Until recently, the answer to any unpleasant question posed to our political representatives, was “everything is by the law”. Now they have devised a new catch phrase: “it was expected, nothing new”. When the Dutch parliament refused to ratify the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with Serbia, the comments from all who were in charge of this process, from the president downwards, were: “it was expected”, “nothing new”, “doesn`t matter” and “it`s nothing serious”. Netherlands will fix this as soon as they get the report from Brammertz. The one that, incidentally, we all heard, and the entire world both heard and read (it was presented in the United Nations). However, the Dutch have somehow failed to hear it. They are waiting for the text and the video recording. And to everyone it was expected and logical. Don’t you worry about the Dutch, we all know they are nervous about Srebrenica, and, after all – they themselves are to blame. At the ceremonial unveiling of the monument to Heydar Aliyev, dictator from Azerbaijan, the President himself told us, in a casual and cheerful manner, that everything was fine.
Ok, let’s not worry about the Dutch. Their reaction was to be expected because of Srebrenica, where they made a big mess. However, the catch “nothing new” continues further. When Brussels asks for the results of the dialogue with Pristina, in writing, regarding the so-called issues of daily life, what we can hear is the sinister “nothing new”. It appears that we have not planned for this to end so quickly, and for all specific questions to be solved, without a word about the status in accordance with the model of division Dacic is pining for, or the Southern Tyrol model for northern Kosovo, or the “two Germanys” model. The only thing we can hear is that Brussels is expecting, even in this phase of the process of EU accession of Serbia, that our country should normalize its relations with Kosovo. Serbia should show that the dialogue has been successful, that all the specific problems have been successfully agreed upon and solved. While the formal recognition of Kosovo can wait, good neighborly relations cannot. However, our officials are not worried. In the style of “nothing new”, our Borko Stefanovic says the following: “what Brussels is asking from Belgrade is not something new, and we understand this as a request that talks with Pristina be continued, and concrete solutions be found as soon as possible”. These are not new conditions for candidate status. Even Stefan Fule, here in Belgrade, announced that it is necessary for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina to yield concrete results. If this was to be expected, where are the results? Why haven’t they been achieved? They say: “no worries, nothing new, everything expected”. However, what was to be expected is nowhere to be seen. And I started to worry about what was to be expected, especially about those Dutch.
However, this catch is expanding to the verge of stupidity. A letter arrived from Brussels that the competent bodies (prosecution and police) must scrutinize dubious privatizations. Our representatives readily answered that these requests did not “sound like conditions” – it is more like Brussels has posed a casual question. We should scrutinize the role of government officials in the process of privatization, i.e. in dubious sales of companies. There are as much as 24 such cases that need to be reexamined. Large European companies filed charges against us before the European Commission, because their interests in Serbia are endangered. The good news is that no one was surprised. Tomo Zoric, spokesman for the Office of the Public Prosecutor, immediately told us that all the privatizations in question are already being reexamined, and that the results will be public soon. When you look at the cases in question, you may notice that they took place seven, ten years ago. The most recent ones happened five years ago. For a long time, we have been talking about Sartid, Jugoremedy, Port of Belgrade, Vecernje novosti, Knjaz Milos, Sinovoz. These are the same cases that Verica Barac has been nagging about for so many years. Just to be on the safe side, in each case, she filed criminal charges at least three times. And, while she was incessantly repeating this, the authorities knew nothing, and now, suddenly, when the letter from Brussels arrived, they all yell “nothing new – everything was expected”. The charming Ivica Dacic confirmed that the letter from Brussels arrived and that it has already been sent to the competent bodies which will investigate the allegations. But, to be sure that we will not worry, he consoled us: “this is nothing new to the public, although it was never investigated”. According to him, the letter from Brussels was not spectacular, because information about certain processes and events are regularly exchanged between Belgrade and Brussels. It is just a part of this rotten privatization. Both the public and the competent bodies knew about it. However, the police and the prosecutor have not moved a finger. Nothing new here.
Dacic is right, nothing new has happened in Serbia for a long time. Maybe he has forgotten that he has been the Minister of Police for three years, and that his position, too, is nothing new. However, it is an unbearable absurdity that even the most horrendous things and criminal acts now have to be filed under “nothing new, we are not surprised”. The Minister of Police is not surprised either. He said it himself – he was not surprised by the news from Brussels. This truly isn’t anything new. However, it isn’t news what Ivica Dacic said today – that he is preparing to be part of the next ruling coalition with the same coalition partner. And the partners are not surprised. Everything is the same.
Basic decency should compel our officials to be surprised at some occasions. It would be decent if the Minister of Police expressed his surprise over hearing about such a high level of crime and corrupt privatization, instead of cold-bloodedly declaring that this is nothing new, while the police did nothing. And he is a socialist, at that. Didn’t he toss and turn in his sleep because so many people lost their jobs? Whatever happened to caring about pensioners? Whatever happened to worrying about the fact that dirty privatizations destroyed the economy, undermined the judiciary, about the fact that people don’t have enough money to survive?
When the authorities know everything, yet do nothing, the only chance we have is not to vote for them again. However, this model is no good in Serbia. Because everyone was in power during a certain period, everyone personally knew about this, and nobody investigated anything. Whoever wins or gathers together the 126 MPs, will consider this to be expected and – as nothing new.
Translated by Bojana Obradovic
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).