Victory Day Moskva, Reuters

Victory Day Moskva, Reuters

Serbia in Eurasian integrations

Since the prime minister Aleksandar Vucic was awarded „The Best European“ title, the public of Serbia has suffered some serious turbulence. On the recently held conference “Media and civil society as a guarantee of transparent, responsible and inclusive EU negotiation process”, the head of Serbian EU accession negotiations team Tanja Miscevic gave the national media a low grade in regard to covering the topic of European integration. She said that “this process is fun and challenging because it changes the structure of both the society and the state”. She seemed surprised by the fact that this subject isn’t the priority of Serbian media. Indeed, what could be more important than the process that reaches so deeply into all structures of a society and aims to change them. Of course, excluding the problem of production of rakia in the EU, which almost everyone cares about, all other things remain darkened just like contracts current and former governments signed with international companies. It is important to educate society if it is headed towards a certain goal.

Miscevic is right when she speaks about the necessity of understanding EU set of values. On the other hand, this speech of the head of negotiations team seemed really naive, because she resembled a lonely island that had lost all contact with the main land, i.e. the politics of the government she represents. This is why Miscevic should seriously ask herself which topics the Serbian government generates, and whether the issue of European integration is the priority in the agenda of PM, “the coach of Serbian Bayern”. Judging by the media sphere, it seems that it is not so.

The question then is what constitutes the media scene in Serbia? If we eliminate the issues of violence and death, tennis triumphs and weddings, and attempts to prove that we live in a democracy which is “a factor of stability in the Western Balkans”, there is only one important issue, which gradually changes the structure of society and the state – and that is Putin’s Russia.

In parallel with the specter of state bankruptcy (the state that signs such contracts with Etihad can’t fail!), used for amortization of social unrest, the story of Russian relations has been intensively developing in the public. This story has two faces. One is the story of Russian power and the other is of mercy. The news is structured mainly based on the model “Russia has done this and that is exactly what’s good for us!” So, there are no bad moves when Russia is concerned. People from the Chamber of Commerce are literarily rubbing their hands because Russia, for example, has imposed sanctions against Poland. It is, of course, good for us because it creates an opportunity for us to export certain agricultural products, primarily plum and milk, and also confectionery products.

The latest news that managed to reach us through the local media curtain was that Russia has imposed sanctions against Croatia and Montenegro. All of this is presented as an epoch-making issue, because the export potential of Serbia is growing enormously. To the question “What will Russia eat?” comes the answer that imports through alternative suppliers will be activated. Primarily from the states of the Eurasian Union – Belarus and Kazakhstan. Argentina is considered to be a possibility for import of meat, while fruit could be imported from Turkey. Serbia is truly joining the states that should supply the Russian market, which is emptying rapidly. The pictures of bare shelves in Russian stores have already been posted on Twitter. The Russian counter-attack is waiting for the consolidation of the alternative power system to show its results.

It is interesting that in these texts by Serbian media, there is almost none of the other side of the story, i.e. the price of this unreserved support of Russia. Absolute delight about the Prime Minister’s balancing between East and West prevails among Serbian politicians these days. Even Nenad Canak is elated by it, and, on the front page of Politika, salutes Vucic’s diplomatic genius which will, he said, remain a complete mystery to him. Also, Canak supports Putin-like maneuvers of the prime minister, who called local tycoons to take over the loss-making state run enterprises. Regarding his best man Miodrag Kostic, Canak said that he knows that “no company that Kostic took over has ever failed”. And neither will Serbia.

Economy is not the only field where stronger oscillation of the Russian pendulum is felt. The International Festival of documentary short film in Andricgrad has just finished. This festival brought together about two hundred filmmakers from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Serbia, in order to try to create a “body of films” promoting “the Russian spirit and define the rules for the entire world” through twelve categories. In the category “Putin”, of course as the best was pronounced “Choice”, a film by Eugene Kulik, which is about the Russian President Putin. This movie actually tells a personal drama about the change of perception of the President Putin, through an anecdote from the KGB period of Vladimir Vladimirovich’s life who, in 1989, found himself working undercover in Dresden, where, according to Kulik, “by making his own decision, he saved thousands of lives of Russian citizens but also of the German protesters”. You could say that this summary represents the quintessence of Kusturica’s festival, summarizing all categories into one – the rise of the Russian empire.

However, those values that change the structure of society and the state can’t do without the past. One such project which is supposed to remind us of the deep spiritual and friendly relations with Russia was presented to the public recently. It is the Russian necropolis in Belgrade. Namely, Iverska chapel, a memorial of the Russian glory and 755 graves where about 3,000 people lie in peace were reconstructed. The president of the Honorary Council of the Russian necropolis Fund Nenad Popovic pointed out the importance of this project, reminding us that “the renewal of the Russian necropolis renew the awareness of the Serbian people about who their friends are and what those friends had done for Serbia in the past.” A scientific conference followed, attended by representatives of the Fund, both from Serbia and Russia, historians and unavoidable officials of both churches. At the opening, Popovic commented on the current moment in Europe, saying that the “renaissance of the idea of fascism which is embodiment in a fascist movement that holds the new state order in Ukraine” is happening. Therefore, the entire four years long Serbian-Russian project is expected to oppose the “revision of history” and “the new vandals”.

In all this, Serbia should not forget the “love for Serbian people that Russia showed a hundred years ago.” There are cemeteries to prove this love. Bishop of Lipljani Jovan (Culibrk) also insisted on this and told a nice anecdote about his meeting with a plumber Gennady while he was in Jerusalem. On that occasion, he picked a conversation with him about Bosnia and Sarajevo, when Gennady confided in him that he had spent four years as a volunteer in the army of Republika Srpska. The Bishop Jovan said that the moral of the story for him is a lesson of Eurasian love. “We must not forget,” said Bishop Jovan before this expert audience, “that the Russian love for us has set fresh new cemeteries in Serbian countries in this age which we live in. And that those cemeteries are the proof that the love which planted the old ones still lives and will, certainly, live on”.

I suppose that the head of our negotiations team should look for some of the answers exactly in these events, as well as in the set of values they promote in the media.

Translated by Marijana Simic

Pešč, 12.08.2014.

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Saša Ilić, rođen 1972. u Jagodini, diplomirao na Filološkom fakultetu u Beogradu. Objavio 3 knjige priča: Predosećanje građanskog rata (2000), Dušanovac. Pošta (2015), Lov na ježeve (2015) i 3 romana: Berlinsko okno (2005), Pad Kolumbije (2010) i Pas i kontrabas (2019) za koji je dobio NIN-ovu nagradu. Jedan je od pokretača i urednik književnog podlistka Beton u dnevnom listu Danas od osnivanja 2006. do oktobra 2013. U decembru iste godine osnovao je sa Alidom Bremer list Beton International, koji periodično izlazi na nemačkom jeziku kao podlistak Tageszeitunga i Frankfurtera Rundschaua. Jedan je od urednika Međunarodnog književnog festivala POLIP u Prištini. Njegova proza dostupna je u prevodu na albanski, francuski, makedonski i nemački jezik.

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