KINGA ARAYA on Wed, 6 Oct 1999 18:45:20 -0400


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Re: Syndicate: PostPessimists, Kosov@, etc.


Dear Mihajlo,

Just take a great warm bath and a have a glass of red wine.
Best,
Kinga

On Wed, 6 Oct 1999, Mihajlo Acimovic wrote:

> >The other question is how many reasonable sane people there are out there. What's your take on the >"post-pessimists"? Just asking. I have no idea.
> 
> There are more sane and reasonable people than shows at first sight.
> I am a member of the PostPessimists Belgrade. Ok, I only signed that I am joining them a day before I left Belgrade, but I have been in personal contact with them for much longer.
> It's a network of ex-yu youth grassroots orgs, originally founded in 1993 or 4, by some people who went to some anti-racist camps outside ex-yu. Sorry for oversimplifying. 
> Anyway, they are sane reasonable people (most of them, most of the time). 
> I like the PostPessimists, because they don't pretend to carry macrochange of the (whole) society. They make camps, work with each other... They are a self-help organisation. They make lectures, alternative theatre shows, etc., which affects the macro community, but the biggest effect is their existence and example.
> Of course, some (not few) PostPessimists were engaged in Antiwar Campaign, Resistance...
> I must insist that the local PP organisations are completelty independent in decision-making. They can, but don't have to participate in making common projects. They do have very similar official ideologies and goals written in their statutes and they share the name mostly to get easier funding.
> Michael Benson probably heard of the ones in Slovenia. I don't know much about them and I still can't separate the people who've been to the school of peace, to PP and other organisation members. I heard divided opinions on the School Of Peace that was organised in Slovenia this year. 
> PP Belgrade did a lot of good things. From the Kulturtreger magazine, through peace camps, alternative theatre, lectures...
> The most problematic branch were the PostPessimists Pristina, the only PostPessimist group in Kosov@. Non-Albanians (I heard all) left the group, because of Albanian nationalism. The Albanians leading the group were ok privately, but when it came to doing something together with Serbs... It's a problem with the public opinion in Kosov@. When I was in Pristina and some PostPessimists were giving me a tour of the downtown (March98), they gave me instructions that if the police stops us, I should say I am their country cousin. I should by no means admit that I am a Serb associating with Albanians. Like, when a Serb journalist went to a Serb enclave in southern Kosovo very recently, he was almost beaten by some youths, because he was driven by an Albanian taxi-driver. He asked them where he could find a Serb taxi-driver, but they had no answer. They were otherwise convinced that the Yugoslav Army is just about to fuck up (sjebe) the NATO and drive the fucking Shquiptars out of K!
!
os!
> ovo. 
> With Albanians in Kosov@, it was and is worse. It would be a long story to elaborate, but the greatest sin for many people there is that an Albanian communicates in any way with a non-Albanian from the ethnic groups that live there. Pristina is/was not as bad as the rest, but it was damn bad even before these two wars (Milosevic-UCK and NATO-Milosevic: Sounds like football games).
> So, when the PostPessimists Pristina went to an international anti-racist camp IN BULGARIA, in 1997, I heard, there was somebody who came and asked them what they were doing in a camp where there were Serbs, which was a polite way of saying "why the fuck did you go there, you traitorous scum". 
> The PP Pristina often didn't go to projects like that, even if they promised to. A good example was the School Of Peace in Bijela,Montengro,YU,March98. They said that that nobody would come because "We are very busy. We have many projects going on". from the Serb group (which had already left the PP, I think), three young people were supposed to come, but the director of their highschool in Pristina didn't allow that, because "Children musn't associate freely". The group of people from Macedonia didn't come to that school of peace (not PP) because their parents didn't let them (it was either through Kosov@ or hundreds of kilometers around)
> In 1998., some radio B92 people recorded a "dialogue" between Serb and Albanian students/highschool students from Pristina. I am not sure if all the five persons were (ex-)members of the PostPessimists, but four were.
> The Serbs were protecting a neutral line, while the Albanians were very nationalist to my ears (again, I would have to retell the discussion).
> I couldn't believe what Ylber was saying. I heard a completely different story from him privately, in Pristina. The filmed dialogue was shown in Cinema Rex, and the same people were brought to answer questions of the audience (as a continuation of the discussion).
> The Albanian group stood firmly to their neo-nationalist positions. So, there were some nice people there altogether and I decided to make a party and invite all of them. That was also the time when I was hoping to get some Albanians to participate in the Antiwar Campaign. So, I tried to speak to Ylber and Fisnik about it, but they were like "Ok, well talk about it a bit later" and then they got out of sight. I also invited them to the party, but they didn't show. Later, they didn't answer phone calls, etc.
