There is nothing that politicians would not use to grab a vote or two for themselves or their partners in the upcoming elections. The case in point is the spectacle orchestrated by Cedomir Jovanovic, with the assistance of Milorad Dodik. Everybody knows, and they don’t hide it, that Jovanovic and his party have been trying to enter the government for four years. Now, they have a chance to finally make it. To get the votes of the increasingly disenchanted voters, as well as those planning to void their ballots (white vote), so as to remind the political parties of their thin legitimacy, Cedomir Jovanovic decided to put an end to this negative trend. And since the phenomenon originated in the so-called Other Serbia including former members of the Civic Alliance, they are to be shaken first. So what does he do? In collaboration with his partners, primarily Boris Tadic, he reverted to his erstwhile role of an “extremist”, hoping to sway the disappointed voters to consider him once again the bravest and the most critical of all politicians.
His first provocative step was to state that Republic Srpska is a genocidal creation. Presumably, he said it to please those disappointed in LDP, so that, lacking alternative, they may again support the party. After this statement, with the support of DS and perhaps even Boris Tadic himself, Dodik arrived at Cedomir’s feet, to debate the statement. The organizer of the debate was none other than the state news agency Tanjug. And what did we hear in the debate? Jovanovic, his voice raised, spoke thousands of incomprehensible words for over an hour, not even trying to make sense or a comprehensible argument. This has admittedly been his style before, to speak incomprehensibly, bitterly and passionately, leaving an illusion of a harsh criticism, while actually saying little. This time, too, he believed that through his agitation and flushing, everyone will understand that he is raising awareness about the “genocidal creation”. He talked a bundle, but of serious dialogue there was none. Worth mentioning and memorable were only Dodik’s stupidities.
In fact, the debate was obviously not intended to deal with the genocide, nor with confronting the past. The messages of hollow bravado were intended, not for Bosnians and their sufferings, but for the local public, disenchanted with all the political parties but mostly with the LDP. All because he once presented himself as a true alternative, then betrayed his promise to be different and protect the interests of citizens. Instead, he wallowed in his financial interests, and used politics as a cover. The phone calls from Sarajevo kept coming in, inquiring as to how this debate was ever made possible. They did not get it, and neither did many of us.
And odd it was, indeed. Even more so when, couple of days after the debate, the President joined in. Boris Tadic, with his now familiar attitude of a tolerant free-speech advocate, announced that, while he personally disagrees with Jovanovic’s position about RS being a genocidal creation, Jovanovic does have a right to personal opinion. And while it is uncertain why this nonsensical debate should warrant a reaction from the President (unless he had organized it himself), his free-speech statement poses a much greater puzzle. The President has, according to Cedomir Jovanovic’s views, accepted a medal from a genocidal creation. Yet, this does not seem to bother him at all. But when Sreten Ugricic signed the Petition for Freedom of Speech, the same president fired him. To this outrage, Cedomir reacted by mumbling few words, but did not excel in supporting the free speech, much less in political courage.
Bringing up the subject of genocide had one purpose – to bring the traditional critics of Serbian nationalism back into the LDP fold. This issue is particularly acute because of the white vote campaign, originating from Srbijanka Turajlic and Vesna Rakic-Vodinelic. According to the most recent polls, white ballots are having an impact and have already reached 4%. The decision not to vote primarily affects LDP and DS. This is why it is vitally important to eliminate this group of “voyeurs”, as professor Micunovic ineptly puts it, who do not appreciate the democracy of Tadic, Dacic, Cedomir, Dinkic and others. And this is why the political courtship of naive intellectuals, so keenly taken on by Jovanovic, makes perfect sense.
The second act of the play unfolded quickly. Cedomir lobed another grenade, intended to thrill the skeptics of Other Serbia. His rather bizarre, almost foolish statement was that the Serbian Orthodox Church is a mutant. In the context of all the churches and sects, it is difficult to understand what this could possibly mean, since it is not clear how a mutant church might be defined. Immediately, the higher ranks of the church hierarchy react to this mindless statement of the LDP leader. Bishop Irinej Backi declares Cedomir the antichrist, but predictably the most effective is bishop Amfilohije. He regrets baptizing Cedomir Jovanovic without making him to take off his earring first!
I wonder how far this mocking of the Serbian public can go on. Cedomir’s statements about Kosovo, RS and the church, do not cost him at all – quite the contrary, such statements suit him and his coalition partners well, as they may appeal to some of the undecided voters. More importantly, such topics muddle the most critical political issues in Serbia. Everyone knows, on both sides of the border, that Kosovo story is a dud, as are those concerning RS, or the invitations to bishop’s choir to sing about an earring. All these anti-national or national themes, intended to mobilize citizens, are inherently futile. There is even less chance that the erstwhile opposition, once known as Other Serbia, will be fooled. The most pressing issue today is the political mafia. Their corruption and greed are a burden on this already impoverished society, and no one knows how to get rid of them.
The main concern of this gang is acquisition of wealth and privilege, while politics remains a secondary, casual activity. It took me a while to understand this. Over the years, the gang has become more arrogant. They meticulously destroyed all the institutions which could hold them accountable. Now they do as they wish, and no one can do anything about it. After all, didn’t they vote jointly for the judicial reforms and for the Public Information Law? Politicized judiciary and prosecutors, pressured by the highest levels of government (which is a topic for another occasion), as well as the manipulated media, are the foundations of this corrupt system.
Anyone planning to vote for these people should know that he or she will be forgotten the instant the votes have been counted. The votes will be stacked together in a common coalition sac, allowing them to continue devastation of the country and playacting politics. If you enjoy live theatre with predictable scenarios and lousy actors, go and vote. But judging by the beginning of the forthcoming campaign, it seems that even this formality called democratic elections is starting to annoy the actors.
Vesna Pešić, političarka, borkinja za ljudska prava i antiratna aktivistkinja, sociološkinja. Diplomirala na Filozofskom fakultetu u Beogradu, doktorirala na Pravnom, radila u Institutu za društvene nauke i Institutu za filozofiju i društvenu teoriju, bila profesorka sociologije. Od 70-ih pripada peticionaškom pokretu, 1982. bila zatvarana sa grupom disidenata. 1985. osnivačica Jugoslovenskog helsinškog komiteta. 1989. članica Udruženja za jugoslovensku demokratsku inicijativu. 1991. članica Evropskog pokreta u Jugoslaviji. 1991. osniva Centar za antiratnu akciju, prvu mirovnu organizaciju u Srbiji. 1992-1999. osnivačica i predsednica Građanskog saveza Srbije (GSS), nastalog ujedinjenjem Republikanskog kluba i Reformske stranke, sukcesora Saveza reformskih snaga Jugoslavije Ante Markovića. 1993-1997. jedna od vođa Koalicije Zajedno (sa Zoranom Đinđićem i Vukom Draškovićem). 2001-2005. ambasadorka SR Jugoslavije, pa SCG u Meksiku. Posle gašenja GSS 2007, njegovim prelaskom u Liberalno-demokratsku partiju (LDP), do 2011. predsednica Političkog saveta LDP-a, kada napušta ovu partiju. Narodna poslanica (1993-1997, 2007-2012).