Srđa Popović talks about his new book One gorke suze posle [Those bitter tears thereafter], Pešcanik editions, Belgrade 2010
The book deals with what people here euphemistically call ‘what befell us’. It thus deals first of all with the break-up of Yugoslavia, and the role which the Serbian leadership played in that break-up. It is based largely on the memoirs published by Borisav Jović and Veljko Kadijević, in which they boast about their role in Yugoslavia’s destruction. I argue here that had Yugoslavia survived, Jović, Kadijević and Milošević would probably have been charged with high treason and sentenced to death, in accordance with Yugoslav laws. So much for the propaganda that is still going round, alleging that Milošević tried to save Yugoslavia.
In the second part I write about war crimes, and the key component of this part of the book is basically the polemic I conducted inVreme, and the series of articles I wrote for Danas at the time when the paper was edited by Spasojević, who let some of us write on the subject of war crimes in a column titled ‘The Hague inside us’.
Logically for me, the next theme is 5 October , which has attracted many strange, contradictory and erroneous judgements; here I take up the question of whether this was a revolution, as Ðinđić like to see it; a regular change of government, as Koštunica insisted; or a palace coup, which could not have succeeded without the involvement of Milošević’s entourage, people who decided to sacrifice him in order to protect the Serbian leaders’ nationalist project.
Given my professional engagement, the issue of Zoran Ðinđić’s assassination occupies the central ground. Here I tried to argue that after 5 October Serbia found itself in a wasteland, bereft of both the two state concepts it had nurtured: that of Yugoslavia, which it lost through its own doing, and that of Great Serbia. Both of these concepts collapsed during the 1990s, and at that point in time we – meaning the people who live here – appeared as merely some people living at the confluence of the Sava, the Drava and the Morava about whom there is nothing more to be said, without an identity, without a concept, burdened by an enormous historical mortgage. Zoran Ðinđić’s greatest contribution, in my view, is that he came up with a new concept of Serbia, a Serbia in Europe, which is why he was killed and why to this day we cannot quite see – or maybe we can see but cannot prove in court – who were the true initiators and ideologues of that crime.
The last part deals with the incomprehensible – to me – cohabitation between the DS and Vojislav Koštunica’s DSS, the historical compromise that they made, which amounted to a national reconciliation reached with a party that had caused an immense Serbian tragedy. I would like also to draw your attention to the final part of the book, which is really a postscript, in which I have tried to say something about Peščanik, tried to explain how I see the role which Peščanik has played all these years in the Serbian media and on the Serbian political scene. You have all heard, and we are all saddened, that this programme will soon cease to exist. I know many people who are dismayed by this, it will be missed by many, and this is why I wish to say that in my view this programme has been a great success. The fact that it will cease to exist is its success, not a defeat. It has played a crucial role during the past nine years as an expression of the consciousness of the whole country, a country incapable of self-reflection, and the only place where people invited by the two Svetlanas have tried to help our own self-understanding and the creation of a new identity.
Translated from the transcript of a 2 July 2010 broadcast posted on the independent Belgrade-based Peščanik website
Translated by Bosnian Institute, 02.08.2010.