Monday, 31 December 2007

A new year is coming, and a look-back at this blog's achievements!

A new year is upon us guys. And it can only mean one thing…


And I've written a list of ten not-so-difficult to fulfill ones here on my MySpace blog. Hope you are inspired!

Looking back, this has been an interesting year for me. Although I started the year unemployed, I have had success and have been earning my OWN money! I know I've only mentioned a little bit about employment here in August and September. I was thinking about writing about it in more detail on my MySpace blog (where I mention a recent post above). And hey, I might do so next year!

As you know, I've been to my country this year, spending time near Gračac in my mother's village and in Kistanje at my aunt's and uncle's. I spent much of that time away from a computer, which I know can be a good thing. However, at the time, I strongly felt that I spent too long without access to a computer, in particular access to the Internet. The Internet for me is a valuable source of news and information, and it does connect me with the outside world. And as you can see in this post when I managed to find internet access in the Dalmatian town of Knin, I was more than relieved!

And may I take this opportunity to apologise once again to one of my cousins I met in my mother's village this year but failed to mention in the above post! How could I have FORGOTTEN to mention that encounter???!!! Very sorry, indeed.

As one of my New Year resolutions, I hope to write more blog posts. This of course means that I hope more people will visit my blog in the new year. And with more visitors, more comments to my posts will come along! Speaking of which, keep checking out this list of blogs to which I've commented to. I'm pleased that I have such a page on my blog, so I can keep up with where I place my comments to other people's blogs by listing them on precisely such a page designated for that purpose.

So stay tuned, as they say on the telly. And…


PS: I've noticed on my Sitemeter that many people have arrived at my blog on this page dedicated to Brian Eno's iconic, ethereal and truly beautiful sountrack from Google's search engine. I'm glad that this has proven to be a great visitor grabber - not that I intended it to be! And I've also notice that this blog post of mine features in the relevant search results either on the second or first page! Therefore, I hope to find more cool ways to get hits to my site in the year to come! ;-D

Thursday, 27 December 2007

About Milošević

This is a blog post I began last month, but have only now finished.

Slobodan Milošević, unless you haven't heard of him (there are such "lucky" people!), was the man who set off the domino effect causing the break-up of Yugoslavia, resulting in widespread distruction and loss of life, not to mention over a million displaced people. It was his policies that led to unnecessary and yet avoidable misery and suffering for all the people of the Former Yugoslavia who were affected, directly or indirectly, by the wars of the 1990s.

Nicknamed "Slobo", he supported the genocidal régime of the Bosnian Serbs with Radovan Karadžić at the helm, and is believed to have agreed with Croatian nationalist president Franjo Tuđman that the "Republika Srpska Krajina" should fall, leading to the widespread exoduses of my people, the Croatian Serbs, among whom were many of my own relatives.

In all, he made fools out my people; he made us Serbs look like idiots in front of the WHOLE WORLD, something we Serbs would never let anyone do to us. And yet he successfully pulled it off! That's just incredible. And he was so successful in deceiving the Serbian public at home in Serbia into thinking the whole break-up of the Former Yugoslavia was the fault of other people, namely secessionists in the western republics of the federation and "the West", and not him, that the ordinary citizen of Serbia could truly never guess - GUESS! - that he was actually responsible for starting the process. And he was successful because he understood his subject people well; he basically abused my people's nature, good and bad.

However, I have a confession to make to you, the readers of this blog, whether familiar with the recent history of my part of the world or not.

I haven't always thought this way about Slobo. In fact, I'll tell you straight‪…

‪…I used to like him!

Now bear two things in mind with me:

  • my parents are pro-socialist in political orientation, and

  • remember that we Serbs have a long history of being attacked by other countries as opposed to the other way round, ie. our victimhood throughout history.

  • You will see how relevant these two points are in how my parents and other Serbs perceived the recent wars and political turmoil affecting our people and our former Yugoslav brothers all around the former Yugoslavia.


    You see, I am a diaspora Serb, and I remember the extremely negative media spin as a child during the early nineties - especially regarding Bosnia - and as a young adolescent in the late nineties about Kosovo. And for a long time after all that, the BBC, for instance, continued to relate the wars from a perspective that cast us Serbs in a negative light, whenever the wars or the current peace are mentioned. I rarely - if ever - heard anything about what us Croatian Serbs went through.

    Also, I and my parents had access to satellite back then, and even today we have digital satellite. And we regularly watched the Serbian state Radio Television Serbia, along with the terrestrial British channels (I remember my parents watching Bosnian and Croatian TV via satellite back then too). And being a state TV and radio channel today in more democratic times, you don't have to guess whether or not it was a state TV and radio channel back then under Milošević. And it is through Belgrade's satellite channel that my parents heard many stories that were either not mentioned or sparsely mentioned on the Western channels.

    Of course, like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, he knew his people very well and made sure that our people back home in Serbia - and even us in the diaspora - would blame the West and Croatian and other secessionists for everything that was going wrong. In fact, we would never even work out that HE was actually to blame for all the turmoil in the Western Balkans. I see this now.

    However in the past, I deeply resented the Western media - especially British - for continuing to portray us Serbs in a negative light, because back then I didn't think they put the recent history in a more neutral perspective that would allow its Western viewers to understand the war from both sides. Of course, not all Western media reports showed us up in such a vehemently negative light. But then again, I was living in Britain, the land of Political Correctness, and it seemed as though these British correspondents didn't think any Serb would complain about the way they described the contemporary post-war political issues affecting our people and our neighbours back home today. Doesn't P.C. apply to us Serbs?

    It's like they didn't think any Serbs lived in Britain, so they didn't care if we felt offended by their reporting or not! There aren't many of us here, true, but there are between 10,000-50,000. Many came following the Second World War, some a couple of decades after that, many more came more recently due to the recent turmoil that was messing up everyone's lives.

    And as you can guess, when it comes to the Hague, I used to think the International Criminal Trinual for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) served to depict the Western side of the story, in which the Serbs are most to blame for the wars and committed the worst crimes, while the other sides that also committed crimes were let off the hook, something I found quite insulting. I was also displeased to see so many more Serbs being tried and fewer of the others.

    Therefore, I admit that I did admire his performance at the tribunal, and genuinely thought he was revealing information regarding the wars that the Western media kept quiet about. And if you were to watch his proceedings, you would indeed hear many facts of various credibility - I stress "various" credibility - you would never have heard from many Western channels.

    Also, the wars happened at the time of the "Collapse of Communism", when the Soviet Union disintegrated. A time that was said to mark the victory of Western Democracy over Soviet Communism. Of course, us Yugoslavs, being pro-socialist and sympathetic to Soviet Russia, were critical of the West. We were suspicious of their motives an' all. So when our Yugoslav federation started falling apart, us Serbs saw many politicians from the Western republics advocating secession, namely Slovenia and Croatia. This was a time of rising nationalism, particularly Serbian and Croatian. And it seemed to us that the secessionists advocating Western-style Democracy in the geographical West of the federation were backed by the West. And this is why even today many Serbs blame the West for the break-up of Yugoslavia, and not Milošević's politics accompanied by Serbian nationalism. Indeed, we really didn't see - let alone think - that it was Milošević who caused the political crisis throughout the federation; we blamed secessionists in Slovenia and Croatia.

    Now bear in mind that Marshal Tito's Yugoslavia was not a satellite state of Moscow like Poland and the former Czechoslovakia except for a few years following World War Two. Indeed, he famously left the Warsaw Pact, and was thus respected by the West. And what you've got to remember about Tito's Yugoslavia is that, regardless of its faults - REGARDLESS OF THEM, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!! - it was actually a decent socialist society, in which people like my mother and her generation lived very decent and wholesome lives. Such a country like Yugoslavia didn't deserve such a terrible fate, of course. In fact, I believe Yugoslavia without the Communism could have, would have and should have continued to exist to this day as a democratic and, dare I say, cosmopolitan Yugoslavia within the European Union.

