Sunday, April 29, 2012

Join the European Family: Importing Racism into Serbia

If you’ve heard of Resnik, you’d think of Serbs as violent racists. If you actually go to Resnik, you’d find Serbs and non-Serbs alike trying to protect their community from a tycoon-sponsored government intrusion.
Resnik is a southern suburb of Belgrade, a village on the slopes of Mt. Avala. In the recent weeks it gained notoriety when Belgrade’s mayor Dragan Đilas accused its residents of being racist for opposing the forceful resettlement of Roma from New Belgrade into their town. In the street protest tens of individuals were injured, both among the Resnik residents and the police. Fourteen residents were charged with enticing racial hatred.
Resnik, with a diverse demographic picture, home to autochtonous Serbs and Roma and reportedly a large number of former Serb refugees from Croatia, opposed the move for several reasons, neither one being racist. Namely, the move was opposed by Serbs and Roma alike, and at the core of the opposition was the fact that reportedly no one asked the Resnik residents whether they agreed to have an informal settlement built in their community for an outside group. They rejected the accusations of racism, citing the fact that Roma and Serbs already peacefully coexist in Resnik and that many Roma joined the protests as well. In turn, they charged Dragan Đilas, the Vice-President of the ruling Democratic Party, with racism, since the underlying motive for forcefully resettling these Roma was to move them away from the exclusive residential complex of Belville in New Belgrade, owned by Serbia's shadiest businessman and its wealthiest man, Miroslav Mišković. Apparently, due to negative effects of the aesthetic inadequacy and the high propensity for crime that the Roma slums adjacent to Belville had on the sales numbers of the exclusive condo complex, the Roma had to be resettled. In other words, Mišković the real estate magnate couldn't make money with the Gypsies as next door neighbors, so they had to go.
It's the election season in Serbia and party financiers like Mišković had to have their way. Dragan Đilas, the mayor and the VP of the incumbent Democratic Party, put on his third hat, that of Serbia's dominant media mogul, and significantly supressed the media reporting of the issue, while he dealt with it politically. Despite daily peaceful protests by the Resnik townspeople, both Serbs and Roma, the moguls had their way and the apartheid policy continued. Neither should the Roma be forcibly moved, nor should the Resnik residents be denied the rights to manage their own local affairs pertaining to zoning and land distribution. Đilas needed a political cry, so he cried racism. In fact, if there was any racism here, it came from him.
I'm not actually trying to portray Đilas and Mišković as racist. Their actions speak loudly enough. They merely conducted the business as usual, trumpling the rights of Serbia's citizens indiscriminately. In this instance, they violated the rights of the Belville Roma as well as the rights of the Resnik residents. But the deals between the government officials  and the domestic and foreign shady business interests that brought Serbia to its knees would make one's head spin in disbelief. Just like in the United States, the moneyed interests have the direct access to your president, a senator or a mayor and they'll tell the mercenary politician what to do. Nothing new or unusual. When it comes to racism, however, Serbia and the Western societies like the United States are incomparable. The racial segregation in harsher or milder forms has gone on in the United States since its inception and in many forms it still goes on, however informally. Just drive down the Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn or go to Camden, New Jersey. In the South, it is still institutional in many places. But hey, this is the United States where the founding principle of nationalist exceptionalism that governs the introspection of the political culture blurs that view and things do not get honestly described and understood for what they most obviously are. Unlike in the United States, racism is not an element of the cultural tradition of Serbia.
However, I'd be in denial to claim that there is no racism in Serbia, regardless of the fact that the Resnik case had very little to do with it. Yes, there are skinhead soccer fan groups declaratively racist. Just like many Italian soccer fan groups are neofascist, or like Paris Saint Germain fans kill one of their own just because he was a North African and not a white Frenchman like themselves, the racism in Serbia is limited to small groups of youths radicalized by poverty and, in what separates them from their Western European counterparts, the notion of racism is foreign to their culture.
Other than Roma, or Cigani, as Serbs and the neighboring peoples have traditionally call them, the region had no races other than white. Serbs have traditionally fought with their neighbors and amongst themselves, like every other European nation, over the land, or religion, but race was not a factor, since the racial differences did not exist. The Roma have been a part of the Serbian society since before the liberation in the 19th century and their place in that society has never been denied. Serbia, unlike some Western European countries, had no exclusionary policies against Roma. It was Germans and Croats that systematically exterminated Serbs, Jews and Roma in the Second World War. There have never been pogroms of Roma perpetrated by the Serbs in any such fashion. Expulsion of Roma, happening in the European Union, have never been perpetrated in Serbia. France, to be fair, pays its Roma several hundred euro a person to leave the country, and the Roma, of course, take the money, leave, and come back after several months for more. Some non-Nazi Western European countries also took it to the extreme in the past; Sweden of all places had a law on the books until 1976 that allowed for forced sterilization of the Roma women. This has never been a case in Serbia.
