Each morning when you open the newspaper, each evening while watching the news, you feel like a patient being tested with Rorschach inkblots that, in their essence, are completely meaningless; however, you are expected to make some sense out of them, recognize some meaningful structure… We have overcome the fear being misdiagnosed and there is almost no one who in these black, white and red patches recognizes birds, flowers, lovers holding hands … any kind of hope. The new Serbian government and the new President have successfully cut the delicate thread that laced their predecessors to Europe. Serbia has even given up on pretending that it is implementing reforms. The only thing left is an attempt by the new authorities to get a million or two in humanitarian aid from some European country, retain Schengen visas and somehow get their hands on at least a portion of the money available through pre-accession funds. The EU budget for 2014-2020 has allocated 1.5 billion for Serbia. The largest part of this money will remain unused, because they are awarded not on the basis of Prime Minister’s good looks, but on the quality of projects that these semi-literate imposters are incapable of writing.
The “Gazimestan tone”, as one omnipresent teacher-analyst gently refers to the Prime Minister’s blabbering about the Germans in some Serbian god-forsaken village, has been replaced by the poltroon and patronizing conveyance of the alleged transcript of Prime Minister’s speech to the German ambassador. The Prime Minister himself sought an audience with the “Krauts” and offered an apology from the notably independent news agency Tanjug as ultimate proof that he had been misinterpreted by the media – the very same agency that was resurrected by Tadic’s government using direct budgetary financial injections with the knowledge that it will serve him faithfully as it had previously both Tito and Milosevic. Now its master is Dacic and Tanjug, instead of the Prime Minister, turned its cheek to the German ambassador. In this place every form of self-respect has for long been nonexistent, it vanished due to things that are much more profound than this in person delivery of the transcript to his Excellency. Modern psychologists believe that highly valuing self-respect is a thing of the past – today’s fashion is self-acceptance. This does not only mean that we remain to be trendy, but also that, as forerunners of the new theory, we collectively deserve a Nobel Prize for science. Considering that we cannot get one for peace.
Prime minister’s highly public handshake with the German ambassador, the temporary cessation of uttering vulgarities, as well as the subsequent apology by the mayor of Krusevac for the racist rampage of his fellow citizens, are highly suggestive of great hardship with which we are being threatened. We will be kicked out of all European soccer competitions and we will lose our Schengen visas. Serbs who are suffering from the Stockholm syndrome, those who are infatuated by their abductors – fear FIFA and UEFA. The rest of us, who suffer from the Diogenes syndrome and are only left with our freedom of movement – we fear the European Commission and the abolition of Schengen visas. The Prime Minister first criticized Brussels: “Visas are the only thing we got from Europe, and now Europe wants to take that back”, but then he took to a more conciliatory tone – “Come on, if you are so burdened by those 10,000 asylum seekers, most of whom are your favourite Albanians from southern Serbia and your sweet Roma, we will tend for them ourselves”. Finally he convened an emergency meeting of some team that had been, during all these years since we signed the Schengen agreement, charged with reducing the number of asylum seekers to the EU.
I know many people who, like me, are choking at the very thought that we could lose the option of getting into a car and leaving this madhouse for even just a few days. People have begun to reduce their demands, they are finding less adequate accommodation and food during so-called holidays, only to be able to extend their out of country stay for a couple of days. We’ve turned into a strange kind of gastarbaiters who are forced to work in their country just so they can spend their earnings living, breathing, during those few days of stay in some Greek village or Tunisian hotel. If we are again condemned to a multi-year isolation to the Tisa and Morava river basins, our friends from the West will be to blame. The near racist attitude they have demonstrated towards this part of the world after the defeat of the Milosevic regime: the belief that for us this much freedom and democracy is more than ample, that no one else other than direct perpetrators should be tried for the assassination of Djindjic, that even this lousy resolution on Srebrenica is sufficient success and that this miserable cooperation with the Hague and Pristina is plentiful, that Tadic deserves a prize for regional peace building, and that Dacic should be awarded as the foremost citizen of Europe… all this brought us to this point where, after 12 years, billions of squandered euros and dollars, hundreds of adopted praised laws and strategic plans, we are about to lose our freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and freedom of expression. Pescanik’s web site published several articles, mostly from German press, that talk about the hypocrisy of Western countries that treat these 10,000 asylum seekers, mostly Roma, as a threat to their security, that claim that Romas are lying that there is racism in Serbia and that in their hometown of Belgrade they can’t afford two daily meals and a warm room.
