The image of Serbia

Some quotations from a panel discussion at the Media Center in Belgrade today on the topic of "Serbia and its image," organized by the magazine Vreme and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, as reported by B92:

Roksanda Ninčič, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: "It looks as though nobody cares about the future of this country, nor its citizens, and with that in mind, not for its image either."

Predrag Marković, historian: "The regime of the nineties succeeded in ruining our image, with unbelievable speed. It is not possible for anybody to understand how an order could be given to destroy the only two cities that the world knows about, Sarajevo and Dubrovnik."

Dubravko Koledić, journalist for the German Press Agency (DPA): "The image of Serbia has been meaningfully damaged by the number of votes the Radicals get. The image of Serbia has been spoiled by the premier, Vojislav Koštunica, because he will not cooperate with the Hague. That is what is said by an ordinary person, not an institution, and that is what is written on an ordinary internet site. So, we affect our image ourselves, we are responsible and not even God can help us with that."

Srđan Šaper, marketing executive and erstwhile pop star: "I think that a retrospective revalorisation of the Tito period is going on, not only because people lived better then, but because they had a clearer sense of national identity, that is they identified more with what was then Yugoslavia than they do with what is now Serbia."

The report only gives these brief passages from the three participants (it is accompanied by a photo in which there is a fourth person, the moderator, I suppose). It would be interesting to see the complete texts. But what seems striking from the quotations that the journalist chose is that they are not transparently about image at all, but about concrete concerns.

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