Yet, the Serbs, especially the young ones, have been methodically accused of racism of the kind Đilas shamelessly pointed the finger at in Resnik. Even more alarming than Đilas' use of disturbing and false paradigms for personal ends is the pattern of portrayals of Serbs as racists coming from the very Western Europe that invented all kinds of intolerance, from racism to religious persecution and institutionalized inequality. Whether it comes as a form of low-level political pressure on Serbia or as a way to dehumanize the Serbs and bring them down to the low moral ground the Western European societies have historically been at, such a portrayal definitely serves a political purpose, a purpose without a doubt damaging to the Serb national reputation and psyche. The fact that Dragan Đilas, in the public manifestation of his underhanded maneuvering, reached for racism where racism did not really exist tells how the notion, imported from and imposed by the European Union societies has penetrated the Serbian public life even if racism itself is hardly ever felt in the Serbian society. It is of a special concern that Serbian politicians and other public personalities have been using such artificial notions for their own ends, thus accepting fallacies projected as social problems and helping impose them on the Serbian public where they do not belong.
I guess if Serbia wants to be a member of the European family of nations, it has to be made to act like one and at least pretend to exercise racism and intolerance in the best Western European tradition. Nothing less than that will be accepted or forgiven. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Snake in the White House and a License to Kill


While the entire Serbia is embroiled in the electoral pandemonium of false promises, broken false promises (that’s when a candidate promises an impossibility, people elect him based on that promise, he admits the promise was false and then runs for re-election), loyalty v. betrayal charades, regurgitation of irrelevant notions etc., the Serbs in Kosovo, abandoned by their government physically and legally, are bracing for the invasion from across the Ibar River following the warmongering rhetoric of Hajredin Kuqi, Deputy Prime Minister of the rogue Republic of Kosovo, coinciding with his boss’ pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. Hashim Thaci, accused of organ trafficking in a Council of Europe report, otherwise known as the Prime Minister of the rogue state of Kosovo, and familiar to his acquaintances who survived the pleasure of meeting him as “Snake,” was greeted warmly in the highest circles of the American politics, including by Vice-President Joe Biden, a notorious backer of anti-Serb agenda in Kosovo and elsewhere. In news other than Thaci’s visit to the White House and Kuqi’s threats of invasion, ROSU, the special operations unit of the Kosovo Albanian security forces, has been building up presence on the south side of the Ibar River, reportedly gearing for the invasion on the free Kosovo Serb municipalities north of Ibar, readily threatened by Kuqi and solicited the support for in the right places by Thaci. Thaci might have gone to Washington for the Cherry Blossoms Festival and merely swung by to see his good buddy Joe, but something the White House said in its press readout of the meeting troubled me, not because of the content, which is pretty bland, but because of the context and the timing of the visit. “Vice President Biden reiterated our support for Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the readout said, which sounds to me like a signal that the U.S. stands behind any Albanian move to exert control over the entire territory the White House recognized as the Republic of Kosovo. With the invasion in the offing, the threats made, the mobilization imminent and the leader soliciting the blessing, what else could this statement mean?
The invasion of the North has to be timed perfectly, the right pretext has to be found for it, and there cannot be any room for half-measures or errors: the Serbs of Kosovo have to be brought to their knees or ethnically cleansed. Thaci came to Washington to make sure this is supported by the White House and/or to create leverage against all the possible factions within the anti-Serb alliance that are hesitant to allow the invasion.  KFOR, which is NATO, the military overlord of the occupied province, and EULEX, the European Union police force that serves as the other prong of the Western occupation of Kosovo, have reportedly been tentative in allowing the Albanians to invade the free North. (When I say “free” North, I mean free of the Albanian rogue state controls, not free of NATO and EU occupation, although the latest, EU-directed “footnote” deal between the official Belgrade and the Kosovo Albanian representatives removed a giant roadblock for the Albanian controls to be legally exerted in the North.)  There were reports of both EULEX and KFOR officials clashing with the Albanian military and police commanders, a much unexpected and puzzling new development that only the passage of time will clarify. The struggle between the Western agents and the local Albanian factors over the monopoly on the use of coercive power may be rearing its head, impelled by the increasing ultra-nationalist popular pressure, whether organic or orchestrated, on the Albanian officials to deal with the free North Kosovo Serbs. Considering the alarming levels of inter-ethnic violence in the neighboring NATO protectorate of FYR of Macedonia, intensified today after five bodies of Macedonian men killed execution-style were found near Skoplje, the Albanian regional expansionist tendencies are newly culminating in a violent way and the North Atlantic community’s operatives on the ground may be looking at a scenery quite different from what the ever-aggressive White House sees it.