Of course, for us, the main question that remains is what did this country pledge but did not do to reduce the number of asylum seekers. Why have we waited so long for the problem to escalate? What did they do with those tens of millions of euros in aid given for the modernization of border crossings and border services? What have they done to reduce the number of so-called legally invisible persons, Roma, who do not have any identification documents issued by the Serbian state, which means that they cannot achieve the right to social assistance, medical treatment, employment, child education? If these 10,000 people are the reason for now threatening to put an end to of our freedom of movement, it is quite certain that we will again be required to sit on portable stools in front of embassies and wait in long queues regulated by muscular watchmen. And how many thousands of people will seek asylum in the months and years ahead trying to escape from the inevitable economic disaster. This is the second year in a row that the sums paid for pensions have surpassed the amounts given as wages, since tens of thousands of happily employed workers have not received a penny for their work. Escape will be the only way out of this. We will not be like those people in the boats that are drowning in front of the coastguards in the waters of the Mediterranean. We’ll be people from trains and buses who, when taken off at the border by the police, will exit quietly and return home until the next such attempt: once it will be successful.
Just the other day a published opinion poll by the Belgrade Center for Security Policy showed us something that was expected: only 47% of citizens support the accession of Serbia to the EU, 12% less than last year. But what is most concerning is that high school and college students have the worst perceptions about the EU. Even 53.5% of our future Europeans are strongly against Serbia joining the EU. And these are children who grew up, who were educated and socialized in the post-Milosevic, democratic, pro-European Serbia. What will happen to these children if they are again locked up and isolated, if their only school excursion is that to Kusturica’s Woodcity and Stonecity, while the main amusement becomes attending a soccer match and beating up the pride parade participants; if there only knowledge comes from the chetnik history books, mythomanic Serbian language textbooks and various vocational subjects dating back to the last century? How will these people enter the European labour market – or is this something that is not even being considered?
Pupils and students who hate Europe and the US so much, while concurrently worshipping Russia and China, are primarily the result of the workings of political and intellectual elites following October 5, or to be a bit more precise, those of the Democratic Party that has nothing better to say these days other than it is requesting that Nikolic apologizes for claiming that the first round of elections was irregular. Alas, with such an opposition that is solely preoccupied with itself and that strongly believes in the slogan – the worse, the better, i.e. let the people see what these fools are like, and they will be begging us to save them from the radicals and socialists. That nothing will remain to be saved is no concern of theirs. They will be like the dog whose bark can be heard in the intro of Pescanik, that’s guarding the ruins of a house in Vukovar, when Svetlana asks him: what in the world are you protecting?
The racist rampage in Krusevac, the huge decrease in the value of the national currency, the raging text-message battle for the Democratic Party presidency, the lock-down of Nis’s city centre during the concert held by the girlfriend of Minister Mrkonjic, the words of wisdom from the new leader of the Serbian Progressive Party and president’s son Radomir, the obstruction of the trial of the racketeering son of former president Lilic… all those are Rorschach inkblots that are futile to interpret. Some of us have been overcome with a kind of relief: So this is it, this is what we are left with after 12 years of rolling the boulder uphill. It returned to the foot of the mountain with a slam. And now one has to do it all over again. However, this is the moment when Camus’s Sisyphus, shoulders relaxed and with a balanced step, calmly, descends from the mountain towards his never ending misery. That is a moment of rest, a moment when one does not cramp from the futile efforts and hope that this time the stone will remain on the top, but a moment when one can reflect back and think about the reasons for such punishment. On the way down, you can contemplate about all the range of wretchedness that will haunt you until the very end.
From the Pescanik radio show, 19.10.2012.