Latest Articles


03.07.2015
Wojciech Przybylski, Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz

Where is the power?

A conversation with Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz

In Europe all political thought is imperialist, says Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz. This means that politics as we know it today incorporates the experience of imperial politics from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, when the foundations of what we call "the political" were forged. [ more ]

02.07.2015
Eurozine News Item

New Eurozine partner: Revue Projet

01.07.2015
Eurozine Review

In search of eutopia

01.07.2015
Oksana Forostyna

Howl

30.06.2015
Antonio Negri, Raúl Sánchez Cedillo

Democracy today is wild and constituent

New Issues


01.07.2015

Res Publica Nowa | 30 (2015)

Uwolnić Moc. Powrót imperiów [Release the Force. Empires Return]
29.06.2015

A2 | 12/2015

Africká literatura [African literature]

Eurozine Review


01.07.2015
Eurozine Review

In search of eutopia

"Index on Censorship" discerns shades of McCarthyism in global threat to academic freedom; "New Eastern Europe" speaks to Ukrainian historian Andriy Portnov about Europe's reinvention; "Krytyka" assesses the chances of success in negotiations between Kyiv and the Donbass; "Letras Libres" speaks to Tzvetan Todorov; in "Multitudes", Antonio Negri and Raúl Sánchez Cedillo respond to the rise of Podemos; "A2" dips into Kenyan, Franco-Senegalese and Afropean literature; "NLO" considers untameable words and animals; in "Syn og Segn", Shabana Rehman Gaarder rejects the notion that animals are created for humans; and "Vikerkaar" watches "The Wire".

17.06.2015
Eurozine Review

If Greece falls

03.06.2015
Eurozine Review

In lieu of political Islam

20.05.2015
Eurozine Review

Perfect for television

06.05.2015
Eurozine Review

Of punks and dumpster divers



http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2011-05-02-newsitem-en.html
http://mitpress.mit.edu/0262025248
http://www.eurozine.com/about/who-we-are/contact.html
http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2009-12-02-newsitem-en.html

My Eurozine


If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe to Eurozine's rss-newsfeed or our Newsletter.

Articles
Share |

The taste of grass

Is the return of Serbian nationalism to be dismissed as domestic political point-scoring in an election year, or does it pose a deeper threat to the region? And will Russia step in as the rift with the EU over Kosovo deepens? Slavenka Drakulic considers the possibilities.

A long time ago, in a far away land, a Great Leader told his people, who were as poor as church mice: "We will eat grass rather than give in!" The land was called Albania and it was the early Sixties. Enver Hoxha had broken off the alliance with the USSR and Nikita Khrushchev had stopped sending aid, including grain. Albania then turned towards... China. Ever since, "eating grass" has been a proverbial expression for a stubborn kind of pride, and also for the willingness of an authoritarian regime to sacrifice people's wellbeing in the name of "principles" – be it isolationism, Marxism or nationalism.

It looks as if Serbia might be on its way to tasting grass right now. During a recent visit to the medieval Orthodox monastery Decani, which is situated in the Republic of Kosovo, the Serbian President Boris Tadic said that Serbia would never recognized Kosovo as an independent state. A few months previously, however, his attitude had been more conciliatory: Serbia does not recognize Kosovo, but is open for negotiations. Now, no negotiations were mentioned and Tadic's "never" sounded like a pretty dramatic swing towards nationalism. For a long time, the EU had pinned its hopes on this educated, westernized politician, a sort rare in the Balkans. Now it looks like those hopes have been disappointed. The question is: why?

When nationalism becomes "in", one can be sure that elections are approaching, be it in Serbia, Belgium, Hungary or Croatia. Before Croatia's December 2011 parliamentary elections, the Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ), the country's leading party, showed signs of reverting to Tudjmanism – an authoritarian, aggressive brand of nationalism that in the last decade has became pretty much passé. Instead of adopting the values of tolerance promoted by the EU, HDZ leader Jadranka Kosor adopted a populist, nationalist rhetoric in the belief that it would win over voters clinging to the old days.