Then there is the matter of the Serbian election possibly being held in the North Kosovo municipalities on May 6. According to the Serbian Constitution and to the rhetoric of the Tadić government, Kosovo is Serbia, despite Belgrade's actions contradicting both the highest legal act and the rhetoric. Since the North Kosovo institutions are still free, the Serbian authorities may be physically able to set up polling points in this part of the province. Whether they would is a debate reluctantly held in Serbia as the less relevant campaign issues are overwhelming it and submerging its otherwise monumental significance, perhaps to the pleasure of the responsible officials. Thaci has warned against it, Belgrade has kept its official mouth shut, but some presidential candidates have personally campaigned in Mitrovica. It is not impossible that Boris Tadić resigned from the post of the president - ostensibly to be able to call for the presidential election and run for the third time - to actually throw hot potatoes out of his hands in case of an election-related incident in the North Kosovo. Now he doesn't even have to touch the issue of the Constitutional mandate of holding the election in the province and he may still retain the power when everything is said and done. Wicked.
There is also a possibility of a program conflict between the NATO allies, where the United States do not care how the possible ethnic cleansing of the Serbs will reflect itself in Serbia, while Germany does not want to be too rough with Boris Tadić before the May 6 elections; where Washington D.C. or rather, Langley, Virginia, is satisfied with the role the rogue state of Kosovo plays in the international drug trade chains and has no problem with treating its Albanian protégés with a field day in North Mitrovica, while Germany’s domination of Europe is still not cemented to the point where it can afford to run amok like Hitler could; where the ever-present Turkey may be including the desires of the Balkan Muslims in the package of demands in return for doing America’s bidding in Syria; where Germany and the United States may not see eye to eye when it comes to the effects and implications of the Russian barging in last December, vis-à-vis their differing respective relations with Russia… Just speculative points that could be further explored by more qualified analysts, or perhaps by one of the outed Serbian journalists contracted by George Friedman’s Stratfor, since their access to the relevant information should be way more direct than mine.
Meanwhile, not a day goes by in which a non-Albanian is not physically assaulted in the Albanian-dominated areas of Kosovo. Emil Lečina, a Bosniak from Serbia visiting relatives in Metohija, is most likely going to lose an eye after one such assault near Peć on Thursday.  Savo Mojsić, a Serbian youth killed by Albanians last November in the north Mitrovica, was the victim no. 1002 since the beginning of the NATO occupation. Perpetrators never get prosecuted by the local Albanian authorities, Serbs have no power to defend themselves against these random attacks, and the foreign representatives in Kosovo do not enable the basic rule of law in the occupied territory. Both North Kosovo and Macedonia are powder kegs waiting to blow up and the incidents of inter-ethnic violence escalating daily do not help calm the passions. All the Albanians need is a nod from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, as always. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hope to Change: The Last Twist of Boris Tadic?


The parade of mannequin politicians and quazi-leaders that is the Serbian parliamentary election campaign will, as the leisurely press conference featuring President Tadić announced on Wednesday, culminate into the presidential one, coming to the theater near us in the next few days. I haven’t commented on the campaign mumbo-jumbo yet. What is there to say, anyway? Economist Nebojša Katić said it best when he warned that Serbia’s economic dire straits and its IMF bondage may produce an electoral outcome in which, in fact, losers can turn out to be winners. Katić claims that whoever wins will end up in an unenviable, and ultimately untenable, position of having to enslave Serbia to IMF even deeper. Even if not one serious contender talks about this issue openly and honestly, I am glad Katić pointed toward the true winner, well ahead of the poll, well ahead of the count, rendering both effectively meaningless.
On the other hand, Serbia is not isolated in this ominous economic predicament – practically half the world have fallen victim to the IMF global domination schemes we are forced to call “free trade.” Nor does the Serbian campaigning style of parroting surreal and deeply condescending pitches make its political scene weird in comparison to other “democracies.” Barrack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy insist they were successful in their presidential terms, too, and that they must continue steady on their course. I guess the Americans and the French still live well enough not to bother to check their respective presidents’ exclamations for accuracy. Obama and Sarkozy can afford to sound nonsensical to those who listen, since their main opponents are ideologically empty suits as well, and the race to the bottom continues: people that decide to get out and vote if the weather is nice will try and elect the lesser evil. However, Boris Tadić, a standup comedian of a recent renown, had to add a twist to the otherwise boring and half-hearted spitting contest. Indeed, it has been a meek competition in seismic positional shifts, cheap bartering and brazen declarations of utter falsehoods.
