Skip to main content
December 11, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 219
Provincializing Belgrade

New Adventures of The Ministerial Mind

by Teofil Pancic

The Executive Council of Belgrade's City Assembly has decided to, following up on an initiative of the City Health Department, by January 15 of next year, find a way to make all discos and cafes in Belgrade close down and empty out by midnight! The justification of this noble, so to say humanitarian initiative of the above mentioned department is touching: on those infamous places unruly youngsters are consuming more than ever "drugs and alcohol", while pupils stay up until dawn, after which they, in an insolent and ignorant manner, dose during classes while professors are explaining that we are living in the best of all possible worlds.

Wise officials, carried away with their Messiah mission, did not feel the need to explain where the connection between the drugs and the working hours of a nightclub lies, as if the chemicals in question cannot be consumed before midnight, or even in the middle of the afternoon? And since when have institutions which worry about our health become police department outposts?

What we obviously have come upon here is the 20th century well known phenomenon of paternalistic small-town Puritanism, whose basic idea, approximately, goes as follows: "The World has gone to the devil, and we are here to save it".

Since the collapse of the prohibition in the U.S. in the second decade of this century, any intelligent person has become acutely aware that such actions are not only totalitarian, but counter-productive; still, the provincial mind time and time again tries to bring things down to their measure, and all in the name of high humanistic ideals.

Belgrade has had this problem for quite a while now - it is simply too big for the capacities of some of its citizens, especially of those who govern it as if it were handed down to them as their birthright: being incapable of comprehending and accepting the (sub)culture of the two-million city and adapting to the performances of a metropolis, they strive - quite understandable, psychologically - to reduce all happenings in the city to the provincial level, model and intensity which is familiar and acceptable to them. All else are pretentious phrases and justifications for nothingness.

Urban kids must be punished because they refuse to look like the golden offsprings of officials - which they proudly present to us every evening at 7:30 on the main evening news.

In military barracks, lights are turned off at 22 hours. The civilians shall graciously be granted to remain out of bed for a further two hours. Until the moment when, in the next phase of the dialectic evolution of the ministerial mind, it is not concluded that even that is too much for them.


Mysterious Inflation

It's There, But It's Not Showing

Throughout the previous week, officials entertained the public by variations on the theme "inflation has been stopped", and its' accompanying phenomena (success of the Serbian government, it's coordination teams etc.) First the Director of the Federal Statistics Office said that in the next few days it shall be officially announced that there were no price increases in November, that is, that the prices increased, but only by 1.8%, which is practically the same as if there were no price increases (countries where the yearly inflation amounts to that are not that rare). However, at the end of the statemnet he added that the increase is 5.5 percent, but that the lion share goes towards electricity payments. All of that was repeated a few days later, but with a somewhat diminished inflation rise (electricity was not mentioned), while strong promises arrived that there would be no price increases in December.

In the meantime, the list of products which are missing from the shops due to a successful anti-inflation policy of the government is growing, while experts surmise whether the already existing inflation shall be officially recognized by the end of December or a month later in order to let the government rave about another stabilized year (with a yearly inflation of around 100%).



The Government And Opposition On Valdanos

For three days, the opposition in the Montenegrin parliament, in context of the debate on implementing the government policies on urbanization, demanded access to documents on which the government based its decision to give the bay of Valdanos to the navy. At the time of the publication of this issue, the debate was still ongoing and the outcome is quite uncertain.

Thirty-three members of the opposition claim that the decision was hasty, without constitutional and legislative basis, and renounced the right of anyone to transform coastal/resort areas into a naval base. They threatened to call for a vote of confidence in the government. Radoslav Rotkovic, (the Liberal Alliance - LSCG), claimed that Valdanos was torn from Montenegrin territory and its sovereignty not merely for the construction of a harbor, but due to the fact that oil has been discovered in it and somebody else wishes to control that oil production. Nobody denied that claim.

© Copyright VREME NDA (1991-2001), all rights reserved.