty: a region for future investments is stable and compatible with at least 49 countries (members of NATO and PfP). Does “No to NATO” and “Not yet to Europe” attitude expressed by the majority of Serbian elites imply the termination of contracts that have been signed with NATO so far, including the Agreement on air and overland transit of NATO troops through Serbia?
The promotion of military neutrality, as the act of avoiding responsibility (which is not a valuably and politically neutral attitude) has the aim of: prolonging the solution of major political and economic problems; creating confusion of values and widening the gap between the declared attitudes (there is no alternative to Euro-Atlantic partnership): these attitudes are being deleted by the concrete political action and preparation (followed by the appropriate ideological infrastructure and scenery). The alternative frozen conflict is to be initiated (Serbia vs. the Euro-Atlantic Community). The scenery is ready: a monument to “the Russian consul”, some photographs of Vladimir Putin and a lament for everlasting friendship between Serbia and Russia.
Novi Sad, November 10th, 2007
If we tried to apply Robert Dahl’s model of polyarchy to the Serbian case of imperfect democracy, in the intersection of two axes (legalism vs. fundamental issues of preservation of territorial integrity and sovereignty), it would result in institutionalized arbitrariness of political elites whose acts of systematic destruction inevitably bring discredit upon one of essential democratic institutions: the institution of election. Once again Kosovo, as a national reason, is an excuse for (announced) breaking of legally defined deadline for the elections. The resulting point of the two axes’ intersection is the reality of institutionalized lust for power, embodied through the 3-2-1 formula of party sinecure apportionment. The institutionalized lust for power is an overture to the established practice of governing of the loyal ones instead of the best and/or the most competent ones. It is also an overture to the denial of preconditions for constitutional liberalism: there are many indications that lead Serbian imperfect democracy to the reign of the worst (kakistocracy).
If politics are “the most important of all applied sciences if its goal is a final and perfect virtuous life in the citizenry” (Aristotle) and if democracy is based on power and independence of the institutions which preserve essential values of freedom and public good, then the Serbian kakistocracy, in the seventh year of transition, advocate neither the promotion of principles of public good and citizens’ virtues, nor the affirmation of the right of choice value, but they lead to the collapse and systematic degradation of democratic institutions. The reign of law, the balance and co-operation within a ruling class are necessary preconditions for liberal-democratic frame, which might not always produce the best results, but it still provides a protection from the reign of the worst. A great number of unsolved affairs, normalization and legalization of corrupt mechanisms, culture of cruelty, neglecting of essential dignity of citizens, etc. are only the symptoms of defects of institutional political infrastructure.
Can reality be suspended, waiting for D-Day? Can a practice of breaking laws be established as a new standard of legality? Will anybody raise issues about political responsibility of the self-willed elites which suspend democratic institutions and indirectly the very Constitution, in which we wrote down with indelible ink that “Kosovo has always been and will remain a part of Serbia for good”? Will anybody raise issues about political responsibility of the authorities for preparation of four laws which are a precondition for local and provincial elections? Only one of these draft laws has been prepared (The Territory Organization Draft Law). The completion of the draft law on the capital, local autonomy and local elections has been blocked by the incapability of leading coalition’s parties to come to an agreement on local elections’ system.
Responsibility and openness are important components of democracy: a political community which cherishes responsibility requires a responsible government and implies openness towards the understanding of general, partial and individual interests. The institutionalized self-will of political elites does not strengthen the institutional consolidation processes but it misuses the state of incomplete statehood and what is
more, it also encourages the senselessness of processes of the articulation of citizens’ legitimate requests:
- The National Parliament, the highest legislative echelon, is an empty locus of power: day after day, it is being discredited by incompetence, rudeness and speeches of hatred, being its adopted standards of communication. In front of the cameras of National Public Broadcasting Service, the National Parliament has turned into a pre-election theatre stage.
- The absence of a public debate and vagueness of the procedures for passing essential legal acts have created numerous dilemmas, one of them is definitely: are there any mechanisms for decision making outside the institutional ones? It seems that we attend a competition between legal and privatised centres of power. It is not clear whether legal institutions, freedom and citizens’ dignity are dependent variables or there is nothing more than a mere simulation of mutual dependence of different dimensions of democratic processes.
- The key institutions of executive, legislative and juridical authority are usurped: political elites use the state infrastructure to promote their own individual interests. A fair distribution and promotion of Serbian citizens’ interests, efficient decision making related to the vital interests of the whole community are not on the agenda of the political elites. The patchwork of interests has been enriched with many influences of economic, cultural, spiritual, etc. elites. The categories of democratic and civil control over the work of the institutions (breaking of the Law on the access to the information of public importance) have just begun to develop.
- The specialists in constitutional law are the only ones who still hopelessly raise issues of work of the Constitutional Court (delayed selection of judges and procedural impropriety of retirement of the Constitutional Courts’ chairman): political elites ignore the importance of the establishment of juridical issues; specialists in law, quite unprompted, are trying to clarify vagueness about the interpretation of some articles of the Constitutional Law and deadlines for the elections. Processes of building and strengthening of institutions in Serbia are being additionally complicated by insecurity of courts and judges, threats they are exposed to and by a resignation of the major judge in the proceedings for the assassination of the Prime Minister Zoran Đindic.
Democracy is a public virtue based on citizens’ trust in institutions. Democratic legitimacy (which implies trust and commitment) and democratic deficiency (along with making the importance of civil engagement senseless) make a system of joined vessels: only strengthening of the importance of institutions can bridge a gap between apathy and aversion as the resulting points of the institutionalized elites’ self-will.
Novi Sad, October 17th, 2007
Euro-Atlantic Partnership: Fake Dilemmas
In the political interval from a refusal of the Agreement on friendship between Kosovo and Serbia until the New York Declaration, Serbian elites are intensively creating preconditions of suspended reality: readiness to bid the deadline for the elections, which has been legally defined by the Constitutional Law (until the key issue of Kosovo status is resolved); readiness to slow down (and eventually terminate) the processes of Euro-Atlantic partnership, finding “a way of full co-operation with NATO”; and last but no the least, readiness to terminate processes of political emancipation and democratic consolidation, by faking and imposing fake dilemmas: Kosovo or a NATO country (“a lever of global ideological manipulation which destroys sovereignty of national countries”).
The suspended Serbian reality is a paradigm of a process of “modernization without modernity”. Instead of rational articulation of citizens’ interests, in that process, patriotic “Marches for unity of Serbia” and the announced intervention of Tsar Lazar’s Guard in the case of “proclamation of Kosovo’s independence” define Serbia as a relevant subject on the international political stage. However, the return to modern history with the methodology of “righteous power with God’s blessing” legalises a forum of advisors and analysts as the only valid suprapolitical arena from which the potential enemies are being named synchronously, in which neo-Kosovo ideology is being developed and which is sending pseudo-patriotic messages that aim at imposing fake dilemmas and discrediting Serbian Euro-Atlantic hodogram. A patriotic blockade does not allow providing rational answers to half-made-up claims related to the conditions of joining NATO:
1. The old concept of security (preparation for defence against the enemies from outside) in the new configuration of power and crisis management is to be replaced with a new concept of human safety which focuses on the citizens’ needs and interests. We live in the era of mutual dependence and co-operation, looking for the global answers to the global threats.
2. With its military-security components, NATO structure emphasizes the importance of establishing a political dialogue of the members - partner countries and also supports the projects which deal with the issues of ecological, cyber or energy security. The projects of ecological aspects of managing Lake Prespa, destroying poisonous rocket fuel in Azerbaijan and researches of psychological aspects of terrorism bring benefits both to the scientific institutions and to the citizens.
3. NATO is a guarantee of security, and expansion of the alliance towards east has enlarged the space of freedom and safety. NATO does not have a super national power and every decision is made with consensus. More than sixty countries all over the world are included in different programmes of partnership with NATO.
4. Political criteria for joining NATO are compatible with the criteria for joining the EU. The institutional reforms are a matter of strategic decision and political consensus concerning the acceptance of Euro-Atlantic Community political base and an essential issue of strengthening of democratic consolidation processes.
5. Harmony in political, economic and security environment and standards is a base for predictability and certainty: a space of future investment is stable and compatible with at least forty-nine countries (members of NATO and PfP). The compatibility with the NATO structures presupposes the exchange of military technology and knowledge, standardization according to the western standards, responsibility for the creation of European security system.
6. Military reforms are much cheaper than the unreasonable service of a great number of people and ancient military technology: the redistribution of military budget is more rational, due to the fact that the structure of expenses is to change: the expected amount taken from the gross national product for membership costs in NATO is about two percent. Collective defence is always cheaper than individual. Financial management of collective budget conducted by NATO is realized through special civil, military and infrastructural budget, according to the arranged formula for operating of costs.
7. The following EU members are not members of NATO: Austria, Cyprus, Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Malta. In spite of the fact that they are not members of NATO, there are Swedish, Austrian, Irish and Finnish troops in Kosovo, as a part of KFOR. The troops of Switzerland, which is not a member neither of the EU nor of NATO, are also a part of KFOR. That fact indicates the need of the governments of these countries to react and share the responsibility related to the crisis management. On the other hand, that fact also indicates the compatibility of military structures of these countries with the NATO structures. KFOR has about 17.000 soldiers, 1.300 of them being American.
8. “We have had too many victims in so many wars that Serbia has fought, and we cannot sacrifice any more victims joining NATO, for the sake of others’ interests and on the other continents.” Except for the defence of the Alliance’s territory (Europe, North America), Serbia is not obliged to take part in other operations: the Parliament makes a decision on the involvement of its troops in the operations within any other territories.
Serbian elites suspend reality, being unable to resolve the key issues of democratic consolidation: the issues of essential institutional reforms, which are the precondition for the Euro-Atlantic partnership. Former soldiers who go on hunger strike and citizens who live their everyday lives in fear, insecurity and suspense, are offered politics of military neutrality. They are also offered demonstrative abandonment of international meetings at which the Kosovo delegation takes part as a legal subject. We are offered an escape and neutrality as the answer to the issue of responsibility for our own future.
Novi Sad, September 29th, 2007
NATO: Route Map
A symbolic omission of the acronym NATO in the inaugural speech of Vojislav Koštunica after the Government has been formed (along with the apostrophizing of five strategic points) arose numerous dilemmas and doubts concerning Serbian foreign policy orientation. These dilemmas have been solved by the Prime Minister’s co-workers in the first one hundred days of the Government’s existence. By means of the symbolic absence and gradation of the apostrophized and non-apostrophised goals, there has been created the space for the construction of indices of new metric units for patriotism, the units which can be read in the threats and disqualification of the USA and NATO politics in the process of negotiations over the Kosovo status.
A level of patriotism of Prime Minister’s closest co-workers ranges from a symbolic denial of the cooperation between Serbia and NATO, to the explicit threats that, if “the USA approves the first NATO country”, the Serbian Government will make a decision “to prohibit our country from becoming a member of NATO”. Some metaphoric Serbian-American Kosovo battles have already been announced and the synchronised appearances of Koštunica’s co-workers have placed Belgrade on geo-political margins, somewhere in between Bondstil and Brussels. In the context of such kind of statements, the symbolic NATO emptiness of the inaugural speech of Vojislav Koštunica can be easily understood: a country which creates its identity only by selling war ruins, needs conflicts (metaphorical, at the moment) with the USA and NATO, in order for the illusion of national quasi-sovereignty to be preserved at all costs. Grading of an index of insults and disqualifications related to NATO which carries genius loci of a foreign world, raises proportionally pseudo-power and wisdom of the weak, which are nourished with agony recycling and moral superiority of Serbia as an eternal victim.
Confronting the idea of global partnership and mutual dependence with the illusion of fake sovereignty and self-sufficiency, the attitudes of the Democratic Party of Serbia officials are supported by Serbian elites (explicitly, with statements, or implicitly, with silence and disregard). Reflecting their own ethno-national traumas, those elites create reality, making up some space for a NATO country. They reflect their affinity for the historical experiments on a phantom NATO country, introducing some unreal political formulas and ignoring the fact that NATO is not an organic, but political structure of 26 countries. The fact that Serbia is a member of the Partnership for Peace (PfP) is being ignored as well. They also ignore the fact that the Serbian Government (which ministers defame the activities of the International community in Kosovo) unanimously adopted the Presentation Document which defines the activities in which Serbia will take place in this NATO programme. Another fact is also being ignored, the fact that Serbia is expected to sign the Information Safety Agreement with NATO. That agreement is of great importance to Serbia because for the first time in its history, Serbia will have a military-diplomatic branch office in NATO. The mentioned agreement is also important because of the fact that the conditions for the higher level of information exchange with NATO will be created. These conditions are the only guarantee of safety in Kosovo. It is obvious that the statements about NATO being an organization which creates a criminal, mafia,
satellite, military, marionette-like, etc. country, are necessary in the process of legitimising Serbian political universe, in which Bondstil, as the capital of a NATO country produces the excess of meaning, which is necessary to Serbian elites for keeping on with the historical experiments with Serbian citizens.
Why do Serbian elites need the USA and NATO in this historical experiment? NATO is a metaphor for reassessment of quasi-sovereignty and readiness to leave the isolated and hermetic space and enter the space of sub national safety, which does not represent just a military structure, but it also includes some dimensions of political, economic, social and ecological safety. The global safety agenda has been changed. The reality of global threats means danger of global terrorism, spreading weapons of mass destruction, problems with energy, global warming, etc. Global safety challenges need mutual agreement. Global partnership is a necessity.
