How much can the dignity of a small, defiant nation that loves freedom above all else cost?
On May 31 last year, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, began his new five-year mandate by taking the presidential oath in the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia. While in a solemn atmosphere, he pronounced the text of the oath, which is precisely defined by the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, for a moment almost the whole of Serbia united around him; not only his supporters but even his bitterest political opponents. Those who did not support Vučić on that day when he swore that he would “dedicate all his forces to preserving the sovereignty and the entire territory of the Republic of Serbia, including Kosovo and Metohija as its integral part”, are not even worth mentioning because they are unworthy of their homeland. Whether someone loved Vučić or not, on that day they sincerely wished that he, as the president of all the citizens of Serbia, would really find the strength to protect Serbia from the terrible evils that threaten it for the umpteenth time. Article 182 of the Seventh Part of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, which concerns territorial organization, autonomous provinces, and local self-governments, clearly defines Kosovo and Metohija as аn autonomous province within the Republic of Serbia. As a lawyer by education, President Vučić most certainly knew what a terrible burden he took on himself that day. The oath he took, until the end of his presidential mandate, legally forces him to act exclusively in accordance with the obligations and rights imposed on him by the Constitution. In the continuation of the solemn oath, the Serbian president accepted another equally sacred obligation: he swore that he would devote all his energies to the realization of human and minority rights and freedoms, which most certainly includes freedom of speech and political activism.
Therefore, while the valid Constitution of the Republic of Serbia is in force, it is the obligation of every citizen, and most of all its President, to strictly adhere to every part of it, including that which concerns Kosovo and Metohija as an inalienable part of the Republic of Serbia. Although as a legal category, the term “high treason” in the sense of a criminal offense has been removed from the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia, there are still two similar criminal offenses punishable by prison terms of 15 to 40 years. Those two crimes are: recognition of capitulation or occupation and endangering the territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia. The text of the Constitution is easily accessible to the average citizen of Serbia, but that does not mean that they know it by heart or that it is even necessary. Every Serb, from birth to death, cherishes the awareness that Kosovo and Metohija are not only the heart but also the very soul of the Serbian nation, that it has always been so, and that it must remain so until Judgment Day.It is not necessary to threaten the average citizens of Serbia with the aforementioned articles of the Criminal Code in order for them to know what is right and what is wrong, just as they do not need to be taught who are the biggest and proven enemies of the Serbian nation and who are their true brothers, friends and potential allies. Because of all this, the disclosure of the details of the so-called Franco-German plan to resolve the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, on January 20, after the visit of EU and US representatives to Belgrade, dramatically stirred spirits in Serbia. The most patriotic part of Serbian society, people labeled as “Serbian extremists” by the collective West, were absolutely furious — but quite rightly so. First of all, this document we couldn’t justifiably call Franco-German, and it is even less about a constructive plan or agreement that would satisfy Belgrade and Pristina equally. Terms like “American dictate” or “American ultimatum” would be far more accurate. That the USA is the real initiator and creator of the disastrous “Brussels Agreement” for Serbia should not be doubted at all, because the Americans have been working diligently for decades on the project of creating Greater Albania. According to the Serbian expert from the Eurasian Security Forum, university professor, Doctor of Science, and retired Major general Mitar Kovač, Greater Albania is necessary for the Americans in order to serve them as a cheap and privileged basing of military forces. The USA therefore wants to create a huge military base from the whole of Greater Albania, from which they would control not only the entire Balkans, but also the wider region, and the entire Mediterranean. Albanian President Edi Rama openly says that the NATO-occupied Serbian province is already perceived as part of Greater Albania. Without much diplomatic tact, he declared that the acceptance of the “Franco-German plan” by the Serbian side would be one of the steps towards the main goal, which is the unification of the occupied Serbian province with Albania.