With Croatia on the threshold of becoming a member of the EU (the referendum on 22 January showed 66 per cent support), the nationalist agenda can be interpreted as the last resort of losers. But the nationalist rhetoric in Serbia should be taken more seriously. With parliamentary and presidential elections approaching this year, Tadic's swing towards nationalism is a telling sign. Many Serbs do not accept Kosovo's declaration of independence and consider it part of their state. According to the opinion pools, the ultra-nationalist Serbian Progressive Party headed by Tomo Nikolic is becoming more popular than Tadic's Democratic Party. Tadic has to adapt his vocabulary to this situation. Despite Angela Merkel's recent visit to Serbia and her urging of Tadic to compromise, the general mood of his country has forced him to back-peddle. Further talks between Brussels and Belgrade have now been postponed until the spring at the earliest.

It therefore looks as if nothing will change for the better in Serbia in the immediate future. If anything, nationalism could escalate. Moreover, the Kosovo question means that Serbia is drifting away from the EU. But Brussels cannot and will not cease to demand that Serbia recognize Kosovo's independence. There are therefore two sides in this Balkan game, neither of which can make a move. Further aggravating the situation is the Union's general unwillingness to consider new members, a result of the general crisis and growing nationalism within the EU.

Will this mean that Serbia remains isolated in Europe, like Albania once was? Will Serbs be forced to "eat grass"? Not quite. It would be different were Serbia dependent solely on the EU for "grain" and other goodies. But as communist Albania once connected herself with distant China, so Serbia is already well plugged-in with not-so-distant Russia. If the EU were to place too harsh demands on Belgrade – well, there are always the "fellow Slavs" who can ease Serbia's suffering and add potatoes and even a little meat to their diet of grass. And Serbian grass, spiced up by Russia, would certainly taste better than the Albanian variety. There is a long tradition of sympathy and solidarity between the two peoples. During Soviet times, Serbs used to say, "Together with the Russians we make up 300 million". But while there is no doubt that today's Russia is a big power, it is also an ambitious one. Russia would not help Serbia out of charity. It wants to keep a foot in the door of central Europe. Seen from the West, the strong economic and political presence of Russia in a potential EU member country is not a pleasant scenario.

Slovenia is a member of the EU, Croatia is just about to enter it, Montenegro will soon start negotiating. Even Macedonia, suffering from the Greek ban of its name, has a better chance of a future membership than Serbia – as long as Belgrade is not prepared to solve the Kosovo problem. And what about Bosnia-Herzegovina? While it might be an independent state, it is not really a fully functioning one. A part of it, the so-called Republika Srpska, is all but formally independent. In reality, Bosnia is divided, functioning along nationalist divisions, supported – and ultimately ruled – by "the international community", through its High Representative.

Even so many years after the end of the several wars there, the territory of the former Yugoslavia remains a potentially destabilizing region of Europe. On the other hand, nationalist rhetoric primarily serves domestic policy purposes. In Serbia, George Orwell's "doublespeak" is alive and well. It flourished under both Tito and Milosevic – and it still does. "Never" doesn't really have to be never.


 



Published 2012-02-01


Original in English
First published in Süddeutsche Zeitung 24.01.2012 (German version); Eurozine (English version)

© Slavenka Drakulic
© Eurozine
 

Focal points     click for more

The politics of privacy

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/privacy.html
The Snowden leaks and the ensuing NSA scandal made the whole world debate privacy and data protection. Now the discussion has entered a new phase - and it's all about policy. A focal point on the politics of privacy: claiming a European value. [more]

Beyond Fortress Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/lawborder.html
The fate of migrants attempting to enter Fortress Europe has triggered a new European debate on laws, borders and human rights. A focal point featuring reportage alongside articles on policy and memory. With contributions by Fabrizio Gatti, Seyla Benhabib and Alessandro Leogrande. [more]

Russia in global dialogue

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
In the two decades after the end of the Cold War, intellectual interaction between Russia and Europe has intensified. It has not, however, prompted a common conversation. The focal point "Russia in global dialogue" seeks to fuel debate on democracy, society and the legacy of empire. [more]

