20 February 2003, Volume
COULD WE LIVE TOGETHER AGAIN? -- AN RFE/RL CALL-IN PROGRAM.
A recent program of RFE/RL's Radio Most (Bridge) by Rade Radovanovic.
We have asked our listeners to comment on three questions. The first is what they think of the recent call by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou for a Balkan federation. The second deals with the proposed new state of Serbia and Montenegro. The third possibility is to comment on anything the listeners have heard in one of our previous phone-in programs.
My last name is difficult to pronounce. It is a Dutch one, but I was born in former Yugoslavia, in Kordun, near Karlovac and Vrginmost. I have been living in Duesseldorf for 35 years.
In former Yugoslavia I was one of those who were Yugoslavs; my views are cosmopolitan. By origin, I belong to the Serbian minority in Kordun, but I was not raised in the spirit of chauvinism. My father had both Croatian and Serbian friends, and some Serbs did more evil to him then Croats.
I went to school in Zagreb and encountered no chauvinism there, probably because I was not a chauvinist. I met Croatian chauvinists here in Germany. They are the same as the Serbs, the only difference is that [the Croats] have better diplomatic skills and a mentality that is closer to that of the West than the people from the Balkans have, such as people from Serbia. Of course, not all people are like that; there are normal people on both sides.
What do you think about the Balkan federation? Is it feasible?
There is too much discussion about it and too much money spent on it, since, in the long run, it cannot work.
As far as Serbia and Montenegro are concerned, [their union] should be ended right now instead of dragging it out for another couple of years. [This prolonged agony causes them extra problems in addition to those which they already have independently of each other.]
And Kosovo will eventually become independent one way or another, since, in the Balkans, people are all the same from Slovenia to Macedonia: hotheads.
The kind of wars we had could have taken place only in our countries, not only because of [former Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic and [former Croatian President Franjo] Tudjman, but also because this is how we were all raised. Tito's policies actually contributed [to the descent into violence]. You can raise a nation like a child, never allowing it to become independent, to think and make decisions on its own.... People had to express their loyalty to Tito, whether they really felt it or not. Later they had to do the same for Milosevic and Tudjman. Just like a flock of sheep, which you can force to go in whatever direction you want.
Why do you think some people act as if they were part of a flock? Was it simply because they followed the regime and a man such as Slobodan Milosevic? Do you think there are deeper problems involved? You have been living in a country which is one of the most civilized, democratic, and developed -- and which, some 70 years ago, opted for Nazism, one of the most horrible and inhuman political doctrines of the 20th century....
As far as Germany is concerned, it is not the same country it was when I came. That is not just my personal opinion; many widely respected people here have said it.
Germany has changed a lot [over the years]. Nazism is getting stronger because of the unemployment and economic situation. There will be more [Nazism] here in the years to come. You see, I have the same critical attitude toward the Germans as I have towards the former Yugoslavs....
You seem to be deeply discontented with Europe....
Yes, discontented with Europe, since it proved to be so disunited during the war in Yugoslavia. Everybody had their own policy, which only contributed to the worsening of the situation, while the hotheads mustered their strength.
Do you think things would be better in the Balkans if separatism and secessionism continued, and the territory was further divided into regions?
I find it unavoidable now that so much hatred has been accumulated. Until people understand who deluded them, whom they were really following...it will take many years. Ordinary people are still unaware of what happened.
The church is also part of the problem. When I listen to [many clerics], I wonder whether they really believe in God. Priests are supposed to have a higher moral outlook, instead of instigating hatred between the Montenegrins and Serbs [and their rival Orthodox churches]....
(a driver): I am just arriving in Marseilles, driving from Spain to Italy, where I live and work. I was born in Krusevac.
Driving all over Europe, has it ever occurred to you that you might one day go back to your hometown of Krusevac, in some sort of Balkan federation?
As far as a Balkan federation is concerned, it would have to include a free flow of people, goods, and capital. It cannot be a federation like the former Yugoslavia, since that was a total failure.
The free flow of people, goods, and capital -- which exists in the EU -- presupposes mutual respect. For the sake of our future, I hope we will have it one day. When I drive through the Schengen zone, there are no borders, except for England.
And in the Balkans, or former Yugoslavia, where do you have to show your passport?
Entering and leaving Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia.... Well, I would have to stop and show my passport seven times at border crossings. That speaks volumes about where we are in relation to Europe....
What do you think about the commonwealth of Serbia and Montenegro?
I am very sorry about what is going on between Serbia and Montenegro. [Matters have become all the worse because Serbian politicians and UN Security Council Resolution 1244 state that Kosovo is part of Yugoslavia.]
The new state is an artificial state. If the Montenegrins want to secede in order to be better off, I wish them good luck. I just hope they will not introduce visas [for Serbs], like the Croats did.
Maybe it is time for a state called Serbia to be set up. Then we could see if a new kind of union is possible, based on economic ties and mutual advantage, in order to promote progress for everyone concerned.