Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Comment: The Great Leap Forward

Serbs are taking the tribulations of their lives in their stride and are learning to love their president ever more dearly.
By Petar Lukovic
When the American angst series "My So-Called Life" was broadcast on Serbian TV a few years ago, little did we know that it was a harbinger of things to come. For today, thanks to the new vocabulary employed by the regime propagandists, nothing beyond the love Serbs have for their leader is certain anymore.



The media no longer talk of the international community but rather the so-called international community which organised a so-called conference in Sarajevo to which were invited representatives of the so-called opposition.



This last group comprises the "company of eternal political losers, moral perverts, senile, biologically and morally spent, corrupt people" who have set their minds on toppling the man who has decisively won every election over the past ten years, the person who, according to Zivorad Djordjevic, editor-in-chief of the daily Borba, "is held in esteem both by those who like him and [even] by those who disagree with him".



Here in Belgrade we read about and hear of the so-called United Nations. Tony Blair is the so-called British Prime Minister. Bill Clinton has been so-called US President for more than 12 months - and of course, Croatia has been the so-called Republic of Croatia for years.



Our propagandists show no mercy: Like Tony Blair, the Romanian Prime Minister has been the so-called Romanian Prime Minister for a while. But several days ago, the moment Russia's new Prime Minister was reported as saying that he did not find Milosevic likeable, he joined the so-called club and became the so-called Sergei Stepashin. Meantime, we Serbs have always disliked and distrusted the so-called Vaclav Havel and his so-called Czech Republic.



Nothing is certain any longer with the exception of our dear President Slobodan Milosevic. Once again, according to Borba's Djordjevic, he is "the only person whose "name is today uttered in the world not for debauchery but as a symbol of the heroic defence of his people".



In this so-called Serbian world vision, day in, day out, individuals, associations of citizens, the most perverse bodies imaginable, present their proposals for the future on radio, television and in the press.



These proposals come up through the cracks in their hundreds and cover all aspects of life. To shut all McDonald's restaurants and rename the hamburger chain "24 March", the day when the aggressors (so called?) attacked this small, sweet, tolerant, democratic, charming, free, developed, undeveloped, poor, yet wealthy country. To create a new United Nations organisations without any NATO member states, without Croats, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Romanians, Slovenes, and other so-called nations which abused Serbian kindness and turned against us in our hour of need.



There are proposals to build a monument dedicated to the Greek nation and to destroy the monument to the French nation. To rename Zagreb Street as Baghdad Street. All music from NATO countries should be banned, or at least until Clinton, Blair and Solana find themselves in prison in the International Criminal Tribunal for war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.



A boycott of Western goods is already underway: "Let's Buy Ours," is the title of this marketing campaign which assumes that we won't be able to do without our famous Serbian computers and even more famous Serbian cars.



While one particular newspaper proposed that we put the New World Order on trial, others have suggested that the Yugoslav Army return to Kosovo to expel all foreigners. A new Alliance of Serb Lands should be formed including Slavonija, Krajina, Kosovo, Republika Srpska, lower parts of Austria and higher parts of Cyprus...



Diplomatic ties should be severed with the entire world. A great wall akin to that in China should be built around Serbia. Ungrateful Montenegro meanwhile should be cast asunder.



Meantime, this so-called state of ours keeps on going. Our generals are like Christ. They walk on water and are seen on television visiting workers throughout Serbia explaining that the Yugoslav Army stands by the President and will stop any attempt to seize power by violent means. Belgrade is not Bucharest.



The busiest general, the one who clearly loves our President the most, is Nebojsa Pavkovic. One year ago, he was an anonymous colonel. Today he is a major general and the proud owner of a new 150-square-metre flat in the centre of Belgrade, which has just been redecorated for the trifling sum of 500,000 German Marks. And since the flat has a nice Serbian hearth, the general will no doubt defend it to the last drop of the last Serb reservist's blood.



Does this mean that the army and the people will clash? That civil war is inevitable? That yet once again in this so-called life we shall resort to violence settle scores? The answer, unfortunately, appears to be so. There is no other way. This regime will not exit the political scene of its own free will. It will not resign. It will not retreat to the castles, villas and factories it appropriated.



Is it possible to imagine Slobodan Milosevic as a pensioner? Or Mirjana Markovic walking in the city without ten bodyguards? Is it possible to envisage a democratic hand-over of power, in which no blood is shed? It isn't. Hence our so-called future.



It's summer. We don't need heating. But what about the autumn, when the weather suddenly changes in favour of our perennial, centuries-old enemies. When it starts to rain, when the cold wind stings, and when icy drops herald a severe winter in which neither the Russian fur hat nor the Chinese silk scarf will be of avail.



Why, then it will be time to rely on our traditional contempt for the seasons, for the so-called autumn and the so-called winter.



Perhaps, there will be no heating. Maybe we shall shiver in our flats. But, of course, in reality, deep in our shivering bones, we all know that this is just all part of the so-called heavenly test our Lord has prepared to discover the extent of our love for The President.



Petar Lukovic is from Belgrade.

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