    But back to the media portrayal during the war, what's interesting is how the Western media would wholeheartedly condemn war crimes committed by Serbs, even go as far as writing "Serb monsters" on the newspaper, which smacks of RACISM (!), and yet show the public no understanding of what motivated these crimes in the first place. Don't get me wrong readers, neither I nor anyone else is suggesting that one should justify any war crime whatsoever. But I really think the Western public - or at least the British public during the nineties, was not aware enough of the history of the Balkans. If they did have as much knowledge of Yugoslav history as they have of Israeli/Palestinian history, they would have had a much better understanding of the motivation of the Bosnians Serbs to commit war crimes against their fellow Bosnians. Indeed, as much sensitivity as applied in reporting other conflicts around the world would have been exercised in this case, but not just during the wars, after the wars in the Balkans during peace as well. And of course, they would have condemned those war crimes in a more correct and appropriate way.

    The Balkans are a part of the world that not many people in Britain have any connection to, of course. But what is surprising when it comes to the Second World War in Europe, is that not that many people have heard of the Jasenovac concentration camp, run by Croatian Ustaše in which the main victims were Serbs. In fact, Serbs were the main victims of the Ustaše throughout the "Independent State of Croatia" (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska) during the Second World War in Yugoslavia.

    Yes, it's true that not many people have heard of many concentration camps other than Auschwitz, Treblinka, Dachau and Belzec, but that's NOT the point! The point is a recent war happened near a particular extermination camp in which one of the most horrendous crimes that man could commit against his fellow man were committed. And if the British public understood the Serbs' victimhood and their wars against the Croats and Bosniaks as much as they understand the Israelis and their treatment of the Palestinians in the Holy Land, then once again I tell you my dear readers, they would have condemned the crimes of the Bosnians Serbs in a more sensitive manner, without leaving their Bosniak audience feeling that they were not condemned enough.

    NB: you will find that some people compare modern-day Serbian nationalism and the war crimes committed by the Bosnian Serbs with WW2 Fascism as practised by collaborationist forces amongs the Serbs, and even with Anti-Semitism that was promoted by the leaders of such forces. Now it is true that memory of these collaborationist forces did play a part in the recent wars. There's no doubt about that. However, what doesn't seem to occur to them is to explain to their readers how these Bosnian Serb war criminals may have been inspired by the very real suffering that their grandparents and great-grandparents endured during the Second World War, whatsoever. Radovan Karadžić certainly didn't feed the Bosnian Serbs much in the way Anti-Semitism during the nineties, if at all; instead, he fed them kilograms of anti-Croat propaganda, and most importantly, tonnes of anti-Muslim propaganda.

    Again, no one here is suggesting that war crimes should be justified. No one. Rather, we should try to understand what motivated ordinary people to engage in such dreadful criminal activity against their fellow citizens, just like any criminal investigator would intend to discover the motive of a particular murder in times of peace.


    And so, yes I used to respect Milošević, I admit that. But now, of course, I know better.

    You see, I changed my opinion some time at the beginning of this year. And I did so with the help of a medium (via their website on the internet), a medium I used to consider as anti-Serb medium in Serbia backed by the West financially. Actually, this medium consistantly fought against Milošević's disastrous rule throughout the nineties. Of course, it is B92, the bastion of free speach and democratic values in Serbia. And it is through the information their website divulges and opinions of liberal-minded individuals at their blogs section, not to mention other individuals associated with that medium, that I learnt why B92 and the people linked to it opposed Milošević so faithfully.

    They are the people who lived under Milošević's régime. They lived in a Serbia whose society was collapsing and degenerating from within; falling apart and stagnating. They also lived in a Serbia whose leaders were waging wars against Croatia and Bosnia, formerly sister republics and its peoples formerly fellow Yugoslavs, as their federal country Yugoslavia was falling apart and dying. They are the conscious witnesses to the bad politics of Milošević's régime.

    It was B92's radio (that's how it started out) that broadcast to Serbia informing its citizens of the wrong-doing their leaders were committing inside their country and outside in the newly-independent republics. B92 was often suppressed during Milošević's time, and many ordinary people with right-wing sentiments were understandably distrustful of the station, one, because of the news it was reporting, and two, it was considered "unpatriotic"! And yet in the end, Milošević finally departed office following a massive uprising of people in response to election fraud in the first round of elections in 2000. B92 is still with us, Milošević isn't, and better that way.

    And it's thanks to the B92 website, that I can now understand what truly happened throughout the nineties, thanks to all that testimony as seen through Serbian eyes.

    I now see that he really did cause a nationwide crisis when he revoked Kosovo's autnomy, not just a crisis in the province itself, which lasted for ten years. I understand that this caused alarm in the other republics leading the people of those republics to question whether they should stay within a Yugoslav federation with Serbia being more dominant than acceptable. It could be debated whether the politicians in those republics capitalised on this alarm for their own personal ends. Nevertheless, people in these republics saw how Serbian nationalism spread and most importantly, also noticed how Milošević somehow supported its rise.

    But there's another point that must be mentioned, 'cause it concerns many Serbs. You see, Croatian nationalism also rose at that time, which is something that many Serbs in Croatia noticed at the same time Serbian nationalism was rising among them. In fact, Croatian nationalism started rearing its head even when Tito was still alive in the early seventies, during the "Croatian Spring" (Hrvatsko proljeće) in which Franjo Tuđman personally participated, long before Milošević came around.

    But here's the difference between the manifestation of Croatian nationalism in the early seventies and the rise of Serbian nationalism in the late eighties. The Communist authorities of Croatia at the time of the "Croatian Spring" did not support this movement, while the Communist Slobodan Milošević - even before he became president of Serbia and afterwards continuously - did in some way support and foster Serbian nationalism.

    And yet in Kosovo during the eighties and of course before, some Serbs there - not ALL, but a significant number of whom - did experience ethnically motivated intimidation from their Albanian neighbours, and it's unfortunate that it happened. Such intimidation was not "invented", but exaggerated by the Serbian media, which at that time was motivated to inform the Serbian public of what was considered at the time "repressed common knowledge" of the suffering of Serbs caused by Albanians in Kosovo and the resulting migration of Serbs from the province because of which.

    But the way Milošević dealt with this plight of Serbs was completely the WRONG way. Such an issue should have been dealt with sensitively by his régime. Instead, his way of dealing with the issue merely encouraged distrust between the two communities to fester. And by revoking Kosovo's autonomy, something the Albanians in the province treasured, he basically treated these people like children. For instance, when a child misbehaves, one way you chastise him/her is to take away his/her favourite toy. And yet what he did to them was many times worse than that. I now see how his policies in the late 80s caused a lot of fury amongst Albanians. And in the end, it lead to catastrophe ‪…literally (!), and for all of Kosovo's people.

    Beyond Kosovo and particularly in Bosnia, Slobodan Milošević basically supported a fascist régime that lead genocidal policies against one particular group in the country, the Bosnian Muslims who today call themselves "Bosniaks". His régime in Belgrade both politically and militarily supported Radovan Karadžić's aims of securing circa 70% of Bosnia & Herzegovina, in the hope that this territory would later become a part of Serbia, the new "Western Serbia". There is even evidence that Milošević actually advised - or perhaps commanded - the Bosnian Serbs on what actions to take during the fighting.

    And when it comes to Radovan Karadžić, I can now see how he, and others like him, manipulated ordinary Serbs; he used their painful memories from the Second World War and even the folk memory of the Ottoman period to create precisely an atmosphere conducive of the ethnically-motivated violence that we saw.