A precondition of global partnership is readiness to overcome exclusivism of the importance of small nations and the abstract messianism and also readiness to promote politics which bring a breakup of provincial spirit and anti-western attitude. The question is: are Serbian elites afraid of the 32 per cent of the population who (according to the research of Media Galup, February 2007) support Serbia in joining NATO? Are they afraid of openness, professional adequacy and overcoming of boundaries? Are they afraid of NATO, a metaphor for overstepped boundaries? Are they afraid of reality which will not be expressed through the desperate search for (historical and traditional) friends and enemies? Trapped in a mental matrix of friends and enemies, implying the fact that “the Serbian Government will find a way to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity”, the agents of our misery cannot accept reality of global partnership and define NATO as a partner. NATO as a partner is the first step in overcoming of symbolic boundaries.
The overall impression is that Serbia does not understand global agenda of safety problems and a newly formed configuration of power. On one side, the Serbian Minister for Foreign Affairs in Brussels presents the Presentation Document about the main goals of Serbia in PfP, and on the other side, the Serbian Prime Minister’s party “requests NATO to respect the immutability of internationally accepted borders of Serbia”. The ambivalence and symbolic gaps in Prime Minister’s speeches are just one more proof that the invitation for Serbia to join the PfP, as well as the opening up of Euro-Atlantic perspective, are the result of strategic decision of Euro-Atlantic Community. With the obvious deficiency of democratic capacity, Serbia is not able to join the Euro-Atlantic integration processes on its own, with no help from outside. Joining the PfP, and in the future of NATO, Serbia will get a chance to take over and demonstrate responsibility for improvement in stability and safety in the region. Serbia will also get a chance to define clearly its own identity as a safe country.
Novi Sad, September 3rd, 2007
Pan-Slavic or Euro-Atlantic Integration
Will Serbia, on June 28, 2014, symbolically terminate a shortened and wasted 20th century? Will Serbia then write down a new feast day in the register of collective memory, the feast day of St. Vitus, the day of Serbia’s integration into the EU, as the vice president of Serbian Government announces? Or maybe, on June 28, 2014 we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Gazimestan’s Day of St. Vitus, and with nostalgia we will recall our memories of real and metaphorical battles we have fought against the whole world and with everlasting hope that the war adventures have not ended yet and that we are still to enjoy magic of imperial joys, with faith in the eternal political Eldorado of all Serbian elites: with faith in Russia.
Enriched in accordance with the needs of historical moment, with its appropriate Euro-Atlantic connotations, the Day of St. Vitus makes it easier to the political and ecclesiastical elites to narrow down the complexity of political processes and Serbian integration with Euro-Atlantic structures to the very »summa orthodoxiae«. The spiritual aspect, through which the processes, politics and values of “foreign gods and cultures” are evaluated and trivialized, makes the political orientation of Serbia even harder and more problematic, recycling parochial-isolationist model, anti-west ideas and anti-modernism. In addition to that, in the light of defining of the status of Kosovo, the everlasting connections with tormented “mother Russia” have been emphasized. Ignoring the fact that 69,3% of citizens are in favour of the EU, the elites nourish the mythical image and keep faith in Russia, they hold prayers to Putin and ask for blessings for him. In spite of reality, as the answer to the opinions of majority, the elites promote trivialized, senseless Russophilia. The ideological Eros of Vladimir Putin is being inaugurated as the only political platform, and the shared appearance as the only political strategy of Serbian Government in the negotiation over Kosovo, emphasizing that “the common politics of Serbia and Russia and the two nations’ friendship are not directed against anybody, but they aim at respect of international rights and preservation of lasting peace and stability in the whole region”.
Nourishing the myth of the nonexistent Russia which is a match for the “rotten West” (which endangers genuine beauty and aboriginal values of Serbia), Serbian elites serve the “institutionalized lie” about the country which is a civilized paradigm of orthodoxy, sincerity, openheartedness and simplicity. Relying on Russia, we are going to resist the seductive western illusions, because the West is only “a market of educated slaves, which needs our brains, our education, our talent and our fresh blood”. Not only political and ecclesiastical, but also Serbian economic elites are interested in serving the anachronistic and offensively banal stereotypes. Those elites are not interested in making processes of privatization and market transactions take place in the unique legal frame, which implies transparency and the absence of favoured politically adequate and preferable investors. With favouritism towards the model of orthodox-economic
patriotism and preferable investors, the concept of market economy in Serbia is getting more degraded and discredited.
Russia is no longer the ideological headquarter (the role necessary for starting the era of new cold war, wanted in Serbia); there is no ideological clash between Russia and the USA. The processes of centralized economy transformation keep running smoothly and more than 75% of Russian economical potential has been privatized. Economic power of Russia is not followed by the ideological infrastructure, and the possibility of recovery of discredited political credibility is endangered by the evident anti-democratic processes and by the acts of human rights violations (the controversy surrounding the murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya; the decision that the journalist writing about the state of a psychiatric hospitals be sent to one; a bill which expands the definition of extremism to public discussions of it). Russia develops strategic partnership with the EU and NATO (in 2007, the 10th anniversary of the Russia-NATO Council is celebrated), because, according to the president V. Putin “building a sovereign democratic country, Russia shares essential values and principles of the vast majority of Europeans”.
Since 2000, about 287 million of Russian capital has flowed in Serbia (through the process of privatization and money orders). It is estimated that the majority of Russian capital has been invested in Montenegro, over 2 billion Euros. The Serbian Government appeals to the USA to “be fully reserved and objective in the process of resolution of the future constitution of Kosovo and Metohija”. At the same time, Serbian Government pays for the Russian support with the readiness to favour Russian capital in the processes of privatization of big companies. One fact is being ignored, the fact that Kosovo is not a bilateral issue of Serbia and Russia, but an international problem, for which solution all subjects of the international community are necessary to be involved. The dulcet votive syntagm that Kosovo is our property which deed we keep “in our blood flow”, for 71% of our citizens means that they would vote for the integration with the EU even if Brussels accredited the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo.
In spite on the ratified Declaration, the vast majority of Serbian citizens do not see the future of Serbia in the union with Russia and Belarus. One fact is encouraging, the fact that the lasting isolation and the efforts of elites to promote Serbia with No Attributes which desperately needs Russia as a spare political Eldorado for the convicts from numerous search warrants, did not make the Serbian citizens face the choice: Pan-Slavic or Euro-Atlantic integration. The Euro-Atlantic integration has no alternative. And for the first time in history, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Beograd, Sarajevo, Podgorica, Skoplje and Priština look in the same direction, towards Brussels. And if the Government breaks the connection with other countries, after it has accredited the independence of Kosovo, the citizens of Serbia will be the only ones to pay the price for that, waiting for the Day of St. Vitus, 2014.
Novi Sad, August 11, 2007
Reality of Resolutions
The deputy Balint Pastor claims that the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians will not uphold the proposition of Resolution on Kosovo and Metohija (this proposition is the fourth one; the Resolutions that have been adopted up to now are as follows: March 26, 2004, by which the Serbian Government was obliged to develop a program for solving problems in Kosovo and Metohija; November 21, 2005, the Resolution adopted on the Day of Saint Archangel Michael, about the mandate for political negotiations over the future status of Kosovo and Metohija; and the one adopted on February 14, 2007), due to the fact that it contains both language inappropriate for contemporary diplomacy and some vague solutions that can be dangerous. This attitude confirms the fact that, with the inarticulate defence of geography and language constructions which are no more that a symbolic violence against reality, Serbia tries once more to substitute its own extraction from the real European context. After the third Resolution had been adopted, the Prime Minister V. Koštunica expressed succinctly his understanding of the real context, with the attitude that “there is no need for us to be told about the sense of reality. For Serbia, the most general reality, which the real world around us lie on, is that Kosovo and Metohija are the part of our territory”.
Serbian elites defend themselves from reality of undefined territoriality, with explicit threats and mythical-poetic expressions (and adopting desperately new Resolutions). They obviously do not realize that with the inappropriate language they just draw borders of the autarchic community which does not correspond with reality. What is more, it does not correspond with the agenda of problems defined as priority by the international community: problems of global safety and terrorism, energy problem and global warming problem, immigrants, etc. With the inappropriate language of their Resolutions, Serbian elites fabricate their own reality, stimulating the tension which results in constant neutralization of needs and interests of Kosovo citizens, both Albanians and Serbs.
Language in which the Resolutions were written (in some deeper layers paranoia can be read: fear and/or contempt) creates a dilemma: is Serbia a paradigm of im/possibility of applying European standards of institutionalized life? And how much sense of language being a symbolic and practical reflection of capacity for understanding political-economic context and relations of powers is there: capacity of understanding reality?
Language constructions and political messages of the Resolutions are based on elementary lack of understanding of the fact that decisive rejection of establishing a dialogue and reciprocity means cancellation of declared readiness for integration with the union of European countries. Readiness for dialogue and tolerance make the base of political, economic and cultural integration of the union of the European nations. The mythical-political structures which precede language are not the model of communication and incorporation, but rather of (auto)-exclusion from public sphere of communication and cooperation. The language which the international community does not understand calls on its own exclusion from history and European ways, because we communicate language (and political) contents which do not include the responsibility for the Other and which include elementary lack of understanding of the fact that the base of
our freedom is – experience of the Other. As the Serbian Other, Albanians are becoming a symptom of a community which realizes the attempt to restore “the primordial territory” as its main patriotic mission. The inability to decontextualize anything, which defines Serbia as the Omphalos (a navel of the world) on the holy Here and Now, reflects in marginalization of dehumanized and despised There, where Albanians, as the Serbian alter ego reside in the exotically dark, incomprehensible and strange sphere, in the sphere of aesthetic fascism. With the language constructions which proclaim the acceptance of reality of independent Kosovo “illegitimate, illegal and invalid”, one more time Serbia places itself even further away from the European emancipation tradition, fabricating its own reality – the reality of Resolutions.
The language constructions of the Resolution are a linguistic identity card of committed crimes. It writes down topography of crimes on the European register of Serbs. With reality and crimes committed in Kosovo, it cancels the opinions expressed in the Resolution on integration with the EU, which obliges Serbia to fulfill all the international obligations and “incarcerate all the suspects for the crimes committed during the wars between 1991 and 2000”. Ambiguities and relativization are implied: it is a natural thing that everything that is inadmissible to the minorities in Serbia (in Vojvodina and Sandžak) is presented as a threat to the international community and it is about the right of the Republic of Srpska to incorporate into its parent body. One step far away from the linguistic legitimacy of crimes, there is the historical inevitability of defining Serbia as a community of lonely and eastward-oriented defenders, from the bulwark of Christianity.
How to get to the “European identity card”: Europe is a paradigm of multiplicity, a paradigm of the search for the ways of overcoming the tension created by the interaction of numerous ethnic, political, religious, cultural and language figures. Having adopted the Resolutions on Kosovo and Metohija, the Serbian elites consciously rejected efforts to disenchant Serbia and they also confirmed their loyalty to the exclusivistic mental matrix, keeping desperately a distance of Kosovo Albanians’ tutors. In the eyes of Belgrade elites, Kosovo Albanians are not the only ones who are invisible and despised both physically and symbolically. But Kosovo Serbs are also invisible and despised. They are offered both nationalism (but the good one) and worship of the god of tribe as panacea. The Serbian register can hardly recognize and accept reality: gods of tribe and mythical poets are reality of Resolutions which are served to the local voters by the Serbian elites before the upcoming elections. The international community understands and accepts the corpus of rules which encompasses fundamental human and citizen rights, freedom and democracy, rules which recognize right to equality and respect for the Other, which allow for the reformulation of enlightening Cogito, ergo sum into I think, therefore I think of the Other, rules which, in the end, open up the space for building of the European identity.
Novi Sad, July 23, 2007
A Citizen without Immunity
To paraphrase Clinton Rossiter’s claim that “there is no America without democracy, there is no democracy without politics and there is no politics without political parties” and filter it through the Serbian socio-political context would impose at least two questions: by what extent is our political reality an institutionalized uncertainty (starting from the minimal understanding of democracy) and secondly, the question of the capacity of political parties to harmonize “public emotions and interests” and to articulate the interests of the citizens, or more harshly put, by what extent do the parties contribute to the processes of “spoiling democracy”?
Freedom House’s report “Nations in transition 2007” which monitors the processes of consolidation and following of democratic standards in 29 states of Central Europe and Central Asia (by analyzing seven areas: electoral processes, civil society, independent media, the rule of law and local self-government, judicial autonomy and corruption, 2006), finds that the compliance with democratic standards in Serbia has improved compared to the previous year. With the mark 3.68, Serbia satisfies the criteria of a flawed, semi-consolidated democracy, and most progress has been made in the domain of civil society.
Numerous defects, with regard to the ability of the system to function according to the rules which assume a transparent and strong institutionalized infrastructure, are manifested through the phenomenon more and more commonly denominated as “the phenomenon of an entrapped state”. The Serbian state, trapped and suffocated by the network of interests of the political and economic elite, lacks the strength to bring the transitional processes to full circle and remains the paradigm of a phenomenon known in literature as the “maintenance of the balance (equilibrium) of partial reforms”. The partiality of reforms threatens the consolidation of democratic processes, hampers and slows down the establishment of institutions and annuls the citizens’ responsibility for the preservation of fundamental democratic values, introducing the category of the silent and apathetic majority instead of the category of the critical public.
The smallest common denominator of interests and political engagement is the citizen, and the essence of social and existential self-confirmation is civil courage. The Serbian partitocratic symbolic matrix discredits the ideals of goodness, truth and justice to the extent that it brings them to mockery and ridicule and puts them in the basket of unusable and obsolete terms. Paradoxically, despite the “crawling partitocratic dictatorship” which suffocates and annuls all efforts of politically unaligned citizens to create social contents beyond the party-defined coordinates and invalidates the freedom and dignity of those who are competent but are not members of a certain party, the political parties in Serbia are in the process of self-cancellation. The processes of the “corruption of democracy” can also be detected by analyzing the familiar patterns of party activity:
1. The parties discredit the importance of promoting values of the free and dignified citizen as well as the acts demonstrating civil courage: the values of loyal subjects are promoted as desirable
2. The parties (especially the ones with the attribute “democratic”) discredit the significance of civil engagement; apathy and electoral abstinence are encouraged by the message that a change is impossible and that an agreement of party leaders (re)defines the electoral will of the citizens
3. The inter-party structure is undemocratic, authoritarian and is, by definition, based on idolization of and subservience to the leader. Emanating and practicing non-democracy and authoritarianism, the parties can hardly be bearers of the process of democratic consolidation.
