Update No: 120 - (30/05/07)
Intellectuals are wont to dismiss the importance of sport, pop
music and popular culture generally. They are probably quite wrong. So it
appears in Serbia.
The Serbs are no longer a longer a pariah. They have been acclaimed by the whole
of Europe - well at least for singing.
This may even have had an effect on a knife-edge political situation. Indeed,
the timing seems uncanny.
Marija Serifovic given hero's welcome after Eurovision Song Contest victory
Marija Serifovic was given a hero's welcome by some 30,000 fans in mid-May
when she returned to Serbia after winning the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest in
Finland. "Ave, Marija," read one of the banners in the crowd around
city hall in the Serbian capital, where authorities organized the homecoming
event. "I won for Serbia, I won for all of you!" the 22-year-old
singer said after landing at Belgrade airport, delighting much of the Balkan
country, which has been craving recognition after years of pariah status brought
about by Serbia's role in the 1990s Balkan wars.
Serifovic won the annual extravaganza with a powerfully emotional ballad "Molitva
(The Prayer)." This is an ardent expression of Serbian nationalism. She
sang the tune on the evening of May 13th from the balcony of the mayor's office,
while the crowd chanted "Serbia! Serbia!"
Congratulations also poured in from government officials, political parties and
President Boris Tadic, who said Serifovic's success "brought a great joy to
all of Serbia."
The competition in the Finnish capital of Helsinki was broadcast live to an
estimated audience of 100 million, with viewers picking the winner by phone and
text messages. This contest includes every nation in Europe as well as Russia
and Israel. The viewers simply thought it the best in the competition and voted
accordingly, by a substantial margin. Serbian politics, specifically the way the
nationalists tell it, have thrived on this spiky Orthodox former communist
nation, being in a virtual state of siege, hated by the
Catholics/Protestants/Jews/Moslems of the rest of Europe, who have always they
maintain been prejudiced against Serbians "defending themselves,"
against a variety of internal/external enemies. This simple but popular song
competition shows conclusively that their fellow Europeans do NOT hate them at
all, but regard them as no more and no less than another, one of many European
neighbours - and that they liked the song!
Minutes after the vote count, lawmakers in the Serbian parliament took a break
from a political debate at an overnight session to congratulate Serifovic.
"At long last!" screamed 33-year-old Ana Timotijevic. After
"following every Eurovision Song Contest for over 16 years ... I can
finally celebrate my country's victory."
It was Serbia's first participation in the contest as an independent country.
Previously, it was a federal state of Yugoslavia and, in more recent years, part
of the Serbia-Montenegro union.
Serbia Approves Pro-Democracy Government
Serbia's parliament earlier in May had voted for a hard-liner as their new
speaker, an admirer of Milosevic and all that and a member of the far rightist
nationalist Radical Party. But the parliament approved a new pro-democracy
government on May 15th, two days after the Eurosong victory, overcoming efforts
by anti-Western ultranationalists to derail the vote and force new elections.
The 133-106 endorsement of the coalition government came only a half hour before
a midnight deadline on May 14th to approve the government or call new elections.
The euphoria about the victorious Eurosongstress was at its height.
Parliamentary elections in January had produced no clear winner, and months of
bickering followed. Serbia's Radicals, who ruled with the late President
Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s, had stalled the approval of the government with
lengthy debates in apparent hopes of missing the deadline.
New elections would have likely benefited the Radicals, who won the most seats
in the parliamentary elections but not enough to govern. The European Union and
the United States had repeatedly urged pro-democracy groups to forge a coalition
and ensure that the increasingly popular Radicals remain at bay.
The coalition government consists of pro-Western Democrats led by President
Boris Tadic, and the conservative Democratic Party of Serbia, headed by
moderately nationalist Vojislav Kostunica. The two groups forged a last-minute
power sharing deal.
The new government will face its first major test in a few weeks when the U.N.
Security Council is expected to vote on a plan to give independence to the
southern province of Kosovo.
Kostunica has threatened to cut diplomatic ties with all states that recognize
Kosovo's split from Serbia, while Tadic has advocated a moderate approach.
Kostunica said Serbia wanted EU membership but not at the price of losing Kosovo.
"Membership in the European Union is a clearly defined goal of this
government," said Kostunica, who has headed the government since 2004.
"But there will be no territorial concessions. Kosovo is a part of Serbia
and it will always remain so."
Western nations support independence for Kosovo, rejecting Serbia's offer of
broad autonomy for the ethnic Albanian-dominated region. Russia has sided with
Serbia, leading to fears of a standoff in the Security Council.
Serbia's political drama climaxed in mid-May when Kostunica - still unable to
reach a power-sharing agreement with Tadic - suddenly endorsed Serbian Radical
Party leader Tomislav Nikolic as the speaker of the parliament, the No. 2
position in the country.
That alarmed Western officials and Serbia's neighbours, who feared renewed
tensions in a region that went through four bloody wars during the Milosevic
But with the last minute-agreement between the pro-democracy groups, Nikolic was
forced to resign after only five days in the job.
Only hours before the vote, the radicals interrupted the session after news that
the military police unsuccessfully searched a Belgrade motel for Bosnian Serb
wartime commander Gen. Ratko Mladic. The fugitive is wanted on genocide charges
by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, for the massacre of
8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. The Radicals, however, consider him
a war hero.
Last year, the European Union suspended pre-membership talks with Serbia because
of its failure to capture Mladic.
FOOD & DRINK
Delta owner acquires 2.55% of Kras meat processing company
Owner of Serbia's largest Delta Holding Company, Miroslav Miskovic, has acquired
2.55 per cent of shares in Slovenia's Kras meat processing company through an
intermediary for 1.3 million Euro, Serbia & Montenegro Today reported.
Miskovic had tried to buy a sizeable parcel of Kras shares, but the management
of Vinakras Company, which owns the meat processing company, prevented small
shareholders from selling to Miskovic. So far, Miskovic has tried and failed to
buy a plot of land in Ljubljana to build a store and to buy into Mercator trade
chain, it was reported.