Namely, the plan behind which Washington most certainly stands, whatever you call that dictate, requires Serbia to de facto recognize the so-called “Kosovo” as an independent state. Thus, Article 4 of this ultimatum asks Serbia not to oppose Kosovo’s membership in any international organization, including the United Nations, the European Union and NATO. In the rest of the “Franco-German” plan, Serbia is required to develop good-neighborly relations with the so-called “Kosovo”, and that Serbia cannot represent that fake state in the international sphere and act on its behalf. Article 8 provides for the exchange of permanent missions, which is a euphemism for the establishment of diplomatic relations between two independent states. You don’t have to be a legal expert to understand that all this not only de facto but also de jure means that Serbia recognizes its southern province, which was occupied by NATO in 1999, as an independent state. This unequivocally means that the text of the Franco-German plan is in direct collision with the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, as was the “Brussels Agreement” by the way. Any official representative of the Republic of Serbia who would sign such an agreement would be committing a criminal offense punishable by a long prison sentence. Unofficially, at the end of January, some Serbian media reported that the Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, and not President Vučić, should put her signature on the agreement. You will agree, in that case, even if she really signs the ultimatum, the Prime Minister would be assigned the worst possible role in the entire Serbian history, which is not fair for several reasons. First of all, it is about a lady who is part of a very vulnerable minority community in Serbia; second, as a politician, Ana Brnabić is relatively inexperienced in legal matters of international importance, and finally, she does not enjoy the direct support of the electorate that would allow her to violate the Constitution and risk arrest with more confidence. All of this should force her colleagues to take responsibility for themselves in a gentlemanly manner and deal with the disastrous rating they would have in the public afterwards. President Vučić, in accordance with his presidential oath and the Constitution, is obliged to do everything to ensure that this insulting and humiliating agreement for Serbia is never signed by anyone. Connoisseurs of internal affairs in Serbia know very well that Prime Minister Brnabić never does anything without the approval and order of the President, which is why her signature on the “agreement” would be considered Vučić’s anyway. Another Serbian Prime Minister, Ivica Dačić, in 2013, when the disastrous Brussels Agreement was signed, refused to sign this same plan, which was actually part of the same package. Dačić, as an experienced politician, knew that it would be a kind of political suicide for him, and these days the public is getting the impression that he is still hesitating about whether Serbia should really shoot itself in the stomach. Admittedly, Dačić publicly denied these rumors, but the journalists most likely assessed the situation correctly.
While some Serbian regime politicians are wavering and others are slowly replacing the platform from which they tried to balance between the West and Russia with completely surrendering Serbia to the interests of Washington and Brussels, a large part of the Serbian public is protesting more and more loudly. All previous surveys of the public, including the one from May last year conducted by the magazine for political theory and social research “New Serbian Political Thought” (Serbian “Nova srpska politička misao”), clearly show that 82.1% of Serbian citizens support Russia, that 87.2% of them are against membership of Serbia in the hated NATO, and that support for Serbia’s entry into the EU dropped to 20%. Why, then, does the ruling coalition still persistently insist on the so-called “European way”? Democracy must not be just a mere reign in the name of the people, but really, to the greatest extent possible, it must be a true expression of the people’s will and feelings, and it must not be just a dead letter on paper and part of theoretical democracy, but a matter of daily practice. Historical experience has shown that if the will of the people is persistently and long-term ignored, a dangerous social anomaly arises in which the gap between the alienated political elites and the people widens, that at a certain moment can go down the path of an extremely unpredictable and very undemocratic outcome that everyone in Serbia wants to avoid. Violence, of course, is out of the question as a way to solve Serbian problems. To be completely fair to the ruling Serbian political coalition, and as Maria Zakharova, the Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the West is really putting tremendous pressure on the Serbian government. The fact that Serbia is literally, territorially surrounded by countries that are members of the North Atlantic Alliance, whose crimes Serbs will never forget and many will not even forgive, does not help Serbia either. Nevertheless, regardless of all that, as Zaharova concluded, Serbia simply must not submit to the West. It is an option that is inadmissible to even think about because the possible consequences for Serbia would be catastrophic and would lead to the disappearance of the Serbian people and their statehood.