4. The abuse and deficit of democratic procedures (within a party as well as in practicing governance on all levels) lead to a final ruining of democratic values and the collapse of institutional, material and human capacities.
5. The political parties in Serbia are becoming less capable of articulating the interests of certain social groups, at the same time molding to a structure of an interest group which is usurping public space
6. The institutions of local, regional and state government and functionaries (by definition civil servants) become exclusively a service of political activists
7. The process of decision-making is turning into a ritual gathering of party cliques and coteries, public debate and civil participation are either a forgotten relict or an effective marketing slogan
8. By not obeying the Law of Political Party Funding, the non-transparency of funding is being promoted, and the parties are becoming an important generator of corruption; the reports given are flawed and incomplete
9. The parties are taking over the role of a parallel employment office, by hiring the loyal, the reliable and most often the incompetent, however worthy activists, fabricating unnecessary positions. Functionalization of political engagement, as an only means of solving existential problems is the greatest defeat that Serbia’s citizens have suffered, (un)willingly becoming corrupt accomplices
10. The forming of inauthentic personalities, subjects and flunkies as a strategy of working with the membership is especially seen in the fact that advancement in the party ranks (therefore towards future maintenance by the party) requires being close to the leader (and those most loyal to him). The party members, especially the youth, are being led into a reality of the (un)reachable inner circles which one can join only by recommendation. Personal and professional qualities are not a necessity
11. Intertwined interest groups of various parties supporting one another are delegitimizing and discrediting the work of local, regional and state services by hiring the incompetent, the politically inexperienced and the corrupt, sending signals to those not politically active that there is no room for them in Serbia. The message of party interest groups is obviously understood by 70% of the young, which do not see a future in this country.
And instead of an epilogue: life in Serbia, instead of being “a heroic act” becomes “a routine job of organization”.
Novi Sad, July 7th 2007
Acquirers of Our Misfortune
Thirteen months after the suspension, the negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) between Serbia and the EU are continued. The past experience of others tells us that the negotiating phase of signing the SAA usually lasts six to eight months. However, the acquirers of our misfortune which would, rather form an Office for East–European, Slavic and Orthodox integrations instead of the EU Integration Office, do not see a reason to raise the question of responsibility for disregarding the basic documents which define, both as a priority and as long-term foreign policy strategy, joining the EU (Resolution on the EU Association, October 2004) and the international security structures, particularly NATO (Strategic defense review draft, June 2006).
The question of responsibility of our misfortune’s acquirers which continually promote the false normality of the permanent martial law matched with the pervasive misery, and the inevitable new Serbian-American Battles of Kosovo, the question of responsibility of those who demonstrate the arrogance of incompetent as the normality in Serbia, is not being addressed. By discrediting the necessity of defining the legal framework and the institutionalization of the relations with the EU, the importance of European politics and standards, firstly as a question of internal reforms, is being invalidated. The mythologization and manipulation of the consciously divided and phrases such as “European” and “Euro-Atlantic” integration which were made meaningless, functionalize the normality of everyday life as a return to the golden age of neutrality and reaching the development which Serbia experienced in former Yugoslavia.
The counterfeit normality raises the key question: how much time do we need to get back to the standards we once enjoyed. In the light of the warped normality the relation between the support and the legitimacy they enjoy and the real power and influence they illustrate judged by the index of proportionality of Serbian elite’s arrogance and civil courage as a basic question of democratization of the community which is declaratively making its way towards the values of the Euro-Atlantic community is inversely proportional. Especially in the political environment sated with threats made to other countries or international organizations ready to recognize the independence of Kosovo.
The political ignorance and arrogance founded in the DSS/NS platform during the negotiations on forming the Government of Serbia, by which all the questions, save for the one of reaching the consensus on national interest, have been presented as second-rate, reaches its peak through the statement of the prime minister who argues that “the frequent statements of American officials advocating Kosovo’s independence lead to a deterioration of relations between Serbia and the USA” and the statement of the minister of foreign affairs who, by highlighting the EU membership as “Serbia’s main goal” still stresses that Serbia will be forced to call into question its relations with “countries which decide to degrade its sovereignty by unilaterally recognizing Kosovo’s independence.”
The politics of self-isolation, self-sufficiency and misunderstanding the historic and political context, reaches a schizophrenic crescendo, on the one side through the euphoric prediction that Serbia will obtain the candidate status and get on the Schengen white list by the end of 2008, at worst by early 2009, and on the other side by the explicit threats about questioning the relations with all the countries which de jure recognize the reality of Kosovo’s independence. Therefore, we have a questioning of relations with the states with which we are negotiating the liberalization of the visa regime, signing readmission agreements and negotiating the standards of regional security policy. The strategies of coming together and calling upon the divine and human justice are not political arguments. Those are the allegories and metaphors of a feudalized pre-political community which the Serbian elite wishes to impose on us as a singular Serbian normality.
The political dignity which the arrogant and incompetent political elite often bring up is impossible to obtain beyond the coordinates of rational relations of mutual respect. The political enlightenment, upon which the European philosophy is based, develops the idea of dignity which assumes that every man has an equal right to freedom and dignity. Serbia, enslaved by omnipotent interests of party cliques and coteries is not a community founded on the ideas of political enlightenment. Hence the discrediting of political responsibility for what was said and done, hence the discrediting of the interest of Serbia’s citizens, those 70% which see their own future and the future of their children in the community of European states.
Being installed as simulacrums (the forgery without the original) the representatives of the Serbian elite impose on Serbia’s citizens the normality of “the afterlife tranquility, when we shall peacefully lie in our graves after we have wasted our troubled lives.” In Serbia, where the suspension of the SAA negotiations was perceived as a pontiuspilatian act of abolishing responsibility, in which the renewal of negotiations after thirteen months does not encourage public debate, a deficiency of the need to join the community of institutionalized regulations is obvious. The reduction of political engagement to party cliques, corruption and the collapse of institutions invalidate all the declaratory claims of Serbia belonging to the European community of nations. The Serbian elite recognizes the citizen only as social paupers by systematically destroying every sign of civic courage, making every attempt of political engagement devoid of meaning and consciously opening a new chapter of isolationism.
The elite which prides itself with bravery and not with civic courage, which celebrates the ethic of a vidovdan collective suffering does not understand the idea of political enlightenment. It wants a symbolic time vacuum of the mid-80’s, but does not want Europe. The concerns of Serbia’s citizens are not a footnote in the strategic suicidal projections of the elite which in effect discredit the incidental, unsystematic efforts of Serbia to join the processes of Euro-Atlantic integrations.
Novi Sad, June 30th 2007
Prisoners of conscience
On May 11th Serbia took over the chairmanship of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers under the slogan „One Europe, Our Europe“, overshadowed by the verdict of the International Court of Justice which files it historically and judicially as the only state in history to have been convicted of violating the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The agenda of the six-month presiding stresses the importance of promoting the European standards in protecting and advancing human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The Council of Europe, Europe’s conscience on human rights has demonstrated a readiness to support the Serbian political elite (despite the pressure and criticism from certain international organizations) and lighten the processes of democratic transition, stressing the unacceptability of not cooperating with the Hague Tribunal regarding arresting and processing the perpetrators of war crimes.
For Serbia the chairmanship represents an obligation to affirm the importance of respecting the internationally accepted principles and, being a part of our Europe, to embarks on a patient and thorough creation and protection of the ideas of peace, liberty and democracy, acknowledging the fact that the union of European states has accepted that facing up to and working on one’s past as “the construction of a permanent infallible wall between a new beginning and the past tyranny”. Working on one’s past and accepting the collective political responsibility is the first step in the process of winning political freedom and emancipation of Serbia as a political community.
Serbia, incapable of making the first steps toward winning political freedom remains a ruined and hibernating community paralyzed by the consensus of uneasiness to delegitimize the war-nationalist pattern generates a systematic recycling of the cruelty pattern, and the crimes committed and the Srebrenica genocide are being functionalized as the generators of (non)sense. Trivializing the construct of the “genocide committed against the Bosniacs in Srebrenica” and depriving it of meaning encourages the negation, relativization and the unreadiness to face the consequences of the crimes. Paradoxically, Srebrenica, as a paradigm of crime becomes the formula which allows the genocide to disappear.
The six years of debate between the EU member countries has resulted in the agreement between the EU ministers of the justice about a common antiracist law by to which the “public forgiveness, denial and trivialization of committed genocides, crimes against humanity and war crimes would be treated as a felony. The EU laws against negating the Holocaust have been adopted by: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. The penal sentences as high as 10 years in jail (Austria and Lithuania) indicate that the importance of adopting a unique platform which resolutely condemns the crimes of denying and trivializing genocide is reflected as an act of legal and political, and undeniably of symbolical importance.
In the Serbian parliament, the theatre of infantile shame, the initiative was passed to consider the annex proposal for the criminal law as well as to establish a prison sentence for denying war crimes and glorifying the individuals convicted or indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal. However, the processes of ethnic confiscation of remembrance discredit and impede the adoption and realization of the set of laws which construct the legal and political context of the process of transitional justice: the laws on lustration, rehabilitation, opening the secret service files, and the denationalization law. And finally, the law on punishing the denial and trivialization of the genocide crimes as well as the glorification of the war criminals. It is overlooked that Serbia has accepted the obligation to punish the individuals who advocate national, racial and religious hatred by ratifying International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The fact that the International War Crimes Tribunal has ruled six sentences for complicity and abetment in genocide and other crimes committed in Srebrenica, where in only seven days, from July 11th to 18th 1995 the average of 1000 people a day were killed. The patriotic price list was stated clearly: the troops of the 10th demolition squad, which took part in the battles in Srebrenica, used to get 4 deutschmarks for killing a prisoner and five for executions by shooting in the back of the head.
Not acknowledging the dead anticipates not acknowledging the living others (and those who live the other way); not acknowledging the past belongs to the tradition of not acknowledging the present. The culture of non-impunity creates our reality of ethnically confiscated memory as an eclectic combination folk-fascism of the blessed web portals and the Manichean struggle between the light of a false national identity and the darkness of negating violence and crime. The construct of the culture of non-impunity is founded on xenophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, nationalism and anti-intellectualism. And it climaxes in fascismation of joy, the unpunished fight against those of a different opinion.
The criminalization of denial and trivialization of crime and of glorifying war criminals is an important segment of working on the past, by which the following processes are being encouraged:
1 The establishment of the culture of responsibility and achieving a social consensus that crime is punishable. Legislative non-recognition of hate crime and legal responsibility for denial of genocide encourages the processes of universalization of fear which is dominated by position that the individual is living a life not worth living.
2 Shedding light on unscrupulous techniques depriving of meaning the responsibility for crime, and shifting the responsibility from the culprit to the victim. Statements that the Bosniacs themselves are guilty for the crimes they endured, because “the mothers did not look after their children well enough and had not hidden them on time; the raped women were asking for it; if such a huge number of Muslim women were raped, where are the children; Srebrenica is the largest wound of the Serbian people” become common knowledge. The diabolic logic of relativization, the one that says that each side was committed crimes, in the end shifts the guilt to the victim. No one in the Serbian Parliament officially mentioned the fact that according to the UN War Crimes Commission the Muslim population in Prijedor had decreased from 49.454 (according to the 1991 census) to less than thousand in 1995.
3 The comprehension of the complex relations between the legal, political and moral aspects of guilt and responsibility. By establishing a clear distinction between the individual legal responsibility and the collective political responsibility “WE” is being canceled as a false collective solidarity with the perpetrators and room is being made for admitting to the fact that it is not that WE did not know anything, but that WE did not want and still do not want to know anything.
4 A constant reminder of a universal lesson: that xenophobia, nationalism and anti-Semitism can lead to collective violence and crime of unthinkable proportions and that every society turns into a criminal one the moment it loses the ability to tell justice from injustice.
5 The perception and understanding of a real historical and political context, both of which presuppose the necessity of establishing a historical distance from qualifications laden with an excess of remembrance and emotion. The losses, humiliation and suffering of one’s ethnic community are never forgotten, but the wrongs we do to others is forgotten quickly. Therefore the cult of the collective, mythical remembrance assumes emotional blindness to the misfortune of others.
6 The healing of generations born too late to commit crimes, but in time to be brought up in a pattern of ethno-nationalism and self-deception. The task of generations born in the nineties will be to explain the actions of their parents, which were directly or indirectly involved in crime, or have witnessed it, but who do not speak of their own responsibility. The fact that they are members of the same political community obliges them to suffer the consequences for the guilt of others.
7 Initiating, articulating and strengthening the processes of transitional justice which assumes, along with the wide range of actions, the state’s commitment to determine the truth and to judge the perpetrators of crime, and that involves material as well as symbolical compensation to the victims and giving them their dignity back, because taking the dignity away is the basis for crime.
Presiding over the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers is a right moment in time for Serbia to affirm its declaratory readiness to accept the standards, norms and values which the European community had been patiently building for 62 years after WWII ended. Working on the past takes more than facing the crime once. It involves a long, patient and often painful process which is not brought by a false promise of a secularized redemption. The phrase “working on the past” suggests the strain of finding out, in the process of explaining and understanding the past. The legal incrimination of negation and trivialization of war crimes and genocide will eventually remove the possibility of the future history books saying, as Tacitus wrote on the murder of Galba, almost 2000 years ago that a shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals, with the blessing of more, and amid the passive acquiescence of all.
