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October 24, 1994
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 161

Death to Fascism!

by Filip Svarm

That anti-fascism is ``in'' this season was obvious from the presentation of various commemorative plaques at this past summer's celebrations marking the World War II anti-fascist struggle. This year great importance was attached to awards by municipalities, a practice left over from Communist celebrations of National War of Liberation anniversaries. Kraljevo Municipality deputies presented the ``Charter against violence and war-for peace in the world'' award to President Milosevic (Daniel Salvatore Schiffer, ``philosopher, humanist and promoter of the truth about Serbia'' was last year's recipient); cynics claim that similar awards presented to lower-level SPS officials are now the best possible proof that they are following their leader's new policy. All of this is very well calculated.

Self-initiated attempts at jumping on Milosevic's anti-fascist bandwagon are very important. This includes a suggestion put forward by the Yugoslav Veterans' Association (SUBNOR) and the Association of Veterans from 1990 when Milosevic was presented with the Medal of Freedom (usually given for military merit). The veterans weren't put off by the fact that decorations have not been awarded for the past two years or the fact that, as the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) pointed out, President Milosevic has always insisted that Serbia was never a participant in the war.

According to those giving the award, Milosevic deserves credit for the development of democracy, the unification of Serbia and Montenegro, for preventing the devastations of war, a victory over media demonization and unjust sanctions and an economic stabilization program, all of which have ``saved many citizens from hunger and violence.'' The similarity with such decorations of Josip Broz Tito on earlier occasions immediately comes to mind.

Finally, the official greetings to President Milosevic on the occasion of July 7 (anniversary of the beginning of the anti-fascist struggle in Serbia), clearly showed the break between Belgrade and Pale (Bosnian Serb political capital). Greetings came from Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, Krajina President Milan Martic and Krajina Prime Minister Borislav Mikelic, while the Bosnian Serbs remained silent. They have already carried out a reconciliation between the Chetniks (Serbian royalists) and Partisans (Communist guerrillas), something that the authorities here do not accept even in theory. They believe that it is clear who was a patriot and who was a traitor and that there can be no talk of admitting to the fact that there were two anti-fascist movements in Serbia.

What has happened to the political scene in Serbia in the last four years? On the eve of changes towards a multiparty system, the Communists (now renamed as the Socialists) called their rivals Fascists. According to SPO Serbian Parliament deputy Milan Bozic, the matter concerns a well-known Communist practice which aims at equalizing all those who think differently. This proved true when the greatest enemies in 1990 on the Belgrade TV news program were SPO leader Vuk Draskovic and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. Then, when the Serbian Socialists opted for the ``unification of all Serbs in one state,'' the winners of the multiparty elections in Croatia and Slovenia were fascists. The translation of ``Mein Kampf'' and related commentaries by the translator, Radomir Smiljanic, should be regarded in this light. He regards the activities of the ruling structures in Croatia and Slovenia as the vilest personification of Nazism. At the same time, depending upon their solidarity with the regime in achieving its interests, the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and others at hand were deleted from the list of fascists.

There was an attempt at exploiting anti-fascism in Krajina in 1990. The Croatian authorities seemed to be doing their best to stir up the existing fears of local Serbs with regard to the revival of Ustasha ideology. At the first convention of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), Tudjman said that the ``NDH (World War II quisling Independent State of Croatia) had not been simply a fascist creation, but also the expression of the Croats' centuries-long yearning for an independent state'' and, as Bozic has said, anti-fascism was forgotten very quickly. After the rally at Petrova Gora, when retired general Dusan Pekic threatened to have Tudjman arrested, various military formations sprang up in Krajina, which would be hard to describe as fighters against Fascism. By placing these units under its command, the former Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) and subsequently Yugoslav Army (VJ), definitely lost its reputation as guardian of the traditions of the National Liberation Army. Ranking Yugoslav United Left (JUL) member Zoran Cicak said that in the past three years the SPS has followed a policy without a clearly defined ideology as far as the anti-fascist tradition was concerned, and that under the influence of self-proclaimed ideologues such as Brana Crncevic and Antonije Isakovic, it had made concessions to the anti-communist wave, thus compromising its ideological and moral image.

But, much has changed in the meantime.

Bozic said that the current political situation was characteristic in that the matter concerned the first clash between two heads of Serbian states. This was the reason for the regime's re-discovery of anti-fascism. Bozic claims that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is trying to create a theocratic state through irrational politics and that the people are living beneath subsistence level, with death an everyday occurrence. ``Only such a state,'' said Cicak, ``would be capable of carrying through the project of ethnic cleansing, the extermination and deportation of members of other nations, which was started by Mr. Karadzic. With the turnabout in Serbia's official policy and the embrace of peace, Milosevic demanded a change in the ideological, media and historiographical image of the SPS. Democratic Serbia cannot deal with the Chetniks led by Karadzic and Bosnian Serb Vice-President Biljana Plavsic without first making a spiritual break with Chetnik ideology.'' By using Karadzic as a caricature of the national-democratic idea, Milosevic is using anti-fascism to compromise all political opponents who spout on about Serbia, the Serbian cause, etc. He has started rallying all those people he had hounded off the political scene-die-hard Communists and Titoists, decent people and all those gathered around various peace circles. It seems that what he is doing has no alternative. ``It is possible that Milosevic is simply abusing Karadzic in order to strengthen his authority. His assessment is correct: conditions have been met on the foreign and internal planes whereby power will best be maintained through a struggle against radical nationalists. If this finds sympathy in the West, all the better, and I fear it will, then it will be more than enough for one politician,'' said Bozic.

If Tudjman is Milosevic's real partner in putting an end to the bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia, it is possible that the anti-fascist trend might spread to Croatia. Anti-fascism, the way it has been interpreted by the Communists, seems to be one of the least painful ways of overcoming all that has happened in the past four years. In this context, unreliable information claiming that official Zagreb, as proof of its democratic orientation and lack of nationalist bias, had expressed a readiness to legalize the SK-PJ in Croatia before the Constitutional Court had banned the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS).

Tudjman, regardless of all moves aimed at satisfying the far Right (i.e. the introduction of the Kuna as the official currency), wishes to impress upon the international public that he was a fighter against Fascism in WWII. This is confirmed by his public apology to the Jewish community with regard to certain parts of his book ``Wastelands of Historical Reality.'' The marking of D-Day on June 6 is proof that this is very important as far the international community is concerned. After all, it is the international community that is searching for the final solution to the problem of the former Yugoslavia.

On the other hand, all of these commemorations of anti-fascism in Belgrade, and eventually in Zagreb, do not sound very sincere. Many believe that the matter concerns the manipulation of the only thing which has not been compromised here-the struggle against the Fascist occupational forces in WWII by ``all the nations and nationalities.'' Now that all have decided to jettison their extremists (e.g. Milosevic's relationship with Karadzic) who are guilty for all that happened, they can pretend that nothing happened, and start anew.

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