I think that this country is divided into two irreconcilable camps, into two irreconcilable parts that have a completely different vision of the country’s future, and in a country like that a political center is impossible. That is how I look at this failure and the decline in popularity of the DSS and Vojislav Kostunica who tried to maintain his position of sitting on two chairs. I was a little bemused by the halfhearted and tepid reactions to Tadic’s statement, because in the end, it is about the fact that Djindjic was the guy who sent Milosevic to The Hague due to charges of war-crimes, and that the people who killed him belong to the death squads of that same Milosevic. Drawing that parallel was not only incomprehensive and done in a bad taste but also terribly stupid.

I wrote down one Tadic’s statement and I remember when it was made, you can look it up, it was May 19, 2005 in Danas, where he literally said that we have to rise above these lands we live in and take a look at things from celestial heights. That is something that is often present in that nationalist camp, which often refers to divine justice. Human justice doesn’t fit them, and divine justice has this handy side to it that everything you are looking at from celestial heights looks more or less the same. Everyone is the same from that perspective, Milosevic and Djindjic too, you cannot see anything clearly. That goes along the lines of what Brana Crncevic once said: that Serbian crimes committed during the 90’s are something that should be discussed between God and the Serbs.

When Vojislav Kostunica spoke about the so called taking of Kosovo, he claimed that we have both God’s and human justice on our side. This grand view of our situation, that bird’s- eye view, is developed in the fact that people think that God, if he exists, is merciful, that Judgment Day is far ahead and it is based on a belief, which was enounced here in Pescanik by a Kosovo Serb, that God himself is a Serbian guy, so we’ll make a deal. Therefore it’s a position from which all the cats are black, or white, if you will. That is an extreme relativization, Max Frisch called it an impelled metaphysics when he talked about the Germans. When you are stuck, you should rise above and look at it all as sub specie aeternitatis, it’s all the same from the perspective of eternity, we will all be dead in the end, what difference does it make. Well, we are still people and we want human justice, however imperfect it might be, and according to that justice what Boris Tadic said was shameful and stupid.

I think that the expression “restoration” is inadequate. In 2000 Milosevic fell from power and his apparatus remained untouched. I think Kostunica was not a candidate of the DOS coalition. He was nominated by the other side, Milosevic’s camp, which decided to sacrifice Milosevic but keep everything else. That is the point of what was said in 2000, that Kostunica was the only one capable of winning. Well he was, because he was nominated by Milosevic’s people, and the DOS accepted him, not the other way around. I also think that the whole Djindjic episode was a heroic, although weak, attempt to change Serbia. I think Vojislav Kostunica played a major part in that. He was a Trojan horse of old politics and old regime from the start. The huge number of votes he won and the approval ratings of 80 percent after Milosevic’s downfall, he delivered all that to the Radicals and the SPS and in the end he had to reveal his hand completely, to join the Radicals in a coalition and to be defeated. So there is no point in speaking of a restoration.

Dacic told the National Assembly, and he later repeated that on Milosevic’s grave, he repeated it twice – I don’t understand why you had to force us from power when you finally adopted all our policies. And Kostunica does not dare to comment on that, because it is true. The policy of a government that is still in power came to the same Milosevic’s positions. So I wouldn’t speak about a restoration, I would say that we had a brief heroic, although naïve, attempt to change something in Serbia. Something was advanced and the main advanced thing was mapping the strategy for joining the European Union. To this day it is the only real and great legacy of Djindjic’s governance to survive, but now it is also disputed. Preventing Serbia’s advancement toward the European Union was supposed to be Kostunca’s final triumph. This is the battle we are witnessing today.

I think that a coalition of the DS and the SPS is needed for one reason only, and that is ratifying the Association Agreement. I do not believe in that government, I think that both sides are equally strong and that this government will not be able to survive. Its only chance is the ratification. Everything else is hanging in the air, the power is evenly distributed. Even if the other side was to come to power, they would not have it easy. We cannot have an efficient government here because any government would have a tremendously strong opposition. The irreconcilability of those two blocks is such that it can only end if one of them wins, there is no other way. How that is possible, I don’t know, but compromise between those two positions is impossible and we will always have instable governments being formed. However this might end, we will soon have new elections.

What Teofil Pancic said about the Democtaric Party’s votes coming from all other parties is so true, but for a very specific reason. Because here, for the first time after 2000, the opposing sides are conflicting over one central issue. The question of pro-European and anti-European Serbia is a historic Serbian question and it is recognized as a dilemma that lasted for two centuries. And over a historic question such as this, which is also a very blurred question, people are no longer divided by partisanship, but by a fundamental division – am I in favor of Europe or am I against it. We never had anything but those two parties here. There was always a European party and an anti-European party here. They were always called differently, but that was basically the point.

