Not sure what she means

ICTY prosecutor Carla Del Ponte has told Liberation in a forthcoming interview that if genocide indictees Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić are not arrested by the end of the year, she will «release the documents» about the «fiasco» of NATO's failure to arrest the pair. Why? Because she «hopes somebody will be able to analyse and understand» them.

This may be a threat, but who can tell? Likely she knows what is in these documents. She may suspect that somebody else knows. For everyone but that someone else, she is engaging in innuendo.

Good morning, enjoy a silly blog game

I've picked up this thing from Science and Politics, he presumably got it somewhere, pick it up if you like.

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

Oh, do you like the new template? The old one was beginning to seem monotonous.

Absolute skating disrupts absolutely

From the magazine Start BiH:

«What sick mind came up with the idea of putting a skating rink one hundred meters from the mayor's office? The racket the kids make disturbs the mayor in his work.»
—Smiljko Kostić, mayor of Niš


Maybe not in Zvezdara

Despite the rain, about a thousand people joined a protest against the replacement of the heads of the district council in Belgrade's Zvezdara by a coalition of DSS and SRS, reports Danas.

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Speaking for DS, Dragan Šutanovac warned, «once there was a red-black coalition in power, and now we are confronted by the collaboration of the red, the black and the grey.» The protesters are encouraging DSS delegates to pass on the first district council session called by the new Radical president on Tuesday, and promise a new wave of protests if DSS persists.

The thing about extremes

Oh my, here I just finished setting out the Deep Thoughts of Nebojša Bakarec on finding a «third way» between the extremes of democracy and fascism, when I see Dnevnik has a report on the reemergence of anarcho-syndicalism in Serbia.

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Now, all right, I'm from Seattle, and there the people who know about it (most don't) are proud of the fact that the Wobblies pulled off a successful five-day general strike in 1919. If nothing else, it is a bit of our whole uniqueness taština. But the juxtaposition does sort of make the point that people who imagine that they are choosing between extremisms cannot really limit themselves to just two. I'll humbly suggest that it might be better to do real politics. Especially when you control the government.


In today's Večernje novosti Nebojša Bakarec, an official of prime minister Vojislav Koštunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) explains his party's long term strategy as finding a middle road between fascism and liberalism. What, you say? Yes, really. Asked to comment on an earlier remark by his fellow DSS-ovac Obren Joksimović (remember him? from JUL? from the war? from the first DSS government? when Koštunica was forced to fire him as minister of health he got the nickname «Oboren») that DSS could «govern for the next 20 years» in a coalition with the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), Mr Bakarec says:

«That is Obren's personal position. But I agree that party officials cannot come forth with personal positions and not influence the party. But everyone has the right to a position...
How many people are there in DSS like Obren Joksimović who support the Radicals?
There aren't many.
And how many are inclined to the Democratic Party (DS)?
They too, like the ones inclined to the Radicals, are in an absolute minority.
Is the party as a whole more inclined to the Radicals or the Democrats?
We are equidistant from each. Both parties are extremists for us. For them there exist two Serbias, and for us only one. DSS practices the politics of the «third way»...

Asked to explain further the «extremism» of both parties, Mr Bakarec offers his interpretation:

«SRS has a patriotic orientation and I think they they stick to it in a principled way. I agree that sometimes because of that they look like an elephant in a glass shop, because they lose measure. On the other hand, DS is excessively inclined to the foreign factor, just one it seems to me --the United States.»

As the conversation continues, Mr Bakarec also signals the rehabilitation of Milošević's old party, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS). Since DSS is already in a coalition with SPS, it is probably not surprising that he wants to up the ante, and declares «there are fewer and fewer alibis for saying that it is not possible to work with SRS and SPS.»

Probably there is some good in an increasing number of DSS officials recognizing openly what their party has been doing undercover since 2000. And it may be true that democracy and fascism are indeed two extremes. It will be interesting to see how voters will take a party that refuses to make distinctions between them.


