That old comedian – chance – was responsible for two articles, different in many ways, but sharing a common trait, appearing side by side on the Pescanik website on Monday, June 2. The first, by order of publishing, was the article “How to get a PhD? Easy! The case of Minister Stefanovic”, written by Ugljesa Grusic, Branislav Radeljic and Slobodan Tomic, and the second – “The House of Terror in the Museum of Revolution”, by Milan Radanovic.
In both cases – and this is the common denominator – prominent public figures were caught with their hands in the cookie jar. The first of the two, Nebojsa Stefanovic, the current Minister of Internal Affairs, who previously held the position of Parliament Speaker, had his hand all the way to the bottom of that jar. The article written by the abovementioned three young scientists from renowned scientific institutions in the UK testifies to this in a convincing, detailed and comprehensive manner. In the second article, Radanovic sketched briefly the expert profile of Srdjan Cvetkovic, historian, author of the exhibition “In the name of the people – political repression in Serbia 1944-1953”, which is currently on display in Belgrade.
The first article, as not only readers of Pescanik, but many citizens of Serbia know well, attracted much more attention, especially after the Pescanik website was brought down and the continuous struggle to put it back online. It is understandable that the articles which followed on this topic suppressed all others, including the one written by Radanovic, which additionally contributed to this article going unnoticed. To me, this appears unfair. As a matter of fact, the social damage of what Cvetkovic did is much deeper than the potential damage Stefanovic may cause.
There is no doubt that Stefanovic’s transgression is very serious. He should offer his resignation, and
, if he fails to do so, should be deposed. Furthermore, the professors who allowed Stefanovic to receive a PhD should lose both their titles and their jobs.
However, on the other hand, apart from repeating a bad, yet rather widespread social practice – thus making the Minister no more than one amongst many – this PhD will not cause any wider social damage. Stefanovic is not building a career based on his PhD, in particular a career in the academic community. Instead, his career, if he ends up having one after this debacle, will be based on some other of his characteristics and unique traits.
However, the situation with Cvetkovic is very different. Although his master’s thesis includes such flaws and oversights that is would hardly pass for a high school graduation paper, Cvetkovic has continued his academic career, obtained his PhD, writes and will continue to write books, maybe even history textbooks, and he will organize exhibitions like the one we mentioned, as well as similar ones, and, generally speaking, will influence the shaping of opinions and standpoints of generations in Serbia. Hence, compared to the damage Cvetkovic will cause, the damage caused by Stefanovic is a child’s play.
Translated by Bojana Obradovic