Faculty of Philosophy, photo: Pescanik
Faculty of Philosophy, photo: Pescanik

Protest against attacks on representatives of the academic community in the National Assembly

Dear citizens of Serbia,

The state of Serbian society is deteriorating daily. Autocracy is strengthening, and the government’s intolerance of everyone who thinks differently is reflected in their public disparagement and accusations.

At the meeting of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia on January 20th, 2020, MP Marko Atlagic repeated attacks against professors of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade – Ognjen Radonjic and Dubravka Stojanovic. He tried to challenge Radonjic’s pedagogical work, accusing him of “conducting terror against students,” as well as hiding the data about exam results – although this information is held by the Faculty of Philosophy administration and it is not secret.

Atlagic reiterated the ominous allegations made earlier against Professor Dubravka Stojanovic, accusing her of betraying Kosovo, saying he “only referred to the articles of law 305 to 321. Naturally, she would end up in jail for this, it is in our Criminal Code. I only added Knjaz Milos and nothing else.”

MP Atlagic blames everyone who thinks differently, and has even called Professor Nikola Samardzic an “anti-Serb,” who is “immunized from a sense of patriotism.” During the parliamentary debate, MP Marijan Risticevic attacked professors Jovo Bakic, Danica Popovic and Dusan Teodorovic, proving that the real target of the attack is the entire academic community which dares to think critically.

In his address, MP Atlagic made a number of commendations to contemporary educational processes, sidestepping the many problems of academic and scientific work in Serbia. In addition to making numerous tentative assessments of the situation before and after the current government and giving a primitive view of the role of school psychologists, he also propagated problematic decisions such as the introduction of dual education. He also tried to bring discord to the academic community by dividing it into a smaller group of critically oriented individuals and a majority which “co-operates extremely well” with the Ministry.

MP Marko Atlagic is a person with a rare political career in contemporary Serbia. One would be hard-pressed to find anyone who, like him, participated in the 14th Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, was a deputy of the Socialist Union – the Union of Socialists of Croatia in the first convocation of the Croatian Parliament and the president of the Republican Science Association of the Republic of Croatia, the president of the Benkovac municipality, a minister in the Serbian Krajina government, member of the Serbian Radical Party, witness at Slobodan Milosevic’s trial, and current member and deputy of the Serbian Progressive Party. Marko Atlagic’s political biography makes it clear that he is not an improviser and arrogant individual waging his private wars, but a clearly profiled party soldier currently charged with discrediting critics of the current government.

Marko Atlagic’s attacks against the academic community were carried out at the behest of the party and aim to intimidate all critics of the ruling regime and silence the University of Belgrade. At the same time, they show the corrosion of democracy in contemporary Serbia, where parliament has become a place of confrontation with non-dissenters, and not a space for the democratic exchange of views.

We condemn the attacks of Marko Atlagic and expect MPs to behave in accordance with civilizational and democratic norms, because such behaviors not only manifest their own power, aggression, and intolerance, but also strongly contribute to the destabilization of Serbian society.

Professors and associates of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade / Initiative Nije filozofski cutati

Peščanik.net, 28.01.2020.