Belgrade, June 24, 2023, photo: Pescanik
Belgrade, June 24, 2023, photo: Pescanik

Next time, when some president or prime minister from the EU lands at Belgrade airport and goes to meet Vucic, the opposition should consider organizing protests and roadblocks in such a way to prevent them from getting from the airport to the city. That is, if the protests are still going strong. And if Vucic is still at the head of the regime.

Just imagine, dear reader, wouldn’t it be better if the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel and the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte had not met with Vucic yesterday? Just imagine, instead of listening to their idiotic speeches, wouldn’t it be more exciting to watch the news barricades? Or, better yet, to be on them yourself! This would also give an opportunity to the leaders of the opposition to have a chat with the blocked high-ranking officials from the “wide world”.

Bettel and Rutte – as well as Stano Lajcak Borell before them – were just useful EU fools for Vucic yesterday. Let me say right away, I cannot know for sure what those two really are. It is possible that they, just like Stano Lajcak Borell, are actually something more than uninformed ignoramuses. But when they appeared in front of the journalists last night, together with Vucic, that is what they looked like.

Of all the things in this world, Bettel decided to tell us that he heard from local gay rights activists that they were very upset that last year’s Pride parade was not held. (Wasn’t it?) And how he would like to live in a world where the joint photograph of him and his husband and Brnabic and her wife would not be news. Oh, how important it was for the local public to hear these words.

And Rutte explained to us that it is important for Ukraine to defeat Russia in the ongoing war, and that Serbia, a year and a half after the outbreak of the war, could help make that happen by imposing sanctions against Russia. Then he added something about Kosovo. And about how he is not here to judge anyone. He only wants to help. And that was it.

Afterwards, Vucic took them both for a boat ride, told them all about how Serbia will become a large construction site due to the organization of EXPO 2027, and the media again reported it as a separate news item.

If they really wanted to help, Bettel and Rutte would have first learned more about the country they were visiting. They would know that the people of Serbia are basically living in the movie “Everything, everywhere, all at once”. You may remember that movie, this year’s biggest Oscar winner, in which countless alternate versions of each of the protagonists live in countless parallel worlds. The balance in that multiverse is disturbed and worlds begin to flow into one another. Well, that fictional nightmare is happening in Serbia today.

Bettel and Rutte’s visit and statements managed to further increase this otherwise unbearable chaos. Protests have been going on in Serbia for two months now. For two months, tens of thousands of people have been on the streets trying to escape this political nightmare. The regime, on the other hand, is now trying its hardest to preserve the semblance of a state, of which, as we know, barely anything remains. And into that situation come Bettel and Rutte, and talk to Vucic… about what, exactly? And he smiled with satisfaction because he will once again briefly resemble… what, exactly?

If they had come to really solve something (Kosovo, sanctions against Russia, the Pride parade, anything…) the two of them would have organized a press conference after the conversation with Vucic and told the journalists what they had talked to him about. In addition, they would explain why they talked to him in the first place, since he, as the president of Serbia, has no authority regarding Kosovo, or the Pride parade. Finally, they would list the measures to be taken against Serbia if it does not impose sanctions against Russia.

If they really cared, they could have made a democratic gesture: meet with Jovo Bakic, for example, and thus demonstrate their concern for freedom of speech. Or go to the Ministry of Education and ask about the letter they’ve sent to the Faculty of Philosophy. Bakic was merely the first one to come to my mind right now, it would’ve been somebody else if they had come a few days earlier or later. The student Pavle Cicvaric, for example. There is always someone with a target on their chest.

It’s not difficult to do the right thing, if you really want to help. Everyone knows how to do it: you stand with the victim, not the bully. Okay, I’m exaggerating. What do Bettel and Rutte care about Serbia? Or about the Serbs in Kosovo, for example. If they cared about them, they would not talk about Kosovo with Vucic, but with them, with the Serbs from Kosovo. It’s just that the two of them have their own agenda; and the Serbs from Kosovo have their torment. But, precisely because of that, next time they should not be allowed to pass.

Translated by Marijana Simic

Pešč, 14.07.2023.

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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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