Novi Sad, June 8th 2007
Counterfeiting civil values
The paradoxical dialectic of political reality of a citizen who is both absent and present at the same time focuses the analysis on the causes of the citizen’s deliberate renouncing to take part in the activities which should result in common good and the actualization of common interest. Indifference, apathy and disappointment of citizens of Serbia which made March 9, the 1996/97 protests and October 5 happen, and their noticeable absence today, give coherence and meaning to the easily spent idea of citizen Serbia. The idea of a citizen Serbia has been used and discredited by enforcing the programs and projects incompatible with the needs of real citizens.
The projects of counterfeit reality didn’t encourage vita active as a fundamental assumption of political culture and democracy; instead, they generated apathy by deliberately redistributing fears and channeling rage thus giving room for political vulgarity. In the seventh year of democratization by promoting the policy of “strengthening the democratic capacity of citizens”, these projects have resulted in general apathy, lawlessness, everyday life pervaded by uncertainty and insecurity. The citizens of Serbia are renouncing their political voice as well as their right of civil disobedience. The advocates of the counterfeit democratic reality project, faced with the results of their own actions, are vocal in their self-pitying longing for a democratic normality, lamenting over the lack of civil virtues.
The paradoxical dialectic of insufficiency of subservient capacities and the excess of professionalism, responsibility and scrupulousness realized by a group of socially (self)excluded citizens of Serbia illustrates the worn out paradigm of citizen Serbia. The paradigms promoted by self isolated and self-sufficient elite of democratic Serbia. By realizing the projects of counterfeit political reality, without true inclusion of citizens, the fundamental democratic political values and civil virtues are consciously being degraded. The encouragement of virtues of free and dignified citizens, knowledge, honor, wisdom, self-respect, courage, solidarity have been sacrificed to power hunger, and what is offered as a desirable model are recycled subservient citizens ready to replicate generally accepted model of the authoritarian and the submissive. The citizen Serbian is degraded to the leitmotif of successfully applied projects. There’s no room for the (too) responsible, professional and scrupulous.
Serbia is not a political community of equal (isonomy) and free citizens. The deficit of civil virtues, responsibility and shame makes it an unjust political community in which democratic institutions are a mere mask for a corrupt partitocratic power. The responsibility lies on the elite pervaded by small town mentality which nominally proclaim the values and standards of a European Serbia. The political parties and civil society organizations make up important social strata which greatly influence the democratization processes. Unfortunately, the very organizations which are expected to encourage the democratization processed are themselves “undemocratic by their own structure” (F. Zakarija). The interconnectedness of non-transparent, closed and irresponsible structures additionally encourage worn out paradigms of citizens Serbia.
By defining their own position as morally unquestionable, the elite of democratic Serbia act from the distance, which also presupposes the distancing from responsibility, and by methodology of social exclusivity, the position of the conversational partner is, year after year, reserved for the same speakers and discussants. The sought for democratic normality sometimes also initiates the need for epistolary correspondence with the high-ranking EU officials. No one writes to the citizen of Serbia.
By allowing the silence the (self) excluded citizen of Serbia has accepted the role of the socially redundant, succumbing to the rules of false solidarity and loyalty to “our guys”. The normalization of false loyalty to “our guys” is directly serving the reality’s deprivation of meaning, which, to the elite of democratic Serbia, exists only through the results of opinion polls, and the real needs of real citizens are nothing but a reflection of shadow theater. The performances are directed with the aim of discrediting and annulling the civil virtues, by systematically and deliberately eroding the truth and democratic habitus of a free and autonomous citizen.
Deliberately and systematically, the democratic Serbia’s elite discredit the strength of a moral stance and degrade the importance of civil virtues by turning our reality into a corrupt reality of shattered virtues. Instead of resulting in socialization, the counterfeit projects of Serbia’s democratization have resulted in manipulation in which the understanding of reality is being suppressed in favor of controlling reality.
Serbia’s citizens need a new mobilizational paradigm which presupposes the readiness of the new elite to build the “mental community of the free”. The new elite of democratic Serbia must give room to building of new political, social and cultural patterns founded on the courage, dignity and freedom of the real citizens of Serbia. To dare “to bee free” and “dare to think” is a categorical imperative and a precondition of the citizen’s active and responsible participation in public life. In spite of the disappointment and apathy, those citizens of Serbia who do not want to be locked inside the loneliness of their hearts have managed to preserve vita active, the readiness to defend the commitment to common good. And to fight for their own democratic habitus.
Novi Sad, May 21st 2007
Europe Day, but in Serbia
May 3rd, anniversary of the suspension of the negotiations for ratifying the Stabilization and Association Agreement (that represents the first institutional step towards the status of a candidate state and to the full membership in the EU), is anticipated in Serbia at the start position of the institutional, (pseudo)political and social disarray, in return offering the citizens an irrational compensation of living the reality, reality deprived of sense. In the reality deprived of political rationality Archimedean vantage point is searched for in vain, and chances for strengthening the process of political consolidation in a state trapped by the partitocratic engineering of the corrupted elites, are very slim.
Banality of the statistics is implacable: out of five states in the Western Balkans, Serbia is the only state with which the Stabilization and Association Agreement is suspended. Stabilization and Association Process was created in 1999, with the aim of keeping peace, regional stability and creating a European perspective for states which during the 20th-century ‘90s “by collapsing into barbarism” lost the standards of their own code reading in the European civilization.
Serbian political elites will fill the week cleared of political rationality, from May 3rd to May 9th - Europe Day, with the ideological ritual of awaiting the finalization of negotiations for a new Government. Declaratory persuasions that Serbia will after forming a new Government and on the grounds of “a clear decisiveness for a full cooperation with the Hague Tribunal” continue the negotiations for Stabilization and Association finishing with the announcement that the Agreement will be ratified during the next five months.
Serbia will intensively fill the week cleared of political rationality, from May 3rd to the 9th - Europe Day, with ideological rituals in which the people will happen, by the gathering of the People’s Patriotic Union “General Ratko Mladic” and forming of the Christian Police »Guard of St. Emperor Lazarus«. And while Europe prepares to celebrate Europe Day (in 1950 Robert Schuman, French foreign minister, proposed a foundation of European Coal and Steel Community, and five years earlier fascist Germany capitulated) Serbia sets the 9th, the day of victory over fascism, in the register of working holidays between the spiritual day (St. Sava) and Vidovdan. In the register of those who “think blood” May 9th is a date when a gathering of the People’s Patriotic Union “General Ratko Mladic” on the Republic Square in Belgrade is announced, at the same time supporting »corporal, defender and hero« under whose command operation Krivaja 95 brought to genocide in Srebrenica, confirmed by the verdict of the International Court of Justice. On the May 9th Europe once again demonstrates its devotion towards anti-fascism as a universal confirmation of the idea of enlightenment, humanism and dignity of men, with the slogan »Let Auschwitz and fascism never happen again«, while in Belgrade’s city centre a support for inherently fascistic politics is announced.
In Serbia, processes of selective distribution of historical recollection and foundation of the new culture of remembrance discredit anti-fascism as a universal message that negates ethno nationalism, racial exclusiveness, rendering cultural differences into biological, and on the verge of banality of crime. Serbia - with instrumentalization of the past and committed crimes and yet for the needs of some future present, on the foundation of new culture of remembrance – has chosen ignorance and normalization of fascism. Omitted is the fact that »fascism is extreme, but basically normalized nationalism« and the so called “democratic nationalism” is promoted. Banality and kitsch-Ravna-Gora-fascism (Ravna Gora - ????? ???? is a highland in Serbia known as the gathering point of the Chetniks) are just products of fascist-genesis that is, in part, based on: imperial post-war trauma of unachieved “Great Serbia” project; frustration and manipulation with the feelings of transitional loss and political humiliation; deep gap between social layers; processes of political and economic isolation and self-isolation; dominant authoritarian cultural and political formula and annulling the individual; discrediting the rational for the aim of strengthening the partitocratic state of incompetent elites. Serbian elites nationalize anti-fascism and promote the democratic nationalism as the only remaining political vision.
The mythical Kosovo, the generating point of the irrational and a perspective of the good nationalism as the altogether reasonable, interprets that in the week cleared of political rationality, actually on May 5th »Guard of St. Emperor Lazarus« will be founded; its pledge being »the liberation of Kosovo and Metohija«. Assembly in Krusevac town will be the beginning of mobilization »which will spread throughout Serbia«. Peace is, unfortunately, just »singulare tantum«, and brutalization of violence, crime sections and insecurity in plural are the daily events in Serbia. Normalization of violence and insecurity are the stages of “fascisizing” the society that logically lead towards threats and bomb terrorist acts against those who think differently. Fascism craves to detach the right to one’s own attitude, craves to kill the word. By abolishing the boundaries between amnesty and amnesia the Serbian elite is consciously imputing a civilization incompetence by opening a dialogue with the basic inheritance that Europe celebrates on May 9th: the inheritance of enlightenment, respecting the principle of human dignity and humanism, respecting diversity and a right to choose. A right to freedom and peace. A right to be a foreigner. And a right to confront the cries Viva la muerte! Serbia awaits its Miguel de Unamuno who will stand up against moral, human, emotional and political indifference towards crime. The atmosphere of lynch and testamentary calls for »liberating Kosovo and Metohija« inevitably produces domestic foreigners. Domestic foreigners willing to stand up against the nonsence of our lives, willing to write epistolaries to the citizens of Serbia, not willing to sacrifice the ethic of truth for the ethic of interest.
Novi Sad, May 1st 2007
Serbia and Kosovo: Toward Building of a New European Habitus
U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari's proposal for Kosovo's status is a test of political competence for Serbia. It also represents a test of Serbia's readiness to respond to the demands of a particular historical-political moment: it opens space for finalizing the process of living in a counterfeit reality, in which the semblance of truth was more important than truth itself for too long. The semblance of “our” truth, in which Serbia has “dismantled Ahtisaari’s plan in the Security Council using strong and undisputable arguments”; in which the Serbian elite rejects the proposition in unison, by declaring it to be “insignificant”, at the same time being incompetent to put together a sustainable and rational solution. Serbia is hesitating, hovering between incomprehension, ignoring and understatement of the supposed consequences of political (in)activity.
The voices which stress the importance of topics and problems shared by the citizens of Serbia and Kosovo by opening the perspective of regional cooperation are few. Their intention is to overcome the politized gap, overflowed by nationalist hysteria, culture-racism and pseudo-mythomania. Impoverished and with the highest unemployment rate in Europe, the social, political and economic outsiders – citizens of Serbia and Kosovo share a common experience of being marginalized. Both Serbia and Kosovo are (non) places one has to leave in order to live. The citizens of Serbia and Kosovo are being recognized in the European spectrum as foreigners who are not taught social dignity in their languages.
The voices of those who stress the “principle of sound mind” are seldom heard. “No one can force me to be happy in accordance with his idea of the other’s wellbeing, for a person is free to pursue happiness in a way that suits them.” Paradoxically a space for future happiness is being offered to us by the Government of Serbia’s Negotiating team in the form of 500 amendments to the proposition of the United Nations Secretary-General’s special envoy, in that way obscuring the real essence of the negotiating process. And the essence is the wellbeing, the security and safety of the citizens of Serbia and Kosovo, and the strengthening of the regional security and safety processes.
The citizens of Serbia and Kosovo, artificially confronted political foreigners, are related by the reality of ending the concept of classical sovereignty. Serbia will not reintegrate Kosovo as a part of the territory on which it practices full sovereignty, and Kosovo will not become a standard national state, because the courses of European integrations reinforce the processes of divided, transnational sovereignty.
By resolutely striving for the beginning of a new round of negotiations for which a new international mediator would be appointed, the political elite does not explain to the citizens of Serbia neither the cost of prolonging the final solution nor the price for the possible Russian support. Paradoxically, the Serbian elite articulates the energy toward the future; the exclusivity of sacrifice and suffering is being recycled, a discourse of a new state failure verbal patriotism is being constructed. If we lose Kosovo today “in 30, 50 or 100 years it will be ours,” that way the generations of people who are being born or are not even born yet are being prepared for sacrificing their lives for the Kosovo pledge. Since “there is not a compensation for Kosovo” there is an exclusiveness of Kosovo’s Golgotha being nurtured and a historical injustice being imposed upon “the martyr nation.” Serbia is defending “the principles of the international community” and the world is being warned in a cataclysmic voice against the expected breakdown of the current international system as well as against the independent Kosovo preparing the terrain for jihad and Islamic terrorism in the heart of Europe. Racism and contempt are a constant, because “we cannot allow the Albanian police to guard Serbian monasteries” deliberately forgetting that the same monasteries were built by all the citizens of Kosovo.
The shadows of the altar, sward and crown are obscuring the view of the Serbian elite when it tries to rationally turn a new page in history: to accept an independent Kosovo as a regional strategic partner with which there is a Euro-Atlantic perspective and a regional stability to be built; to be the first one to send an ambassador to Priština, one who will constructively support the activities of EU’s civilian mission in Kosovo and thus display the responsibility of a future EU and NATO member; to embark on the processes of a thorough reassessment of the past by punishing the perpetrators of war crimes in Kosovo, taking the first step towards reconciliation, which does not necessarily have to end in a scenario we have already seen - Serbia being sued for genocide by independent Kosovo. To admit the facts and inform the citizens of Serbia that by signing the CEFTA agreement Serbia has de facto recognized Kosovo as a political partner in foreign affairs. The Serbian elite holds a responsibility of protecting the citizens from avoidable risks as well as a responsibility to end the manipulation of fear by building it into the concept of national identity.
