Adele Eisenstein on Thu, 8 Apr 1999 13:17:48 +0200 (METDST)

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Re: Syndicate: Other Serbia - how to save it?

On Wed, 7 Apr 1999, Dejan Sretenovic wrote:

> Dear all,
> Thank you for your numerous initiatives to help and support Radio B92
> and other independent media in Yugoslavia, NGOs, human rights activists,
> political opponents, army reservists, etc. Their lives are not in danger
> and there's no forced mobilization yet. No one is proclaimed a traitor
> since the regime likes to give people an image of the national unity and
> patriotism in these hard times which, more or less, turns to be true.
> NATO aggression gave an excellent opportunity to Yugoslav president to
> silence all dissonant voices in Serbia and to "solve" Albanian problem
> at once. Few remaining independent daily newspapers are under censorship

Dear Dejan,
I was deeply touched by your message - and even more frightened than
before (if that's possible). Anyway, I was glad to see your presence, your
voice again.
Here (and around the world) we are trying frantically to figure out what
to do to stop this madness dramatically - and criminally - aggravated by
After reading through your message several times, I really do not know
anymore (or even less than before) what the right action is to take.
The only thing I can say is that in hurriedly trying to organise a very
public panel discussion of people who know best the issues at hand, that
everyone we have spoken to here is very enthusiastic.
Many people want to do something to change the course of events which just
progress acceleratedly into a deeper and deeper hole - but what?
How can we help you in the most effective and immediate way?

> This is the end of  so-called "alternative scene" or "other Serbia"
> which somehow managed to survive and to develop in past years despite
> all troubles and persecutions. Now we realize the fragility and weakness
> of this scene and its utopian self confidence. It is clear that "other
> Serbia" did not manage to survive due to its own strength or
> socio-cultural significance. On the contrary, it was allowed to exist
> due to a good will (political interest) of the regime. For example, B92
> apathy and hopelessness after the protests. A friend of mine, an artist
> from Belgrade, said that this war came like a stroke of an ax which
> unexpectedly broke off the lethargy of our small world we used to live
> in. I agree.

There are still so many individuals who represent this "other Serbia" -
how can they be saved from extinction? How can that "other" Serbia

> I hope that my B92 friends won't get me wrong, but I ask myself what use
> can we have here if Radio B92 continues to exist abroad (as a radio
> program, web site or something else) under the control of foreign
> institutions and their interests, especially those from NATO countries.
> Radio B92 gained its good image and popularity in the country since it
> represented an authentic voice of urban Serbia which means that it can
> exist in its proper manner only if its staff is based where it belongs
> to - in Belgrade. Please, do not make of it another "Radio Free Europe"
> which is, with all compliments for their work, edited by ex-Yugoslav
> expatriates who are not any more fully familiar with turbulent reality
> of this country. Please, do not apply blindly Western standards in
> solving our local problems, because at this very moment it might do more
> harm than help to all of us and especially B92 staff. B92 employees (45

I hear this request very loud and clear - the blind application of Western
standards is responsible for much of the human catastrophe right now.
What do you suggest that we *can* do to help, and not further harm, the

> This may not be a proper moment for such discussion, but we in
> Yugoslavia should prepare ourselves for the hard times ahead of us. It
> is clear that nothing will be the same in this country when the war
> comes to an end, but it is also clear that no one can predict all

That is absolutely clear, but how can all of these "well-intentioned"
activists put our good intentions to good use?

More concretely, in order to make an immediate decision about our own
"group" initiatives, what is your feeling about this Syndicate meeting in
Budapest, and about the public/press panel discussion (it would be
wonderful if you could be there, but I don't expect it), as well as
screening of Low-Fi tapes and other works ?

take good care,

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