Your response in the last issue of Vreme only confirms my assertion regarding "bad verbal gymnastics". No facts, only smoke and mirrors.
First, you imply all sorts of my bad intentions regarding Vojvodina, without even attempting to offer a single concrete example of these. Naturally, you have the right to your opinion, but in public appearances, and especially in public debates, a bit more is expected - arguments that would back up your assertions. Do not forget that I advocate regionalization of Serbia.
Then, you dedicated the rest of the reply to the discussion of taxes collected in Vojvodina in 1925. Fine, but let me point out that out of numerous topics touched upon in the debate you focused on only one and thereby avoided all the others. I trust that your choice implies that you believe that this particular topic gives you the best chance of proving me wrong, while in others your side is on a shaky ground.
Therefore, let's clarify the issue of taxes from 1925. Although it seems silly to seek the base for the future autonomy of Vojvodina in taxation policies from 80 years ago, the topic has some importance given that radical supporters of autonomy, such as yourself, Mita, are trying to prove their claims about looting of Vojvodina through taxation by referring to the alleged data about collection of taxes in 1925. Thus, the League of Vojvodina Socialdemocrats (LSV) claims that in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (SHS) the authorities collected 353 million dinars in taxes, 131 million of that in Vojvodina, i.e. one third. The problem with this assertion is that it is totally wrong. In the whole Kingdom SHS the authorities collected 4932 million dinars in taxes, i.e. 14 times more than asserted by the LSV, so that not only is the figure regarding taxes collected in Vojvodina wrong, but also irrelevant. Sapienti sat.
To this, Mita, you respond with two claims. First, that Vojvodina did pay one third, but not of all taxes. Instead, Vojvodina paid one third of "direct taxes". Again, you do not offer actual figures, for example of all direct taxes collected in Kingdom SHS and Vojvodina, respectively, nor do you provide a source from which your figures allegedly come, so that I cannot trust you, putting it mildly. Your assertions are not enough. If you are referring to the figures quoted by the LSV, then you're again facing troubles, since the total direct taxes collected in Kingdom SHS in 1925 were 1377 million dinars, which again does not correspond to the LSV "data". I wish you stopped your hand waving and finally decided which data "proves" that infamous robbery through taxation and let us know in Vreme.
Secondly, according to you the strongest argument in favor of your thesis regarding robbery through taxation is that in 1925 25 different taxes were collected in Vojvodina, while in Serbia proper only 5 were collected. That is probably supposed to prove that the royal authorities looted poor Vojvodina while trying to spare the rest of Serbia. Poor Mita, you've made another mistake, I trust due to your ignorance. Kingdom SHS obtained its first unified taxation system only in 1928. Before 1928 pre-WWI taxation laws applied in different parts of the Kingdom. Therefore, Vojvodina paid all those numerous taxes based on old Hungarian laws, and you can complain to Hungarians if you think they were too numerous!
And even if the authorities in Kingdom SHS did try to spare the rest of Serbia in the first years after WWI, they could justify that by enormous losses during WWI, both in human and material terms.
Finally, you want to know if I question the LSV data or the assertions about the alleged robbery of Vojvodina through taxation. The latter, dear Mita. And it's not true that I "reject logic", as you dismissively claim. On the contrary, I find glaring mistakes in often less than serious articles written by radical supporters of the autonomy.
That superiority is definitely confirmed by Ilic's statement that before WWI the Parliament of Serbia "reminded one of a chicken coop"! If Mr. Ilic has a problem with me, he is free to keep insulting me, but he should refrain from mocking in his civilized manner the efforts of numerous honorable individuals in turning a former Ottoman province into a European state.
It seems Mr. Ilic did not understand what I was talking about. The topic is the following: is there any valid basis for the sovereignty of Vojvodina and, consequently, its right to decide whether it wants to remain in the same state as the rest of Serbia and, if it decides not to secede, then to decide what sort of community that would be. Radical supporters of the autonomy believe that a valid basis does exist and that the solution is a federation or confederation between Vojvodina and the rest of Serbia. I, on the other hand attempted to look more closely into their arguments and found them wanting.
My distinguished opponent keeps accusing me of "centralism". First of all, my rejection of policies advocated by the radical supporters of autonomy does not automatically imply support for "centralism". Secondly, it is not true. Between policies advocated by the radical supporters of autonomy and total centralization of Serbia there is a whole spectrum of solutions. Consequently, it is not true that the only choice is between Canak's and Milosevic's extremism. It is not true because I oppose centralization of Serbia, as can clearly be seen in the book Serbia as a State of Regions (www.cdls.org.yu), where I am one of the coauthors.
Mr. Ilic dedicated most of his article to history. The lesson Mr. Ilic draws from history is that Vojvodina Serbs fought fiercely through centuries for autonomy and that equal status within federal Austria-Hungary was their ultimate goal. Wrong. At the time, Serbs from Vojvodina, naturally yearned for as wide autonomy as possible, but not because autonomy within excellent Austria-Hungary was their ultimate goal. The autonomy was supposed to save them from assimilation into Hungary and to lay the ground for their main goal - unification with Serbia. Therefore, the goal of Vojvodina Serbs was not sovereign Vojvodina in Central Europe, and without Serbia. On the contrary, the struggle for autonomy within Austria-Hungary was a step on the path towards unification with Serbia. (Is it necessary to prove these generally known facts?)
Mr. Ilic's assertions that residents of Vojvodina always opposed "ethnocentrism" is highly amusing. It seems that the current reinterpretation of history goes so far that brotherhood and unity is sought and found even in the nineteenth century, when it definitively did not exist. Ethnic groups were main players at the time, and they sought to fulfill their national interests, the way they understood them. While Serbs fought for autonomy, Vojvodina Hungarians, also naturally, rejected any type of autonomy for the southern part of Hungary, and Germans demanded Austrian rule and the status of the Crown Land for Banat. Multiculturalism a la Kimlika was rather week, and not only then but also in WWI and WWII, but the brotherhood and unity, as we learned under Communism, won around 1950 under the leadership of the great leader of all our nations and ethnic minorities - Marshal Josip Broz - and since then, I've been told, there have been no interethnic quarrels. True, in order to obtain a good foundation for that purported interethnic harmony, all remaining Germans had to be expelled, and the Hungarian minority nearly shared their fate as well.
Mr. Ilic's conviction that the ultimate proof of the theory about the suffering of Vojvodina in the period between WWI and WWII is the Novi Sad declaration from 1932 is even more amusing. Mr. Ilic consequently quotes a whole column from the said declaration and finally, obviously pretty pleased with himself, asks "is that enough?". Unfortunately, it is not enough. A serious analyst never bases his conclusions on one declaration in which opposition politicians criticize government. We need more facts and arguments since - can there be any dilemma about that? - politicians' goal is not to find the truth but to triumph in political struggle. Also, some evil tongues claim that the said declaration was signed by insignificant politicians led by a lawyer from Pancevo.
If political declarations were that important then future studies of the history of our period would be based on declarations of the Vojvodina Movement, an ephemeral and currently defunct political organization, one of whose officials is Mr. Ilic. But that will not happen.
Mr. Ilic did not address my numerous arguments against assertions, so dear to radical supporters of autonomy, that Vojvodina has been exploited for many decades. Instead he instructed me to study articles written by "lawyer and journalist" Dimitrije Boarov. Thereby he de facto admitted that he has no idea what he's talking about but, gosh!, although he knows nothing about economy Mr. Ilic knows that Mr. Boarov is right.
Mr. Ilic's article is, given his silly arguments and numerous insults, an ordinary political pamphlet. I hope that I will get an opportunity to debate more serious opponents in the future.