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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    SAT, 08 FEB 1997 00:10:09 GMT

    Who After Milosevic

    HAVEL FROM OUR STREET

    AIM Belgrade, 2 February, 1997

    In the past few days, there were two significant news for Slobodan Milosevic, one bad and one good: the bad news is that many significant actors on the Serbian polirtical stage started seriously considering who could be his successor; and the good news for him is that there does not seem to be any chance for a distinct consent to be reached about it. Someone has thought of an apparently convenient formulation: Serbia needs a Vaclav Havel of its own, a president with a democratic image and pure past, a morally unquestionable personage who would lead this country to a bright, European, democratic and prosperous future. All in all, Serbia is looking for somebody who is almost a saint. To a great surprise of optimists who were inclined to think that a lesson was learnt from previous mistakes and illusions, many recognized themselves in the description and, some of them discreetly, and some publicly, put up their candidacy for this "great honour, but also an obligation", as once it was usually said, in communist terminology, on the occasion of promotions.

    Daily Demokratija which is inclined to the opposition, organized a poll among known public figures asking them to "draw a photo-robot of Serbian Havel". There are various proposals, from the leaders of students' protest to some of the "fathers of the nation". Young writer Vladimir Arsenijevic - like many others - suggests Dusan Kovacevic, but he modestly and resolutely refuses the honour, mentioning that he is not the right personage for a Serbian Havel, because he has no intention "to change his profession, but least of all to change his family name". Apart from Kovacevic, publicly and in lobbies, there have been plenty of speculations about the personage of the respectable judge of the Constitutional Court of Serbia Slobodan Vucetic. The issue has become bizarre to such an extent that this unusual member of the establishment appeared on front pages (mostly) of cheap dailies and weeklies first as a presidential candidate of the Socialist Party of Serbia, and then as a trump card of the opposition! Be it as it may, Vucetic has also publicly refused the idea of becoming a Havel.

    Many believe that Milosevic's successor should not be sought among "respectable non-partisan personages" or, God forbid, renegades from the Socialist Party of Serbia, because the opposition has had a series of unpleasant experiences with such attempts of instant production of "all-reconciliating" leaders. It is believed that it should be considered what the opposition itself has at its diposal, primarily coalition Together and seek the right personage among them. And this brings us to the most sensitive point: curious journalists of Demokratija asked the President of the Civic Alliance of Serbia, Vesna Pesic, who the Serbian Havel was; after cautious statements that it was too early to speak about it and that a whole series of more urgent tasks lied ahead of the opposition without successful completion of which there would be no conditions for any kind of Havel, the first lady of Serbian opposition could not resist conclusing: if anybody had to be it, it was quite logical and natural that it ought to be her! Just a day or two later, President of the Serbian Revival Movement, Vuk Draskovic, stated that such words were "unacceptable statements of irresponsible individuals", but if this topic was nevertheless brought about, it was clear that he was the very man for this honourable patriotic task! Only the chief of the Democratic Party Dr Zoran Djindjic has not praised himself yet, which does not mean that he will not join in the race, but all in good time.

    There is no doubt that the regime of Slobodan Milosevic ("Serbian Houssak"?) will know, like in similar situations before, how to draw big profits from possible future quarrels of leaders of the democratic opposition about priority rights. In the two-and-a-half month long struggle for civil rights, recognition of legitimate election results and return of Serbia among the normal world, the opposition, the citizens and the students have not made a single big, least of all irreparable mistake; the regime, however, for the first time truly and significantly shaken, has constantly made moves which ranged from unreasonable, through nebulous, all the way to suicidal. Although still in the midst of a process which nobody knows how it will end and where it will lead, there is no doubt that Serbia is on its way to experience a miraculous transformation and, even after the greatest optimists had started to despair, to tear itself away from endless economic, political, moral and civilizational decay in which it had been ever since Milosevic came to power. First it will be necessary to win everything the citizens had spent the whole winter in the streets for (and this certainly is not feeding somebody's personal, partisan or "super-partisan" vanity), and then proceed with creation of a system in which real power will be concentrated in the parliament and the democratically elected government, and not personified in a charismatic personage, however "democratic" a reputation it may have.

    If banal squabbling about power and titles will be permitted - even before the regime is defeated in republican elections - the responsibility of those who instead of working smugly watched themselves in the mirror and saw in it not what there was to be seen, but what they wished to see, will be immeasurable. But, it will be too late for everything. In order to prevent Serbia from becoming an asylum in which everybody will be walking around imagining they were Napoleons, it seems that it would be most important for it to have a "Serbian Freud" who would explain to numerous Havels that dreams are important for a man's life and (sub)consciousness, but that nevertheless it is necessary to distinguish between them and the harsh reality. After all, in view of the extent to which its neo-bolshevic economy has been ruined, this country would need much more another Czech - Vaclav Klaus!

    (AIM) Teofil Pancic