Former communist countries, whether in the EU or on its threshold, should remind themselves more often of what life was like for them only twenty years ago. For Croatia, peace and security should be more important than expected economic gains from EU membership, writes Slavenka Drakulic.
is a Croatian journalist, novelist, and essayist whose works on feminism, communism, and post-communism have been translated into many languages. She is a founder of Eurozine.
Her most recent book of essays Café Europa: Life After Communism was published by Penguin Random House US in January 2021. Her novels include Mileva Einstein, teorija tuge (Mileva Einstein, the theory of sadness) (Faktura 2016), Dora und der Minotaurus (Dora and the Minotaur) (Aufbau 2016), and As If I Am Not There (Abacus 2013). She lives in Zagreb and Stockholm.
Drakulić’s work has appeared in The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Internazionale, The Nation, La Stampa, Dagens Nyheter, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Eurozine, Politiken and The Guardian.
Thousands of Europeans die annually waiting for a new kidney, heart or liver. At the same time, the black-market trade in organs is thriving, as a recent scandal in Germany has shown. So should organ trading be legalized? Slavenka Drakulic, herself a two-time kidney transplant patient, argues the pros and cons.
Italy: old Europe, new Europe, changing Europe
Venice versus Lampedusa: travelling around Italy, Slavenka Drakulic observes one kind of Europe being replaced by another. Instead of attempting to conserve the cultural past, we should accept that migration will adapt much of what we consider “European” to its own image.
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.
What remains after a war criminal has been sent to The Hague
When Ratko Mladic faces the International Tribunal in the Hague, he is likely to use the defence of superior orders. But when he asks who it was who voted for Milosevic he has a point, comments Slavenka Drakulic. Will trading off Mladic for the EU allow Serbs to avoid the question of collective responsibility?
Laissez faire reconciliation in the Balkans will never work, writes Slavenka Drakulic. Symbolic gestures by politicians are well and good, but a substantial change in social attitudes can only be achieved through the institutional promotion of tolerance and collaboration.
Europe as outdoor museum? Threatened with extinction by all-consuming privatization and the pursuit of endless profit, self-musealization might be Europe’s only hope. Slavenka Drakulic has a scary vision of the future of the European way of life.
Attempts to prevent the shooting of a film about mass rape in Bosnia equalled an attempt at censorship, argues Slavenka Drakulic: this kind of response perpetuates misunderstandings about war crimes and overlooks the real problems facing Bosnian victims of mass rape today.
Bosnian Serb war criminal Biljana Plavsic is to be released from a Swedish prison later this month after serving two thirds of an 11-year sentence. Slavenka Drakulic notes that Plavsic’s “confession” in The Hague was nothing but a staged farce.
A museum to Tito at his one-time summer residence glorifying the Yugoslav dictator is in stark contrast to a damning new biography, finds Slavenka Drakulic. Yet between the two extremes is an absence of objective history-writing in the former Yugoslavia.
Discussing the topic of accountability for the war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia is important for Serbian society, writes Slavenka Drakulic. Summing up a debate around her article “Why I have not returned to Belgrade” in the Serbian newspaper Politika, she notes: “Many citizens of both Serbia and Croatia seem to believe that if they all just shut up for long enough, the problem will disappear. But it won’t.”
In memoriam: Feral Tribune (1993-2008)
A former contributor to the Croatian weekly Feral Tribune writes that the paper was left to die by those who should have taken better care of it: its readers and all who cared for its lone, free, critical voice.
Is it to spare her emotions that Slavenka Drakulic has not returned to Belgrade since the wars? She does not think so. Instead, her reasons have to do with the silence and denial of so much of Serbian society, and with a Serbian youth that is failing to ask the right questions.
How we mistook normality for paradise
The death of toilet paper may not have been the sole reason for the collapse of communism, but it’s an apt metaphor for a regime unable to fulfil its subjects’ basic needs. Although Slavenka Drakulic’s bathroom is better stocked these days, she’s still prone to doubt: was the normality she and her fellow eastern Europeans longed for just another false paradise?
Nicht viele Frauen waren am Krieg beteiligt, schon gar nicht auf höchster Entscheidungsebene. Biljana Plavsic stand neben den Angeklagten Radovan Karadzic und Momcilo Krajisnik an der Spitze der Republika Srpska. Sie wurde wegen Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit, Verstößen gegen die Kriegsgesetze und die Genfer Konventionen zu elf Jahren Freiheitsentzug verurteilt. Immerhin gehört sie zu den wenigen, die sich zu ihrer Verantwortung für Kriegsverbrechen bekannten.
Portrait of a war criminal
Radislav Krstic, General of the Republika Srpska army and Deputy Commander of Drina Corps, was the first war criminal sentenced for genocide by the ICTY. He was sentenced to 46 years of prison for ordering the deaths of over seven thousand Muslim men were executed, in the UN safe area of Srebrenica, between 13 and 19 July 1995, while 30,000 people were forcibly deported. Slavenka Drakulic witnessed the trial and traces Krstic’s biography.