    And as for the Serbian people in Kosovo and the short-lived Krajina, he gambled with their lives. There is no doubt about that. He truly betrayed these people; he offered them false hope and they in the end became victimised in response to either his actions in the case of Kosovo, or the actions of those he supported in the case of Krajina. And like I said in a previous article, my fellow Croatian Serbs were victimised a second time last century, fifty years after Jasenovac and the genocide committed against our grandparents and great-grandparents by the Ustaše.


    Having "disowned" Milošević, it is nevertheless my opinion that NOTHING Milošević, Šešelj, Karadžić, Babić, Martić and all the other idiots did in the recent history has anything to do with our respectable identity, wonderful culture and my dear people. Those people are in my opinion NOT my Serbian brothers! Full stop.

    And even though I understand the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia much better than I did before, I still deeply resent it when Western and even Serbian reporters, speakers, etc. say or write how the crimes these individuals committed were done so "in our name". Well, you know what I think, guys? I think they weren't actually. That's right, no. No they were NOT committed in our GOOD name! Not a SINGLE crime that was committed by those criminals was committed "in our good Serbian name"! THANK you very much!

    All crimes that were committed by Bosnian Serbs, Croatian Serbs or Serbian Serbs were committed by MANIAKS, even DRUNKS, or just all-round CRIMINALS whose crimes don't deserve to be dignified with our good name; the people who committed these crimes don't deserve to be called our "Serbian brothers".

    (There is ample evidence that many crimes committed by Bosnian Serb troops were committed in a state of drunkenness. NOT that it subtracts from the seriousness of the crimes committed; merely explains what kind of state many of these criminals were in when they did what they did.)

    And what about the fact that Ratko Mladić treated Srebrenica, where he committed an internationally recognised genocide against the Bosniaks, as a "gift to the Serbian people"? Well you know what they say about gifts, you don't have to accept them. And you can guess what I think. I don't accept the town of Srebrenica or her villages around her, and I'm sure that there are many other Serbs who think exactly the same way as me.

    But what is important to consider, and this is hardly ever suggested, is how Milošević didn't even have the moral courage, since he obviously knew he was gonna stay in the Hague, to explain why he did all the things he did. Why he deceived his people; led his people into wars; gambled with his people's lives; and all the while, supporting nationalist forces that were victimising other people? Why? Why didn't he just come clean and confess to the people of the Balkans, instead of repeat the same lies at court he used to keep his citizens back home in Serbia in the dark?

    Who knows? Maybe he did want to come clean at the end of the trial, at the verdict stage perhaps. But then again, since it was alleged that he was taking improper medicine deliberatly to undermine the effects of the drugs supplied to him by the Hague - even the Hague was accused of poisoning him! - maybe he really couldn't have cared less.

    Glad I've disowned him!

    Tuesday, 18 December 2007

    Boris Tadić is brilliant!!!

    Boris Tadić
    Yesterday I watched an interview with Serbian President Boris Tadić (in the picture) on Serbian state television, Radio Television Serbia. And watching the interview gave me another chance to see what a brilliant man he is. Brilliant in the way he composes himself, brilliant in the answers he gives, all round brilliant for Serbia.

    During the interview, he makes references to many issues obviously dealing with his country Serbia of which he is head of state and similar/relevant ones as well, and he also describes the conversations he had with many other politicians and their opinions. So much knowledge and political savvy, which is precisely what you'd expect from someone in his position. He is just a remarkably intelligent man. And being all of that, he is an inspiration to me, and I'm proud that he is one of us Serbs. Hey, I could even call him a modern-day Serbian symbol!

    There will be a presidential election in Serbia early next year (there was a general election early this year). And I know that with being a self-proclaimed Anarchist I don't believe in voting other people in and thus allowing them to make decisions for your lives, and of course, I won't be voting (besides, I can't; I ain't a citizen of Serbia, let alone registered on the electoral roll!). But I've got to say when it comes to him, I wouldn't mind hearing Boris Tadić being called "President of Serbia" for another four years to come.

    Here you can watch it online hosted by RTS website. The interview is in Serbian, or as I like to call it, Serbo-Croat! :-P

    Friday, 14 December 2007

    My comments to other blogs!

    I think I should catalogue all the comments I've made to other blogs. So here they are, and I shall be updating this page regularly.

    I shall arrange them in years and try to arrange them in order of the time of year they were posted in and as a list of blogs I've contributed to:

    Note: As this page is devoted to comments I make at other blogs, it does not, as a rule, list comments I write on this my own blog!

    By Year:



    1. One of my earliest comments went to the Neretva River blog, which you can only access these days if you're invited! AAAAAAGGHHH!!!

      The blog is run by a man named Kris, who has commented regularly on the current affairs of the Former Yugoslavia for quite a long time there.

    2. Another of my earliest comments is found under this article about nationalism, politics and stereotypes at the Anegdote blog run by fellow Serb Dejan in America. You'll find my comment under "Alan" there.

    3. I added a comment to this article about Serbia's victory in the Eurovision song contest this year. The blog post is by my namesake Alan Kočević, who writes how offensive the three finger salute is on his GENOCIDE IN BOSNIA blog. He comes from Srebrenica, and his very grandfather perished in that awful atrocity. He lives in Sweden today.

    4. I added a comment to this article on the Americans For Bosnia blog run by Kirk Johnson. In that post, and in a series of of related posts, he extensively criticizes a book revising the recent history of the break-up of Yugoslavia. My comment there was a response to a rather insensitive and reckless comment above. Sorry guys, but I don't pull any punches when it comes to certain issues.

    5. On the Belgrade 2.0 blog, I added a comment here to their article about the Gorski Vijenac movie (under "Alan") in early June, and here regarding the death of Belgrade mayor Nenad Bogdanović (under "Alan Jaksic") at the end of September.

    6. Global Voices contributer Veronica Khokhlova mentioned my post about my trip to Gračac in this post. As you will see, I left a comment under that post since I was pleased that someone mentioned my blog like that somewhere for all to see. The contributer has since mentioned other posts I've written here on my blog on Global Voices Online. Hey, I enjoy the attention my blog receives on the net!

    7. When looking at the details of my Sitemeter account one day, I found that one visitor came to my site from Molly'sBlog. And so, I added a comment here to which MollyMew, a.k.a. Pat Murtagh who runs the blog, replied to.

    8. On the LimbicNutrition Weblog run by Jonathan Davis, I added a comment to his blog post about Michael Palin's programme on Serbia in his series of trips around Eastern Europe for the BBC, including new EU member states and aspiring ones, called Michael Palin's New Europe.

      I watched the series in question, and was never failed by his poor pronunciation of foreign names and words!

    9. At the famous Balkan Baby blog run by Ed Alexander, who lived in Zagreb for two years and has travelled widely around the former Yugoslavia and speaks our language very well. I added a comment here in his artcle about Zagreb, two here, and a number of comments here in his article about Belgrade.

      Here where I got into a spot of bother, unfortunately, engaging in polemics about the Serbo-Croat language and whether Serbian and Croatian is one language or not! Ed later wrote this article concerning the language issue, to which I also added a few comments.

    10. I responed to this article on the Albanian Reality Check blog by an American with pro-Albanian sympathies about right-wing Conservatives in America being somewhat pro-Serb and Anti-Abanian.

      The writer even responded to my comment to his post with an entire blog post of his own! What an honour! I added a comment to that post too.

    11. I added two comments to this post from the BOB FROM BROCKLEY run by a guy called Bob from Brockley! I realised that he transcribed the list of blogs beginning with "B", where you will find my blog mentioned, from this post from Molly'sBlog (mentioned above), where I also added a comment.

    12. Under this blog post about Kosovo on the Bosnia Vault blog run by Shaina, I introduced myself (shameless advertising!) and added a link to my article concerning Kosovo and a link to another article of mine about my people, the Croatian Serbs.

    13. At the famous Srebrenica Genocide blog run by a Bosniak calling himself "Daniel" in Canada, I posted my comment to an article looking at a Serbian newspaper falsely representing certain mass grave photographs.