Can get lots of dissatisfaction

A very interesting item in this week's Vreme presents the results of a three-year project on «Transformational strategies of social groups in Serbia» by the Institute for Social Research of the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade. Professor Anđelka Milić (hello!) is leading the group of fourteen researchers who are finding:

✩Poverty and unemployment remain high, defeating the high hopes of October 2000, with average wages still just over half the level of 1990;

✩The elite which emerged and enriched itself under Milošević has not only maintained but strengthened its dominant position, with its members holding two thirds of the important positions in the economy;

✩Socialist and traditional values have both declined, but have not been replaced with widely accepted alternatives, leaving a broad base of authoritarianism lacking an object, and a vague and easily manipulable «nostalgia»;

✩The average age continues to rise, as younger people find themselves unable to marry and have children, and 42% of couples with small children live in the homes of one of the couple's parents;

✩A majority of people are unsatisfied with their current condition and prospects for the future, while a majority of young people are seriously considering leaving.

There are more details in the article by Slobodanka Ast.


Ko ne voli Kiš Danila, zemljica mu laka bila

If Danilo Kiš were still alive, he would be 70 years old today and the world would be a slightly better place.

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Danas gives an account of the biographical exhibition dedicated to him at the Belgrade city library. The exhibition includes his typewriter, a video of his address on receiving the Andrić prize, a film of an interview with Kiš conducted by Dževad Sabljaković, and a documentary film on Kiš directed by Filip David.


How to alienate people

Thanks to AR for this dispatch. The rushed decision to sell the Maršalka at a bargain-bin price to the US government for its new embassy sparked a protest by students, to whom the site had been promised earlier for a new university campus. As a part of the protest the students burned an American flag, hardly an unknown gesture in the world but not so frequent in BH. Agence France-Presse reports:

"La caserne du maréchal n'est pas à vendre" et "Les étudiants
ont été pillés", pouvait-on lire sur des pancartes portées par
les protestataires rassemblés devant le siège du parlement.

En marge de cette manifestation, des étudiants ont mis le feu à
un drapeau américain.

Another successful "hearts and minds" program?

New university campus: Sold, cheaply

It is now a done deal. According to FENA, it is now up to the Council of Ministers to decide how funds from the sale will be distributed, with no guarantee that anything goes toward the promised university campus.

Final score: Students 0, Profiteers 1.

Call for submissions: Carnival of the Balkans #2

The call for the Second Carnival of the Balkans is out!

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This one has a fancy new logo designed by Cicciosax and it will be hosted at Science and Politics with archiving at the Carnival of the Balkans archive site. Send your favorite Balkan posts to Coturnix at coturnix AT gmail DOT com or coturnix1 AT aol DOT com. Publication date is 7 March 2005.


In Sarajevo (and not only in Sarajevo) America gets what it wants

After I posted the previous message on the controversy over the proposed new US Embassy site in Sarajevo, I received the following message from Andras Riedlmayer, a friend of East Ethnia and an editor of the International Justice Watch Discussion List. He has permitted me to reprint it here, so here is this weblog's first-ever guest post:

The ex-Marshall Tito Barracks, a massive complex across the street from the National Museum and the Filozofski fakultet in Sarajevo, was built more than a century ago as the Franz-Joseph Barracks. After Dayton, the shot-up but structurally sound barracks complex was restored and converted to educational use -- both symbolically and practically a smart move.

More than half of the building complex was turned over to the University of Sarajevo on a 99-year-lease; other parts of the complex have been renovated and refurbished and now house the temporary quarters of the National and University Library of Bosnia and the Oriental Institute, both of which had been bombed out of their original facilities elsewhere in Sarajevo by Gen. Mladic's gunners firing from the surrounding hills.

But all these fine though struggling institutions, which -- as we are constantly reminded -- embody not only the culture of the country but also the hopes for its future, will now have to pack up and find other quarters. Not because of Gen. Mladic, this time, but because the US wants the site for its new fortified embassy.

Whatever dear America wants, America gets... the wishes and needs of the locals don't count (and they'd better keep smiling and not be so bold as to ask for any favors when America decides what it wants and expects to get it - on the cheap, with no questions asked or conditions imposed).

In Skopje, the arrogant SOBs representing our beloved country demanded and got permission to construct their proposed new fortress of a US embassy on the site of a prehistoric citadel overlooking the city; needless to say both the archaeological remains and the 300-year-old Muslim cemetery at the site will have to be bulldozed to make room for the Empire's newest Dark Castle (no doubt complete with a soundproof dungeon in its basement for the CIA torture sessions).

