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October 20, 1996
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 263
Stojan Cerovic's Diary

Television or Life

We have another two weeks to go, yet it seems as though we've seen and heard everything. This campaign shall, in all likelihood, drag itself out till the very end in the same manner. The government is on television, the opposition is in town squares and streets. Those who remain at home cannot help finding out who and why is congratulating and thanking the president; where various ministers are traveling and who they are receiving; how the colorful world has opened up and all are inquiring about grand business deals and are competing as to who will give us more money, and all is cheerful and merry, so that the voter might succumb to the temptation to think that maybe, one day, some of those things might come true.

However, the minute he steps outside, he runs into the opposition. Every step of the way, in each store, at the hospital, in school, at information desks, everywhere where television isn't present, we see the opposition's unpleasant reasons and proof lurking. And so, this time, the voter has to choose between television and life, which is no small dilemma. Some of us simply love to watch, and shall therefore opt for the pretty picture, while those who would rather touch shall choose reality, even if it is shaggy one.

Therefore, the government is sending word that we should not wander outside of our houses since we have all that we need on television, while the opposition is calling us to step outside in order to see for ourselves all that we lack. The trend towards such a division has started a long time ago, yet never have the interior and exterior been so totally separated and confronted as they are now. By the way, are these frequent street shootings somehow connected to the elections? They are not, of course, however somebody shall find out one day that it elevates the citizen's positive opinion of the government. Because, once a man actually locks himself into his house, he is not likely to look through the window.

Experts predict an equal and tight result, while also claiming that there was never such a large number of indecisive and uncommitted people. They are probably made up of those who often come in and go out. Even those who had managed to choose between television and life seem somewhat sluggish, as if exhausted by an inner battle and as though they will barely have the strength to drag themselves to the polling places.

Besides resisting the above described schizophrenia, this year's voter has at least one more good reason to await the elections devoid of energy, devoid of animation and completely woebegone. Namely, he most definitely realizes that the grand show is over so that all hopes, as well as election dilemmas, fall into the range between a little bit and nothing. The ruling coalition is trying to animate him and excite him with the slogan "Carry on", while he is sitting and seeing clearly that it has nowhere to carry on. On the contrary, now he knows that things shouldn't have gone this far, while all chances to fix or change it have been missed long ago. The most that he can hope for from the opposition is that it won't go any further, yet no such opposition exists which could return all that had been destroyed and lost.

Therefore, these elections fall after a job has been completed when we look back upon things. There is nothing left to wait for. All of us have seen everything and no miracles and turning-points are possible anymore. Which is actually the main reason why television has cut itself off from life so completely. While the great, tragic, national and state project was being prepared and put into motion, television was handing out delusions, it was seducing us and driving us crazy, yet it maintained a kind of, even twisted, correspondence with reality. Now it primarily has to hide the fact that any tragedy had occurred at all, further, that it is all over and done with and, finally, to create an illusion of continuity between peace and war which had never occurred nor has ended.

The Protestants believe that it is a man's duty to always leave everything in a better condition then when he had first come upon it Since I believe that even in the Orthodox religion that does not constitute a heretic belief, these elections appear to me to be the best chance to ascertain the quality of the government by comparing the state it had come upon with the present one. The whole story has lasted for nine years and we have space here only to remind of some more important issues. It all started with Kosovo, which had a high level of autonomy. That was abolished at the price of victims, a total confrontation with the Albanians, a conflict with the rest of the-then Yugoslavia and with public opinion in the Western world. From the stand of Serbian nationalism, Kosovo is worth each victim and in that sense, Milosevic has made things better. However the problem exists due to the fact that it is not finished yet, and all indications show that a certain kind of autonomy shall be re-established. Besides that, an agreement has just been reached with Germany on returning 120 thousand Albanians. For Serbia, that issue is a goner in the long run, which was only spurred on by Milosevic, and most probably could not have been prevented either by him or anyone else.

Milosevic also came upon the former Yugoslavia in front of which Europe's doors were being opened. He slammed that door shut and is now again trying to pry it open, so that it could be deduced that he has repented. As far as the other Yugoslavia is concerned, he himself claims that his efforts to save it were in vain, while all others can be divided into those who would accuse him and those who would congratulate him for busting it apart. Yet, does a single person exist who does not say that he was the main actor in that drama? Does a single person exist who remembers that he wanted to lie down in front of the tanks that were headed for Vukovar?

Furthermore, Milosevic came upon a one-party system, which it no longer is. Yet, is he really the one who has made those changes? All over the former Yugoslavia new parties were formed faster than in Serbia, and multi-party elections were held everywhere before than here. Everywhere in Eastern Europe the government has changed at least once, while that still seems impossible in Serbia.

The world which had accused and punished Milosevic now actually accepts him because he has managed to convince everyone that he is sacred here, that his power is unchangeable, that is, that this is not a democratic country. So, what need have we for parties and elections? Is it really a complete farce in which it is better not to participate? I believe these are questions which the voter has to answer on his own. In any case, I would say that even though things concerning pluralism and parliamentarianism are somewhat better than before, that occurred against the intentions of the government which is still maintaining it's best efforts to hinder it. What else isn't as it was? There are no more Serbs in Croatia. In Bosnia many people departed from this world before their time or have lost their homes, land, parts of their bodies...

Did Milosevic do everything to stop that? Is it possible that the whole world was so corrupt as to hit the most innocent with sanctions? That is no longer regarded as a local election theme here, yet it was proven that the president personally has the highest credit for saving Serbia from the war.

Finally, that would really be a major issue. On that subject we should remember how certain draftees had saved themselves by running away from the drafters. We shall also remember how the peace-loving government in Belgrade had condemned a general who had refused to sacrifice his soldiers in a surrounded barrack. But, we shall not remember any power that had threatened Serbia and which the wise hand of the president had thwarted. If there was no war in Serbia, that only stands as ultimate proof that the main warlord was sitting right here. Therefore, he could have started shooting all over Serbia, at the opposition, at the workers during a strike... He failed to save others from himself, yet he has spared Serbia.

Finally, even the largest bulk of funds in this country is no longer in the hands in which it had previously been. Mostly due to hyperinflation and through private banks which were unusually partial to the government, funds have been directed towards a small number of people who knew how to appreciate the advantage of this system and this government, leaving the suspicious, indecisive and unskillful ones behind. It is not convenient that many people could remember that just before the elections and that those with a negative balance shall be in a large majority. Which is why we again have television to show them that things aren't as they seem. Even if they are, that isn't important now. Even if it is important, people shouldn't be embittered and shouldn't bear a grudge. Let everyone follow JUL's example which is so full of love, forgiveness, money and good will.

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