March 15, 2006

The Afterlife of Slobodan Milosevic

The Afterlife of Slobodan Milosevic

The BBC’s coverage [charmingman/Flickr]

In the wake of the news that the former president of Serbia — and of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and of Serbia and Montenegro — had died at The Hague, we began contacting bloggers from across the Balkans. We heard back from Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians, as well as Anglophones working or studying in the area. These letters were received before plans for Milosevic’s burial were announced and his body was returned to Belgrade.

You can find more letters and blog post excerpts on my own blog, Thayer and Charlesfield.

The response in Belgrade has been underwhelming. … I think the ‘general public’ (if there can be such a thing) is tired of politics. Carla del Ponte and EU officials are on the TV news every day demanding the extradiction of Mladic and Karadic. Montenegro will be voting on its independence from Serbia in a few months. Peace talks on the final status of Kosovo are beginning. Serbia and Montenegro could be a much smaller country by this time next year. It’s all a lot for someone to pay attention to, especially someone who struggles to eat and to stay warm, as many Serbians do.

Rachel Long (Belgrade), Pustolovina: adventure in Serbian, in a letter to Open Source, 3/14/06

With regards to Miloševi?, all I can say is that his individual death means nothing to me. He is a man who we are all better without, so in some ways his death is a blessing. That said, if only it had happened a few months down the line, after the verdict was given in his trial. It seems clear to those of us who have followed the trial closely that Miloševi? was on his way to being found guilty for the overwhelming majority of the sixty-six crimes he was being tried over. If he had survived until the verdict was given, the people of Bosnia, Kosova, Croatia and also Serbia who have suffered as a result of this tyrant would at least have been given a greater sense of closure.

Ed Alexander (Zagreb), Balkan Baby, Place your bets on how long it will take for the Serb Orthodox Church to give him a sainthood

Personally I can say I did not follow his trial – I was a living witness of his political career and saw enough with my own eyes. I did never think well of his ideas…

I must add I spent the war in Sarajevo (1992-1995.) and saw so much suffering… I am not Moslem but visited Srebrenica and could not believe my eyes…

Seesaw (Sarajevo), Balkan-Scissors, in a letter to Open Source, 3/14/06

The problem with Slobodan Milosevic’s death is that he is still alive. Milosevic, like every other leader, does not appear on the scene by incidental strike of faith. Every leader is a sheer product of the people. A collective projection of desires into one man.

Aleksandar Macasev (Belgrade), The Mighty, in a letter to Open Source, 3/15/06

So what happens next?

I don’t know – but I hope we’ll have collective amnesia and forget he even existed. He is a person who deserves to be forgot (because, obviously, the human race doesn’t learn from past mistakes).

Zelijka Grzinic (Rijeka, Croatia), in a letter to Open Source, 3/14/06

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