We’ve only just recovered from the coup organized by the prime minister Vucic against himself to conceal his screw-ups, we are already witnessing the “new chapter of the Serbian history” – opening of Chapter 32 on the control of finances and 35 on normalization of relations with Kosovo. On a special event in Brussels, the prime minister Vucic said that he’s proud of his country and congratulated citizens the glorious day when our dreams of the European Union are dreams no more. They are almost real, if we continue to work hard.
Once again we heard that we can fulfil our dreams by just working hard. That won’t be a problem for us, since hard work and diligence are Vucic’s strongest suits, of which we are informed regularly. In the article he wrote for Telegraf, the prime minister said the same thing: we mustn’t forget that hard and relentless work brought us to this day and to Europe, and that it mustn’t stop. Hard work brought us to the point when we’re able to see the difference between Serbian heavenly myth and Serbian reality in Europe. He concluded victoriously that now we can really start moving towards the future.
Vucic’s claims about hard work which brought us to realizing the distinction between the mythical Serbia in heaven and the real one without Kosovo, aren’t confirmed by the reality. Casting away the medieval myth on Kosovo pledge and reestablishment of Dusan’s empire, the foundation of Serbian nationalism and identity without which Serbs would be lost, would be an essential turning point. And it’s nowhere to be seen. It’s not in the program of Vucic’s party or the government, who keep promising that Serbia will never recognize Kosovo. President Nikolic keeps reminding us that if recognition of Kosovo is a condition for EU accession, they can forget about it. All the while, none of the players seriously thinks that Kosovo is part of Serbia. They all know that itis lost and that there’s no plan for its reintegration into Serbia ostensibly justifying Serbia’s refusal to recognize it. But the brain twist stamped by the Kosovo myth still follows diligently the old formula – let it be what can not be. We’ll wait for five centuries, or however long, but we can not and must not give up.
In the festive mood surrounding the realization of EU dreams the Kosovo issue is swept under the rug. Yet, it has already caught up with us. The EU clearly states that the delay in the implementation of Chapter 35 on full normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo will stop the opening of other chapters and suspend the negotiation process. Just one hour after the opening of the first chapter, a document on the negotiating position of the EU in relation to Chapter 35 was published in Brussels. The document explains in detail three major items: comprehensive normalization of relations with Kosovo, adherence to and implementation of the agreements reached thus far and the connection between Serbia’s European integration and further progress in the process. The negotiations on Chapter 35 will not replace the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina under the auspices of the EU High Representative. The whole process will be closely monitored and the EU Council of Ministers will be informed about it at least twice a year.
The situation is aggravated not only by some mythical bigotry, but also by the fact that the government has “worked hard” and succeeded to significantly worsen relations with Kosovo compared to 2013 when the Brussels agreement was signed, which received plenty of media attention in connection Kosovo’s participation in UNESCO and other international organizations. Serbia pursued a relentless nationalist and hostile campaign, which is now coming back like a boomerang. Two parallel tracks were pursued: on one hand, cooperative agreements with Kosovo were signed enabling the opening of the chapters; on the other hand, everything was done to essentially ruin the relations with Kosovo. And it turned out that Kosovo is a ticket for the resumption of negotiations and the realization of European dreams.
The theory of diligence and hard work which lead to the EU membership is not relevant in any way. On the contrary, what we see is the prime minister Vucic directing his diligence in the opposite direction. Speaking about the benefits of the opening of the chapters, the prime minister said that they lead us towards building a normal, decent and healthy Serbia and added the “rule of law, in which we will strengthen the institutions, fight corruption, progress economically and show what the kind of society we want to be”.
In reality, he worked very hard to destroy all institutions, slammed the civic opposition, strengthened corruption on behalf of his tycoon friends, increased party-based employment enormously thus undermining the professional structure and reinforcing cronyism in all spheres of life. Nothing is left of the big stories of reforms, people are squeezed to the edge of poverty, farmers and the private sector are pressured to enable lavish spending on cabinets, vote-buying, corrupt public enterprises, national stadiums, Belgrade waterfront and the comfort of closest associates.
In order to conceal such “European policy”, the media were placed under control by blackmail and pressures. Media privatization was undermined by allowing Vucic’s people to buy the local media and then get that money back from the budget. The origin of money which was used to buy those media is also questionable. By spreading confusion, conflict and chaos Vucic is deliberately preventing the growth of awareness of the society in which we live today, as well as the critical examination of our near and distant past. We should just remember the warm words which welcomed general Lazarevic when he returned to the country after serving his sentence for war crimes committed in Kosovo. This confirmed the correctness of the policy of the nineties, instead of discarding it. Just to complete the picture, consider the relentless campaign about mother Russia and the great Putin and the spread of intolerance towards the West (which is trying to take down Vucic), which we are supposedly aspiring to by joining the EU.
The festive mood surrounding the EU dreams coming true is also spoiled by the fact that Serbia was never ruled by worse people during the peacetime, people of such poor culture and education. That is perhaps why it is not difficult to conclude that we are equally far from a decent state and good governance on the inside, as our hope of belonging to enlightened Europe and its values is vain on the outside.
Translated by Marijana Simic
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).