      I had been meaning to write to the editor of that blog for some time. So I found the opportunity then!

      I also commented on this article about a Srebrenica Genocide denier.

    Altogether, I left 47 comments on other people's blogs in 2007. This number, however, does not include the 3 deleted comments (I deleted them!) in this Balkan Baby post, and the circa 3 comments I posted to the Neretva River Blog. I cannot access those comments I made to that blog, since I'm not one of those "elite" individuals invited to read it!


    1. Started the new year of comments by wishing a fellow blogger (namely Bob from Brockley mentioned above in "2007") a happy new one! Afterall, I had to return the favour! ;-)

    2. I notified Ed at Balkan Baby mentioned above, about a mistake in his article on Carla Del Ponte. The mistake was with regards to one of the people the Hague tribunal convicted for persecution during the war in Croatia. I also added a self-correction too! I then added a couple of responses to two anti-Serb comments, and later I responded to a much nicer comment.

      I added one more explaining my opinion on a particular issue. And I answered another commentator four times who was questioning me regarding this post I wrote at this blog. This makes 10 comments under one post!

    3. I added my comment here to Belgrade 2.0 regarding rumours of George Clooney and Sharon Stone organising a protest against a unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo.

      I wrote about this issue here after news of it came out, and here after it turned out to be false.

    4. At the 'Scuse my French... blog, I added a comment notifying other commentators that rumours of George Clooney & co. organising a protest against Kosovo's independence were not true. I had to add another comment to remind people of that, 'cause it looked like it didn't sink in!

    5. I left two comments at the Bosnia Vault regarding Bosnian Serb Savo Heleta and reconciliation.

    6. Left my comment here at Belgrade 2.0 with links to two of my 2008 Presidential Elections pages.

    7. Left a long comment at the Anegdote blog at this page and a shorter one here commenting on the picture.

    8. At the Reluctant Dragon blog edited by a guy called Marko in Belgrade, I left an approval under this post.

    9. I responded to a writer/commentator at Global Voices online about recent history regarding Kosovo.

    10. Again at Balkan Baby, two comments about Kosovo Serbs and Dr. Vojislav Koštunica.

    11. I left another comment at Global Voices Online under a about my recent on Kosovo, following the unilateral declaration of independence by its Albanian leaders.

    12. Left three comments at the Srebrenica Genocide Blog: the first one expressing my disagreement with the blog's editor's interpretations of the violence in Belgrade in response to Kosovo's declaration and other historical and contemporary issues; the second one in response to the editor's response to my comment; and the third one to another commentator.

    13. A Greek Anarchist blogger called Katsigaros left a comment at my blog here, and I replied to him at his blog under this article on CO2 emissions along with help on HTML!

    14. I left two comments under this blog post on Arti i te Jetuarit, an Albanian blog by an Albanian woman called Alidea in Albania. She left a comment under this Kosovo article of mine. So being the gentlemen that I am, I knew I had to reply! :-)

    15. Showed my support for the female candidate for Belgrade mayor at Belgrade 2.0.

    16. Replied to blogger Milan from Subotica on his Suicide city blog here after I noticed that he posted a comment under this post of mine.

    17. Left a comical/sarcastic comment on fellow Gračac woman Dragana's blog.

    18. This article on the Srebrenica Genocide blog reports how a group on Facebook called NOZ ZICA SREBRENICA, which was glorifying the murder of Bosnian Muslims and other Muslims, was shut down by Facebook's administrators. After reading about it, and since I have my own Facebook account, I joined the CLOSE GROUP NOZ ZICA SREBRENICA group, which helped get rid of the first such group, to report to Facebook the second such group that has again appeared on the social networking site.

    19. I left a comment in answer to Sarah Franco, the editor of the Café Turco blog, on the Srebrenica Genocide blog.

    Altogether, I left 35 comments on other people's blogs.


    1. I expressed my condolences to the late Dr. Nedret Mujkanović and his family on the Srebrenica Genocide blog. His death was suicide (he hung himself), and his wife Jasminka found his lifeless body, which struck a chord in me.

    2. I left two more comments in response to two previous comments on the same page on the Srebrenica Genocide blog I had previously left a comment on last year, and then I left two more responses.

    5 comments for that year.


    1. I left a comment at the BETWEEN THE WORLDS blog, under a post regarding freedom of speech versus spreading hate speech.

    2. On my Sitemeter, I noticed that someone entered my site from this blog post on the The Last Psychiatrist blog. Someone was criticising someone for "soiling" (!) Anarchism as a brand, calling upon that person to "make sense" when discussing Anarchism, ending his comment with a link to this blog. So of course, I left a comment of gratitude to that person, with the hope of seeing comments by himself very soon!

      Someone later replied to that comment of mine, prompting me to give another response!

    3. I found Rastko Pocesta's blog L'Infinie vie. He is a young advocate for human rights in Serbia, who has received attention for his pro-Western views but also for having to put up with Serb nationalists' threats. And I added a lengthy comment on this blog post in response to his "Ja sam SRBIN, ali..." points. (Unfortunately, that blog post has been removed by the author! My mistake; it's still there!)

    4. I added a comment of condolence for the late Biljana Kovačević - Vučo on Rastko Pocesta's blog post in her memory.

    5. Commended a good article by American lawyer Mark Vlasic about Slobodan Milošević, against whom he helped prepare the prosecution's case at The Hague Tribunal, on the Srebrenica Genocide blog here.

    6. Had a frank discussion with Daniel at the Srebrenica Genocide blog, regarding Serbo-Bosniak relations, Ottoman history, and finally forgiveness! 4 comments by myself.

    7. Again at Srebrenica Genocide blog, I conveyed my appreciation for Daniel's consideration for myself and other Serbs.

    8. I found a blog that has quoted an extract of my article Being a British Serb - living in contrariety. The blog is called Serbia’s Ambassador To The World run by Karl Haudbourg, and you can find my comment here, where you can also see that my article has received 4 "tweets" on twitter! Way to go!

    9. My take on Daniel's comment here.

    10. On Radio Slobodna Evropa's website ('Radio Free Europe' in Serbo-Croat), I found out that Rastko Pocesta, the young Serbian human rights activist mentioned above, took part in the 2010 Srebrenica Peace March, commemorating the flight of Bosniak Muslim men from the former UN-protected zone in 1995. Due to his young age, only 12, he was accompanied by the president of Women in Black ('Žene u crnom'), a Serbian anti-war organisation that actively opposed Slobodan Milošević's criminal régime. Since the article is in Serbo-Croat, I offered my support to the young man in our language (see in the comments section under the article).

    14 comments so far.


    1. Left a humorous recommendation to a blog post from the previous year about a former Serbian minister of health at

    2. Commented on an article about the nature of the Bosnia war at Politics, Re-Spun by fellow Anarchist Jasmin Mujanović from Bosnia now living in Canada.

    3. Commented on an article about Srebrenica and the Bosnian war by Hassaan, originally from Pakistan, currently living in Slovenia.

    4. Commented via my Facebook account on an article about Serbian nationalism at Global Post, and how it creates followers among Serbia's disaffected youth.

    5. Responded to an intense response — or polemic — to my article I'm a Croatian Serb! on the General Mihailovich blog.

    6. Added my comment of commendation under a very good article about Belgrade's upcoming Pride Parade and LGBT issues in Serbia on the W!LD RooDTeR blog, run by communications consultant Marcus Agar.

    7. Left a comment on a post about my blog on a3yo, a blog with news on Anarchism in Eastern Europe.

    12 comment so far.

    Be sure to visit this page often, as the list will grow!

    Thursday, 6 December 2007

    In limbo, and yet dedicated to my people

    Ok. This post I write with regards to my people, the Croatian Serbs, what they went through during the war, what has been established as fact by others about the war, and how all of that affects people. This is a long blog post, so get something warm to drink while reading this!

