Rising up and falling down

A lot of attention is going to acting SRS leader Tomislav Nikolić today for his comments last night in an interview on RTS. In his remarks he restated his position (one shared by most parties in Serbia) that independence for Kosovo would not be acceptable, but also went a step further: he declared his advocacy of "armed defense" (of what?) to prevent independence, and promised to bring SRS followers out in opposition to the president and prime minister following any agreement to independence.

In fact, there is nothing new in the statement by Mr Nikolić. Both the invitations to new wars and the threats against elected governments are longtime SRS rhetorical standbys. Sometimes, usually around election time, they are brought out among smaller circles and a little more quietly. At rally-the-supporters times, or when SRS has the security of a partner in power, they are louder and frequenter. During a couple of periods over the last couple of years, there were quiet moments, and these led to all sorts of speculation: is SRS adapting to democratic politics? are there fundamental differences between Mr Nikolić and his more bombastic predecessor? is SRS reorienting itself to become, eventually, an attractive coalition partner to some ideologically similar party which is less discredited than its previous coalition partners? Then SRS returns to its established bag of tricks and confirms what was known all along, that the answer to all those questions is no.

It might be the case that by turning up the heat, SRS is putting down the blinds. Last month, a survey by the Medium agency for Gallup raised fears when it showed SRS as the most popular political party in Serbia at 36%, potentially able to form a government, perhaps in coalition and perhaps on its own. This month's survey by the same agency shows SRS falling to 30%, and SPS from 6.3% to 4.6%, with gains by DS, DSS, NS, and G17+ (and also, interestingly, by the populist party out of Jagodina, Jedinstvena Srbija). This would leave SRS as the most popular single party, but probably out of reach of power -- but at the same time, it would show once again that there is no possibility of a government by the "democratic bloc" without one more very broad and probably fragile coalition. The question keeps coming up as to whether DSS wants to be a part of the "democratic bloc" or not.

Medium agency director Srbobran Branković (as quoted in Blic) might or might not be right in attributing the weakened position of SRS to their "return to the old image and the noticable rebellion which has occurred in democratic public opinion because of this." Or it may be that both the June and July results are blips, considering the continuing instability of the political scene, the high rate of abstention, and the fact that it is not an election season. In either case, the results would seem to confirm again that while support for SRS is certainly not rising and may be falling, the power and influence of this party continues to depend most of all on high rates of abstention and the lack of faith in "democratic" leadership. In the meantime, the statements of the acting president of the party, while they may not help SRS, are probably doing some damage to the country over which it once exercised power.


Bad Metaphor of the Day: Serbia has it's own Dalai Lama!

Well, in fact it is the 'Serb Republic of Krajina', as Politika's article on the Dalai Lama in Zemun so aptly calls the government in exile of the state which never really was. However, don't expect spirutal enlightment for the prime minister Miloran Buha of the 'government in exile' the RSK, incidentally also an MP for the Serb Radical Party.


Serbia: Ideally Bad

The timing of Ceca has been impeccable in her more than 18 year long career as the star of the Serbian pop scene. From gangster bride to heroic widow and Serbian J-Lo, she demonstrated a better sense of where Serbia is going than some political analyst. Only in 2003, as she was arrest during the state of emergency following the assassination of prime minister Zoran Djindjić, her star seemed to wane as few stations wanted to play her music. However, this time, the timing was too good to be true.

Within a few days of Ceca releasing her new album “Ideally Bad” (Idealno loša) and singing its tunes to the biggest crowd ever gathered for a concert in the Balkans, more than 100,000 people saw her live at Ušće, the confluence of the Sava and Danube in Belgrade, on June 17 (the same place one of the biggest demonstrations took place to praise another idol, Slobodan Milošević in 1988), prime minister Vojislav Koštunica harshly criticized the EU for its treatment of Serbia and called it “deeply wrong” in his “ideally bad” interview for the news agency Fonet.

With both Ceca and Koštunica being ideally bad, one might ask is this just a coincidence. The text below suggests that the popular folk-star, cum widow of indicted war criminal Arkan, cum self-styled icon of Serbia, and the less popular prime minister Kostunica apparently have the same ghost-writer. In fact, the similarity between notes to Kostunica for recent talks with EU-Enlargement Commission Oli Rehn and Ceca’s tunes suggests nothing less.

Notes to Koštunica (unknown origin, crumbled up piece of paper, found in trash can near government building):

You might say to yourself:

“This world is for smarter ones,

this is the path for more courageous ones…

my heart is a chick, rained on, yellow and small”.

You might get cold feet before the meeting and say to yourself:

“Already I am panicking a little,

still nobody has invited me anywhere.

I will go by myself, what else. …

Everything annoys me here.”

But find your courage and tell Oli Rehn:

“Once the ground cracked beneath our feet…

You were the one I could call when the whole world forgot about


“But now, it is only will you leave or stay,

now everything between us is, do you want to or don’t you.”

“I offered myself to you, I offered but you rejected me.“

“Never, never, with you never again”

“In my room there, everything is crap and broken,

just as everywhere else in my city.

If you don’t know with whom you want to be, where you want to be, and why,

then for you this

is ideally bad.”

After you have told him, you might think to yourself:

“You don’t know anybody, but know them all,

that’s how it is when you’re alone,

as if it all happened to you before.”

(The text is taken from songs: “Čulo bola”, “Koža pamti”, “Ponuđen ko počašćen”, “Viski”, “Lepi grome moj”, “Idealno loša” and “Pile” on the new Album of Ceca Svetlana Ražnatović, Idealna loša)

Another connection

Was there a connection between the Serbian government and the self-declared military forces and paramilitary formations that operated in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina? The Supreme Court of Serbia says yes. It has confirmed an earlier decision ordering the state to pay damages to seven (out of an estimated 10.000) refugees who were arrested by the military in 1995, then delivered under military security for "training" at a camp of the "Serbian Volunteer Guard" (Srpska dobrovoljačka garda) in Erdut, after which they were forcibly mobilised into units of the "VRSK" in Croatia and the "VRS" in Bosnia-Hercegovina.