by Djordje VUKADINOVIC
However, let us put aside the question what caused this unique turnaround in the degree of moderation between the authorities and tabloids. Let us assume that the concern is sincere and let us consider what it indicates. Above all, it seems that the project of "denazification" of Serbia hasn't been at all as unsuccessful as is believed in certain circles. True, the professional denazificators are least to be credited for that, but in post-Milosevic Serbia nationalism, national values and national feelings are not in favor. And extremism and chauvinism are present in traces barely sufficient to fill up projects and reports of seekers of these unfortunate phenomena. (High rating of the Serb Radical Party, usually used as evidence of "Serb Nazism which is about to come to power", can be explained by a combination of complex political, sociological and economic circumstances, among whom nationalism and national frustration are only one of the factors.)
Of course, one should not underestimate the potential for conflict or sudden radicalization in the country with so many problems and traumas from the recent, not completely gone, past. But, in principle, at least until recently, until Ahtisaari, Roan, Doris Pack and similar "mediators" and agitators from abroad did not almost start trying to outdo each other in their aggressive statements regarding Serbia and Serbs, nationalism, ethnic distance and inter-ethnic conflict were relatively insignificant in this country. In any case, far less significant than anywhere else in the former Yugoslavia. Besides, can anyone imagine the situation in which Dnevni Avaz, or any other tabloid from Sarajevo, Zagreb or Podgorica criticizes its government for "excessively inflexible" defense of national interests and suggests "more flexible attitude" towards Serbs and the international community? Or, could have anyone imagined, for example, that the arrest of Ratko Mladic or Nebojsa Pavkovic would have not provoked even a fraction of protests witnessed in Croatia after the arrest of Ante Gotovina?
Perhaps that is good. Perhaps that is our advantage in comparison with our neighbors overcome by ethno-nationalism. But, unfortunately, it does not seem anyone appreciates that; it does not seem that anyone is willing to take into account our national interests, or, for example, to support our faster accession to the EU. On the contrary, precisely Serbs and Serbia, on rare occasions in which they attempt to seem like a normal nation and behave like an (almost) serious country which has some legitimate national interests in Kosovo, Bosnia or Montenegro are told that they are "guilty as a nation", that they are "burdened by the past", that they are "uncooperative", that they "threaten war"... Most interestingly, such criticism does influence local media and the political elite.
It is likely that self-interest plays a role in all of that. However, I do not believe that self-interest can be a plausible explanation for a relatively large number of journalists, editors and politicians, and even some ordinary citizens, inclined to a priori agree with every for Serbs unfavorable interpretation of every single issue in almost every situation. I think that the origin lies in some sort of a conditional reflex, a historical lesson learned with a lot of trouble and repetition which states that irrespectively or the truth, right and arguments in our favor, it does not make sense to antagonize those stronger than ourselves. In other words a good part of the public in Serbia has first in the early nineties been so thoroughly bombed by superficial nationalist propaganda, and later picked up so much fear from sanctions, poverty and bombs that by now it is neither capable nor inclined to consider legitimate or illegitimate national interests. As a Serbian saying goes - those bitten by snakes are afraid of lizards as well. Given the psychological need to blame someone for obvious injustice and humiliation we have suffered and will most likely suffer in the future, the safest and least painful option is to blame our own government and our own negotiating team. One thing is certain: Kostunica, Tadic, Samardzic, Koen and Fleiner will not bomb us!