    I've been on the Gračac forum a lot lately, which you can visit by clicking on it in the Links section on the left. Thanks to that forum, I get to socialise with people from my hometown and the surroundings thereof. It's become rather addictive; I find myself on that forum every day! Going through the new posts made by my fellow members, fellow Gračac folk, of course! Hey, they're my people, and if there was no war, I would have seen and known many of these people long ago.

    But, I have recently found myself in a state of limbo, hence the title of this piece. And it's to do with the war that has seen my people dispersed throughout the world, though particularly concentrated in neighbouring Serbia. You see, I was sharing with them what has been proven by institutions like the Hague tribunal and individuals who fought against Milošević, ie. Milošević started the process of Yugoslavia's break-up in Kosovo. Along with that, while discussing the war, I told them how he openly advocated the preservation of Yugoslavia, while covertly he supported nationalists (Serbian ones, of course) in Bosnia and Croatia who very openly advocated that areas with a Serbian majority in those countries join Serbia and form an enlarged Serbian state denounced by the Western and local media with the name "Greater Serbia". I even shared with them views that many Croats hold about the war in their country.

    A lot of my fellow Serbs who regularly participate on the forum are not happy about my views one bit. Some are very visibly upset that their fellow Serb, from their region, could think like that after all what they went through during the war. They are, of course, very well aware that I didn't live through what they did.

    You see, it is very difficult to share such widely accepted facts with my people (facts that have openly been proven in the Hague, for instance), and pretty much impossible for them to accept them, because these facts in many ways conflict with what they personally and actually experienced at the time. I have noticed this when discussing with them, and I shall share with you just what they experienced.

    And before any of you start having problems with me sticking up for my people, I just want to say, yes it is true. Milan Martić and Milan Babić, the leaders of the short-lived breakaway "Republika Srpska Krajina", led my people into war, betrayed my people and caused a lot of harm along the way to Croats. They've both been punished for what they did, both have received more than a decade in jail sentence (Martić three and a half decades; Babić 13 years though only served two of them since he killed himself). And most of all, I despise what they've done to MY people, THEIR people!!!

    Martić and Babić are guilty, that is all true and I don't make excuses for them. Bear in mind though that Babić at least confessed his crimes, and probably because of that got a shorter sentence than his partner in crime. I do think that they also bear at least some responsibility - but not complete - for why the majority of my people don't live in their towns and villages across Croatia as they used to do before, but rather elsewhere in the world, particularly in Serbia. However, in my book and in many others', the prime culprits for the exoduses I shall discuss later, are the governments of Zagreb and Belgrade at that time.

    However, and this is a BIG HOWEVER, the problem is my people didn't experience the war in that way, the way that I have explained above which the Hague tribunal has established. They also remember what happened from 1990 to 1995 in a much different way than what the Croatian state and media claim and have claimed for the past 16 years.

    The Croatian side claims how their country, and as a result their nation, was a victim of "aggression", namely from Serbia, and that the land that was part of the "Republika Srpska Krajina" constituted "occupied territories". The Serbs who lived in that Krajina, my people, don't agree with those two terms and are in fact offended by them. Even I disagree with the usage of the words "aggression/aggressors" and "occupied territory/ies". I particularly resent the word "occupied" being used for areas like Gračac, whose majority Serbian populations at least democratically chose, for right or wrong reasons, to be part of that Krajina. Not to mention how the Serbs who specifically fought in the army of the "Republika Srpska Krajina" can't be called "aggressors". Yes, they fought against Croatia and some of the members of that army did indeed commit war crimes. But still, you just can't say that they fought against their towns and villages; and of course, they did not invade their hometowns and villages. And I stand by that.

    You really have to put yourself in my poeple's shoes, and try to imagine yourself being subjected to the kind of circumstances and influences they were subjected to at that time. It's really no good doing what the Croatian media encourages Croats to do, which is to just assume they were "aggressors" occupying "their" land, as if majority Serbian towns like mine and others are the personal possession of every Croat under the sun. How ridiculous! And another thing, you really have to remember the Second World War.

    You know that World War Two started in 1939, right? Well, it came to Yugoslavia in 1941. And to cut an even longer story short, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia capitulated to the Axis powers and was divided up. And upon the territory of modern-day Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Srem in Serbia was established the notorious "Independent State of Croatia" ("Nezavisna Država Hrvatska"), a puppet state run by the "Ustaše", which had as its goal to rid the territory it had authority over of "undersirables" like Jews and Roma like Germany - BUT, more importantly for this fascist Croatian state was to eradicate one group in partcular, Serbs. And considering how 1.9 million of them were located within this "Independent State of Croatia", the Ustaše could take their pick and treat my people like fair game to butcher and slaughter any way they like. And while Germany ran Auschwitz in Poland, this Croatia had Jasenovac, a death camp within its own territory. The number of victims in that camp has been in despute, and is beyond the scope of this article. Research in the 1980s suggests that the number of all Serbian lives the Ustaše are responsible for taking could be anything from 200,000 to over 300,000 people, of course covering the entire territory of the fascist "Independent State of Croatia".

    In the face of all this apocalypse and tragedy, my people managed to survive, rebuild their lives in Marshal Tito's Yugoslavia, and build a better future for their families, which is why I am here writing this post to you.

    Therefore, bear in mind what happened to the Croatian Serbs, and other Serbs whose towns and villages were so unlucky to fall under the jurisdiction of that fascist puppet state during the Second World War, when dealing with this recent war in Croatia.

    Another thing I notice is this anti-Western sentiment among Croatian Serbs, which you'll find among many other Serbs as well, since much of Western foreign policy during the nineties was indeed geared towards undermining Slobodan Milošević's régime, not to mention how the Western media condemned and disparaged the Serbian nationalist régime in Bosnia that established the Republika Srpska.

    You have to remember that they were pretty much cut off from the outside world. No state in the world recognised this short-lived state of Krajina, and even Serbia which supported the breakaway republic was isolated from the world, sanctions and embargos galore. But while Serbia was an isolated "pariah" state, the Croatian Serbs' isolation had an "on the edge of survival" characteristic.

    The Serbs living in the Krajina were never sure of what was going to happen to them, and ever since the war you'll find many of them always thinking how as they often say "centres of power" are controlling what is happening in the politica sphere. This sounds very much like a conspiracy theory. However, I hope you don't find this too bizarre, because this idea of "outside forces" deciding the fate of millions beneath them is precisely based on what they actually experienced. You see, as the war unfolded, my people who found themselves with that short-lived breakaway state, depended their very survival (which sounds over the top, but really isn't) on: one, the army of the "Republika Srpska Krajina" since they were fighting against Tuđman and in turn Croatia; two, on their leaders in Knin, the convicted Martić and Babić; and three, they also looked to Belgrade, because Milošević was an important influence upon the two leaders of the Krajina, not to mention party to the war.

    And so, they depended on their leaders, who in the end betrayed them so humiliatingly. And in turn, there must be some other leaders who are also to blame! With regards to the major source of Croatian Serbs' anti-Western sentiment, it is very well known that the United States did of course support Croatia military. In fact, it was the Americans who gave Zagreb the "green light" to carry out "Operation Oluja", which led to the exodus of my people from Krajina that I explain below. And therefore, it is not hard to understand why Croatian Serbs, after all that's happened to them, blame the West in some way for what happened to them during the war.


    As to the causes of the war, according to many of my fellow Croatian Serbs - and it must be said that Serbian politicians with often dodgy reputations like Borisav Jović often repeat this claim - what caused the conflict in Croatia was the change - or at least perceived change - in their people's status in the country's constitution. They've maintained this position for all these years. According to the constitution from 1974 till 1990, Croatia was officially:

    "the state of the Croatian people, the state of the Serbian people in
    Croatia and the state of all nationalities that reside in her".

