2008-02-22

Discussion at the Serbian cabinet

The daily paper Blic has carried a transcript of an exchange among Serbian government ministers on the behaviour of hooligans after the declaration of independence of Kosovo. They do not give a date, so I am not certain whether this is from after Sunday night rather than after last night (the number of injured police would suggest last night, however). My translation.
Velimir Ilić (minister for infastructure): They have caused us much greater damage than broken windows. Those people at B92 and other media had better be careful how they talk about those young people.

Snežana Marković (minister for youth and sport): You are the last person who should tell people how to behave. Everyone knows what you have been advocating.

Ilić: Madam, you have been in sports for two months, and I have been for twenty years. Be careful, the sportspeople will come to you.

Dragan Šutanovac (minister of defence): What sportspeople, what are you talking about? I will stand in front of those wimps if somebody has to. Now, why was the police instructed to allow the hooligans to go wild on the one hand, and on the other hand to protect public order? That just endangers the police.

Ilić: You cannot call them hooligans just because they broke some windows and injured a few police officers.

Šutanovac: To be precise - 53 of them.

Vojislav Koštunica (prime minister): Those people, hooligans as you call them, were just reacting to the violation of international law.

Šutanovac: Oh please, if they had not been organised they would not have known what to do. What defence of international law are you talking about?
My fear was that perhaps a decision had been made to allow a public outrage that would provide a pretext for declaring a state of emergency. But clearly the government is not united, which I suppose could have been guessed beforehand.

5 comments:

Aleksandar said...

Kostunica is crazy. Full stop. Since his becoming Prime Minister I have been saying to people with whom I have talked about this, that with a man like that in a key role, Serbia will never, ever move ahead. He simply has to be marginalized and politically eliminated. A lot of people responded with things like "oh come on, he's just posturing, that's just the public image, he doesn't believe half of what he says",and my favourite "ma sve to oni rade za pare." I think that making a comment like he did, in a closed cabinet meeting, far away from the public and from any media, shows that he believes all of the (increasingly) bizarre things he says.

Unfortunately, a lot of people have been taken in by his image as someone who is weak, uninformed, slow and indecisive (mlitav, spor, neinformisan). Of all the politicians in Serbia, I think he has the clearest idea of what he wants, he does nothing by accident, and so far, he has been very successful in remaining in power. DS and Tadic made a huge mistake in underestimating him and allowing themselves to waste their credibility by being accomplices to all this. If the street violence and hatred spewing from the mouths of the DSS/NS faction aren't enough evidence that the plug needs to be pulled on this government, I don't know what is. There is absolutely no "greater cause" that Tadic/DS could possibly be comprising for any more.

Eric Gordy said...

Yes, I think this is what is most bothersome. It is one thing if he indulges in a little demagoguery, but this is what he was saying when he thought nobody was listening.

The other surprise: who knew Sutanovac was secretly Clint Eastwood?

Aleksandar said...

After reading Norman Cigar's "Vojislav Kostunica and Serbia's Future" and digging a little further to find out who this man is and how and what he thinks, I was convinced that until he's gone nothing good can happen. That's why it was so frustrating to keep hearing him referred to as part of the "democratic bloc" and the EU applaud the ridiculous constitution he rammed through. I have no doubt that he is serious and very determined in his beliefs. Yet he is always underestimated. Very scary.

I thought about that Sutanovac comment for a moment. It crossed my mind that he may have meant "I and the army I am in charge of will stand in front of those wimps." In fact, in an interview with Blic http://www.blic.co.yu/politika.php?id=31608
Goran Svilanovic suggests that DSS/NS is using "their" resources to incite chaos, while the DS/G17 side is using "theirs" to stop it. The feudal structure of this government can become dangerous in an unstable situation such as this.

My favourite sentence in the whole article, which applies metapohircally and now sadly literally to the entire life of the DS-DSS coalition:

Vlada se ponela potpuno šizofreno, jedni su palili, drugi su gasili.

Eric Gordy said...

I think it is time to send a note to all of my friends to whom, when they started saying just these things about Kostunica, I replied "ma ajde, ne preteruj."

Aleksandar said...

Don't worry. Having been right about him is no comfort. Especially when it made no difference. In fact it's frustrating. At least you have the luxury of now being (I'm going to assume only mildly) surprised.