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December 11, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 219
Serbia in a Broken Mirror

Living in Little Serbia

by Milan Milosevic

The Main Board of the Democratic Party (DS) on December 2 decided that the Discipline Board should initiate the procedure against federal MP and former DS president Dragoljub Micunovic and republican MP Velimir Simonovic. The two veterans are to be expelled from the party because they were "undisciplined" and "harmed the party's reputation."

Simonovic is a university professor, an elderly gentleman, decent, tactful and moderate, one of the few of that kind in the Serbian Parliament. He was being "undisciplined" when he refused to leave the autumn Parliamentary Session together with other opposition MP's and chose to stick to an earlier DS decision not to leave the Parliament unless it was necessary.

Micunovic was accused of planning to form a new party. He was asked to say decidedly that his name would not be on the list of another party in the next elections, although it had not even been mentioned that his name might be on the DS list. Eighty-nine members of the Main Board voted in favour of the initiation of the discipline procedure against Micunovic, seven abstained while six were against it. Micunovic said he did not want to split up the Democratic Party but that he hoped that many of the former ranking officials would leave the party because they were "dissatisfied with its policy and ways decisions are made."

Micunovic has lately been an active president of the Democratic Centre Foundation (FDC), a specific institution of the civil society for the development of democratic dialogue, inter-ethnic negotiation and tolerance. With these aims, FDC started publishing the magazine "Dijalog" (dialogue). He explained that "a number of DS members and former ranking officials are putting pressure on FDC to form a party," but that, for the time being, he was interested mainly in the affirmation of FDC. However, he did not deny the possibility that a new party might be formed next year.

Time will show how large that group will be, but symbolically speaking, Djindjic has cut off the wing which could have enabled him to bring the Democratic Party back to the civil centre. He has systematically been approaching Kostunica's stand, but is a little softer and more pragmatic than Kostunica. Djindjic does not criticise the Dayton agreement in general, but maintains that the Dayton negotiator should have been more persistent concerning the details, the corridor, Sarajevo and access to the sea. He is trying to define something which could be called national pragmatism.

DS vice-president Gavrilovic, asked to comment on a possible unification of the DS and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), said that the reasons why the two parties had parted ceased to exist, and that their unification would produce a real opponent to the Socialist Party of Serbia. Kostunica's DSS nervously reacted to this announcement of a brotherly embrace. However, some ten days later, DS,DSS, the Serbian Liberal Party (SLS) announced that they had reached a final agreement on the forming of the Democratic Alliance (DA) which should act on the basis of "mutually profiled political, economic, social and cultural programmes with the maintenance of the political identity of each of them," for the "recovery and further progress of Serbia." What brings them so close together is that their hearts are across the Drina river. Seselj's Serbian Radical Party (SRS), which they manoeuvred to avoid, sharply overtook them - SRS said it would directly participate in the elections in the Bosnian Serb Republic.

Judging by the way the two Serbian groups (radicals and the alliance) reacted to last week's protests of the Sarajevo Serbs who are to be under Izetbegovic's rule, they seem to believe that after Dayton Bosnian Serbs will remain a hot political topic in Serbia. These two groups of Serbian "Bosnians" will probably exploit the possibilities of article 2. of the Constitution of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina which mentions the "right of the entities to have special parallel relations with neighbouring countries" and will be working on the integration of Bosnian Serbs with Serbia.

The question is what one should expect from the pacifist group (the Civil Alliance, etc.) which has certain legitimacy in Sarajevo if reconciliation begins on the Miljacka river. Due to its "solidarity with the oppressed peoples" this group is not yet desirable in the Serbian part of Bosnia. However, one should expect some doors to open for them there. The Belgrade "Helsinki Watch" has been advocating the interests of refugees from Krajina and helping their re-patriation in Croatia. At the same time, various groups continue to defend the rights of ethnic minorities in F.R. Yugoslavia. The Civil Alliance supports peace and focuses its practical activity on human rights. The Belgrade Human Rights Centre on November 24 organized an international law seminar on refugees and the ways international law applies in the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

Advocates of the civil option like to say, sometimes with counter-productive cynicism, that the national policies have been defeated. In this kind of atmosphere, sentences of radicals and pacifists sometimes coincide, only in different colours of cynicism.

Expert on international law Prof. Vojin Dimitrijevic of the Law Faculty in Belgrade, one of the most vociferous advocates of the civil option, says that the F.R. Yugoslavia is now practically the only multi-ethnic state in the region and that everything that seems to have been formed on other sides are ethnically clean states. The group which had once bravely advertised the project "Living in Sarajevo" might now start thinking about the project "Living in Little Serbia."

Despite the different starting positions, both the mundialists and the nationalists have developed an ideology according to which an outside force will arrange everything. Foreigners come and go with their wishes, intentions, interests and prices, values and prejudices and we are the only ones who can arrange our lives and ensure for our state the loyalty of all its citizens. A prerequisite for this is a civil, legal, constitutional, liberal and socially responsible state.

Many people are talking about privatization and state ruled by law, but is a serious project of radical moral and civil recovery being carried out? Montenegro must remember Marko Miljanov's words that one should defend others of oneself and Serbia should remember that one of its constitutions contained an article which said that a slave who stepped on the Serbian land became free. (The article was not mere form and, according to a contemporary, was introduced to free the Muslim women who crossed into Serbia of their polygamous masters.)

Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) leader Vuk Draskovic last week sharply spoke about the need for moral and every other kind of recovery. This contributed to his reputation of a convincing orator and persistent moral preacher on the Serbian political scene. Last Tuesday, in a news conference at the International Press Centre (he usually talks to reporters in his office) he spoke positively about Milosevic who, although with a few years's delay, signed peace. Draskovic, however, appealed to the ruling circles to stop the hypocritical and inhumane celebration of the Dayton victory because there was nothing to be celebrated. Draskovic mentioned thousands of the dead, wounded and displaced, the fact that there were no more Serbs in Knin and along the Krka river, although they had lived in these regions when there were no Serbs in Belgrade. according to Draskovic, the Dayton peace is neither fair nor unfair, it is made up of blood and tears, of shame and wounds, of illusions and deceits by professional patriots, but it is simply peace, it is the only way to ensure a life different from ours for the children who have not yet been born.

Draskovic clearly said that the Serbian nazism remained undefeated. Since, as Crnjanski put it, people here forget rapidly and a lot and become shamelessly furious if one tries to brush up their memory, Draskovic was asked to specify what the Serbian nazism is, how it is manifested, what its symbols are and what parties or persons advocate it. He said nazism was in the ethnic cleansing, destruction of houses and mosques, conversion to Christianity, beating and murdering. Draskovic added that we still did not know what happened to a group of ethnic Muslim citizens of Serbia who had been kidnapped three years ago.

Judging by the atmosphere, Draskovic's stand is unlikely to gain numerous votes any time soon but he is definitely trying to lay down a sheaf of sticks which might enable Serbia to get across the mud-pool and regain, above all, its self-confidence.

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