Serbia and Kosovo need a new European habitus based on respect for the Other and on opening a dialogue with the Other. A new political identity would initiate a dialogue with European cultural and political heritage, and the first step for Serbia is starting a dialogue with Kosovo’s political and cultural heritage. A new mobilizational paradigm for the citizens of Serbia, a new political habitus, is the acceptance and understanding of the Other, placed in a horizon of a European framework which encourages the nurturing of civilian values and forms of life enriched with dignity. The thing that Serbia cannot understand is the eternal unrest of Europe and the constant pursuit of “peace, happiness and truth,” a longing for new and open horizons. The citizens of Serbia and Kosovo can open new European horizons together. They can also start a dialogue between two equal partners which is essential to the strengthening of regional security and safety processes.
Novi Sad, April 16th 2007
Serbia: a State of Redundant Citizens
Twelve years after World War II, on March 25, 1957, six European countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and West Germany) established the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) by singing the Treaty of Rome. The Treaty of Rome »planted the oak of “The United States of Europe”« (V. Hugo) and the political, economic and cultural aspiration towards creating the community of European countries obtained a defined, politically realistic form in the vision of new Europe. The vision of new Europe acquires clear contours, despite the fact that reality inexorably reminds the citizens of Europe of the baleful consequences of WWII, Europe divided, and bipolar views of the world. The Treaty of Rome traced a course towards creating the community of countries that function according to principles of peace, democracy and freedom.
During the next fifty years Kant’s maxim of »Perpetual Peace« will not be realized. But for the first time in European history a connection will be made between the needs of free citizens, who by following one’s own concerns also respect and promote universal values of humanism and solidarity, political and social justice, basic human rights and liberties.
The plan for a united Europe is a project of modernity which lies upon a unique social, political, economic and cultural synergy. Modernity, »Europe’s creation, is what made Europe itself« (A. Heler) underlies a civilization project which declares an idea of rights: human and citizen rights, freedom of choice, diversity and equality rights, civil and political liberties, and a right to pursue happiness and truth. Political imagery of Europe lies in its key coordinates of values: values of liberal democracy and freedom, nourishing the traditions of civil society and a legal state, and constant search for peace and a life based on dignity. The essence of Europe’s political imagery pictures an idea of citizenship as a moral and political choice.
United Europe is a project for peace. Europe Day, May 9th, represents also a day when the French foreign minister Robert Schuman proposed a foundation of European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), but also a day of a major victory over fascism. Reasons which were the basis of, just a few years after WWII, the necessity for creating a community of European countries are apart from the idealistic search for principles of perpetual peace and humanism also of security, economic, political, and social character.
The idea of Europe as a united political community has been supported by great minds such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Henry-Claude Saint-Simon, Immanuel Kant, Victor Hugo, and XIX century will provide (Godden) the draft of European constitution which would be ratified »in the name of humanity, with interest for the people, progress and happiness for every human being«. Historical and political context of the twentieth-century ‘50s (at the time being, utopian) will paradoxically give a momentous chance for the project for making a community of European countries. From 1957 to January 1, 2007 European family will unite 27 countries (6 enlargements – 1973: UK, Ireland, Denmark; 1981: Greece; 1986: Spain and Portugal; 1995: Austria, Sweden, Finland; 2004: the biggest enlargement, 10 countries: Slovenia, Malta, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Cyprus, Poland; 2007: Bulgaria and Romania). The European Union is a political and economic community of member states which promote basic democratic values: then it comes to no surprise that the Index of Democracy (based on the criteria of Freedom House organization) shows that out of 28 countries (167 countries included in the research) which thrive in full democracy, 17 are from the European Union. According to this criteria Serbia is 55th in the category of flawed democracies.
In Serbia twelve years after warfare in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina dissonant tones of misinterpreting the European as well as the global historical and political context are still predominant. The political, economic and cultural elite is projecting one’s own autistic, geopolitical architecture and drawing one’s own geopolitical maps yearning for the Cold War era to come back in which the position of Serbia (in light of the solution of status of Kosovo, and the attitude of Serbia towards the verdict of the International Court of Justice) would be relaxing, and the elite would be exonerated of responsibility. Euro-Atlantic perspective is not a politically-relevant topic, and only due to synchronized stimuli by the representatives of the international community and the constant political and economic impetus declarative advocacy for Serbia’s Euro-Atlantic future can be heard.
Nevertheless, public rhetoric and forced pro-European subliminal tones bear nothing but a stereotypical distribution of fear, prejudice and cultural racism, all with the aim of accumulating political power. Promoters of this new Euro-Atlantic ethics and aesthetics in Serbia stay trapped in one’s own »quadrature of the circle«, yearning for a conservation of a nonexistent identity essence nourishing a picture of us, which is nothing but a futile transitional kitsch.
Serbia lives a lustrical (unachieved) transitional (simulated) semblance, and a fabrication of reality. In addition to declarative readiness for acceptance of the basic Euro-Atlantic values and standards, the political agenda is not: safety and security of citizens, Euro-Atlantic integration, nor the regional pacification. These topics stay in the shadow of political principles (from “zero principle” to “n-principle”) which demonstrates the insufficient amount of readiness of the elite to function as responsible and rational subjects.
In addition to the fact that 69.9% of citizens support the idea of Serbia joining the European Union (research done in September 2006, poll on trends in Serbian citizens’ European orientation, Strategic Marketing, The EU integration office in Serbia), and 50% support NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme, absence of accumulated political modernity experience causes the inability of Serbia to, twelve years after warfare, turn to the building of political institutions and, mainly, promoting safety and security of citizens. Serbia lacks fortitude to promote the principle of an independent and free citizen, nor to follow the liberal democratic concept as par excellance of modern European principles.
62 years after WWII Serbian society levitates between declaratory acceptance of European values (based on anti-fascism) and its denial of anti-fascist heritage by rehabilitating quisling and fascistic crimes, with which Serbia excluded itself from anti-fascist movement and by establishing a new culture of memory demolished its achievements in the anti-fascistic struggle.
The beginning of the negotiations for ratifying Stabilization and Association Agreements (SAA) in October 2005 (and suspension in May 2006) interpreted by the promoters of the idea that only isolated or in alliance with Russia, desolate, homely Serbia is free and dignified, was used to send a message that as one of the oldest European countries Serbia will not give up its sovereignty and proudly stand up to “Brussels’ ideological dictates”. The fact that The European Union is opening a vast interior dialogue – trying to, in historically political context of postmodern and post-national, solve numerous dilemmas: relation between old and new member states, attitude towards the Iraqi conflict, ratification of the new Constitution (in light of the rejection in the referenda France and Netherlands), new enlargements – is consciously omitted. In Serbia these topics are not mentioned with interest, nor is there a willingness to prepare adequate answers.
The public opinion of the importance of Euro-Atlantic integrations is simplified and most often trivialized (having all this time in sight the set of values and political coordinates defined by the elite) and narrowed down to »an obscene carnivalization of public life«. In such a political and devalued carnival the gist is banalized, and the essence of Euro-Atlantic standards and values is reduced to topics of: legalizing gay marriages, founding paedophile parties, establishing gay TV programmes, Europe in the clutches of religious cults, Europe being overcrowded by Muslims (suspected of terrorism and religious fundamentalism), immigrants and the coloured, European values as a threat to the existence of Cyrillic, survival of the Serbian ethnicity, “the trivial face of the New World Order”.
The Serbian elite that recycles its own power holds an exclusive right of not/promoting the importance of the Euro-Atlantic integrations. Undermining the political will and independence of citizens (at the moment, bringing the negotiations for a new government to an absurdity), practically manufacturing the redundancy of a common man even in the field of Euro-Atlantic integrations. A citizen of Serbia is a redundant and unacknowledged citizen. Deprived of a right to be adequately informed, deprived of his political will being respected, and finally deprived of a chance to live a peaceful life in safe surroundings; deprived of a chance to become a citizen of Europe, living in harmony based on civilized norms and values.
In Serbia the essence of the elite’s attitude towards a redundant citizen is contempt: disparaging of citizens’ interests and needs is not just a privilege of the reigning nomenclature, even the elite which promotes opposite ideas, from the position of political exclusiveness or moral superiority of another, different Serbia. Methodology of devaluation of a redundant citizen is the same: legitimacy of citizens who vote for the Serbian Radical Party (that promotes a strict anti-European, anti-Hague, anti-NATO rhetoric) is being questioned; their competence to decide about the future, based on the fact that they are »illiterate, undeveloped, semi-rural, conservative part of Serbia that does not understand its priorities« is also being questioned. Hence, the elite of the first, the second and the other Serbia considers that it is necessary to establish »a conscious minority that is capable of articulating priorities that the citizens feel, and even of those who are not capable of expressing them by voting in the elections«.
If there is »a conspiracy of the elites« (F. Fisher), if there is a continuity of politics of the allied elites, which have no interest in changing Serbia or in it becoming a part of Europe, then those are the politics of all the Serbias hitherto proclaimed, which necrophilically leech on the legacy of the Slobodan Milosevic’s regime. And the real Other Serbia is the Citizens’ Serbia, the Serbia of the invisible, marginalized individuals who, led by their own moral standards, respect the citizens’ values as politically moral and spiritual. But their voice is a mere symbolical gesture in the atmosphere of general apathy; and it remains politically meaningless. A responsible redundant citizen is merely an allowed incident by which the society protects itself from the painfulness of facing the truth.
Serbia will be ready to join the European community when the citizen, a redundant individual utters »I am my own choice« and when he or she wins their freedom in search for peace and dignified life.
Novi Sad, March 21st 2007
A Symbolic Compensation
According by the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case that Bosnia and Herzegovina brought against The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRJ), accusing it of committing genocide during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992 – 1995), Serbia is the first country in history charged with violating the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (in further text referred as the Convention).
The judgment states that Serbia had not planned, encouraged or in any way perpetrated or acted as an accomplice in genocide in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but that it is responsible of not preventing the genocide in Srebrenica, responsible of not punishing the perpetrators of the crime as well as responsible of not extraditing the remaining persons charged with genocide. It is expected of Serbia to show a readiness to accept the moral and political responsibility and to provide a symbolic compensation for the victims of the Srebrenica genocide. The ICJ judgment phrased in this way is questionable from a legal, moral as well as from a political standpoint, but it nevertheless asserts that Serbia has violated Article 1 from the Convention – that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which The Contracting Parties undertake to prevent and to punish.
Scaling guilt and innocence, for the purpose of safety and stability of the Western Balkans region, can be understood as result of a political compromise by which the ruling of the ICJ, by accepting the restrictive interpretation of the definition of genocide, regretfully encourages the process of relativization of crimes (in Serbia and Republic of Srpska), relativizing the fact that during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina the Bosniaks suffered genocide, as well as the crimes of: ecocide, urbicide, culturcide, rape, ethnic cleansing and torture in death camps. Genocide is primarily a state crime, the result of a systematic, planned and deliberate genocidal policies planned by the political leadership. The crimes of genocide (keeping in mind the different dimensions and aspects of the genocidal process) take place top down - with the awareness, consent and involvement of the state officials as a continuum of planned policies and processes of genocide.
It was expected that the ruling of the IJC would, on a symbolic plane, make it easier to establish the historical truth and encourage the processes of reconciliation in the region, for genocide is a crime against fundamental civilizational values of a community. However, in Serbia the ruling has opened up discussions which are far from cathartic and critical consideration of guilt and responsibility. Apart from the few isolated voices the political elite is hardly likely to use the ruling as a means of distancing from the crimes committed by the Milosevic regime. Negation, denial, relativization and establishing a counterbalance to the Srebrenica genocide by using Serbian victims in Bratunac as well as declaring the perishing of Serbs in Sarajevo to be a genocide demonstrates incapability and immaturity of the political elite In Belgrade to accept responsibility. Accepting the verdict as an abolition for the politics of crimes committed during the wars of the nineties (“The ruling which cleared Serbia of responsibility for the genocide in Srebrenica makes the stories of command responsibility of Serbia nonmeaningful” I. Dacic) and rejecting the fact that realization of the project of a Great Serbia has marked a plunge into barbarity and the destruction of a civilaizational value model, demonstrates the unreadiness of the political elite to break with the policies of the nineties. Manipulating the guilt dimensions and responsibilities puts into the foreground the collective guilt of Serbs which are not “stigmatized as a people” by the verdict. D. Šutanovac.
It was expected that the ruling of the ICJ creates a space for redefining the moral, political and military credibility of Serbia, Republic of Srpska (RS) and the international community, but the opportunity of a symbolic satisfaction by adopting a declaration which would honor the victims and by which the responsibility for the crimes committed be accepted has been missed on the 10th anniversary of the genocide. “Srebrenica is a stain upon the conscience of the entire world” (P. Wolfovitz), but the Serbian Parliament in 2005. (Similarly constituted to the today’s Parliament) was not “authorized to discuss a single event which, apart from that, happened outside of our borders”. That was the attitude of the political elite, expressed by the acting Assembly Chairman of the time P. Markovic. A year earlier, on the 11th of July, Boris Tadic, the president of Serbia was inaugurated, failing to notice the overlapping the date of the inauguration and the memorial day for the victims of genocide in the Memorial Center in Potocari.
The first reactions from BH, disappointment on one side, but also a determined attitude of M. Dodik that “there was no genocide in Srebrenica and that the thesis about genocide cannot be maintained” tell about the further collapsing under national weight. Especially bearing in mind that the RS has disputed the legitimacy of the law suite because “the representatives of the Serbian people in BH are not behind that law suite and it does not have a full legitimacy of the BH officials” although the Srebrenica Commission has determined that in 1995. during the period from July 10th to July 19th 7806 persons went missing in and around Srebrenica. In the report of the RS government’s Working Group for the implementation of the conclusions from the final report of the Srebrenica Commission there is a list containing the names of 892 executors and accomplices as well as the names of 23000 soldiers and policemen.
