Srbija i Fruška Gora

East Ethnia sends you greetings from lovely Niš, which must have more kafići per capita than any medium-sized city in the immediate vicinity. Greetings also from my friend Pedja's computer, which he has graciously allowed me to borrow since my screen has decided it would no longer take instruction from the skalamerija below. Presumably this can be repaired, although I expect that finding a Mac mechanic will have to wait until my return to Belgrade.

There is the possibility that I may arrive to one country and leave from another. The independence referendum in Montenegro appears to have succeeded, just barely, in one of those underwhelming results that lends itself to multiple interpretations. Probably the eventual independence of Montenegro will make little difference to most people there or in Serbia -- the concrete questions that will affect people have to do with property rights, pensions, and the ability of people (students, for example) to cross borders and use benefits freely. As long as these questions are not taken up in bad faith, most people will be likely to carry on as before. The result has been interpreted in international media in many cases either as an expression of anti-Serbian sentiment or as an additional step in the disintegration of what was once Yugoslavia. These are probably overinterpretations, at least in part. The referendum also put a legal stamp on a separation that was already proceeding in fact, and put an end to an expensive and dysfunctional federation which neither had much to show for itself nor, in the end, had much of a will or desire to argue for its continued existence.

Most of the immediate consequences of the referendum will be felt by political elites. About 3000 functionaries will be out of work, together with a smaller number of parliamentary deputies who will not be losing much work, and some ministers. Among these ministers will be two influential ones whose parties are not particularly favored by the Serbian government (of which they are members): human rights minister Rasim Ljajić and foreign minister Vuk Drašković. There should be some mild entertainment as PM Koštunica looks for a way to keep his government alive while trying to satisfy them with the smallest crumbs possible.

As long as I can get access to a working machine and a connection, I will try to post as regularly as I can from the banks of the mighty Nišava. With any luck all technical difficulties should be resolved soon after I get back to Belgrade, and your humble correspondent will humbly correspond.