    My people in Croatia considered themselves a "constitutional people" based on this constitution, and they felt it was very important for them to be a "constitutional people", because, based on their war effort against fascism during the Second World War, especially against the home-grown Croatian fascism, it was only right in the name of all the Serbian victims of fascism and the genocide Croatian fascism wrought on them for them to be a "constitutional people". What also came with being a "constitutional people" as written in the constitution was that Croatia was a binational state, the state of both the Croatian people and Serbian people in Croatia, something that provided the Serbs of Croatia with a sense of security after the nightmarish ordeal they had survived. Mind you, even in Austro-Hungarian times, my people in modern-day Croatia had certain privileges.

    That wording you see above was changed in 1990 by Croatian assembly with Franjo Tuđman as the country's president into:

    "…The Republic of Croatia establishes itself as a national state of the Croatian people and a state of those people and minorities who are her citizens…"

    This paragraph in the constitution, believe it or not, goes on to mention the various nations - including my Serbian people - to whom are guaranteed "equality with citizens of Croatian nationality" and the "realization of national rights".

    Let's look at the changed wording in full:

    "…The Republic of Croatia establishes itself as a national state of the Croatian
    people and a state of those peoples and minorities who are her citizens: of the Serbs, Muslims, Slovenes, Czechs, Slovaks, Italians, Hungarians, Jews, and of others, to whom are guaranteed equality with citizens of Croatian nationality and the realization of national rights in accordance with democratic norms of the UN and countries of the free world."

    With all that is said of how my people's status was demoted in Croatia's constitution, I have to say how the change of wording as I and anyone else can see it is not in the least bit offensive.

    However, I remind you once again that I am speaking as a Serb who didn't live through Croatia's secession and the ensuing war like my people did. Of course, I am saying this as someone looking in from the outside, not to mention from an historical distance.

    I can understand that this perceived change in status alarmed a lot of Serbs in the country, considering the security they felt being a "constitutional people" in Croatia. Even our people's more moderate representatives at the time saw this as a major provocation at the expense of the Serbian people in Croatia, because they saw Croatia as a binational state of both the Croatian people and Serbian people in Croatia, a status awarded to them for their effort in liberating Croatia.

    It must be noted that many of my fellow Serbs in Croatia and elsewhere just did not like the idea of being a "minority in their own country". But also because it was Franjo Tuđman's government that made this change that compounded this state of alarm among us Serbs, since he was very unpopular for his nationalistic rhetoric and his views on certain issues that affected us.


    And so, the state that was established to protect the Serbian people, the "Republika Srpska Krajina", from the kind of Croatian fascists my people were victims of during World War Two (Ustaše), was defeated by Croatia's army in 1995. What wasn't brought under Croatia's control that year was later peacefully re-integrated in 1997. But what happened in 1995 has also been disputed between Serbs and Croats.

    Basically, as you already know, the Croatian army mounted the military campaign named "Operation Oluja", "oluja" being the Serbo-Croatian word for "storm". And as you may know, Croats see this as their ultimate victory over the Serbian Chetnik "occupiers/aggressors", and what not. Prior to "Oluja", there was "Operation Bljesak", "bljesak" meaning "lightning", and this is also considered a victory over these same "bad guys", "baddies". And as you will also know, both actions resulted in widescale exoduses of the Serbian population from those parts of modern-day Croatia that were under "Republika Srpska Krajina" beforehand. With "Bljesak" came the flight of about 30,000 Serbs, while with "Oluja" came the exodus of around 200,000 Serbs from the fallen Krajina. My numerous family members and their fellow townspeople and villagers were victims of this "Oluja".

    I have mentioned this in my blog before and I shall mention this again. The Croatian state denies and continues to deny all responsibility for the resulting exodus of my people during "Oluja", and dare I say how the media of that country follows suit. Instead, they primarily blame the Krajina authorities for "evacuating" the Serbs under their authority; they lay responsibility upon the leaders of the fallen Krajina for having "ordered" the Serbs under their authority not to stay in their homes should the Croatian army take control of territory under this breakaway state, and for having "informed" the populace prior to "Oluja" through their media of which routes to take!

    This is all very confusing for anyone who was either not personally involved in what happened or is just not very familiar with the historical background! Not to mention how all of this is very contradictory - hey, not the first time when it comes to the histories of the Balkan peoples, I can tell you that for sure!

    So we're dealing with a humanitarian catastrophe which happened at the same time as what Croats believe was an act of "liberation". We know that many crimes were committed by Croatian troops upon Serbian civilians who chose to stay back and not leave with their fellow Serbs (mainly the older people). We also know that Croatian troops even harrassed Serbs assembled in those very columns that stretched for miles leading into Bosnia destined for Serbia. Around 200,000 Serbs fled the fallen Krajina through Bosnia into Serbia, and yet according to many Croats, these Serbs just "voluntarily" left.

    Without having to guess, you can see that Croatian Serbs who lived through the exodus that coincided with "Oluja" are understandably offended by what the Croatian media and politicians claim, ie. the Croatian side of the story, with regards to this military action. However, you must understand why many Croats are so insensitive to the plight of Serbs.

    As you know, Milan Martić and Milan Babić are convicted war criminals. And during their leadership of the short-lived Krajina, they committed war crimes against Croatian civilians, crimes that include ethnic cleansing, specifically mass expulsions of Croatian civilians from their towns and villages numbering over 100,000 people in 1991, at the very beginning of the conflict. Therefore, I don't have to explain much for you to already notice why many Croats are not in the least concerned by the exodus of Serbs - my people - during "Oluja" and the exodus before during "Bljesak".

    All this, of course, makes reconciliation between Serbs and Croats from Croatia very difficult, not least because they don't even agree with what happened! But you must also remember that many Croats also consider Croatian Serbs collectively as "traitors" to their (Croats') beautiful homeland for all the war crimes committed under Martić and Babić, let alone for choosing to break away from Croatia, which they did democratically. And this adds to the contempt many Croats have for Serbs and for what they went through during the war, and thus makes reconciliation even more difficult.


    The main problem you'll find between communities that have been at war against one another, as you've noticed from what you've read above, is obviously that they don't look at how the other side feels; they don't try to put themselves into their shoes. Many people may not want to reconcile with their former foe. And you know what? That's fine. In my opinion, such people should try to keep their hatred to themselves, live with it if they can. But most importantly for them to bear in mind: one, do nothing to realise their hatred; and two, leave us who want to live in peace with our neighbours, who want peace between our communities, alone.

    Many Serbs don't want to see things from the Croatian point of view, just like Croats don't want to see things from the Serbian point of view. But you know what, and let's be fair on them. They don't particularly have to. Besides, you must remember that many of my fellow Serbs from Gračac and across the fallen Krajina have lost friends and family during the last war, and if you were to explain to them that their side committed crimes against the other side, you may get wrongly accused of "feeling sorry for the other side" in opposition to their side, ie. siding with the enemy. And if you're a Serb like me, and a Croatian one at that, suggesting to Croatian Serbs that Milošević is more responsible for the break-up of Yugoslavia than Croatian separatists like Tuđman could make you very unpopular, even make people consider you "treatcherous"!

    And so, without repeating things too much, people who were personally victimised by a certain side are not likely to sympathize with the victims from that side and vice versa. And this is so true for both the Croatian and Serbian peoples who lived through this war. Considering which, you can guess what it's like for Bosnia's three main ethnic communities.


    However, many Serbs, in this case Serbs in general, find it very difficult to believe - believe it or not - that members of their own people could bear so much responsibility for much of what happened during the 90s. Hence, why the Hague was very unpopular among many Serbs for a very long time and still is among right-wing sections of the public. And it's also the classical cliché of the mother who can't believe that her son, her sweet little baby boy she brought into the world and raised with love and care, could commit a crime like murder or rape.