Before the twist, it was typical Serbia. The ruling party that criticizes corruption and failures of the past years as if someone other than itself was at fault. The key coalition partner of socialist-nationalist-opportunist fame prone to interchangeable outbursts of militant rhetoric against foreign security threats and military actions against own people. The marginal, yet ambitious and openly anti-Serb one-man party of irresistibly incoherent declamations on issues unrelated to Serbian realities. On the other side of the blurred center line, there is an agreed upon clear-cut favorite, the opposition party that have never run in an election before and whose position on every issue is ambiguous and often only slightly differing for its ruling nemesis. Then, the twist.
Patiently waiting for the last moment, President Tadić, in a hilarious move that didn’t even faze the ever-enduring people of Serbia, maneuvered into resigning from his post, or, as he called it, “shortened the term.” He played this, apparently constitutional, “game of thrones,” so he could call the presidential election alongside the parliamentary election, and run in it. A twist, indeed. Why didn’t Obama think of this while he was ahead in polls? Oh, yes, the U.S. Constitution does not provide for the ridiculous option of resigning as a head of state as a method of electoral maneuvering. Once you resign, you are out. The question is: why did Tadić do it? Some analysts think he is sure of his party’s victory – and his own, subsequently - after the initial public polling and he wants to secure another four-year term while he’s ahead. Others, like Željko Cvijanović of Novi Standard, think that, on the contrary, Tadić is concerned after the initial polling and aims to give his party a boost.
The twist does add to the dynamics, but it also adds to the sad state of the Serbian political reality. Maneuvering is the word of the day and it has no boundaries. All the public polling is rigged and the results swing back and forth so much that the pie charts resemble political cartoons rather than real statistical public opinion indicators. Political programs, let alone ideologies, are inconsequential for the most part. Not that Obama and Romney, or whoever ends up running on the Republican ticket, have serious programs or subscribe to principled governing outside the will of the country’s elites. Francois Hollande, Sarkozy’s main opponent, is a lifelong party apparatchik with no particular political views outside his party line.
France and the Unites States do not, however, face dismemberment; they do not face a proclamation of their own partitioning from within; they do not face choices that practically endanger their bare existence as independent nations; Serbia does. And the Serbian president is playing a game, after recognizing Serbia’s partitioning and while actively preparing for another one. Maybe Marseille is a segregated crime cartel, but Kosovo is a criminal state in which organ traffickers hold Serbs prisoners with the help of the Serbian president. Maybe a half of Southern California’s population is foreign-born, but it is not actively planning secession like Vojvodina or the so-called Sandžak. Serbia is facing the loss of territory and the loss of independence. Real debates about the real issues are held outside of the mainstream, outside of the decision-making process. Boris Tadić has become a spokesman for the Italian Fiat instead of being a spokesman for Serbia. With the exception of Vojislav Koštunica’s DSS, the newcomer Dveri, and the Radicals, occasionally, no one discusses real problems facing Serbia. No one posits their politics against the real issues. Serbian partisan politicians are in a permanent search for a job, for the highest bidder. Their statement must always be measured in honesty, vague in accuracy, overly optimistic and plausible to the audiences. But hard choices take strong leaders to make them and the Serbian people are faced with a serious lack of options and a serious deficiency in the ability to recognize such leaders.
Comedic talents and gamesmanship aside, Boris Tadić is not a true, genuine leader that can facilitate the democratic process in the direction Serbia needs to be led in. He has only proven to be a mannequin, a model for a conformist politician, conformist to anti-Serb interests, that is. He and his cohorts have buried Serbia under the rubble of failed economic policies, public indebtedness, dependency on foreign interests detrimental to the well-being of the Serbian nation, corruption on all levels, blatant mismanagement and general ineptitude in public administration. It’s not even only Tadić; the entire political structure run by the Democratic Party and its allies has been nothing but a conglomerate of corrupt and undemocratic globalist apparatchiks, making counterproductive and counterintuitive decisions and serving interests that openly run their anti-Serb agenda through a web of NGOs and civic groups. The seemingly founded accusations of rigged public bids are rampant, including major projects, but the lack of transparency, the limited freedom of information and the investigative mechanism controlled by the regime discourage or suppress the rare whistleblowers, like in the recent case of firing of anti-corruption inspector-turned-whistleblower Ljubiša Milanović. All in all, Boris Tadić sits atop a rotten pyramid.
The change is overdue. Serbia deserves a new leadership, patriotic for a change and democratic in fact, not in the name only. Let us hope the twist of Boris the Comedian will be the last humiliation of Serbia he orchestrated and that it will twist his way out of power.