That’s why on one of the biggest Serbian national holidays, namely Statehood Day, on February 15 of this year, the most patriotic of all Serbs tried to express their displeasure with the collective West’s attempts to impose the Franco-German dictate on Serbia. The organizer of the protest, which was held near the Presidency of Serbia, was a PhD of Legal Sciences, and university professor Dejan Mirović, and the rally was supported by four opposition parliamentary parties. In a city where more than two million people live, only a few thousand patriots showed up at the protest, which unfortunately indicates a high degree of national apathy in Serbia. Such a modest and peaceful gathering in no way posed a danger to the state and its constitutional order. Nevertheless, the protest, where in fact there were no incidents, for some reason still severely disturbed the Serbian authorities, and two of the speakers were soon arrested. The speech of the political and social activist Damnjan Knežević, known as the organizer of several mass pro-Russian rallies in Belgrade, could indeed be considered somewhat sharper and more emotional, but in the opinion of the huge number of Serbian lawyers who spoke out these days, there were no elements of a criminal offense in it. The sentence for which the journalist, historian, owner, and editor-in-chief of Srbin.Info, one of the few independent media outlets in Serbia, Dejan Petar Zlatanović, was arrested, unexpectedly became the slogan of his sympathizers: “Whoever signs, will be killed”. Unfortunately, the Serbian police in this short sentence recognized a danger to the constitutional order of the Republic of Serbia and even a threat to the life of President Vučić himself. However, even a superficial logical analysis of this statement clearly indicates that Zlatanović did not mention the president of Serbia at all, and that he was talking purely hypothetically about a person who would one day dare to violate the Constitution by signing the “Franco-German agreement”. Zlatanović did not mention what could be signed or who could do it, and therefore, many lawyers in Serbia responsibly claim that Zlatanović is completely innocent. Since the organizer of the protest, professor Mirović is a legal expert, it is not surprising that all the speakers, including Knežević and Zlatanović, spoke as cautiously as they could. In the opinion of many lawyers, the police acted very clumsily by declaring that Zlatanović’s slogan “Whoever signs, will be killed” is a direct threat to the life of President Vučić. In their zealous desire to protect the president, they indirectly accused him of a possible violation of the presidential oath and the Constitution. Since the potential signatory of the agreement could be the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia Ana Brnabić, it remains unclear how the police came to the absolutely illogical and potentially very offensive conclusion that the violator of the Constitution will be the President of the Republic of Serbia himself.
Knežević and Zlatanović were accused of extremism and ordered to be detained for up to 30 days. Their friends reported that Zlatanović has been on a hunger strike since February 15, that he even refused to drink water for 4 days, and that he is in poor health and under enormous stress. It seems that during the arrest, Zlatanović suffered a very painful injury to the leg in which he has a congenital disability. Apparently, Knežević suffered much more serious injuries during the arrest, which is why he is currently in the emergency hospital center. His lawyers appear to have been barred from seeing him but this information has not been verified yet. These two arrests were openly condemned by a large part of the Serbian public these days. The associations and unions of journalists, the crème de la crème of Serbian intellectuals, university professors and academics, all parties of the patriotic opposition including the parliamentary ones, most of the patriotic and Orthodox movements, but not only them, came to the defense of the arrested. Perhaps unexpectedly for many, support for the two proven patriots and Russophiles also came from the pro-European part of the opposition. Several organizations of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija also appealed to the Serbian Patriarch Porfiriје with a request that he mediate in releasing the arrested. Finally, one of the most influential leaders of the Serbian diaspora, Dr. Miodrag Kulić, a theoretical physicist, addressed the public with the request that the arrested be released immediately, and I will explain why his appeal is particularly important at the end of the article. Zlatanović is already being called the “Serbian Gandhi” because he never used violence or called for violence, and that is good because it shows the clear desire of the citizens of Serbia to conduct the political struggle exclusively with Gandhian, that is, completely non-violent, methods. Maybe Knežević is, in that case, the “Serbian Malcolm X” because of his emotionally charged patriotism, but it is certain that he never intended to use violence either. There is no doubt that Vučić himself, as the president of all citizens, will have to intervene and release the arrested as soon as possible because their arrest is beginning to cause him political damage. Public support for Zlatanović and Knežević is growing day by day.
