The Book: The great idea of the EU…Serbia February 4, 2008…
“All great historical ideas started as a utopian dream and ended with reality. Whether a particular idea remains as a utopian dream or becomes a reality depends on the number of people who believe in the ideal and their ability to act upon it,” wrote Count Coudenhove-Kalergi in Pan-Europa.
The EU is rapidly becoming the most powerful bloc of countries in the world. This idea of European integration, both economic and social, has the potential to create a greater period of peace and stability than in any other time in history.
If the different European countries can agree on how it is done. And how those mix of nationalities and cultures can stay together.
It is the day of the second vote in Serbia.
Waiting for the voting to finish, S and I look at wildlife photographs at her office.
It is Sunday. Churches are being attended and the streets are uncrowded. The air is not charged. There is no way to feel that today is historic for Serbia, that the Serbs are choosing their path as a nation.
S talks about Balkan people.
“I was born in Belgrade,” she says. “But actually I am Montenegrin. My parents are Montenegrin. But they lived in Kosovo. I am Serb though.
“That’s the Balkans,” she grins.
Spoken of like that, Balkan nationalism seems somewhat thin, invented and then abused.
When the voting is over we go to the Radical Party office. Everyone is on their cell phone, looking downcast as the results come in. The journalists are moving around quickly. It seems that the Democrats have won. If so, it is time to file articles and images and drop down to Kosovo. If not, it is better to stay in Belgrade and see what the Radicals might do.
On our way to the Democrats office, the taxi driver tuns up the radio.
“Nikolic has accepted the vote,” S says.
The Democrats have won.
Boris Tadic, his knickname is Borisé That means fighter. But, according to S, most people call him “lazy” for not doing anything with the past four years in office. Now he is promising Serbia the EU. The Serbian people have given him another chance.
At Terazije Square the street is filled with Democrat supporters. They light sparklers and wave banners and flags.
Tadic walks out of the office and down the street. He is a big man, with short grey hair and a round nose. As he greets his supporters it is easy to imagine him as one of the Serbian Kings from seven hundred years ago, expanding Serbian territory with crushing sword blows.
Surrounded by guards he grasps hands and gives hugs as the crowd of supporters pour over him. After a few blocks he steps alone into the back of a waiting sedan and is driven off.
J meets me at Hotel Balkan.
“The election?” I ask.
“There has been no change,” J says. “We are in the same place as before. But we are going straight. We’ll see what happens.”
It is the most positive thing I will ever hear him say about Serbia.
It appears that Serbia is going to the EU, that this election has ushered in a new era of stability for the Balkans.
This is not true however.
This is Serbia.