Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Let Me Elaborate

Looking through a few of my previous posts, a comment by BgAnon (to whom I apologize for regularly failing to answer his comments and questions) compelled me to elaborate on some of my views.

I may come across as a grumpy young man, but I am an optimist, a cautious and critical one, but an optimist nevertheless. I think that if you want good things to happen you have to believe in them.

And I am, on a personal level, very content and happy. I’m in a loving relationship, I have friends and family, I have a good, relatively well paid job. But on a more general level, I do think that Serbia is becoming a darker and more sinister place. I am certain this course is not irreversible, but I sincerely feel it as such under my skin.

The new constitution which is being imposed upon this country has certainly left us all in the dark. The few bits that have surfaced have sadly shed little positive light on the matter. The hastily constructed document, pushed forward for all the wrong reasons defines a nationalistic centralized state and will eventually bring us into conflict with either the world or ourselves, or both.

There has been progress in recent years. That cannot be denied. Economic development is in part the reason why people like me can be content on a personal level. But I think all of this is mostly cosmetic. Sure we can eat in fine restaurants and shop at Zara, but on a more substantial level we haven’t moved far from the 90s, which, in my view, having in mind the opportunities that we’ve had is equivalent to going backwards.

Serbia, with some exceptions, is a corrupt, conservative, right-wing state pushing its agenda through tasteless promotion of religion, Cyrillic letters and crowned emblems.


A rare opportunity to create a modern state has been missed.

8 comments:

John1975 said...

I was happy to read your view! Debate on a subject such as this can only bring good things to the people...especially if more and more people jump in on the discussion.

From what I understand, and my understanding is limited, words of this nature critical of the Serbian Government would have gotten one in trouble not too long ago. The simple fact that you are free to critize without fear of retaliation has to be a step forward. A small step mind you, given all that needs to be done, but a step nonetheless.

I like how you use the word "cosmetic" to describe progress, for I can understand this to a degree given the history of the Balkans.

I personally believe it's not a good thing for a government to promote religion...I like the Cyrillic letters though.

To be honest with you I've been too busy of late to get into the new constitution. It should be voted on by the people in my opinion though.

I hope I haven't come off as ignorant on this subject. And I mean no disrespect given that I'm not a Serb. I have a life long connection to Serbia now and I too long for a better future for all her people. I'm still in the learning and understanding stage though.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for quite a while now. I have many friends in Belgrade but as I reside abroad, I can see the dangers behind the new Constitution. The government through hastily devising it, is trying to manifest solidly its opposition against what is inevitable: Kosovo becoming independent. Unfortunately cirilica and boze pravde do not help in this direction...

Marko said...

John, as I said, some positive steps have been made, but considering the time and chances that we’ve had it is not NEARLY enough.

Don’t misunderstand me when it comes to national symbols. I have nothing against people who believe in god, but state and religion should be completely separate. A modern republic should not use symbols of an old non-existent monarchy. We should be proud of the fact that we can use two alphabets, especially as many Serbs (in Croatia for instance) use Latin. When I write (not type) in Serbian I actually use Cyrilic, and I like it, but I don’t like the fact that it’s the only script recognized by the new constitution

As for the constitution itself, I have many objections, on the procedure of how it has been passed, on the reasons for its adoption at this point in history, and from what I’ve managed to read so far, on its content and implications, not only concerning Kosovo, but also human rights, respect for international law, European integration, local self-government…

Maybe you should read Constitution-Schmonstitution on Belgrade Blog, and especially the interesting debate that follows it.

John1975 said...

I will find it and read it.

I agree with what you are saying!

Thanks!

Bg anon said...

Hej Marko I dont think you are so grumpy really.

After all as the saying goes scratch a cynic and find a romantic.

You are right that Serbia remains a corrupt, conservative place.

But my point is that Serbia must be compared to other places in the world. What you see as Serbian problems I only see them as partially Serbian. For example on the constitution do you know how many countries have the kind of document you (or others who are against it) would like to be used as a constitution? I mean with the 'country of all its citizens' and the kind of autonomy sought by certain politicians from Vojvodina.

That is not a Serbian thing, it is a world thing. Do you know how many countries have severe problems with seperation of powers and interference from religious groups? And so on...

Yeah, unfortunately these kind of excuses can be used by Kostunica types as well. And yes just because most countries have a bad system that is no reason to copy a bad system. However, if we are constantly talking about European standards and so on lets look at the legislation and policies of those European countries in detail, including their constitutions.

Yes the constitution is kind of being imposed upon us. Check out the way they are 'educating' the public on it. The education consists of 'go and vote'. Those who oppose the constitution dont use other countries as an example either. They rely more on the knee-jerk reaction of opposing anything that comes from Kostunica or Nikolic.

So nobody wants to educate us. The only way to decide on this and anything else is to not listen to our politicians, read the draft constitution and look to see what kind of system is sucessful around the world.

And the same follows for every issue. If I had a Euro for every time some half brain politician (from reform or conservative camp) claiming that 'this or that is done in Europe' when the opposite is true, I'd be a rich man.

Marko said...

Grumpy I could live with, but cynical!?
No, I completely agree that “Serbian” problems are not indigenous to Serbia. But too often, we compare ourselves to those who are better/worse than us and use it as an excuse. We cannot change other countries, we neither have the power nor the authority to do so. What we can change is ourselves, and I believe we should have used this great opportunity to do things properly.

I also agree that little is being done to educate us on the constitution by either the pro or the against block, although the anti-constitution block is, in my view, providing more concrete reasons. I’ve read very good arguments from some political parties, NGOs, women’s, LGBT and animal rights groups. They are off course marginal in society and therefore most of what I read was on the internet. On the other hand, the pro block is appealing to national emotion and insisting on the Kosovo issue, without even trying to explain how this will help, or why this constitution should be binding to anyone outside this country.

Now, I don’t like others making my decisions, so I read the constitution, yellow marker in hand, to see what exactly its good and bad points are. And I don’t like it. As I said in a previous comment apart from the procedural issues, I strongly object to the contents and the future implications of the document.

The constitution is of course not everything. You could have a good country with a bad constitution or vice versa. It’s just that, once upon a time (now the romantic part kicks in), I had hoped that we could do something good on our own, that we could jump a few steps ahead, instead of waiting for someone o drag us kicking and screaming one step at a time. We could have made a constitution which would excel and be a bright example instead of hiding it a pond of other lukewarm constitutions. This constitution should have reflected what we are aiming to achieve and not what we are now. My greatest worry is that it actually does represent what we want to be, and if so, than I really don’t want to be any part of it.

Bg anon said...

But you cant force other people to change - thats the point. The thing that makes me different from the other 'side' is the fact that they want to force me to accept their way of life. That is something I wont do to them.

I recognise the shortcomings in the constitution but essentially change comes from within. And if Serbia decides to make the kind of changes you want the constitution will not have much impact.

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