B92 - A letter by Lev Kreft

A letter by Lev Kreft, published in Slovenian daily "Dnevnik" on March 26, 1999.

It is addressed to friends in Yugoslavia.

We are sending it to you as a very accurate picture of what is happening to the pro-democratic and anti-war forces in Yugoslavia.


It is embarrassing to contact you in this way, through the press, 'cos I'm not quite sure whether you will take to the idea of public correspondence. It seems that you are unable to respond in the same way as your paper stopped coming out when the Americans began with the mention of strikes against Yugoslavia in October last year, your radio was taken away from you last night, and yesterday you were left without foreign correspondents as well. I'm afraid that now you are in greater danger than Kosovo Albanians, since there is noone protecting you from Sloba and if a postmodern bullet should shoot you, for the Westerners it'd be just a tax you pay for being born at a wrong state in a wrong century. As if you didn't know it before they bombed.

All of a sudden the two of us have become mismatched and uncomparable even though we may be speaking the same language. While I'm able to speculate what to do and how to do it, you find yourself in a state of war. You've already been a surplus locally and now you became redundant globally as well. Ever since 'the happening of people' you've not been a true Serb, yet it was sufferable even though you've been hit, persecuted and harassed. Since 'the happening of NATO', you've been declared a false target and offered condolences in advance in case you are shot for no reason whatsoever. Since universal moral imperatives are at stake, you are just another acceptable global moral risk falling under the category of civil casulties. You've been an opposition in your own house, and now you are to become merely a h/sapless accidental passer-by.

It is inconvenient that I should get in touch in this way. People here get the creeps and frown even if they detect a wrong accent in an everyday Slovenian conversation in the streets from McDonnalds' to Dairy Queen, god forbid letters clumsily put together in Serbian and printed in the newspapers. Luckily, you made yourself more accessible by insisting that all the letters should be printed in Latin alphabet. Yet, having realized that this attitude was a part of your defiant political attitude, I was presented with inconvenience; perhaps I should insist that the letter be printed in Cyrillic. That would desturb 'true Slovenians' more than the bombing of Belgrade, believe me.

You suppose I've been listing all TV programming in all languages, keeping the radio at home and in the car switched on and reading all the newspapers I can get hold of, the way I did ten years ago when the wall was being torn down and the new states were formed. One always thinks of himself first. Close following of what's going on brings back the memory of summer 1991 when I was lucky. You will need much more luck than we did, but being aware of what you've been through this year, I believe in you. I only wish NATO guys wouldn't shoot you and the Sloba guys wouldn't put you in the old or a new Banjica...The one far away always thinks of another. I don't know why, but when I think of how it is for you right now and when I try to put myself in your shoes, a memory of Dimitrije Tucovic keeps reappearing. No, no, not the one who wrote about the Serbs and the Albanians even during the Balkan wars, resisting chauvinism and enslavement, ethnic cleansing and prejudice. Not the one who said this: "If the old Serbia were to join Serbia, then one free Serb would topple two enslaved Albanians, Turks etc. We want the freedom of our people without destroying the freedom of others. This can be achieved only if what we have in the Balkans is a politic entity where all the peoples would be equal no matter which emperor ruled which provice a couple of centuries ago." This was the admonition Tucovic had for us ten years ago, but how are we to adduce him when "we want" refers to Socialdemocrats at the time when the ruling socialdemocracy of Europe has just concluded that the Balkans should be entirely turned into small national states and even wages a war in the name of it along with Americans. What power is Milosevic suddenly invested with! Namely, their military objective is to make the potentate sign the agreement, meaning that war they wage is entirely dependent on his free will! But this is not all. If Sloba signs, they will have to go to Kosovo and turn it into their protectorate.

Therefore, all of this reminds me of another Dimitri Tucovic who responded to ultimatum of Austria-Hungary as a man who raises his voice against the imperialism of the powerful and, having done that, he calmly went with his friends to the Serbian Parliament, where he voted against the military credits - practically, the only man in Europe to do so - although his country was attacked. He considered it to be his moral duty. After having fulfilled both obligations, he put on the uniform and went to fight as a Serbian soldier and an officer and lay down his life for the country.

It is not the situation you find yourself in that reminds me of him and it is not that this Serbia reminds me of the one which emerged as a winner from the Balkan wars only to suffer in the WWI. Both of us know that in few years time they will probably ascertain that the WWIII began day before yesterday. He reminds me of you because during all these years you have remained an opponent of memorandum strategies, but also a critic of international trade-offs with the Balkan peoples. Now that you are wedged between Sloba and Bill (by the way, I had a vision that Clinton was walking the streets of Pristina saying: "As long as I'm with us, noone's gonna beat you!"), your possiblities are limited and you might be forced to choose between defending the country and becoming a refugee. If you decide in favour of the latter, you are always welcome here at my place. What I don't know is how to get you here. While Sloba lets nobody out, here nobody can get in. Everything you've been through entitles you to a political azylum, only, the law in question is pending, so the azylum would not be granted even to our friends Rugova, Maljici and Azem, let alone you.

Have you heard of ours in Podgorica? I was convinced that Clinton would spare Montenegrins and now it seems to me now that the bombing gives free hand for starting a civil war against the current Montenegrin authorities.

All the Westerners I've been listening say the war will be ended the moment when Milosevic signs the peace deal. Yet, what do you think the Serbian people are going to do if Sloba gives in in the face of bombing? Shall anyone in his right mind (leave us, the cracked ones, aside) be able to assume the duty imposed by the signature extracted with the loaded gun? Leaving all of this aside, what's up?



Veran Matic, Editor in Chief	                 tel: +381-11-322-9109
Radio B92, Belgrade, Yugoslavia		         fax: +381-11-322-4378

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