In the light of defining the future status of Kosovo there is an apparent tendency of Belgrade to keep the RS Serbs, alongside with the Kosovo Serbs, as hostages of a historically missed politics. By declaratively admitting the responsibility, Serbia is projecting its own guilt for the genocide onto RS and leaving the space for political manipulations of fear and blackmail based on partnership in crime constantly open. The process of redefining the regional borders is not yet over for the Serbian political elite, and the referendum of the RS Serbs is being drawn out from the arsenal of “all Serbs in one state” politics when needed, as a threat which is not taken seriously, Serbia presently being the greatest threat to itself. However, it certainly is a destabilizing factor, so it is unlikely that without the considerable help of the international community it will succeed in promoting the politics of regional safety and cooperation, normalizing the relations with the independent Kosovo and overcoming the period of strong emotions and tensions in the relations with BH after the handing of the ICJ verdict. The voices from BH state that good neighboring relations could be built on truth and justice, not on genocide; the Serbian political elite is incapable of reaching the consensus on central strategic issues; the key political institutions are not functioning; the atmosphere of cold war in international affairs is coveted, so Serbia could be relieved and freed from responsibility for its doing and not doing; the question of Croatia’s law suit for the crimes committed in Croatia during the war from 1991 to 1995 is being raised; the negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement are suspended because Belgrade is unready to turn over the persons charged with war crimes the Hague Tribunal (Mladic was not extradited because it was expected that his trial would affect the verdict of the ICJ). The question of a symbolic satisfaction to victims of genocide is a question of Serbia’s readiness, whether the Serbian political, economic and cultural elite is ready to impose as a categorical imperative an attitude that “Srebrenica must never happen again to anyone”; whether there is a political maturity and readiness to accept responsibility and to accept that the norms of international law be admitted as standards that are also respected in Serbia ; and finally, whether we are ready to face all the political and economic consequences and appropriate sanctions of the international community in case we persist in our own autism and disrespect for the standards of the civilization in which we live.
The international community, through the ruling of the ICJ, clearly wishes to avoid the possible “Weimar” scenario in which a country that is militarily defeated, economically destroyed and politically disoriented is faced with overcoming the post-war imperial trauma. However, without the strong support of the Euro-Atlantic community Serbia is not likely to start a process of gaining political freedom by itself, based on the ICJ ruling, and that is the basis for accepting the collective political responsibility and promoting the importance of the processes which are lead in the Hague Tribunal as well as in the domestic courts for war crimes.
Not questioning the importance of acts of facing the past symbolically, the rhetoric of self- deceiving and normalization of living with crime can be overcome only by accepting the collective political responsibility on the one hand and on the other hand - starting the processes by which the guilt is being individualized. Until Serbia accepts the role of a responsible political actor it will live with the fact that the feeling of national unity is created by carcasses buried in the dungeons of history and that the secret of cohesion does not rest on the freedom of members of the community but on their unspoken collaboration. Serbia will live in constant fear of “being pushed back into an inferior position”, the fear od the international community which does not wish the Serbs well and which has set as its goal Kosovo’s independence or destroying the Dayton position of the RS.
Serbia is waiting for its Karl Jaspers to write The Question of Serbian Guilt, for its Adorno who would say out loud that to write poetry after Srebrenica is an act of barbarism, but also for its Willy Brandt who would kneel down in Potocari. By the symbolic act of adopting the Declaration, Serbia should, as a first step, show respect to those who suffered the crimes and to show a determination in dealing with implementation of laws and punishing war criminals. By not adopting the Declaration as a symbolic compensation to the victims, we would continue to live in a reality of socially produced indifference. The indifference to both the victims and their executioners.
March 4th 2007
Serbia in Vacuum
If any NATO member would recognize the independence of Kosovo, it would cause serious damage to relations between
Serbia and NATO alliance, for it would mean that
NATO had bombed Serbia so that Kosovo could be taken away. “
The transformation of “wartime militaristic nationalism” into the form of politically desired, normalized or so called democratic nationalism has trivialized the question of responsibility of the political elite to the point when the issue of political awareness i.e. the awareness of the demands of a definite moment in a real political context and the consequences of (not) acting politically has been annulled, thus the statement that NATO had bombed Serbia so that Kosovo could be taken away appears as a demonstration of the same aggressive, autarchic and arrogant politics of denying political responsibility and its passing on to the other actors in the process of forming the future government. What is being promoted in the DSS/NS platform is counterfeiting and ignoring the reality, and it is leading to conditionality policy as a model which puts an and to the already fractured institutions of democratic consolidation, and the only consensus which is being realized is the consensus of isolationism, autism and self-sufficiency. And fear. Manipulating fear as a means of political contest is nullifying all
dimensions of political responsibility.
Feigning political discontinuity by instrumentalization and irresponsible abuse of the process of defining Kosovo’s final status, the Serbian political elite (the one that directly or indirectly supports the positions stated in the Platform) has proved to be inadequate, infantile and incompetent to comprehend that politics is a calling in which the two ethical dimensions, those of responsibility and beliefs are dynamically complemental but also conflicted. The ethics of responsibility represents maturity and readiness to face the consequences of one’s actions and opposed to that, in a real political context, the ethics of beliefs itself qualifies “rascals who do not have a real sense of undertaken responsibilities,
but are dazed by romantic sensations”.
Political leaders take on the responsibility to defend not only the interests of a group which they represent but the interests of all the citizens in a political community. Political leaders must take responsibility and accept the risk of facing the consequences of a certain act, and if they cannot guarantee the protection of basic civil rights, then they reassign the responsibility to the authorities of the international community. By not accepting the dialogue with the legitimate representative of the international community, the prime minister of a technical government has shifted the responsibility for the decisions about Kosovo’s
final status to the president of Serbia and to Russia.
The DSS/NS platform is an attempt for Serbia to maintain some sort of neutral position in the vacuum between Russia and the West. It leads to further destabilization of Serbia, leaving the possibility of forming the government open and uncertain, ineloquently formulating strategies of negotiation,
incompetent to define alternative strategies of “governing crises”.
In that sense the propositions to form the government of national unity is also an attempt to share the burden of responsibility between the political parties; those are the propositions of politicians out of touch with the times who are trying to instrumentalize meaningless phrases about the threatened Serbian identity and defending Serbian hearth. They are trying to preserve, at any cost, the temporal mythical vacuum of simultaneous falsified
past and simulated present in order to stay in power.
Serbian political elite is ignoring the fact that Martti Ahtisaari’s proposition is the result of year-long negotiations (fifteen rounds of direct meetings as well as twenty six visits of UNOSEK experts). Serbian political elite has participated in these negotiations on the basis of the Resolution and the agreements reached in the Serbian parliament. Participation in negotiations demonstrates the readiness to accept the risk of decisions that will be made. The messages about not participating are the messages of those who are both irresponsible and well aware of the fact that “Ahtisaari’s proposition is a blessing for Serbia and that “it can take the weight off of Serbia, the weight that it cannot and does not wish to carry, neither politically nor economically”. The International community expects the Serbian democratic leaders to express “a sense of responsibility”, being aware that both Kosovo and Serbia have to clear up their relationship in order for them to proceed with the process of democratic transition and advancement of partnership with the Euro-Atlantic community.
If there was an authentic politician in Serbia, who has passion, good judgment and a sense of responsibility, than Martti Ahtisaari’s proposition (which is a result of a legitimate process supported by all relevant institutions of the international community such as The UN, The EU and NATO) would be understood as: a support to the processes of economic and political stabilization of the region; a document which holds all the elements needed for purposefully overcoming the confrontation; a plan which would by constitutional economic and security regulations enable the development of “a multiethnic, democratic and prosperous Kosovo”. One of the aims of the international community’s mission in Kosovo (firstly of KFOR) was to create a secure atmosphere in which all citizens, regardless of their ethnic background, could live peacefully, and to articulate the processes of democratic consolidation, with international assistance. An independent, democratic and prosperous Kosovo is a precondition for regional stability, but also a requirement for consolidation for processes of democratization and political transition in Serbia. An independent Kosovo (which is, alongside the tribunal in The Hague, a source of constant recycling and mobilizing of Serbian nationalism) will ease and help commence the processes of defining Serbia as a credible element of regional security. The strategic, security, economic and political reasons which emphasize the importance of
these processes are evident.
In the process of democratic consolidation and strengthening of regional security, NATO has a key role, especially in light of promoting a new strategic concept which stresses the importance of partnership. At this moment, Kosovo’s undefined status presents an obstacle for planning and implementing a new strategic security concept (the idea of global partnership: it should be noted that KFOR’s activities in the last eight years have been supported, and still are supported, by the governments of nineteen European countries) on the one hand, and on the other – being that the civil administration will be handed to EU’s institutions, a seasonable planning of military presence, which would provide support to the implementation of the agreement, is necessary. A strategy of strengthening a new regional security concept is a guarantee of stabilization of the region and the
promotion of safe investment surroundings.
The Serbian political elite did not succeed to impose itself as a partner who comprehends the historical and political context, and despite the readiness of the international community to support Serbia in problematic circumstances, to say the least (the controversy following the process of adopting the new Constitution of The Republic of Serbia, the acceptance to the NATO Partnership for Peace program, the support given to the political options that acquired the majority of votes in the recent parliamentary elections) this political elite, being unprepared to take political responsibility, expects and wishes for a solution from the international community.
Novi Sad, February 10th 2007
By voting for security, safety and a prosperous future in the Euro-Atlantic community, the majority
of the citizens sent a message to all relevant political subjects, to all relative winners and losers,
stating that their reality consists in the real existential problems, and that they want Serbia in which
the direction of the political, economic and social changes is articulated not by a phratry political
amenability, but by democratic procedures. The citizens of Serbia are aware that, 12 years after ending
the conflicts in Bosnia and Croatia and 8 years after the end of conflicts in Kosovo, the importance,
significance and the meaning of Serbia comes down to one thing: Serbia is a place which one either
leaves or wishes to leave. Usually forever.
The post-electoral distribution of political power will show if the triumphant losers had understood these
messages and whether they will really approach the forming of the new government (which would, in all likelihood,
reflect the partitocratic engineering extending to the whole of political, cultural and social life of Serbia)
responsibly, based on a rational compromise, or they will continue to manipulate transitional frustrations and
transitional failure. The post-electoral distribution of political power can show whether and to which extent is
the political elite ready to accept the reality and put an end to a fraudulent portraying of reality: a reality
that Kosovo is independent, that when signing
the CEFTA agreement (Croatia, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Moldavia) Prime Minister
Vojislav Koštunica had accepted the UMNIK representatives to sign on behalf of Kosovo; that the Constitution of
The Republic of Serbia, which in it's preamble states that Kosovo is a part of a sovereign state of Serbia,
essentially recognizes Kosovo's sovereignty since the constitution principles have been articulated in such a
way that they would not be applicable to Serbia with Kosovo. No one mentions the citizens of Serbia, the ethnic
Albanians in Kosovo, as citizens with a right to vote, citizens that hold a basic democratic right to participate
in the elections. We want the territory (in which ever since 1912. there existed various political militia expeditions)
but not the inhabitants. These are all mere old false dilemmas which represent the unreadiness to name and
understand reality but also the unreadiness of the political elite to accept the responsibility for what was
The issues of readiness to adequately fulfill the responsibilities accepted (the apprehension and extradition
of those charged with war crimes) to demonstrate a constructive approach to the process of defining Kosovo’s
final status, to accept the expected verdict of the International Court of Justice for genocide - highly
significant for the regional security and cooperation, are issues which bear a symbolic as
well as a real political burden and hence the answers of the Serbian political elite are almost uniformly
irrational. The irrational approach undermines the ability sober consideration of the historical and political
context which unambiguously defines Serbia as a country that was the last in the region to launch the
processes of political and economic transition that is faced with unemployment, poverty and infantile
indignation of the incompetent elite. In such a context there is a big responsibility that lies with the
triumphant losers to form a new pro-European that would encourage and promote the Euro-Atlantic integration,
the continuance of negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement, a clear defining of the
Partnership for Peace program, which we want to join. The primary problem is readiness of the political
elite to define a new political identity since Serbia has for too long been bonded by illusions of its
glorious mythical past, projecting an image of a triumphant loser.
There is also a question of whether the political elite is competent to start a new Euro-Atlantic chapter,
in which the image of an isolated triumphant loser is replaced by a transitional Serbia, one ready to meet
the challenges of the times. The results show that, depending on the perspective, the winners of the parliamentary
elections of January 21st are: The Serbian Radical Party (SRS), individually the strongest party,
received 28,59% of the total votes. The Democratic Party (DS) attained its greatest success (22,71%)
in its 17 years as a participant in a multi-party political scene. The parties which formed the previous
government, as the still acting Prime Minister Koštunica stresses (The Democratic Party of Serbia, New Serbia,
G17+. Serbian Renewal Movement and List for Sandzak) have received more than a million votes in total, which is
perceived as a significant starting point in negotiating the post-electoral coalitions, with special attention
given to personal importance of the future prime minister. The coalition of LDP, GSS, LSV and SDU has
made the electoral census and their 15 deputies will have a considerable influence on the dynamics and the
substance of the activities of the new National Assembly.
A strong victory of pro-European political options (DS, DSS, G17+, LDP-GSS-LSV-SDU and 5 lists of national
minority parties) is an important message and a response to a firmly stated support of the international
community: the Serbian political elite is, at least declaratively, ready to eliminate the false
dilemma – the East or the West, and that it will not allow Serbia to remain the region’s factor of insecurity
and destabilization. Serbia will accept the basic principles and values of the Euro-Atlantic community and its
joining the Partnership for Peace program also requires establishing mechanisms with which to
eliminate and counteract the possible processes of destabilization.
On the other hand, the electoral results of SRS: victory in all four Serbian cities (Belgrade, Novi Sad,
Niš and Kragujevac); a strong victory in Vranje, , Kruševac, Leskovac, Požarevac, Šabac, Varvarin; in 37
out of 45 districts in Vojvodina they individually received the most votes (31,87% support in Vojvodina);
winning the most votes individually in Central Serbia and in Vojvodina
raises the question of reason for the wide support to this party.
