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New Series no.17/18 July - September 2000

Serbia is Dying

by Filip David

How far could the current process of disintegration and fragmentation of Serbia go?

It seems to me that Serbia's disintegration, which began with the arrival of Milosevic to power, is today a mechanism that can no longer be stopped. No one can say how long it will run, nor what could switch it off. The disintegration could eventually produce an infinite number of small fragments, since I do not see in Serbia a force that can stop it, nor do I believe this can be achieved by outside intervention. The worst thing is that no one can predict the modalities of the breakup. Current events show, however, that many tragic outcomes are possible.

Just try to imagine the many potential focuses of bloody conflict in FRY. It is possible that blood could be shed in conflict between the government and the opposition, within the government itself, in a war in Montenegro, in a continuation of war in Kosovo, in bloody events in the Sandjak or in Vojvodina. This is all taking place in a country where the economy no longer exists; where there are no banks, while exchange takes the form of a large street market. People in Serbia survive because they live off that market, since strictly speaking there is no person in Serbia today who does not participate in the smuggling chain, who obeys the law. It seems to me that our tragic destiny lies in a complete dissolution, a dissolution to the very end, in the course of which the regime that we are unable to bring down will also fall apart.

Is there a political alternative to Milosevic?

No, because what the opposition stands for is not an alternative to the regime. Part of the opposition, for example, advocates the Chetnik ideology of Ravna Gora [Draza Mihailovic's initial base in western Serbia at the start of World War II], which is absurd. In the same way a moral and spiritual Serbian al ternative cannot be provided by Nikolaj Velimirovic [Serb Orthodox Patriarch in World War II], which is another opposition myth, since Velimirovic is a source of the nationalist and antiüEuropean idea. I do not know what could be offered instead of these notions, no one in Serbia knows it, and that is the greatest cause for concern. So it turns out that it is better for the process of disintegration to continue and last for years, than for radical methods to be used to bring the regime down.

What do you think about Otpor?

I support Otpor in principle, since it involves young men and women who have come together because they are unhappy with their life in Serbia. It is true that they are very heterogeneous in terms of political ideas ý some of them are monarchist, conservative and nationalist ý but it seems to me that, generally speaking, they do wish a fundamental change, although they do not know what it should look like. They know what they do not want, but unfortunately not what they want. Otpor is trying to put pressure on the opposition to be more effective and to unite. They are aware that a political force capable of effecting change must exist, but also that they themselves are not that force.

Why did Otpor accept Dobrica Cosic as one of its members?

I do not quite understand what is happening with Dobrica Cosic. It is true that he has joined Otpor, but it is also true that Otpor did not invite him. The problem, in my view, is that the young men and women of Otpor simply do not know who Dobrica Cosic is and what he represents. At the start of all this, back in 1990, they were nine or ten years old or maybe a little more, and they probably do not even know what kind of political choice Dobrica Cosic then offered or supported. There is no one who could have told them this, since they could not have had a different kind of upbringing or education than the ones they have acquired during the last decade ý you well know the nature of the upbringing and education they have undergone. Today they accept every one who wants to join them, and take Cosic as more or less a kind of advertisement. I myself would not at all be surprised if many other most unsuitable people, especially writers, were to follow the example of Dobrica Cosic. So far as he himself is concerned, it seems to me that he acted in haste when he decided that the time had come to put on new political and ideological garments and earn a few points for the future.

What is the attitude of this young and urban Belgrade population towards the Albanians?

I cannot answer that question with any precision, since I do not communicate with the people in Otpor; but there were very ugly occasions which showed that their attitude to Albanians mirrors that propagated by the regime media. One young woman from Otpor said the most terrible thing: `We were brought up in this Yugoslavia, in which a negative attitude towards Albanians was the only possible and acceptable one, and it is now very difficult to think otherwise.' That is unfortunately true. It is also unfortunate that at the start of their meetings members of Otpor play the old Serbian anthem `God of Justice', which from the point of view of radical change in Serbia is quite unacceptable. They too neglect the fact that Serbia belongs to all its citizens, and not only to those who are ethnically Serb. Otpor is unaware that a different Serbia can be forged only on the basis of equality of all its citizens.

You must know that dissatisfaction with the regime has become widespread in Serbia, and that by my reckoning 70 per cent of the population does not support Milosevic; but this dissatisfaction is largely due to disappointment that nothing that the regime promised ten or twelve years ago has been achieved. This kind of dissatisfaction is present in Otpor too ý they too stand for nothing new in this regard. They do not understand that the problem represented by the Milosevic regime consists not in its catastrophic results, but rather in its catastrophic aims.

Is there in Serbia a single centre of antiünationalist education?

Of course there is not. Everyone thinks that Milosevic is the problem, and that the basic issue is replacing the man. They do not understand that it is the cultural model which is in error; that it is this model which has to change. They do not understand that our catastrophe is far more serious, and will not end by replacing one individual with another, if at the same time things do not begin to change more fundamentally. No illusion or selfüdelusion has up to now been discredited in Serbia. We continue to live in accordance with the same myths and the same misconceptions as we did twelve years ago.

These answers are translated from an interview with Belgrade writer Filip David, Feral Tribune (Split), 27 May 2000.

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