I think that in communist times this one and only party was also divided by that principle – we are in favor of Europe, we are for opening up the borders, for modernization – that’s a European party. I think those were the Liberals in the 70’s, however much they resorted to the Aesopian Language of party resolutions. And up to now this European party was regularly taking a beating. This is the first time that it has got Europe and her interests on its side and I think the European Union is the most important political factor in this country. The anti-European side replies to that by shouting – treason, treason, you are travelling to Bruxelles while they are taking our Kosovo away.

Speaking of Kosovo, I wanted to give Vojislav Kostunica recognition for one thing, that it was he who brought this question forward. He thought that the so called taking of Kosovo was a great opportunity to deliver the final blow to the European party, with a shallow and primitive formulation – we cannot go toward Europe when they are taking Kosovo away. Then came the reaction, Europe offered to sign the Agreement with us and those two sides came to an uneven position. All of a sudden the European party starts talking about benefits of signing the European Agreement, Fiat is coming. And all the while this anti-European party keeps repeating – Kosovo is the heart of Serbia, we won’t give up Kosovo. It does not have the lines. Those lines are poor, they boil down to the incredible promise that their plan of action will get Kosovo back. The people are not insane and they understood the huge difference between what the European side promises and the unrealistic promises of the anti-European side.

Therefore, Kostunica had erroneously and very clumsily from his point of view, advanced that question – are we heading toward Europe or not, we are heading toward Russia, if we need to close up, we don’t need capital, we don’t need investments, we don’t want anything from them. That led to this surprising election result. People were frightened, and it was Kostunica who frightened them. I want to remind you of the speech he gave in the National Assembly, it was frightening. You saw a man who was possessed, monomaniacal, furious, angry, and when the U.S. embassy started burning and those riots followed, which he himself instigated, things suddenly reversed. That is how I explain the Democratic Party’s success.

The question remains whether we will be able to, once we ratify this agreement, move along those tracks, on which we will be placed. There are two different views on that. First of all, there is an infrastructure here, there are people who understand the European Union, who understand the association process, who understand what it involves. On the other hand, we mentioned that Serbia is divided and I think the other side will set up huge roadblocks on that road and that it will all go awfully slow. There could be unrest, disorder, because that position is desperately defended. The Audit Commission cannot get their computers and phone lines because if they were to determine that money from the budget was spent irresponsibly and purposelessly, this is called abuse of position in criminal law and you go to jail for it. There are a lot of people here who are responsible of terrible things that were going on, who remain unpunished and who know that falling from power is dangerous to them. That resistance will be straining and tireless.

In that sense it can go slowly, but I believe that the ratification is an irreversible process. As for the conditions for the agreement’s implementation, the cooperation with the Hague tribunal, as usual I have to go back to October 5th2000. You see that the so called line drawing, lustration, catharsis, whatever you want to call it, facing your past, it never happened here. The anti-European party always thought this issue could be somehow bypassed. But if you throw it out the door it comes back through the window. Now it is expressed in the demand for full cooperation with The Hague so that the Agreement could be implemented. I personally think, although I don’t like it, that there might be a alternate position on the part of Europe, wherein that demand could be canceled if we were to come up with a credible proof that we did everything in our power to find Ratko Mladic, but that we did not succeed. 

A great obstacle there was Vojislav Kostunica, who has an incredible idea that the dignity of a state is defended by lying to the whole world that you don’t know where Ratko Mladic is. This concept of dignity and pride, shared by Toma Nikolic, is inconceivable to me. Serbia’s dignity is threatened by Ratko Mladic’s crimes, not by his hiding. The most we can do to get that dignity back is to find him and turn him over. Whether that will happen – I can imagine this half-hearted solution, which the other side would concede to, although I am very careful when I say that. That decision depends on 27 countries, some of which take this condition very seriously, and this condition cannot be changed without a consensus.

Translated by Ivica Pavlovic

Peščanik, radio b92, 13.06.2008.

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Srđa Popović (1937-2013), jugoslovenski advokat ljudskih prava. Branio mladog Zorana Đinđića, Brigitte Mohnhaupt (Baader-Meinhof), Vojislava Šešelja, Dušana Makavejeva, Milorada Vučelića, Mihajla Markovića, Miću Popovića, Predraga Čudića, Nebojšu Popova, Vladimira Mijanovića (Vlada Revolucija), Milana Nikolića, Mihajla Mihailova, Dobroslava Paragu, Milana Milišića, Vladimira Šeksa, Andriju Artukovića, Beogradsku šestoricu, profesore izbačene sa Filozofskog fakulteta... Pokretač peticija za ukidanje člana 133 (delikt govora), ukidanje smrtne kazne, uvođenje višestranačja u SFRJ... 1990. pokrenuo prvi privatni medij u Jugoslaviji, nedeljnik Vreme. Posle dolaska Miloševića na vlast iselio se u SAD, vratio se 2001. Poslednji veliki sudski proces: atentat na Zorana Đinđića. Govorio u 60 emisija Peščanika. Knjige: Kosovski čvor 1990, Put u varvarstvo 2000, Tačka razlaza 2002, Poslednja instanca I, II, III 2003, Nezavršeni proces 2007, One gorke suze posle 2010.

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