Honestly, it is not easy to place Vucic: between the past and the present, nationalism and Eurocratic bureaucracy, (ur)fascism and (neo)liberalism, tradition and modernity. However, to place him in Sarajevo, seems simply obscene. Because of the Sarajevo under an incomparable medieval siege at the end of the 20th century and everything Vucic was saying at that time and because of everything that he still represents, under the social contract. This social contract says: let’s forget the past and focus on the future.
The past is dark and evil – we know what we should forget. Or to use his own words: “They thought that they can speak with someone easily, that they can preach you, that they can preach Serbia about the past – I didn’t allow that, just like I didn’t allow us to preach anybody”, said Vucic (portal Buka, May 14). (Nota bene: He didn’t allow anybody to preach Him, to preach Serbia – because He is Serbia! But, he also didn’t allow Us to preach. Who are We – Him and Lazar Krstic or all of Us? Since We, except for Krstic, weren’t there, I can only imagine Krstic fervently preaching to bewildered hosts, while Vucic frowns at first and then stops him from rushing further into the past).
It seems that it is unsuitable to talk about the present, especially in front of the government. And the government is everywhere, since it is the government of the people. Or, according to Vucic: “I am the prime minister elected with the biggest number of votes in the modern political history of Serbia” (instead of everyone, Kurir, May 13).
We should only and exclusively speak, write, fantasize about the bright future – especially since the economic bloom is imminent. Because, under the guidance of the people’s prime minister, just like in Corax’s drawing (Danas, May 15), we will have everything but the bird’s milk, milked by hand. Whether that bird is a bird of paradise or a giant hummingbird is left to our imagination. Just a bit of that milk for everyone, but enough to survive, and without aflatoxin.
According to the official media (and all media, both in BH and here are official, no matter who signs the article), Vucic’s adventures (and transformations) in Sarajevo are considered to be “a great step”, “important visit”, “progress regarding economic cooperation”. How and why is that so?
At first, I tried to find a rational explanation. Several unofficial and well based analyses were published, especially on BH web portals.
One thesis is based on relativization of fascism by virtue of the new liberalism: “Fascism in the Balkans is not dead. It was amnestied under the guise of neoliberal ideologies. Those who are great friends today, will become hated enemies when the global blood market demands it. And that’s why it is convenient for political elites to not clear away the fascism. It is their pledge for the future and can always be dragged out to the surface. In fact, maybe we misunderstood. Maybe neo-liberalism is the new fascism. Admittedly, perfidious” (Amila Kahrovic Posavljak, The child from Seselj’s overcoat, Tacno.net, May 14).
The next thesis is that nationalism has been dissipated as an aggressive, warfare and mobilizing ideology and should be replaced with a new economic-anti-corruption and demagogic ideology: “For example, he could inform them (meaning BH politicians, note VRV) that nationalism based on war/aggression has been dissipated and that it will be more and more difficult to renew it, because young generations certainly hate adulterously, stupidly and passionately, but not as easily and predictably like their mothers and fathers. Now you have to make some new demagogic mix with all the right ingredients. Myth on efficiency, agility, youth, progress, investors, rotten public sector, Europe, Russia, Arabs, Belgrade on water, experts a la Lazar Krstic, sacrifices that have to be made, fight against the corruption. Bevanda, Izetbegovic, Komsic and Radmanovic could experience that mix in every gesture of a poser and in slow speech and long pauses of a worried, but still smiling distinguished guest, who is a democratic holder of two-thirds of the votes from the neighboring country” (Uglješa Vuković, Aleksandar Vucic’s advices to BH politicians, Buka, May 13).