> The party was fun and nobody broke anything, which was a first, but that is not the issue here.
> Yeah, as I might had mentioned in previous emails, when there were big demonstrations in Pristina, in 97 and 98, foreign journalists payed 100 DEM per day, for guide and translator. When they wanted to go to the "liberated territory", something like three villages in Drenica, where the police never go anyway, a couple of automatic rifles and a few flags of (Great) Albania, they payed 500 DEM per day for guide and translator services. Guess who did those jobs. The most liberal daily newspaper in Kosov@, that I know of, was/is the Koha Ditore. It also employes some PostPessimist people. Ylber and Fisnik included, I think. I know Ylber worked in it. Anyway Koha did have a weather forcast for Great Albania, if it had a weather forcast at all (or I'm completely forgetful), but it's articles were mostly balanced in the sence that they didn't do much to aditionally stimulate hatred and mistrust. I would judge it somewhere on the level of the Blic in Serbia (in the same war period).
> Yeah, and foreign journalists often rented accomodation in private houses instead of the Grand hotel. Guess who also chose where they would go...
>   The reply Antiwar Campaign got from PP Pristina was that no antiwar campaign was needed among Albanians, because "Albanians are already against war", "But we wish you lots of luck with your antiwar campaign among Serbs".
>  PP Pristina were mixed. There were hawks and there were doves. That was not the major problem for them. The basis of their activities was to get money out of the Norwegian People's Aid, the main funder of the PostPessimists network. 
> They were very successful in that. The more nationalist they were and the less they cooperated with groups from Serbia, the more money they got. Not that they were very active as an organisation, on local level.
> PP Belgrade got less money and did more work, but what the heck...
> 
> DIGRESSION
> 
> The Antiwar Campaign did a lot in Serbia, but it couldn't stop the war without a counterpart in Kosov@ and the biggest problem it had was precisely explaining why they are fighting against war, while no Albanian is doing the same, with very few, very honourable exceptions.
> In short, the Antiwar Campaign was sentenced to failure in what many saw as it's purpose - stopping the war.
>   The Soros could had forced and supervised the Albanian groups there, which it was funding, to participate in the Antiwar Campaign or create one of their own (also suggested). Simply, they could had conditioned their funding by that, nothing new in Soros policies. Instead, they gave more money and political support to those groups and to the education system of the Republic of Kosova.
> Their official report for 1997. says that "We had established excellent cooperation with the alternative education system in Kosova, which is non-governmental", written by sonja Licht. Now, aside from saying that an education system of the Republic of Kosova, which is run and controlled by the government of Kosova, is a non-governmental system, the very idea of giving money to an education system that had such an educational program, seems like possible support to some other claims. I know they gave computers to schools in Serbia, but people in Serbia could hear from the state media that Milosevic and Soros were enemies. However, in Kosov@, the government was trying to present it like they were getting huge international support FOR the independence of Kosova. When I remember the speech of an Albanian member of the YuSoros executive board, about how women are equal and emanciapted in Kosova, 
> all is well and flowers grow... I couldn't help remembering the Albanian who wouldn't speak with me in English, because he heard I was Serb (also untrue, but what the heck)...
> Meanwhile, the same government of Kosova was robbing people of money through taxes, supposedly to support this education system, while the education system was getting almost no money...
> 
> END OF DIGRESSION
> 
> Anyway, when XXL Creative Youth Group was organising a new School Of Peace, around New Year, 1999., PP Pristina promised to send 18 people. 
> Two showed up (or was it three?). Ok, much better than the last time. Those who did show up had nothing to do with the leadership of PP Pristina. There were two great girls. They tried to teach me some Albanian and I got some nice emails later. There were plans for a first ever Serb-Albanian camp, done in Serbia, focusing on inter-ethnic relations in Kosov@. They were promising to find the Albanians for it. The camp was supposed to happen in Spring of 99... The last email I got had smileys and flowers. It was sent five days before the bombing started... 
> Of course, other PPs are not imune to personal opportunism, but I really liked the context. That is that everyone can make a project, if they know how and if they want to. Much better than some other orgs.
> In other words, people can profit from PP in an opportunist fashion, but it is small enough, so the people who were involved will know. People who come to the lectures organised by PP are often friends or acquaintances, so they can find out if they are.
> I think more PP orgs in ex-yu would be a step in the right direction.
> 
> Mihajlo
> 
> 
> 
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