The immodest recent declarations by Tadić and Jeremić that the UN General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague for an opinion on Kosovo’s ‘unilateral’ proclamation of independence was a ‘glorious triumph for Serbia and humanity’ are the product of megalomania, and of the old custom of Serbian politicians to ascribe supernatural powers to themselves (and by extension to the Serbia of their dreams). Unhesitatingly and without the least reservation, the ‘success’ in New York was thus presented to the domestic public as Serbia’s triumphal return to the international stage – especially among the Non-aligned, whom by the way we used to mock so indecently after Yugoslavia’s collapse.

So far as Belgrade is concerned, the matter is practically decided , and the Kosovo ‘secessionists’ should lose no time in restarting negotiations while Serbia feels in a generous mood. The court has little to do, in fact, right and justice being on Serbia’s side; and all that is now needed is for the rest of humanity (USA, EU, Serbia’s neighbours) to agree that they simply went overboard when they recognised Kosovo’s departure. They will be forgiven, of course, and given a chance to repent, to understand their mistake, to change their minds and withdraw their recognition. In other words, to embrace Koštunica’s eternal struggle to make the Serbian understanding of law into a universal world process. We shall simply wait for this historic act to be played out. And while waiting, we shall remove from our immediate sight all that might disturb the conviction of our national and political leaders that we are ‘at the beginning of a final solution’. Even if this includes damning our neighbours, Montenegro and Macedonia, who – by recognising Kosovo at a time when we, after our return from New York, were still drinking champagne – have ‘stabbed us in the back’. This explosion of Milošević-style rhetoric filled with hatred and intolerance, and the official steps taken against Podgorica and Skopje, help us to recall the scope and dishonesty of the unaltered ideological and nationalist paradigm binding together Milošević, Koštunica and Tadić.

The latest Kosovo formula of the Serbian state representatives – ‘Let’s be realistic, let’s do the impossible!’ – is in fact nothing but a swindle and a throwing of dust into the eyes of the population, designed to divert its attention from everyday problems, the failed concessions and suspect privatisations, the controversial gifts to the Russians in return for their ‘good will’, the monopolies of overbearing and politically protected tycoons, the enormous increases in the price of gas, telephone, utilities and food. So that the ‘socially responsible’ government can cover the planned budgetary deficit with the money of its desperate subjects. One need not be all that clever to recognise the brilliantly marshalled technology for producing delusions and illusions wherein Kosovo serves as cover for the behind-the-scenes activities and failures of the ruling circles. The dissemination of illusions has been established as a well-tried and most efficient method for convincing the population that when the political elite decides, the impossible becomes real and achievable. This technology is faultless: first, create a consensus among the political parties around a given aim; then support it with a strong political and media campaign designed to convince even the most sceptical of subjects that the aim can be realised; and finally – borne on the wave of an invented but nationally attractive illusion, such as the insistence that it is possible to keep Kosovo – state policy is forged and pursued, measures are taken, unbridled optimism is enforced, all in the vain hope that the adventure may perhaps pass off unpunished, without long-term and short-term repercussions and collective feelings of depression and resignation, with their destructive effects on social consciousness.

Let us recall: Milošević was convinced after the Eighth Session that his kind of nationalism was the best means of preserving power, and that mass rallies and ‘meetings of truth’ were the ideal means for mobilising and hegemonising broad social layers around ‘defence of national pride’. This soon turned first into a brutal attack on political opponents in Serbia, then into an agenda for destruction of the common [Yugoslav] state. At that time too Kosovo was the motivation and the instrument – a cleverly conceived illusion, in fact, that one could achieve everything by force. Serbia surrendered to this euphoria – this illusion – more readily than expected, and became in turn its hostage and its victim. The outcome was: break-up of the country, wars, isolation, sanctions, economic and social want, bombing, and finally loss of both national territory and pride. This epilogue was not sufficient, however, to inspire any understanding that the military defeat, the Kumanovo agreement and the prompt ejection of the Serbian state from Kosovo were not – as Milošević tried to convince us – the fruits of a ‘great victory over the NATO pact’, but rather the brutal reality of a military capitulation. Milošević left in the wake of Kosovo, but the illusion that what actually happened did not happen has remained alive to a greater or lesser extent until the present day.

Taking over from Miloševć the role of saviour of the nation, the state and Kosovo, Vojislav Koštunica reactivated in his authentic nationalist obsession the Kosovo myths, and whipped up to unexpected heights the national passions that had been slumbering after 5 October. The gusle rhetoric made a comeback, war with the West (albeit only verbal and ideological) was renewed, and Kosovo once again became a subject that would sorely test Serbia’s fate, at least in relation to its stalled Euro-Atlantic integration, blocked cooperation with the Hague tribunal, and refusal to confront its military and nationalist past.

What Koštunica revived Tadić has continued, telling us like his predecessor that there is no alternative to Kosovo; that right is stronger than policy, and procedure more important than the fact that Milošević set off a war in Kosovo, initiated a wave of mass expulsion of the Albanian population, and committed a host of grave war crimes. In Tadić’s ‘democratic’ interpretation too, Kosovo is ‘the question of all questions’, something that ‘we can never give up’ even if it means ending the dream of joining the European family of nations. In this way, the pyramid of illusions initiated long ago has acquired its final form of ignoring reality and enforcing the ‘comforting’ thought that the battle to keep Kosovo still remains to be fought. But we are in fact facing a great manipulation, in which everything has been planned down to the last detail: that the ICJ will absolutely rule in Serbia’s favour – thus also in favour of Milošević, Koštunica and Tadić – and that all countries which have recognised Kosovo will be forced to change their minds. This will make the position of Kosovo and its population so fraught that the Albanians will have no other choice but to give up, and to beg Belgrade once again to rule over them. The plan, in other words, is to create an ambiance of long-term and chronic instability in the Balkans, full of confusion and the continuous risk of ever more dangerous confrontations: a situation, in short, that will make both Serbia and Kosovo, the Serbian and Albanian peoples alike, wretched for a long time to come. Any will to rebuild the bridges destroyed long ago seems to have gone for good.

Translation by The Bosnian Institute

Pešč, 16.10.2008.

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Ivan Torov, rođen 1945. u Štipu, Makedonija; u Beogradu živi od 1965. Čitav radni vek, od 1969. do danas, proveo kao novinar: do 1994. u Borbi, gde je radio na svim poslovima, od izveštača do zamenika gl. urednika, a potom u Našoj Borbi do 1997, da bi iste godine, zajedno sa grupom kolega, osnovao dnevni list Danas, u kome je kao kolumnista i analitičar radio do marta 2002; u Politici do marta 2006; sarađivao sa nedeljnikom Ekonomist, skopskim Utrinskim vesnikom i Helsinškom poveljom. Tokom 40 godina rada u novinarstvu sarađivao i sa zagrebačkim Danasom, sarajevskim Oslobođenjem, podgoričkim Monitorom, skopskim Pulsom i beogradskom Republikom. Osnova njegovog medijskog angažmana bilo je i ostalo političko novinarstvo. Za svoj rad dobio je brojne novinarske nagrade, među kojima Jug Grizelj (2003), Nikola Burzan (2000) i Svetozar Marković (1986).

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