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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘former yugoslavia

[LINK] “Reporting Srebrenica: Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil”

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Transitions Online hosts an article by one Antonela Riha looking at how the Serbian mass media chose not to cover the massacres following the fall of Srebrenica, and why.

[B]y merely browsing the most influential dailies and weeklies, such as Politika, Vecernje Novosti, Politika Ekspres, Nasa Borba, NIN, Vreme, Duga, and Intervju, as well as news programs (Dnevnik) produced by TV Belgrade, it becomes clear that the majority of media in Serbia did not pose any questions or investigate the events in the war regions. For them, Srebrenica was merely another episode of the war in which victims were taken for granted and were no longer counted.

Serbian public broadcaster RTS took literally what Milosevic said about being interested only in achieving a “just peace” and having nothing to do with the Serbs across the Drina River. The most popular TV show of the most powerful media house, TV Belgrade Evening News at 7:30 (Dnevnik), did not include a single video from Srebrenica or any other war zone until 30 July.

On 11 July 11, TV Belgrade commenced its news program with a report on the visit of Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic to some harvesters. It was only on the following day that TV Belgrade viewers would learn that something was going on some 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Serbian border: in the 11th minute of the news they could hear Yasushi Akashi, special UN envoy to Bosnia and Herzegovina, saying the UN was not going to intervene in Srebrenica, and UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali saying UN peacekeepers were not going to retreat from Bosnia.

For days, several minute-long packages were broadcast in the middle of the news, with international officials announcing various peace solutions and a conference of the major outside powers leading the negotiations, with images of EU envoy Carl Bildt, Akashi, and another UN envoy, Thorvald Stoltenberg, sharing the settee with Milosevic. There were no sound bites from any of the players, with only statements being read to viewers.

Nor was there a single statement from or footage of a Bosnian Serb official, either soldier or civilian. The only frame showing Srebrenica that was broadcast during those 20 days was a video playing in the background of a TV comment by Tatjana Lenard on 23 July that featured the landscape of the town and UN vehicles, which could have been filmed at any time.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 24, 2015 at 9:50 pm

[LINK] “Serbia’s choice: EU membership or eastern promises?”

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Srdja Pavlović’s March Open Democracy essay looks at the continuing internal conflicts in Serbia over the country’s orientation.

In an interview for CNN in August 2014, the Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, reiterated that his country “supports and respects the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and Crimea as a part of Ukraine.” He added that at the same time, however, Serbia “did not” impose sanctions against Russia. The Serbian political elite, however, has quickly learned that the time of non-alignment and neutrality belongs to yester-years. Serbia has been reminded time and again by its Western partners of the need to make a choice, and of the fact that the New Cold War reality demands unwavering loyalty. It is also worth noting that Serbia became a member of the Partnership for Peace at the 2006 NATO Summit in Riga.

On the other hand, the government in Moscow is sending a clear message that it does not look benevolently upon Serbia’s EU aspirations. In an interview for the Serbian State Television, the Russian General Leonid Ivashov stated that Serbia in the EU and NATO would be “a catastrophe”. It is reasonable to assume that the pressure from Moscow would only increase over time.

Within the ruling party there seem to be dissonant voices on the issue of choosing between EU and Russia. The President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolić, disagrees with the prime minister about their country’s EU and NATO integration, and favours stronger ties with Russia. Nikolić’s attempt to maintain close relations with Moscow is informed by his understanding of history and the political usability of the memory of the recent confrontation with NATO, as well as the ideology of nationalism to which he wholeheartedly subscribes. He is supported in that by the entire right-wing political block that currently commands the loyalty of a sizable portion of the electorate. President Nikolić is also aided in its pro-Russian stance by the high ranking clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