    But there's another reason, and it's based on our history. We Serbs were many times the victims and collectively so, be it victims of the Ottoman Turks for over four hundred or of the Croatian Ustaše in the first half of the 20th century. That's not to say that even in those times members of our nation haven't victimised others, of course they have. But still, what our people went through during those times has left its own mark on our collective psyche.

    And it is this very psyche, the many times persecuted Serbian soul, that psychopathic individuals like Radovan Karadžić, who practically destroyed Bosnia's multicultural society - though not on his own, obviously - could manipulate by grossly influencing people to seek revenge against their neighbours for those evil deeds that were committed by members of those nations sometime against the Serbs in the Balkans' long and bitter past.

    This again is something we must learn from. People who've suffered like the Serbs have during history are very prone to seek revenge for the things that have happened to them in the past, in particular against those people whose members committed those actions in the first place. It is a very tragic example of what is often called the "viscious cycle of revenge".

    Considering which, thanks to Karadžić and the atrocities committed by his inferiors, now many Bosniaks want to avenge us Serbs for what happened to them during the 90s, which is something that deeply upsets me as a person and to some extent as a member of the Serbian people, and no doubt many other Serbs feel this way too. What's also sad is how these are people with whom we were not long ago actually developing a common Yugoslav identity before this dreadful conflict in Bosnia. And it's understandable that I feel this way, since nobody who is sensible and conscientious enough in this world would want whole nations to bear hostility towards their nation; nobody wants other people to hate their people.


    And so, I shall end this already very long blog post with this.

    If someone were to ask me how I felt about what my Serbs, the Croatian Serbs, went through during the first half of the 1990s, I would answer them by saying, "heartbroken". Heartbroken that those leaders who led my people have, thanks to their politics, contributed to the current situation my people are in, ie. not by their centuries-old "hearths" as we call our lands, but in Serbia and other parts of the world. And after all our grandparents and great-grandparents went through during the Second World War, the genocide committed by the Ustaše against their communities and families, my people certainly didn't deserve all this.

    They're MY people, and they shouldn't have gone through what they did. Many of them don't agree with my views and they have every right not to agree. And yet, being a Croatian Serb and having this blog which I write in an international language, I feel it necessarily to try and spread at least some awareness of the problems my people face. And I would also like people who are interested in the Balkans and/or concerned with the break-up of Yugoslavia and its aftermath to read my views about what my people, the Croatian Serbs, are going through on an online web log like this.

    So with this blog, I shall try to be my people's voice, be it "alternative", that I hope they will eventually understand (!), and when it comes to the crunch, should push come to shove, show their support for!


    Monday, 19 November 2007

    My opinion on Kosovo

    Hello everybody.

    It's time I discussed a very serious and controversial subject. For all of you who don't know what Kosovo is, look here on Wikipedia!

    To cut this looooooooong story short, if I can (!), the people of Kosovo, who are overwhelmingly Albanian in composition want to split away from Serbia. Nothing new for our world full of smaller states and bigger states, but nevertheless a situation with its own many particular issues, of course. In fact, there has recently been an election in the province, in which Hashim Thaçi, a former rebel fighter, seems to have won, promising independence to come soon. From what I've read, the Kosovo Serbs have boycotted the election as a protest against giving legitimacy to a parliament that could declare independence for what is still a province of Serbia. Notwithstanding, more than half of the electorate didn't participate in the election.

    In the 1980s, following Marshal Tito's death, there were famous, or infamous if you feel that way, mass demonstrations in Kosovo lead by Albanians calling for a Republic of Kosovo to replace the then current autonomy they had within the federation, which was bestowed to the province by the 1974 constitution, which likewise recognised Vojvodina, Serbia's northern province, as an autonomous province. This happened during a period of economic crisis and rising nationalism within the federation.

    Then in the late 80s, Slobodan Milošević came along and revoked both Kosovo's and Vojvodina's autonomy, which caused a crisis throughout Yugoslavia, precipitating its break-up. Following the wars in Croatia and Bosnia (the war in Slovenia wasn't as destructive as these two), unrest came to Kosovo between the Kosovo Liberation Army (Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës or "UÇK") and the mainly-Serbian Army of Yugoslavia in 1998. The state army reacted heavy-handedly, causing the displacement of approximately 300,000 Albanians in that year.

    Then in 1999 occured the Račak incident, in which 45 Albanians were killed by Serbian state forces, which was condemned by Western countries as a massacre. A month later came the Rambouillet conference, which eventually led to the failed Rambouillet Accords in March that the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia refused to sign. This was followed by the 78-day bombing of Serbia by NATO. This in turn was followed by the expulsion of over 800,000 Albanians from Kosovo, fleeing to neighbouring Albania and Macedonia.

    At the end, Milošević signed the Kumanovo Agreement which brought about the end to the bombing campaign. The vast majority of Albanian refugees returned to Kosovo, however this was followed by a second wave of ethnic cleansing, in which around 260,000 Serbs and other non-Albanians fled or were expelled from the province, becoming internally displaced persons within Serbia, along with widespread destruction of Serbian orthodox church property largely dating back to the medieval period, to the time of Serbia's great kings and its short-lived empire.

    From all of the above, it is obvious to any impartial reader that the Serbian authorities under Milošević botched up Kosovo terribly, firstly for Albanians, and then in turn for Serbs (not to mention for other groups). He ensured with his reckless policies that tensions between Serbs and Albanians would stay at fever pitch, not to mention how the ruthlessness that many Serbian troops have wrought upon Albanian civilians (who, whether the Albanians liked it themselves or not, were their (Serbian troops') fellow citizens, whom as an obligation they were meant to protect) has ensured that they would continue to harbour strong feelings of hatred for their Serbian neighbours for as long as their hearts can make them feel so. And of course, it was Milošević and his régime that are greatly responsible for the fact that since NATO took control of Kosovo, Serbs have for many years lived in abject fear of their Albanian neighbours, only feeling some sense of security when they receive personal protection from KFOR troops. It wasn't the least rare to see an old Serbian lady being escorted by a KFOR soldier just to buy some mundane things such as grocery from the local market not far from where she lives in the same town! Even churches and monasteries have been guarded by KFOR troops for fear that they would also be vandalised and ransacked like so many others.

    That's not to say that Albanians haven't contributed to this situation in any way themselves. Indeed, Albanian separatists have also contributed to heightening ethnic tensions either by simply harbouring general ill will and contempt for their Serbian neighbours, or through their actions, be it random acts of violence and arsonism, murder and kidnap, or even more heinous acts such as desecrating Serbian Orthodox graves.

    And of course, the NATO bombing also caused a lot of unnecessary harm to civilians, both Serbian and Albanian, not to mention Chinese in the case of the attack on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. In the Western media, the numbers of fatalities, namely Albanian ones, were at times grossly exaggerated by politicians in the face of the unfolding humanitarian disaster. And let's not forget how NATO/KFOR has not always proven to be reliable in protecting Serbian communities from Albanian mobs seeking to expel them from their homes in acts of ethnic cleansing that have given the Balkans such a bad name during the nineties.

    All of the above points are true. However, it is Milošević who bears the ultimate responsibility for so much damage in the province, even if a good deal of the damage wasn't caused by his own forces. And it was his reckless policies that have created such a melancholic situation in Kosovo for all its people, as I have related above. Indeed, it is what he has done that could actually lose Serbia a good chunk of its territory, a piece of land with so much historical significance for us Serbs.

    So what kind of position is Kosovo, still part of Serbia at this moment in time, in today?

    It is for all practical purposes de facto separate from Serbia, with only the majority Serbian north of the province, with its "capital" being the divided city of Kosovska Mitrovica, having a good deal of connection with Belgrade (the road leading from the city to the border with Central Serbia and beyond provides and ensures an easy connection with the rest of Serbia for the Serbs 'north of the Ibar river').

