Photo: Peščanik
“Kosovo is Serbia”, photo: Peščanik

Everyone keeps talking about Banjska, and no one talks about when the Serbs were being wounded, what do we do about that!?… Said Vučić, harshly and to Macron’s face. Yes, it’s boring to repeat all that. We don’t even remember Brussels and Ohrid, what road maps looked like, who shot at whom in Banjska… Well, okay, not quite. We do remember Banjska. Not least because everything was recorded. Radoičić posed for the drone of the Kosovo police, and then – almost as a reward – the same police let him return to Serbia, with his weapons and surviving “comrades”.

As for Banjska, everything was clear even before they showed us the pictures. A little more than half a year has passed since then, and Macron reminded Vučić that everyone responsible for the armed action and the four lives lost in Banjska must be brought to justice. It is possible that Macron does not know that Radoičić is walking around Serbia a free man. It is also possible that he does not know that, by all accounts, it is likely that the army and the state of Serbia were behind the action in Banjska. But it is very, very unlikely. And so Macron stood next to Vučić and practically told him to atone for Banjska.

To that, Vučić replied – Everyone keeps talking about Banjska, and no one talks about when the Serbs were being wounded, what do we do about that!? Really, what are we going to do? As if these things have anything to do with each other. But let’s assume that they do, for the sake of argument. Is that what Vučić is saying – bring to court all those responsible for the wounded Serbs, and I will also atone for Banjska? If this is what he thinks, why doesn’t he say so? Because he doesn’t think that, of course. Vučić is counting on something else, on the classic “Serbian” maneuver to avoid responsibility. A maneuver that can only be successful with the cooperation of the other side, whichever it may be.

You want us to confess… but you confess first… Followed by the predictable answer: we will confess… if you confess… This regression can go on indefinitely. Except that these arguments are not arguments at all. Because this is not about who did what to whom or who paid whom back for what. It’s not about that at all. It is about respecting the law. If someone broke the law, as Radoičić did, then the state should react and arrest him and bring him to court. That is all. There is no history that can be a good enough justification for the suspension of the state. Because if there is, then there is no state.

Except that this is exactly what Vučić told Macron when he talked about Banjska – Serbia is not a state. There is no law in it. And even if there was, there is no one to enforce it. And even if there was, we wouldn’t want them to… yes, because of the history. The worse the history, the smaller the state – that is the neo-Radical slogan. It could be said that the neo-Radicals look forward to every “Serbian” misfortune. And that they see any “enemy” of the “Serbs” as their ally. Because the more “Serbs” suffer, the more reason the neo-Radicals have to destroy the state by referring to the “tragic history of Serbian suffering”.

Vučić defiantly kept mentioning the times when “they were killing us”… And rubbing his hands with satisfaction, because there is no court which could call him to account as long as the “Serbs” are suffering. Because “Serbs” are not Serbs to him, they are just an excuse in quotation marks. As for Macron… what are Serbs, with or without quotation marks, to the president of France? Absolutely nothing. Because, if they were something, if he had any awareness and respect for them, Macron would not have talked to Vučić. And if he were to talk, he would calmly answer Vučić’s manipulations with: Banjska has nothing to do with that difficult history you are talking about.

Do your job as befits a proper state and apply the law, that’s what he would say. Instead, Macron puts his hand on his heart and thanks Vučić for his pathetic flattery. (There is no reason to analyse Vučić’s courtly rhetoric here, it is not the worst thing he does, nor what we as a political collective should be most ashamed of.) What on earth is the matter with the president of France, does he not have an iota of political integrity or at least basic decency? Probably not (but we’re not interested in that here either). Because that meeting in Paris was not political, nor did Macron talk to Vučić like a president with a president.

The two were simply merchants. One was selling and the other was buying. (Last time, Macron bought and Vučić sold the Belgrade airport, something which is now a long-forgotten past.) This time, Vučić, as a buyer, did not come to Paris only for airplanes, a nuclear reactor, and God knows what else. He also came for some positive propaganda. Just like Macron didn’t just sell planes, reactors, and God knows what else. But also some good PR services. I will shake your hand in front of the journalists and I will smile at you, but you will buy airplanes… I will buy airplanes, but you will let me play the angry protector of “Serbdom” in front of you and the journalists.

That’s what the trade looked like. Now, we already knew how low we have fallen, with Vučić at the helm, even if we don’t want to admit it to ourselves. But that the French have also fallen this low, with Macron as a traveling salesman at the helm… well, alright, we knew that too.

Translated by Marijana Simić

Pešč, 20.04.2024.

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Dejan Ilić (1965, Zemun), urednik izdavačke kuće FABRIKA KNJIGA i časopisa REČ. Diplomirao je na Filološkom fakultetu u Beogradu, magistrirao na Programu za studije roda i kulture na Centralnoevropskom univerzitetu u Budimpešti i doktorirao na istom univerzitetu na Odseku za rodne studije. Objavio je zbirke eseja „Osam i po ogleda iz razumevanja“ (2008), „Tranziciona pravda i tumačenje književnosti: srpski primer“ (2011), „Škola za 'petparačke' priče: predlozi za drugačiji kurikulum“ (2016), „Dva lica patriotizma“ (2016), „Fantastična škola. Novi prilozi za drugačiji kurikulum: SF, horror, fantastika“ (2020) i „Srbija u kontinuitetu“ (2020).

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