It must be mentioned that immediately after this modest patriotic protest on February 15, which would have been forgotten by now if it were not for unjustified arrests, some Serbian media reported that PMC Wagner was behind the organization of this gathering! Realizing that there is a huge danger that Serbian-Russian relations will be damaged by the media owned by Western companies, the Russian ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, reacted quickly with a statement in which he emphasized that the Russian Federation does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries and that the Russian Embassy condemns the threats sent from the named protest rally. It is, of course, a principled, professional, and responsible diplomatic statement by which Russia, for the umpteenth time, lets Serbia know that it can always count on it. Indeed, Russia does not interfere in the internal affairs of Serbia, negotiates only with the elected representatives of the Serbian people, and condemns attempts to forcefully change the government. Russia, unlike the collective West, does not blackmail Serbia, does not threaten it, and is open to cooperation under conditions that suit Serbia itself. It is up to the Serbian leadership, not to Russia or any other side, to listen to the voice of the suffering Serbian people that will never accept as their friends and allies those who desecrated their homeland and continued to blackmail Serbia. However, the collective West demands that Serbia impose sanctions on Russia, its traditional and reliable foreign policy partner. In order for Russia to become unnecessary to Serbia regarding the problem of Kosovo and Metohija, Serbia must first renounce its southern province itself before imposing sanctions on its old ally. Of course, the West is in a hurry to force Serbia to capitulate as soon as possible, because it is becoming clear that NATO will suffer a colossal defeat in Ukraine and that then Russia will have much more time and energy to deal with the problem of Kosovo and Metohija, and in that case, than the American project of Greater Albania will utterly fail. Why should Serbia give up a part of its historical territory that the Serbian people consider sacred and where there are over 1,600 medieval Serbian monasteries and other priceless cultural-historical treasures and natural resources that are estimated at over a trillion euros? Is it because of that “European path” that the Serbian people, more than obviously, do not want at all?
Is there an alternative to Euro-Atlantic integration? Can Serbia survive without investments from the West? It was exactly the above-mentioned prominent leader of the Serbian diaspora, Dr. Miodrag Kulić, who reminded the public in his address, that the Serbian diaspora is the largest and most loyal financier and investor in Serbia, with annual investments of around 6 billion euros. Second, for a number of years, many prominent and respected Serbian intellectuals, university professors, geopoliticians, and journalists have been studying the Eurasian perspective of Serbia as opposed to the Euro-Atlantic one. Serbia has no place in the EU and NATO in the company of enemies, murderers, and oppressors of the Serbian people, but in the organizations such as Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Eurasian Economic Union, and BRICS. The best proof that the brutal sanctions of the collective West that calls itself the “international community” can be survived is Iran, which not only survived the western sanctions but achieved incredible technological progress in the same period. Therefore, there is definitely another path for Serbia, and to claim that Euro-Altantian integration has no alternative is dangerous, irresponsible, despondent, and unpatriotic. Many Serbian intellectuals and politicians advocate that Serbia must withdraw from the disastrous Brussels and Washington agreements and that, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1244, the resolution of the problems of its occupied province should be returned to the jurisdiction of the United Nations, where it will certainly be able to count on the support of Russia and China. Finally, should Serbia, even if it has no possibility of regaining control over Kosovo and Metohija at the moment, at least maintain its national dignity by refusing to ever sign the humiliating dictates of the West? This is, of course, just a rhetorical question. How much can the dignity of a small, defiant nation that loves freedom above all else cost? How much can the soul of Serbia cost?