Serbia as an unconsolidated state of undefined borders is faced with processes of unfinished
urbanization (“a country in which urban cosmopolitanism, small-town horizons and provincial traditional
autism collide”, M. Lazic) and the decelerated processes of modernization. The psychology of the margin
and the perspective of the outskirt from which the political and economic processes in the region are being
perceived are some of the preconditions for the strengthening of ideology and political practice which SRS
is promoting. The processes of ghettoization and self-ghettoizaton are strongly supported by policy of ethnic
engineering of the nineties and by coerced changes in the ethno-demographic structure. Poverty, foundered
institutions, a high level of corruption and organized crime, the lack of political will to implement fundamental
changes – all coincide with lack of political and social energy. Nationalism and ethno-nationalist homogenization
have encourage the submissive judgment, slowing down and disabling the processes of civil and liberal
However, the cause of SRS’s success is not the strengthening of Serbian nationalism, but rather a protest
of the helpless to face the consequences of transition on the one hand, and on the other – a message to the
parties of democratic option that the partitocratic engineering and granting privileges as well as opening doors
to political promotion and to climbing the social scale for the chosen party activists has been recognized
and punished. The voters of SRS are not one homogenous entity: 500.000 to 600.000 of their voters are from the
national-patriotic block, the rest of them are the losers of the transition (these votes will cross over to
other parties). These elections represent
a high point for them, and it is expected that the party will wane.
It is a fact that they will still benefit from ethnic intolerance, the induced fear of the Other,
including the fear of Europe, xenophobia, but the country’s opening-up and joining the regional and
European activities will set the rank of this political option alongside the ones of similar political
options in Europe. Serbia is paying the price for the wars but it is also paying for the unfinished peace;
the processes of political and economic changes are not being understood and are being ignored; the region
which represents “a place one leaves” is characterized by lack of material as well as human resources; we do
not understand that we are not in the center of international interest and when Karadžic
and Mladic are finally arrested it will not be front page news.
SRS and its voters know that they will not gain power and essentially do not want to accept the responsibility
for dealing with crucial problems which are facing the current political elite. The comfortable position of the
critic who takes no responsibility for what is being done is a position of the party which was allowed not to
answer for the consequences of the politics it promoted and practiced during the nineties. But the responsibility
op Serbia’s political elite is to bear in mind that “every civilization has an obligation to drive its own
pathology to the fringe by itself”.
The political elite has a new mobilizational paradigm in front of her, one which demands a consensus on
Serbia’s future. Backed by a strong support of the representatives and the institutions of the international
community, Serbia’s political elite is faced with a clear task: to define a new mobilizational paradigm: to
form a stabile democratic government as soon as possible; to dismiss all false dilemmas on the direction of
future development and take full responsibility, bearing in mind the consequences of irrational and historically
faulty actions, to clearly stress the importance of policies that imply an active participation in all the
international institutions, especially the Partnership for Peace program and later NATO, and to promote those
policies. We do not need Kosovo to rewrite the mythical, falsified history. Accepting the reality that Kosovo
is independent provides a chance for a future permanent, long-term peace and stability of the whole region.
The Election Files: The Vojvodina Case
Novi Sad, January 27th 2007.
The pre-election rhetoric of most political parties indicates the deficit of understanding of Vojvodina
matter. It also opens the question about readiness and competence of future political elites to make an
essential move from predominant traditionalist, anti-liberal and centralized matrix, which does not consider
Vojvodina a European project, but a
plunder and compensation for frustrated, ethno-nationalist forces.
Approving the new Constitution of Serbia, the Vojvodina matter has become the main political matter of
Serbia. Less than 43 percent of eligible voters in Vojvodina voted for the new Serbian Constitution. It is
a final confirmation of abolition of political subjectivity of Vojvodina and that is also a final legitimizing
of ethnocentric concept. Explicitly,
its promoter is the Serbian Radical Party (SRP), and implicitly the majority of so called pro-European
and pro-democratic political partakers, who are ready to make a compromise with the SRP regarding Vojvodina.
Renewal and reinforcement of democratic potential of Vojvodina is now in question. With powerful processes of
ethnification of politics and emphasizing of ethnic exclusivity in conducting the public affairs, it is even
more likely that this capacity will be deteriorating in the future. The possibility of legitimate and
effective articulating of the Vojvodina citizens’ interest has been narrowed. There is a question if the
political options, which have made their way from exclusivism to eclecticism in two months, are really
competent to make a move from the discourse of mystified expressions which “overshadow vulgarity”. They
sound great (pro-European, but with a pinch of tradition), but they neither offer some clear and
articulated solutions nor emphasize the responsibility for everything that has been (un)done.
Vojvodina has become the focus of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) - Civic Alliance of Serbia (CAS) –
Social Democratic Union (SDU) - League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSDV) coalition, which announces a
triumph, with the expectation that it will receive
up to 20 percent of votes in Vojvodina. Vojvodina has also become the focus of the political
parties which struggle to reach a census. The LDP coalition and both SPS (Socialist Party of Serbia)
and SRP begun its pre-election campaign in Vojvodina. If we do not count Vojvodina political parties and
some coalitions: Vojvodina party coalition – Mr. Igor Kurjacki and the coalition of Hungarian political
parties called “Hungarian Unity”, as well as the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (AVH), the LDP – CAS –
SDU – LSDV coalition has the most candidates from Vojvodina (a combination of former and current provincial
officials). The DPS (Democratic Party of Serbia) – NS (New Serbia) coalition has the least number of the
candidates from Vojvodina. G 17 Plus expects to reach a census and they count on citizens of Vojvodina .
However, they began their campaign in Loznica, in presence of the prime minister of Republika Srpska (RS),
Milorad Dodik. Obviously, expertise does not always come before politics, especially when the relationship
with RS is considered.
The SRP “always takes Novi Sad as a starting point because it owes gratitude to the citizens of Novi
Sad and the whole Vojvodina for its great success”. However, the LDP-CAS-SDU-LSDV coalition announces its
final pre-election meeting in Novi Sad, on January 16th,
by which they want to “repay to Vojvodina for the full support”.
Some expressions which overshadow the essence are: Vojvodina is “a locomotive of development,
which should use its democratic potential in the upcoming period”; “an engine which pulls Serbia
towards Europe”; due to the fact that the last train to Europe sets forth on January 21st, “our
duty is to combat the signalmen who would lead the Serbian train into a cul-de-sac”. And the essence
is the fact that the main topic is not the Vojvodina autonomy (which is by itself essential and functional,
or there is no point in talking about it at all), but the main topics are different kinds of decentralization,
dealing with everyday life of people and defining “some new national interest”, choosing between “prosperity
and national politics”, because that is the only way for Vojvodina to become
“a modern European region which is a Serbian bridge to the EU”.
Magical number ’one thousand’ (new projects, 1000 young and capable people eager for recognition, who will
regenerate Serbia in the next five years) remains in the sphere of mytical-escapist
and non-obligatory awaking of national creative potential.
On the same trace, there are some new worthiness references, which are based on traditional C-shapes on the
Serbian cross as “some new four C-shapes: freedom, creativity, strength and solidarity” . Vojvodina is seen as
a new El Dorado, and as such, it is a model for the rest of Serbia.
The new Constitution, which annulled political subjectivity of Vojvodina, intrudes as one of
the pre-election topics. In that sense, it is emphasised that “the matter of autonomy was opened by the new
Constitution and it will be developed by laws, and that is why it is important that Vojvodina citizens vote
for democratic force which will be able to do that.” Greatness of autonomy will depend on the personality, on
“government which will respect integrity of the territory”. Meanwhile, we “work to regenerate Vojvodina with
more than 220 million euros
of investment resources”. Villagers are promised 100 euros per hectare.
The trend in emphasizing regional and leading role of Serbia on the Balkans has not missed Vojvodina.
“Vojvodina should become a leader in political life”, its citizens are expected “to be leaders of Serbia,
because they are its most prosperous part”. The beginning of political transformation is the admission of
political parties to the Republican Parliament. Or, as the leader of LDP says: “We will reach a change in
the position of Vojvodina in two stages: first, by the admission to the Parliament and after that, by the
province and local elections victory”.
The rhetoric of the LDP-CAS-SDU-LSDV coalition emphasizes the necessity “of Vojvodina to get the executive,
legislative and juridical authority”. As such, it differs from the opinion that “the status of the province
is the most optimal solution, owing to the new Constitution in the optimal position”. But as far as
“the Constitutional violence” is concerned, nobody offers protection it in the form of drawing a new
Constitution, but only in the form of amending the present laws (in the section of local autonomy,
jurisdiction, education and medical protection), the LDP coalition accepts the present Constitution as
a must. It also accepts the Constitutional principles related to Kosovo as an inalienable part of Serbia
and also related to Serbia as a country of Serbian citizens and all people who live in it. By the acceptance
of the new Constitution, there is a question of the ways in which Vojvodina can become “a civil province,
and Serbia – a civil country in which the divisions into the Serbs and the other citizens would not exist”.
The coalition of six Vojvodina parties, including the Vojvodina political party with its leader Mr.
Igor Kurjacki, are in favour of full autonomy of Vojvodina within Serbia, and their goal is regionalization
of Serbia. Completely disrupted and having been left without support of liberal political Belgrade, they
are not able to mobilize the public, or to impose the matter of Vojvodina autonomy
as a matter of strategic interest for the future of Serbia.
“The government strategy” is maintaining good international relations, but it is also the strategy of the ones
who “want to provide European equity for all the nations who live in this area”. Declaratively, none of the
political parties refuse the future coalitions with minority parties. Vojvodina minority parties will stand in
the elections independently (AVH), in the coalition (“Hungarian Unity”) or on the list of DP. The Democrats are
sure that “the representatives of minorities – with their culture, tradition, knowledge and experience – can make
the DP list be the most successful one”. The SRP is ready to form the government by its own or with the parties
of national minorities, to which they would offer some important sections (e.g. the Ministry of Internal Affairs).
The common points of pre-election rhetoric with no content are the coexistence, toleration, protection of human
and minority rights, because “the national communities enrich our society”. Those points indicate a deficit in
understanding of minorities as heterogeneous groups, divided by different interests and socially classed.
The most political parties have a sponsoring relation with tame, invisible and silent minorities, which will
be given symbolical, politically important role by patronage of politically mature and more experienced ones
from the exotic sphere. The political rhetoric expresses itself by acting for “the protection of minorities,
clear legal definition of minority rights and decentralization”. However, the matter of citizen’s and Vojvodina
identity remains open. Stimulating different kinds of civil engagement and enforcing civil matrices which would
confirm citizens’ loyalty to the Vojvodina bunch of liberal values; that identity would become the alternative to
the dominant parochial-traditional matrix.
The parties’ targets are a few minority groups: the young, the disabled, women and senior citizens.
Up to this moment, none of the major parties have indicated the problem of the Roma people (the most numerous
and the most endangered minority, which is constantly being exposed to the racist assault), they did not even
take a walk to one of the Roma people cardboard cities. Some of the Vojvodina minority parties believe that it
is not fair that the Belgrade parties pressurize their electors, instead of “taking action in central Serbia,
where the electors ought to be re-educated and converted to the democratic options”. There is also a question of
the authenticity of the minorities’ interest representation, i.e. if the minorities’ interest could be authentically
and honestly represented only by the members of minorities’ parties or the representatives of that interest could be
members of other political parties. This matter triggers questions of Vojvodina identity and its absorption
capacity of the individual, because “in Vojvodina, it is far more important to be a citizen than a member of some
national minority”. Besides the fact which is emphasized by the Prime Minister, that “the position of national
minorities living in Serbia has never been better than nowadays”, there is a deep concern for members of the
Serbian people (SPS), because “none of the Serbs must be endangered in the areas populated by national minorities.”
Every person who emphasizes that “it is better even today”, because “life cannot wait” and because “it depends
on us”; they all promise that they are the ones who will bring the necessary changes. They should ask themselves
if they really understand the necessity of presentation of new political strategies which are based on moral and
responsibility for everything that has been said, done and undone. While the leading ideas of the campaigns are
manipulation of the “loser feeling” and while the matter of humiliation and dignity appears even in rhetoric of
political rivals (no matter if we are humiliated by Europe, the Hague or Koštunica), we are far from free,
responsible and rational citizen who would vote in elections and in that way would show its loyalty to the bunch
of liberal-democratic values. Except for the hard anti-European, anti-Hague, anti-globaliation attitude of the SRP,
all other parties do not negate the importance of European integration. The date of the continuation of the
negotiations about the SAA is being predicted. It looks like a myth, the empty oral adornment with no content.
The Euro-Atlantic integration is not spoken about, because the association is too strong, “the very word Atlantic
reminds about the NATO”, and so one should keep to the level of the European integration, which is more or less
]acceptable. Nobody talks about the fact that Serbia and Vojvodina need some new mobilization paradigm and that
for the Serbian citizens, the new mobilization paradigm represents the acceptance and promotion of Euro-Atlantic
integration processes, which are the basic way of solving conflicts. It also represents institutionalization of
the postulates of legitimacy and effective management; restitution of democratic military control and the efforts
to establish a stable state, personified in the acceptance of the concepts of liberal democratic values that can be
recognized in the promotion of economic freedom and responsibility for both the community and the rights of the
responsible, rational citizen. A safe and free citizen has been neglected in the first Serbia and in the different
Serbia as well. The real image of the political scene will be shown by the post-election coalitions: the
criterion of coalitions’ post-election potential can be recognized in getting rid of one word: Other. The other
Serbia is getting even paler and it lets the Different Serbia take over its position.
