This is Serbia (word cut: Kos-ovo; 'ovo' is 'this' in Serbian), design: Apostle

This is Serbia (word cut: Kos-ovo; ‘ovo’ is ‘this’ in Serbian), design: Apostle

DSS and SRS supporters protested on Nikola Pasic square again and claimed that „Kosovo is Serbia“. A few days earlier, Dveri and Nasi also shouted „Kosovo is Serbia“, this time in Orasac, at prime minister Ana Brnabic. The „lion” Vucic himself repeated the same thing in Munich (almost in the München of the 1930s beerhouse manner). DSS, SRS, Dveri and Nasi, however, don’t believe that he really means this. They suspect him of treason and protest against his regime.

DSS and SRS don’t even trust Dveri and Nasi and protest separately from them. Most probably, Dveri and Nasi also suspect DSS and SRS. It doesn’t end there, as DSS doesn’t trust SRS, either. From DSS and Dveri’s perspective, SRS is only pretending to oppose the regime. On the other side, Nasi probably don’t trust Dveri, since Dveri have joined SZS, together the with patriotically questionable opposition parties. And yet, they are all united by the slogan „Kosovo is Serbia“.

Now let’s imagine that we are looking at the political situation in Serbia from Mars. What does it look like? From this perspective, it seems that the government is trying to save Kosovo, since the previous government almost lost it. In addition, this government originally took power from the previous one under the slogan „Kosovo is Serbia“. However, to our surprise, leaders of the previous government, now in the opposition, are trying to bring down the current regime and take power using the same slogan – „Kosovo is Serbia“. To make matters worse, the opposition is divided into several groups and each one claims „Kosovo is Serbia“.

What does this situation look like to our hypothetical observer from Mars? First: all Serbian governments have claimed that Kosovo is Serbia. Second: political society in Serbia is sharply divided into groups which all firmly believe that Kosovo is Serbia. Since this is so, the observer might ask about the point of changing the government in Serbia? And also: how are Serbian voters able to differentiate between political options which all claim the same thing – that Kosovo is Serbia?

A well-meaning citizen of Serbia might try to explain to the observer from Mars that, in Serbia, there is actually no politics. Because everything the politicians do can be reduced to a witch-hunt for traitors (of Kosovo). To make everyone believe that your political opponent is a traitor (of Kosovo) is the only point of Serbia’s otherwise pointless politics.

Having learned this, the observer from Mars can go home in peace. After all, we didn’t even need him in the first place. We could have asked ourselves about the point of politics where all options say the same thing. Various individuals claiming that Kosovo is Serbia have been in power, one after another, for three decades at this point. Now, at the beginning of the fourth decade, the only legitimate alternative to the regime are still just a bunch of people shouting „Kosovo is Serbia“.

Is there any other important issue in Serbia, besides the so-called „Kosovo issue“? No! – comes the unanimous reply from both the current regime and the otherwise fragmented opposition parties. DSS won’t joint Savez za Srbiju (SzS) because Kosovo is Serbia. Dveri and Narodna stranka joined SzS because Kosovo is Serbia. SzS is trying to bring down Vucic because Kosovo is Serbia. Vucic won’t give up power because Kosovo is Serbia. Political pressure is high, people are protesting, the crisis is at its peak and everyone is shouting – „Kosovo is Serbia“. If you take all mentions of Kosovo out of Serbian politics, the majority of Serbian politicians will have nothing to say at all.

„Kosovo” is not the name of a piece of land which has been outside Serbia for almost two decades. It is a code or dog-whistle for Serbian political vanity. A code for incompetence and inability to design and construct a decent state. After every cry of „Kosovo is Serbia”, comes an echo which we are desperately trying not to hear – „Serbia is pathetic”.

Translated by Marijana Simic

Pešč, 26.02.2019.

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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“ (2020) i „Srbija u kontinuitetu“ (2020).

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