The most common thesis is that Serbia (through Vucic) has finally realized that the basis of a state policy is economy and respecting the order of things accepted by the majority of states: “After years of wandering and trying to define the clear direction for its state policy, Serbia has finally realized that it all comes down to the economy. That is why Vucic keeps stressing importance of economic cooperation and increase of trade exchange between the two countries. Regarding this, it should be said that out of all neighboring countries that are not yet members of EU, Bosna is the market with greatest potential for Serbia and vice versa. Current Serbian government understands that favorable environment is just as important for the success of its upcoming economic reforms as the consistent implementation of radical systemic measures at home”. Also: “Reading between the lines is the basis for analysis of political and especially international processes. Repairing relations with Bosnia & Herzegovina is important to Serbia for several reasons. Regarding this, Belgrade’s “red line” is survival of Republika Sprska as an entity within the state B&H. Since the existence of RS is accepted by almost everyone, even in Sarajevo, let alone in the “international community”, official Belgrade is now able to start repairing bilateral relations with Sarajevo with much less burden” (Milan Marinković, Vucic’s visit to Sarajevo: Cause for cautious optimism, Tačno.net, May 15).
I chose these three attitudes, not only because I am convinced that they are representative, but also because they are different, both in starting grounds and tones.
The first one is dark and pessimistic, because it is based on relativization of the values that Europe, as a political community, was based on during the fifties. EU was created as a response to fascism, but the majority of the new generations have lost awareness of that. Also, EU was created as a response to the Cold War, which was ended, so its remembrance can’t contribute to EU’s legitimacy. However, it seems like it is coming back, but it looks like the price to be paid for the new cold war will be greater than the benefit of keeping Europe in its current state. Prosperity that once characterized the Union is severely shaken by the economic crisis, so it seems that the lives of new generations will be worse and harder than those of their mothers and fathers. EU used to give great chances to small and poor countries to catch up with the rich and successful ones. It doesn’t any more. Existence of the strong social state was one of the sources of EU’s legitimacy. And it is gravely falling apart today.
The second attitude is ironic, but also relativising: if you can’t beat them, join them, particularly, use their methods, vocabulary and manners.
The third thesis is serious and mildly optimistic. Indeed, in the countries of poor people, wealthy few brokers called the tycoons, politicians whose power is based on demagogy instead of responsible politics – any economic progress, however small, is actually great. Regardless of how difficult and how bloody the lesson was, accepting the order of things that is accepted by the majority of states is a progress of the political practice.
Given the fact that I agree with these different thesis and starting grounds, however different they may be, or exactly because of that, I didn’t sense relaxation, but I did sense relativity. Something like Vucic, I don’t really know where to place myself.
So I kept on in earnest and theory. I compared the thesis on amnesty of fascism with the classic: Fascism: evil in 10 points (Umberto Eco). Vucic’s habit (when he’s not in Sarajevo) and especially the habit of his party fits with some of the points: “Fascism grows and seeks support by exploiting and increasing natural fear of the different” (point 3). What’s more, some of the points fit with the Sarajevo performance: “To people who feel like their own social identity has been stolen, fascism awards as the only privilege the fact that they were born in the same country. That is the source of nationalism” (point 5). Some points are, however, “missed”. For example: “Followers must feel humiliated by the evident wealth and power of their enemies”. While it was an enemy, Sarajevo was neither rich, nor powerful. It stayed poor even now when it became Vucic’s friend. I didn’t get far and I lost track: where is neoliberalism in all this and why hasn’t anyone reduced it to 10 points?
I tried to theoretically analyze the ironic approach, but if I took it seriously, it would lead me to the New era, about which I used to have and still have certain reservations.
Economy and cautious optimism – it could be – if the two economies in question were comparatively at least a bit “stronger” and more independent that the economy of, for example, San Marino and if a sturdier specific agreement was made.
And then I noticed the pictures. And a headline – where else but in Politika – which always has a great sense of things, but not quite accurate: “Aleksandar Vucic – regional political star”. The headline should have been “Aleksandar Vucic – regional celebrity”. Yes, everything is there, both European and our own. Red carpet, economic and other talks in the backstage, some special lounge seems to have happened also. “There doesn’t have to be much love, it is important that we respect each other”, said Vucic, and translated to our language: “I honored thee, brothers Bevanda, Izetbegovic, madam Izetbegovic…, so you should come honor us”. And I felt relieved – after all it’s not Stradija  (that’s the past, the dark past), today it’s Celebrityland – our and your future.
Translated by Marijana Simic
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