Some analysts, however, interpret his dissent as a tactical maneuver that portrays Prime Minister Vučić as a reform-oriented centrist determined to see Serbia become a part of the EU, and as a politician who is facing stiff opposition. The prime minister, long known as a hot-bloodied nationalist, indeed appears eager to project the image of himself as Serbia’s last chance for salvation and a victim of historical circumstances. Vučić believing in his messianic role notwithstanding, the reality is that criticisms of his policies are few and far between. His standing as the most popular politician in Serbia was built on the perception of his determined fight against deeply rooted corruption even though the results of such struggle are yet to manifest themselves in earnest. Many in Serbia say that Aleksandar Vučić had promised a lot but delivered precious little.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • Centauri Dreams explores Pluto and its worlds.
  • Crooked Timber considers the question of how to organize vast quantities of data.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to two papers on exoplanet habitability, noting that the composition of exoplanets influences their habitability and suggests exomoons need to be relatively massive to be habitable.
  • Geocurrents notes the inequalities of Chile.
  • Joe. My. God. notes an article about New York City gay nightclub The Saint.
  • Language Hat links to a site on American English.
  • Language Log suggests that the Cantonese language is being squeezed out of education in Hong Kong.
  • Languages of the World notes a free online course on language revival.
  • Peter Watts of No Moods, Ads, or Cutesy Fucking Icons examines the flaws of a paper on a proto-Borg collective of rats.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at the Toronto connection to a notorious late 19th century American serial killer.
  • Towleroad notes a study suggesting that people with undetectable levels of HIV can’t transmit the virus.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the issues of compliance with lawful orders.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi likes the ASIS Chromebook flip.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the connection between the wars of Yugoslavia and eastern Ukraine, looks at Buryat-Cossack conflict, and notes disabled Russian veterans of the Ukrainian war.

[LINK] “Moscow is Losing Serbia Just as It has Already Lost Ukraine,’ Kirillova Says”

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Window on Eurasia summarizes the arguments of a Russian analyst that the friendly Russian-Serbian relationship might break down on account of the Russian state’s overly-close relationship with one grouping on the Serbian political spectrum.

Russia and Serbia have a long history of warm and close ties, reflecting their similar situations and especially the propensity of people in each to draw parallels between the Serbian-Croatian wars and the Russian-Ukrainian ones, Kseniya Kirillova says. But despite that, Moscow is on its way to “losing Serbia just as it has already lost Ukraine.”

The reason for that, the US-based Russian analyst says, is that Moscow is overplaying its hand, supporting Serbian nationalists against the Serbian government which has shown itself more than willing to cooperate with Russia but does not want to break all ties with the European Union and the West (ru.krymr.com/content/article/27123352.html).

[. . .] “It is important to understand,” the Russian analyst says, “that Russia lost Ukraine not after the victory of the Euro-Maidan but only when it began a war against it.” Prior to that, Ukraine did not view Russia as an enemy the way it does now.

Moscow’s “all or nothing” attitude led it to invade Ukraine and it is leading it to back Serbian nationalists against the Serbian government. “The Serbian radicals promise a complete break with the EU, unqualified recognition of the annexation of Crimea and ‘Novorossiya,’ the fullest integration with Russia.”

All these things may be what the Kremlin wants, but they go far beyond what many Serbs do – and that is generating a kind of backlash among them and especially among members of the current government. What such people can see is that its deference to Moscow has only encouraged Moscow to push harder.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 16, 2015 at 9:38 pm

[LINK] “How an America-loving country became a jihadi hub”

Michael Petrou of MacLean’s notes the relative success of the Islamic State in finding recruits in Kosovo.

An April report by the Kosovo Center for Security Studies (KCSS) reveals that as of January, some 232 Kosovars have joined Islamist militant groups in Syria and Iraq, a rate of 125 recruits for every one million people living in the country. This is well ahead of Bosnia, which comes in second with 85 recruits per million, and of Belgium, the third-ranked country, with 42 recruits per million.

[. . .]

According to Shpend Kursani, an external research fellow at KCSS and author of the report, most Kosovars still have a positive view of America and NATO. And yet, he says, the majority of Kosovars fighting in the Middle East have joined Islamic State, a militia whose goals include waging war on the West—raising disturbing questions about Islamic State’s ability to penetrate communities that, being broadly secular and pro-Western, would seem to have little reason to support it.

Islamic State’s recruiting success in Kosovo upsets Kosovars who are not sympathetic to the group, or to their fellow citizens who join it. “There’s a sense that people joining Islamic State are betraying in many ways the very nation,” says Florian Bieber, professor of southeast European studies at the University of Graz.