Ukraine in focus

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/publicsphere.html
Ten years after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine is in the throes of yet another major struggle. Eurozine provides commentary on events as they unfold and further articles from the archive providing background to the situation in today's Ukraine. [more]

Eurozine BLOG

On the Eurozine BLOG, editors and Eurozine contributors comment on current affairs and events. What's behind the headlines in the world of European intellectual journals?
Eurozine
Eurozine Gallery: TIME top ten photos of 2014

http://www.eurozine.com/blog/
Massimo Sestini's aerial shot of a boat containing at least 500 people attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, included in the current exhibition in the Eurozine Gallery, has been named one of the top ten photos of 2014 by TIME magazine. [more]

CHeFred
A master of the daily grind

http://www.eurozine.com/blog/
On Sunday 30 November, Turkish publisher Osman Deniztekin died, just a few weeks after having been diagnosed with leukemia. He was 65. In memoriam. [more]

Time to Talk     click for more

Time to Talk, a network of European Houses of Debate, has partnered up with Eurozine to launch an online platform. Here you can watch video highlights from all TTT events, anytime, anywhere.
Dessislava Gavrilova, Jo Glanville et al.
The role of literature houses in protecting the space for free expression

http://www.eurozine.com/timetotalk/european-literature-houses-meeting-2014/
This summer, Time to Talk partner Free Word, London hosted a debate on the role that literature houses play in preserving freedom of expression both in Europe and globally. Should everyone get a place on the podium? Also those representing the political extremes? [more]

Support Eurozine     click for more

If you appreciate Eurozine's work and would like to support our contribution to the establishment of a European public sphere, see information about making a donation.

Vacancies at Eurozine     click for more

There are currently no positions available.

Editor's choice     click for more

Felix Stalder
Digital solidarity

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-02-26-stalder-en.html
As the culture and institutions of the Gutenberg Galaxy wane, Felix Stalder looks to commons, assemblies, swarms and weak networks as a basis for remaking society in a more inclusive and diverse way. The aim being to expand autonomy and solidarity at the same time. [more]

Literature     click for more

Olga Tokarczuk
A finger pointing at the moon

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-01-16-tokarczuk-en.html
Our language is our literary destiny, writes Olga Tokarczuk. And "minority" languages provide a special kind of sanctuary too, inaccessible to the rest of the world. But, there again, language is at its most powerful when it reaches beyond itself and starts to create an alternative world. [more]

Piotr Kiezun, Jaroslaw Kuisz
Literary perspectives special: Witold Gombrowicz

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2013-08-16-kuisz-en.html
The recent publication of the private diary of Witold Gombrowicz provides unparalleled insight into the life of one of Poland's great twentieth-century novelists and dramatists. But this is not literature. Instead: here he is, completely naked. [more]

Literary perspectives
The re-transnationalization of literary criticism

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/literaryperspectives.html
Eurozine's series of essays aims to provide an overview of diverse literary landscapes in Europe. Covered so far: Croatia, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. [more]

Debate series     click for more

Europe talks to Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/europetalkstoeurope.html
Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street. [more]

Conferences     click for more

Eurozine emerged from an informal network dating back to 1983. Since then, European cultural magazines have met annually in European cities to exchange ideas and experiences. Around 100 journals from almost every European country are now regularly involved in these meetings.
Law and Border. House Search in Fortress Europe
The 26th European Meeting of Cultural Journals
Conversano, 3-6 October 2014

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/conversano2014.html
Eurozine's 2014 conference in southern Italy, not far from Lampedusa, addressed both EU refugee and immigration policies and intellectual partnerships across the Mediterranean. Speakers included Italian investigative journalist Fabrizio Gatti and Moroccan feminist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Rita El Khayat. [more]

Multimedia     click for more

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/multimedia.html
Multimedia section including videos of past Eurozine conferences in Vilnius (2009) and Sibiu (2007). [more]


powered by publick.net