Ed. Note: the following essay is by periodic BB contributor Jasmina Tesanovic; as I format this post and prepare to hit "publish," Jasmina sends a second email: "Update: groups of hooligans have thrown stones on American and Slovenian (presiding country of EU) embassies, on police members and journalists...several people are hurt ...they are cruising town now here in Belgrade but police are controlling them...reporters are following up..."
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The Sirens :: 02.17.2008
It's starting again: the language of war is the daily bread in Serbia. The sirens of nationalism are turned on again, as if nothing had changed in the eight years after Milosevic was toppled.
Or as if nothing had changed since the year 1389 and the mythic battle of Kosovo: a myth is a myth, a dictator who uses the language of myths is squandering people s minds as well as their lives.
Today, 17 February. at 15 hours Kosovo province unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia. It been ten years now since I wrote my "Diary of a Political Idiot," a book that started with riots in Kosovo. Although I've tried to stop writing that book, I have never been allowed to. The Balkan disorder became the model of world disorder.
I can hear the voice of my dead mother, who passed away in 1999 after the NATO bombings, with her last words: "take care of Kosovo." She didn't mention her granddaughter, my daughter, whom she loved more than herself or me. She instead scolded me, the traitor, severely: Kosovo is not yours and you cannot give it away. You and your similar traitors don't have pants on their asses and you are giving Kosovo, our heritage, away.
Last week in Geneva, I talked to a young Albanian blogger. He told me: this time "independence" will be declared for real, because it is not our independent decision but that of the world community. Nobody asks us anything anymore. They just give us orders and set rules.
Most young Serbian people have never visited Kosovo. There is nor reason to go to Kosovo if you are not trapped in Kosovo already. It is a hard place. Since the fall of national Yugoslav radio and television, Serbian has fallen out of use there. The Serbs never bothered to learn Albanian.
In Belgrade yesterday a thousand nationalists with Serbian flags marched downtown to the Slovenian embassy. Today, in front of the American embassy, potential riots were controlled by the police. In Kosovo province, two thousand policemen from EU mission will be deployed for 120 days until the situation "becomes stable."
Will it ever become stable? Serbian officials threaten to downgrade their diplomatic relationships with anyone who recognizes independent Kosovo, meaning most of the world. The newly elected president of Serbia, Boris Tadic, declared that only "diplomatic tools" will be employed to refuse the independence, but the same might be said of the fraught relationship of Cuba and the USA, which goes on for whole lifetimes.
The president of the government with much harsher tones accused the US and EU of robbing Serbia of its territory, after destroying Serbia in 1999 with bombs. High ranked Orthodox priests also condemn the loss of their historical heritage. The members of the Serbian government tour Kosovo, encouraging Serbs to stay there. They could have done that eight years ago by coming to terms with the criminal ethnic cleansing.
The last sentence in my 1999 diary was: I hope they don't build a wall. Today I must say the same: I hope the Serbian population in Kosovo survives, and I hope they don t build a wall: them, us, their armies, our armies, foreign armies.
After their independence declaration, they are feasting in Pristina, while here in Belgrade it is cold, freezing silent and peaceful. Only small groups of hooligans are gathering under a strong survelliance of the Serbian police.
May it be a beginning of new era; may our children never have another war with their neighbors just because they speak a different language and have a different sign on their graves. The Balkans have always been a multiethnic territory. No matter who wins the battle, nobody will be able to win a war.
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Previous essays by Jasmina Tešanović on BoingBoing:
- Christmas in Serbia
- Neonazism in Serbia
- Korea - South, not North.
- "I heard they are making a movie on her life."
- Serbia and the Flames
- Return to Srebenica
- Sagmeister in Belgrade
- Jasmina Tešanović: What About the Russians?
- Milan Martic sentenced in Hague
- Mothers of Mass Graves
- Hope for Serbia
- Stelarc in Ritopek
- Sarajevo Mon Amour
- Killing Journalists
- Jasmina Tešanović: Where Did Our History Go?
- Serbia Not Guilty of Genocide
- Carnival of Ruritania
- "Good Morning, Fascist Serbia!"
- Faking Bombings
- Dispatch from Amsterdam
- Where are your Americans now?
- Anna Politkovskaya Silenced
- Slaughter in the Monastery
- Mermaid's Trail
- A Burial in Srebenica
- Report from a concert by a Serbian war criminal
- To Hague, to Hague
- Preachers and Fascists, Out of My Panties
- Floods and Bombs
- Scorpions Trial, April 13
- The Muslim Women
- Belgrade: New Normality
- Serbia: An Underworld Journey
- Scorpions Trial, Day Three: March 15, 2006
- Scorpions Trial, Day Two: March 14, 2006
- Scorpions Trial, Day One: March 13, 2006
- The Long Goodbye
- Milosevic Arrives in Belgrade
- Slobodan Milosevic Died
- Milosevic Funeral