The per capita numbers don’t tell the whole story. Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate from which it split, are Muslim supremacist outfits. Non-Muslims could never join them. When the percentage of recruits is calculated based exclusively on a country’s Muslim population, Kosovo falls lower in rank. It sends about 130 volunteers per one million Muslims in its population—far below several Western European countries, including Finland, which sends some 1,667 recruits per million Muslims, and Belgium, which sends 690.

By this calculation, Kosovo is similar to Bosnia, another Balkan nation with a large Muslim population, which sends 211 recruits for every one million Muslims living there. But Muslim Kosovars are still much more likely to join jihadist groups than Muslims in Albania and Turkey, both Muslim-majority countries. Turkey, which borders Syria and Iraq and is a major transit point for foreign fighters joining Islamic State, sends only eight recruits per million Muslims, barely six per cent of Kosovo’s rate.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 17, 2015 at 10:36 pm

[LINK] “Controversial bishop — head of his church in Canada — sent packing”

The Toronto Star‘s Jacques Gallant looks in detail at how controversies over church politics and personal behaviour have led to Bishop Georgije Djokic being removed from his position as head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Canada.

The decision came after the gathering listened to accusations for three days, and one day for Djokic’s defence, said Rev. Ljubomir Rajic of All Saints Serbian Orthodox Church in Mississauga.

The allegations against Djokic, head of the church in Canada, have not been made public. Allusions have been made to “indecent behaviour” in Serbian media, which also reported that Djokic denied the allegations.

“The bishop is about 67 years old. He had promised to retire when he reached 65, so probably the best thing he could do is to accept this (decision) and bring peace to the Serbian community by retiring,” said Rajic.

“There’s nothing wrong with retiring at the age of 65. Myself, I can’t wait for that.”

Djokic is reportedly still in Belgrade until the weekend and could not be reached for comment. He retains his title of bishop, according to church officials.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 26, 2015 at 10:33 pm

[LINK] “From pro-American to pro-Russian? Nikola Gruevski as a political chameleon”

Open Democracy’s Vassilis Petsinis looks at how Macedonia’s embattled president has managed to slip from pro-Western to pro-Russian camps because of his very neoconservative slipperiness.

Following the unrest in Kumanovo and the massive anti-government protests, FYR Macedonia has captivated the interest of the international press. The most recent mobilization has been the peak of a wave of discontent that commenced with the countrywide student protests some weeks ago. In the domestic front, opposition circles have issued a series of charges against the government led by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE such as: promotion of nepotism, unwillingness to combat corruption, illegitimate surveillance of political opponents and, on top of all, growing authoritarianism.

Meanwhile, political analysts have detected a certain rift in the relations between Skopje and the West which has resulted in the Macedonian government’s more decisive reorientation towards Moscow. Russia has pledged its political support to Nikola Gruevski’s and the two sides have extended their cooperation in energy issues and other areas of economic concern. Without neglecting the crucial impact of shifting geopolitics, this brief piece mostly concentrates on VMRO-DPMNE’s, predominantly, neoconservative agenda under the leadership of Nikola Gruevski. It also sets in a comparative context how this neoconservative platform has remained intact despite the gradual readjustment of the state’s foreign policy from Euro-Atlantic institutions towards Moscow’s orbit of influence.

In 2003, Nikola Gruevski succeeded Ljubčo Georgievski in the party’s leadership. An ambitious young politician back then, Gruevski’s main ambition was to centralize decision-making within VMRO-DPMNE and modernize the party’s structures.

The latter objective was achieved via the recruitment of a younger pool of cadres. Following a widespread trend all over Southeast Europe (e.g. Albania’s Edi Rama and Serbia’s Vuk Jeremić), the party’s central committee and later the Cabinet of Ministers consisted of young, aspiring and, often, Western-educated individuals (e.g. the Foreign Minister between 2006 and 2011, Antonio Milošoski). Moreover, Gruevski maintained the central aspects of Georgievski’s strategy of rapprochement vis-à-vis the ethnic Albanian community.

Despite this, Gruevski’s term in office has been marked by the emphatic endorsement of Neo-Macedonism to the detriment of the modernist narratives over the Macedonian ethno-genesis in the nineteenth century. The adoption of Neo-Macedonism became further institutionalized through the endorsement of grandiose architectural projects, largely inspired by classical antiquity, which commenced in 2010.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 26, 2015 at 10:29 pm

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