Marshal Tito Barracks during the war (from FAMA's Sarajevo Survival Map)

Refurbished after the war (photos)

"Help Protect Kale Gradiste" (Macedonian citizens' petition)

"One Country's Treasure is America's ... Embassy?"

Commentary by Skopje Dnevnik's Todor Pendarov

"Macedonian Muslims oppose building U.S. Embassy on cemetery"

"Fortress America: Where No Birds or Ideas Fly"

University campus or massive new armed compound?

On Tuesday the parliament of Bosnia and Hercegovina will debate the recommendation of the Council of Ministers to sell the previous "Marshal Tito" military barracks ("Maršalka") to the US Government as a site to build a new embassy, reports FENA.

The 44,175 square meter site is being offered at a price of 12,868,503.51 convertible marks (KM). This amounts to about 291.31 KM for a square meter. Anyone who wants to purchase a prime parcel of urban real estate would jump at that price -- if I had been able to buy my apartment for that price, it would have cost about 26,217.90 KM, and would certainly be one of the cheapest little two-bedrooms on the planet, going at about the price of a decent new (non-luxurious) economy car.

But beyond the fact that the government negotiated a phenomenally bad price, it also proposes to sell land that had been foreseen for a badly needed new university campus. Jan Zlatan Kulenović of the Youth Information Agency (OIA) of Bosnia-Hercegovina says that the sale of the campus for a new US Embassy would be "the greatest theft committed against students in the history of BiH." Sarajevo University rector Hasan Muratović will also be seeking to assure that any proceeds from a sale be used for building the promised campus, which had previously been agreed between the government and the University but is not declared in the decision of the Council of Ministers.


The Koštunica-Šešelj axis broadens

First Novi Sad. Then Zvezdara. Now Leskovac too.

Mercí per leggere mein mrežni balvan

Novi List is on a roll of linguistic purity. Today there is an interview with dr Lada Badurina of the Università di Fiume, who tries to set out an avenue of defence against the threat of English words entering the Croatian language. While making a case for some degree of balance and acceptance, she also proposes that:

»processes of linguistic globalisation must be monitored by linguistic experts, Croatist-standardologists, and their long-term activity (since a process is in question!) should be oriented toward seeking reasonable resolutions, appropriate substitutes for the growth of anglicisms. We are fortunate to have in our tradition a demonstrated model of such an effort, fortunate that the Croatian language has a developed self-defence mechanism.«

(Standardologists, here is the anglicism-free original: »procese jezične globalizacije moraju nadgledati jezični stručnjaci, kroatisti-standardolozi te da njihova trajna djelatnost (jer riječ je o procesu!) mora biti usmjerena na iznalaženje razumnih rješenja, odgovarajućih zamjena i za nadiruće anglizme. Sretna je okolnost da imamo u tradiciji ovjeren model takve djelatnosti, da je u hrvatskome jeziku razvijen samoobrambeni mehanizam.«)

There seems to be a viral analogy at work here. The healthy body of language is attacked by foreign viruses which threaten to undermine its purity, debasing and corrupting it from within. But what is this pure language that is under attack? I am reasonably certain that my dog speaks a pure language, in the sense that it is free of sounds (though probably not gestures) taken from the context of other animals. To the degree that it is a pure language, it is limited in its capacity for communication and expression. Fine for a dog, but humans would have a hard time operating within its boundaries.

What are called languages are, for the most part, the results of efforts by early modern intellectuals to make generalisations about habits of speaking in a territory and impose rules on them that make it possible for them to develop into habits of writing. This was for the most part a political project to 1) lay a ground for the development of a framework upon which a selection of other habits which would be called traditions could be laid, and 2) provide an alternative to the existing international languages of intellectual life, religion and government, especially Latin.

The process basically involved replacing the language of the cities with the languages of each city's periphery. But there was a problem: country people did not have words for all of the technological, mercantile and intercultural elements of urban life. The Greek-Latin hybrid telephone has made it in some form into most languages—it fills an expressive void, competes with nothing and threatens nobody. Where competition exists, it more often describes variety than edges out. It is useful to refer to more or less the same thing as Wienerschnitzel, tonkatsu, milanesa and chicken-fried steak, because if nothing else, they tell us about the sauces and side dishes that might accompany them. Thinking up ways of saying e-mail in a lot of local variants does not create knowledge. Thinking that thinking up neologisms to substitute for exoticisms is defence of a culture is just a sign of paranoia.