Minister of Internal Affairs Ivica Dacic announced yesterday that “everyone must understand that the issue of Kosovo is very difficult for Serbia, because Kosovo is that foundation stone Serbia was constructed on, and if that foundation stone is pulled out, then, of course, the entire story will start swaying”. Mr. Dacic is famous for choosing his words very carefully. This time, his statement concisely summarized not only the position of the current Serbian Government on Kosovo, but also the master narrative of the entire contemporary Serbian politics. This narrative is based on three premises.
The first premise is that Kosovo is some sort of an essence of Serbia. This premise was supported, almost without exception, by every political leader in Serbia, starting with Slobodan Milosevic, Zoran Djindjic and Vojislav Kostunica, all the way through to Boris Tadic. Let us remind ourselves that during the celebration of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, in his famous speech on Gazimestan, Slobodan Milosevic called Kosovo the heart of Serbia. Milosevic’s politics suffered a total defeat, but the premise that Kosovo is the heart of Serbia remained and is still today the central mantra of Serbian politics. It is treated like an axiomatic belief on which the national identity and the entire political community are based. There are debates on how to preserve Kosovo within Serbia, but the standpoint that Kosovo is the historical, spiritual and geopolitical foundation of Serbia remains by and large unchallenged.
The second premise, logically derived from the first, is that, if this foundation is threatened, the entire political community will also be threatened. As the Minister of Police said: “if that foundation stone is pulled out, then, of course, the entire story will start swaying”. In other words, without Kosovo, the story about who we are, where we come from, and where we are going will no longer have any meaning. Our biographical continuity will be interrupted and we will collectively loose our orientation and our capability to go on. Our ontological security will be threatened, that is, our feeling of integrity and trust in ourselves and others. Our cognitive control over the unpredictable world that surrounds us will dissolve. A paralyzing fear of external chaos will ensue, and we will experience what the Scottish psychiatrist Ronald Laing called “inner death”. After Kosovo, the political life of Serbia will be reduced to technical survival. As after a serious car accident, we will suffer from collective amnesia and, in the best case scenario, will have to construct our identity from scratch. In the worst case, we will end up like the Khazars.
The third premise is that Serbia must never recognize Kosovo independence. This is a political imperative to protect the vital national interests, which binds everyone who makes decisions in the name of Serbia as a political community. Even if the entire world recognizes Kosovo, we will, to the last day, persevere in our denial, and we will never look into that abyss of uncertainty. Furthermore, even if a Serbian politician would attempt to recognize the reality in Kosovo, he would automatically exclude himself from the political community. This would, in turn, make his act null and void, since the political community cannot legitimately be represented by someone who is not a member of that community, that is, someone whose demonic name has been carved forever in black letters in the collective memory. This is why refusing to recognize Kosovo is not only a political, but a logical imperative as well. This is that foundation stone of Serbia, the anchor that is pulling us underwater, and there is no one to unhook it.
Translated by Bojana Obradovic