As was to be expected, the content of this declaration corresponds neither to the title initially suggested (‘Declaration on reconciliation’), nor even to its lengthy eventual title, which also mentions reconciliation (‘Declaration on political reconciliation and common responsibility for creating a vision of Serbia as a democratic, free, integral, economically and culturally developed and socially just country’). For it is a document that speaks about ‘common responsibility’: hence, a de facto unification of the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party, rather than their reconciliation. Those who actually read the declaration, and I doubt that many will try, will immediately see that this is a common political programme. Not merely a coalition agreement, which in any case already exists, but a common ideological document. In other words, these two parties are uniting.

What is interesting is that their unification is doubly asymmetrical. The programme of the smaller Socialist Party becomes the common programme, while the larger party will apparently share leadership with the leaders of the smaller party. The interest that brings the leaders of the Socialist Party to unite with the Democratic Party is evident; but it is not clear what the interest of the Democratic Party, i.e. its leadership, might be. This will presumably be revealed in due course.

What do they say in their ideological material? In many ways, this is written in the manner practised by the ideological commissions of some League of Communists or other. Something that younger readers, if there are any such, will fail to see. I shall quote here only one example, which actually happens to be very important. In ideological documents, you see, when one wants to say something very important but does not wish it to be noticed immediately, this is put in the place where people will least expect to find it. In this case, the most important paragraph is to be found in the section dealing with ‘preservation of healthy living environment’. The two parties are here amnestied for all that has happened over the past twenty years. The passage says: ‘Many misfortunes have befallen Serbia during the past twenty years, above all a great fall in the volume of production and in living standards, war, and the bombing of the country in 1999. This has led also to a serious degradation in the habitat, to a pollution of air, water and land, and to an uncontrolled and irreversible disappearance of energy and other natural resources.’ Many misfortunes have thus ‘befallen’ Serbia, including loss of energy and other natural resources (which refers, perhaps, to people?). Since this befell Serbia, the two parties have nothing to do with it.

The text is full of such formulations. It is evident in many places that no great care was taken with the drafting. It says, for example: ‘We have worked jointly on the ratification and implementation of the Agreement on Stabilisation and Association [with the EU]’, although it is clear that implementation cannot really be put in the past, since it remains to be started. It is said in the preamble that ‘the joint platform’, as the declaration is called in the first sentence, creates the conditions for national and political reconciliation ‘as the basis for economic and social progress, and prosperity and a better life for the citizens of Serbia’. Which is in effect a double pleonasm (progress, prosperity, better life). And so on. I am not sure that the signatories had the time to read the text before signing it.

The text contains all sorts of things. Here, for example, is the title of one important section: ‘European Integration – Serbia and the European Union. Serbia and the World’. The first sentence reads: ‘Our advocacy of the maximum possible sovereignty and cultural integration of the Serb people is in harmony with our membership of the European community of nations.’ What can this mean? It seems that the sentence was written and placed in this section only in order to mention ‘cultural integration of the Serb people’, which is not mentioned anywhere before or after it, and remains unexplained. Presumably the authors know what they wished to say and why they said it here in particular, leaving everyone else to wonder.

The last passage of this section speaks about ‘the mother state’, and a spiritual unity that does not harm the nations and national minorities living in Serbia, and it ends with praise of knowledge and science as ‘developmental resources’ that should have a dominant place and influence in society and in a system of values based on ‘knowledge, honest work and true patriotism’. How knowledge and science can be developmental resources for true patriotism is not explained.

It may be useful to mention here also how the two parties see the regeneration of the economy. ‘With all available means’, of course, and the list begins with foreign-currency reserves. This is followed by a host of sentences that largely and repeatedly refer to social justice. What this actually means, and how the foreign-currency reserves will contribute to this is not clear, and maybe it does not matter either. The important thing is that those who have had nothing to do with what befell Serbia over the past twenty years are promising a better spiritual, social and also material future.

 
Translation by The Bosnian Institute

Peščanik.net, 20.10.2008.