Serbia: Euro-Atlantic Perspectives
Novi Sad, January 4th 2007
The invitation to Serbia to join the PfP expresses the willingness of the Euro-Atlantic community to
support the democratization processes in Serbia which are, alongside the commitments to the ICTY, a
precondition to the continuance of negotiating the Stabilization and Association Agreement. By this
invitation, the Euro-Atlantic community also proves its readiness to strengthen the political and
economic presumption of adopting a new legitimate model in Serbia which would present a final departure
from the dominant nationalist legitimate model. By participating in different programs of the PfP, on the
one hand Serbia is being given a chance to introduce itself as a credible political subject which
acknowledges the importance of a regional political and military stability, and on the other hand,
it is given a chance to affirm its declaratory readiness of accepting the Euro-Atlantic standards by
operationalization and acquiring and realization of its long-term plans of strategic development.
Serbia is a closed society with a flawed democracy and insufficient transitional capacity.
Being a post-conflict unfinished state with undetermined borders, Serbia today needs a new
mobilization paradigm which would clearly articulate the attitude of Serbian society towards
future, primarily the attitude of its elite. The vagueness of Serbia and its borders derogates
the already weak reform potential on the
one hand, and on the other – room for promoting, defending and advancing human rights is seriously
threatened. Serbia’s economic, political and cultural elite demonstrates a quintessential
Anti-European, Anti-Western and anti-modernization approach to the values of the Euro-Atlantic
community. A declaratory effort to join the EU is being annulled by constant recycling of a
parochial self-isolationism, as well as by a recognizable and a universally adopted matrix
of understanding of reality. Therefore Serbia’s elite shows an ambivalent misunderstanding
of the integrative processes as well as a flagrant lack of understanding of Serbia’s public
policy in a new political, economic, cultural and security context. Therefore deciding for
a membership in the EU and NATO is a question of belonging to the values of European civilization
and a question of a pragmatic decision by which national security is being improved and the chances
of economic development and the integration to modern world affairs is being hastened.
A new mobilization paradigm for the citizens of Serbia is an acceptance and promotion of Euro-Atlantic
integrative processes as a basic foundation of dealing with conflict, institutionalization of rule of l
aw and good governance, setting up a democratic control of
the army as well as assaying for a stabile country reflected in the acceptance of
the liberal-democratic values which are seen through promoting economic liberties and r
esponsibilities towards the community and social environment as well as putting into focus
the rights and liberties of a responsible and rational citizen. An important presumption
of activating a new mobilization paradigm is a change of attitude of Serbia’s citizens
towards the Euro-Atlantic integrations.
An undefined strategic path of Serbia in its international position and in joining the integration
processes in the European continent as well as in the region reflects the lack of inner potential of
the current political elite which could activate the energy for change and essential reform. Serbia is
losing a step with global changes. In that sense there is not a wide social and political consensus
about priorities (not only regarding the Euro-Atlantic integration but also in resolving Kosovo’s
final status, the commitments to the ICTY etc.) Serbia’s elite insists on a territorial principle and
the society is going through a post-imperial trauma, which causes the lack of sense of reality and a
misperception of coordinates of values and newly set–up constellation of international relations. In
the end, behind the seeming unity of Serbia’s European course to which there is no alternative, there
is still a dominant clash in Serbian society between conservative and liberal powers.
Acceptance of the program of the PfP and the prospect of joining NATO is a requirement for a
peaceful and stabile development of Serbia on the one hand, and on the other, as a part of the
Euro-Atlantic structures Serbia is no longer a component part of crisis and destabilization but a
component part of regional cooperation responsible for preserving and promoting the politics of regional
reconciliation. The conditions for joining NATO are compatible with the fulfillment of criteria for
joining the EU. Serbia will demonstrate a readiness to establish security in the region by improving
bilateral relations with its neighbors, by active involvement in the projects of regional cooperation,
but also by participating in multilateral peace operations of NATO and the UN. That is also the way of
promoting the concept of regional security as an integrative concept.
At this moment, regarding its inner democratic transformation Serbia is at a standstill, which is a
consequence of its inner economic, political and social limitations. In many domains, especially
regarding its relationship with neighboring countries (which is one of the indicators of respecting
European values) there is an unspoken Anti-European consensus. An Anti-European consensus is reflected
through the unwillingness of Serbian elite to face the responsibility for the crimes committed in the
wars or the nineties. The values of patriarchal, self-isolating and authoritarian-collectivist model
are being promoted as a measure of patriotism, thus the atmosphere of a normalized Anti-Western
climate again reestablishes the place and role of Russia as a protector of Serbia in its international
affairs. The young people who were raised in an environment of xenophobia, fear and ignoring the true
historical context are objectively not able to accurately perceive the world outside the country’s borders
and judge it impartially. Getting to know and accepting the values of the Euro-Atlantic community
provides a chance to the young generations to nurture and develop the European identity and to
protect and promote the values of European heritage.
Serbia is searching for its own identity and as a contested society in transition it is also searching for a
definition of a new security identity. Confronted with numerous security risks, which are based on the fact
that Serbian society is economically and socially exhausted by inner and outer conflicts and cannot carry out
the transition, and that there is no general social consensus for change and that a great number of citizens
is not ready to face the risks that transition is bringing, mainly because of ignorance and prejudice about it.
Contriving the optimal Euro-Atlantic strategy for forming a new security identity of the region and promoting
the integral support for democratization and modernization is a foundation for the region’s long-term security
and its integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. An offset for Serbia’s new security identity is the safety
of the individual, the citizen, and that safety is a result of a unified influence of economic, social, political,
cultural, demographic, and ecological circumstances which by their substance and potential define the security
capacities of a society and also they are a precondition for establishing a safer society in general as well as
on the individual level. Therefore the Euro-Atlantic integration rests on the accordance of basic interests and
not only economic and political, but also those regarding security.
Vojvodina: Euro-Atlantic Prospects and the Concept of Human Security
In public discourse of the political elite, Vojvodina is nominally being called a bridge to Europe, but the constitutional abrogating of its political subjectivity finally verifies the victory of the traditional, anti-liberal and centralized matrix, which does not see Vojvodina as a European project, but rather as war chest and pillage, a compensation to frustrated ethno-nationalist forces. An ethno-centric concept legitimatized by the new constitution seriously questions the restoration and strengthening Vojvodina’s democratic potentials, and alongside the strong process of ethnification of politics and emphasizing of ethnic exclusiveness in public service, in all likelihood those capacities will keep being undermined. The possibilities for a legitimate and efficient articulation of the interest of Vojvodina’s citizens are narrowed, the identity of Vojvodina is annulled and Vojvodina’s political structures, in communication with the elite of Serbian unfinished state, are left without any real power of decision. The alternative to parochial-traditionalist matrix in the form of a liberal-democratic, civil engagement is still weak, but there are forces (political options, civil organizations) which promote the need for forming integrative, civil matrix which would confirm the commitment of Vojvodina’s citizens to the set of liberal values. A consensus to accept this legitimate set of values calls for a stabile and clearly defined legal-democratic framework of a formed state, which Serbia is not. Anti-modernization processes, the straining of regional affairs, the halting of negotiations for joining the EU, denying the importance of transitional justice and accepting responsibility, are the dominant processes which are slowing down the transition of Vojvodina as a European region as well as making it difficult to articulate new forms of political culture. New forms of political culture should demonstrate the
commitment of citizens to numerous different identities which would negate the exclusiveness of ethnic identities. Vojvodina’s identity has a strong integrative potential that is being systematically disavowed by the political and cultural elite by manipulating the fears of citizens accusing the Vojvodinian identity for separatism and breaking up the organic unity of the Serbian nation. It is being disregarded that the identity absorbing capacity of the individual, of the citizen, is virtually unlimited, that the civic identity presupposes openness, inclusiveness, tolerance but also an ethno-neutral state in which public government means responsibility, transparency and active engagement of all citizens on different levels.
The task of the future reform elite will be to articulate new political strategies, to demonstrate a commitment to a new set of liberal-democratic values, to demonstrate a true understanding of European values and standards, as well as to struggle for constituting and defining a new political-economic context - a context of a secure, free and safe citizen. Therefore the primary task of the new political, economic and cultural elite will be to accept and promote the Euro-Atlantic values, the values of a liberal society. The security of a citizen rests on freedom and the possibility of choice but also on the certainty that the dignity and basic human rights of the individual are being protected. The security of a society and the state is being measured by the security of a citizen. The citizens of Vojvodina, a region that paid a high price for the wars in former Yugoslavia (a ruined economy, a changed demographic structure, an annulled political subjectivity), are subjected to numerous security risks. The basic human and minority rights are being called to question. In order to negate the idea of autonomy and establish Vojvodina as a historically Serbian region, despite its multi-ethnic character, the ethno-nationalists are willing to overturn the important legacy of European political modern – the idea of civic equality. The efforts of Vojvodina as an autonomous province to exercise full executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government are invalidated by the new constitution and the political elite is incapable to articulate a complete and optimal strategy of Vojvodina’s development, which would also determine a new
list of basic and ensured values and interests.
The inability to define a basic set of liberal-democratic values makes it difficult to identify their causes and violators, hence the inability to define the forces and means which would substantiate a Vojvodinian concept of integrative security. In a globalizing world it is no longer possible to develop a concept of security in isolation, and bearing in mind that Vojvodina is surrounded by members of the EU and NATO, that security is getting ever less separable, Vojvodina’s autonomy is a precondition of a constructive joint regional elimination of security challenges, risks and threats. Vojvodina is a paradigm of delayed and/or simulated transition, and in that sense of various simulated reform measures, including the reform of the army, police and security services. The legacy of war in these services in Vojvodina, their place and role in the wars of the nineties remains untackled. Dealing with the legacy of the wars of the nineties is one of the preconditions of regional safety since it makes room for public debate about the causes of war, different dimensions of responsibility and for dealing with the past and thus
excludes the possibility of another war experience.
Vojvodina – the challenges of the Euro-Atlantic partnership
The assertion of Vojvodinian autonomy is needed for optimal use of its resources and for adequate legal and political establishment in Serbian as well as in a broader regional context. As the most developed Serbian region and the one closest to Europe, its role in modernization, through constitutionally guaranteed jurisdiction, would consist of deciding on issues of crucial interest to the citizens of Vojvodina, and the crucial interest of Vojvodinians is a right and responsibility to independently decide on issues of their own future. The concept of human safety lies on the responsibility of regional institutions for political, economic and social safety of its citizens. The centralization of political, economic and financial power has lead to the undermining of the role of provincial institutions, dissipation of capital, impoverishment and widespread unemployment. In a word, insecurity and fear are pervasive in Vojvodinian political, economic and cultural contexts. The citizens of Vojvodina are not liberated from fear, uncertainty, insecurity, prejudice, apprehension which comes from dealing with new challenges and risks. Moralia minima, satisfying the basic economic needs and economic development, protecting human and minority rights and liberties, the rule of law, strengthening of democracy and the good governance and the protection of environment are all suppressed and degraded. The needs and interests of citizens of Vojvodina can be protected and advanced only in a stabile democratic environment of law and state, with an active participation in the processes of European integration of both Serbia and Vojvodina. Various aspects of cooperation of local communities, cities and subregions within Vojvodina contribute to the affirmation of Vojvodina as a European region. The fact that Vojvodina is surrounded by members of the EU and candidates for EU membership is a
convenient opportunity and a chance which should not be missed.
Constricting into the narrow limits of ethnicity in a plural environment such as Vojvodina brings numerous problems. Above all, it contracts inter-ethnic tolerance, narrows down tolerance and benefits radicalization and conflict. Truth be told, there is no climate for substantial ethnic confrontation in Vojvodina but in the situation of massive unemployment, slow economic recovery, suspended Stabilization and Association Agreement negotiation, and limited capacity of Vojvodinian administration, low intensity conflicts should be reckoned with for a long time to come. Those are all indicators of the safety risks that Vojvodina is facing. The character of inter-ethnic relationships in the region depends on the ability of the political society to solve problems. Ignoring the problems which we faced in 2004 has deepened the belief that the government in Belgrade is not a trustworthy partner and that in dealing with problems of that kind Vojvodina should rely on help and support from mother countries and the institutions of the international community. Internationalization has proved to be a useful solution, because it led to a decrease of ethnically motivated incidents, but the ethno-cultural gaps remained wide. The possibility of their further widening is real, and above all it depends on the result of the negotiations on Kosovo’s final status. The negative outcome of the negotiations could again result in a new wave of violence and increased pressure on minorities in Vojvodina, as was the case in March 2004. Depending on the minority group, that pressure would lead either to a decrease in aspirations if the group is small, or to a certain kind of apartheid if the minority group is large. In any case, the
competition between different ethnic elite groups on the issue of liberal values could be suspended.
Euro-Atlantic integration opens the possibility and prospect for Vojvodina to join the processes of regional democratization and modernization as a credible and politically relevant subject. In the European security structure, by sharing the common values and interest and as the most European part of Serbia, Vojvodina should promote a concept of a secure and stable region, which focuses on the needs and interests of the liberally oriented citizen. The necessary preconditions of personal safety are stable institutions and decentralization, which transfers the responsibility for the protection and safety of citizens to the institutions of local autonomy, and finally to civilian actors. The reform of all segments of executive, legislative and judicial power, as well as decentralization are a starting point of development and adoption of liberal-democratic standards, which promotes the interest and needs of citizens and local communities through constant dialog of all participants of the political and civilian sectors.
By actively engaging in the EU and in the programs of the PfP (and in NATO in the future), and also through promoting the Euro-Atlantic standards, Vojvodina gets the opportunity to inaugurate the concept of a secure citizen, free of fear and pressure in a community of equal opportunities.
The concept of a secure and safe citizen is a concept of minimizing and abating the fear of different risks and threats to which they are directly or indirectly exposed. The threats brought by economic insecurity, exposure to health hazards and risks brought on by ecological disasters, lack of personal safety and exposure to violence from other ethnic groups (ethnic, language, religious and sexual minorities, the poor, the disabled, children), as well as political insecurity which implies the risk of threatening the realization of basic human rights and liberties.