    The same was the case with Montenegro before it proclaimed independence following a successful referendum last year (2006). Montenegro had its own institutions and didn't rely on any federal institution it could share with Serbia, save the state union goverment that was dissolved last year and the army, which as far as I remember has been peacefully divided between the two then newly-separate countries with Montenegro retaining the navy. This separation, of course, left Serbia landlocked with no access to the sea.

    What I mean to say by comparing Montenegro with Kosovo is how the independence of Montenegro was just a confirmation of the already de facto state of affairs that the country was in before the referendum (that only passed with 55.5% of the vote in support) gave legitimacy for the country's formal separation from the state union with Serbia. And should Kosovo receive independence, that too would just be a confirmation of the de facto political situation in Kosovo.

    But what is my opinion of all of this, I hear you ask?

    Well, I don't think you will be surprised to hear that as a Serb I do NOT support Kosovo independence. But then again, I'm not just a Serb, and a loyal one at that; I'm also an Anarchist, a light Anarchist maybe, but one who does not believe in states and borders.

    The former Yugoslavia has received a reputation as a region in Europe prone to fragmentation and new smaller states. Perhaps understandably given the recent history (some of which I mention above). But consider how nationalists strove for the creation of states for their respective peoples. Serbian nationalists advocating an enlarged Serbian state for all Serbs to live in ("Greater Serbia"); Croatian ones advocating a separate state from Yugoslavia (a "Croatia for Croats"); Montenegrin separatists arguing for an independent republic of Montenegro (even promoting a non-Serbian Montenegrin identity for the traditionally Serbian Montenegrins); and Kosovo Albanians resisting Serbian authority in the hope for an independent state for their people, while others among them wanting Kosovo along with other Albanian-populated territories bordering Albania in the Balkans to become a part of Albania (a "Greater Albania").

    All this blatant and unashamed statism, based on my Anarchist beliefs, is utterly bogus; I fundamentally reject it. And yet, this statism continues to manifest itself in reality without restriction: in the colourful flags that fly on so many poles, in the "Welcome to blah, blah, blah" signs you see on the designated borders, and the border patrol people who man such imaginary lines of division! And should I mention the soldiers dressed in green camouflage uniforms with different coloured badges, praising the state and promising to the citizens thereof that they will defend them (perhaps by harming citizens of another country, or in the case of Kosovo above, perceived disloyal minorities in their country)?

    Yet worst of all, so many ordinary people consciously believe and in their minds uphold the state. They think their safety is guaranteed by it; they believe their very lives depend on the state they inhabit being protected. And it's when this idea of defending the state gets mixed with the kind of tribalistic ethnocentricity seen in the Balkans, that grave injustices can occur.

    In Kosovo, hundreds of thousands of Albanians were ethnically cleansed by soldiers who believed that they were a threat to their country and people. Yet what happened afterwards? Over two hundred thousand Serbs and non-Albanians suffered the same, as I pointed out above. In Croatia, my people were led to believe that their safety, their very lives, depended on the "Republika Srpska Krajina". Crimes were committed against Croats by the leaders of this short-lived state, believing that by doing so the Serbian people will be safer. How cynical and how false it turned out to be. Thanks to their crimes, my people are denigrated throughout Croatia, treated by many like the worst thing to have ever set foot on "their" land. And many people who believe in such abominable things are inclined to commit crimes against my people, commit injustices in the name of some so-called "justice" (!), to protect their beautiful Croatia and their people. As you can see, this is also a case of "perceived disloyal minorities" being persecuted in the name of protecting the people/state.

    Back to Kosovo, I do understand why Kosovo Albanians want their land, Kosovo, to be a separate country, even though the Kosovo Serbs don't want the same for what is their land as well. However, I think what would be far more beneficial for the province than declaring independence from Serbia would be, above other things, to improve infrastructure in the province, strengthen local forms of government (come on, we still live in a world of states and governments). At the same time, something should be done to increase economic activity, employ people in a wide variety of work so they can improve their standard of living. And for the long run, and this will be very hard for a region like Kosovo with its long bitter history, creating some kind of inter-communal cohesion. Something like that would take years, even decades to develop.

    I repeat that I do not support independence. However, I do believe that Serbian politicians in Belgrade should in some way officially prepare their citizens for the possibility of Kosovo splitting from Serbia, the vast majority of whose own lives are not just detached from the province, but so unconnected to what is happening there, that it would not make a difference to them one way or the other should the province split or not. The province's own Serbian politicians are opposed to independence to the bitter end, so God only know what it will be like for them, and most importantly for the people they represent, should we soon hear from the province's capital, Priština (or Prishtina), a formal declaration of independence by its Albanian leaders. Notwithstanding, there is also the possibility that Kosovo will remain for many years to come an unresolved conflict, like Cyprus or Palestine, even though America is keen on seeing the Kosovo issue resolved as soon as possible.

    A lot of Serbs, of course, believe strongly that Kosovo is their land, their people's land, even though many of them have never even visited the place, let alone lived there. While on the other side, a lot of Albanians believe that that land belongs only to them, because they form the majority population there.

    In the interest of being respectful to both sides in this issue, how about, instead of claiming how Kosovo is just Serbian or only Albanian, we say Kosovo is both Serbian and Albanian! Why not? Not to mention how it's also Romany land because Roma people live there as well, Gorani land to the Southwest, Turkish land 'cause there is a Turkish minority there, Muslim/Bosniak land, Ashkali and Egyptian land, and believe it or not, Janjevo Croatian land! (There used to be an Adyghe community there until 1998.) Why don't we all just say that Kosovo belongs to all the people who live there?

    Let's start there.

    (Better still, I prefer what the American Indians believe. That is, how land belongs to no man, save to the Great Spirit, or God. And how land is only for man to look after, but not to own. But that's the problem with us Europeans, unfortunately. And that is the root of Statism.)

    Sunday, 11 November 2007

    Divanimo naški!

    Hello readers (and if you're reading this from Montenegro, it's "Zborimo naški"!),

    After the epic post I wrote advocating the re-usage of the name "Serbo-Croat" to refer to the language used by the people of Srb., Cro., B&H and Mont., it's time I spoke to you about my Serbian!

    Please note that I am not a professional linguist or historian. The information in this article is based on my own observations of people's conversations and knowledge of the region's history, and therefore, some of my conclusions in this article may be incorrect. Nevertheless, I write this post to share with you my own knowledge of the language of my ancestors and their fellow people, and by doing so, present the various linguistic elements absorbed by and related to this dialect. And should this essay receive acclaim and commendation from formal linguists, I would be very much delighted!

    My dialect of Serbian, according to many linguists, belongs to the East Herzegovinian dialect family. Based in Eastern Herzegovina (where it gets its name from) and the Old Herzegovina region in modernday Montenegro, it stretches out thence to the West to Slavonia, Kordun, Banija, Lika and North Dalmatia in Croatia, even reaching Zagorje and Baranja, and embracing Western Bosnia under the Sava river; while to the East it reaches Semberija with its centre at Bijeljina in Northeastern Bosnia, and crossing the Drina river reaches Užice and the Zlatibor region in western Serbia. That this dialect family is so geographically widespread is testimony to the numerous migrations that the Serbs, among whom are my own ancestors, have undergone over the centuries.

    Although this is mostly a Serbian dialect, the Croatian of the people of Dubrovnik is also considered to belong to this dialect, and not surprisingly given the city's geographic proximity to East Herzegovina. Therefore, it is not an exclusively Serbian dialect, even though most of its speakers are Serbs.

    Historically speaking, my ancestors and the ancestors of my fellow Croatian Serbs used to live in areas of modernday Croatia that were designated the Vojna Krajina or "Military Frontier", where they used to defend the Habsburg Empire, and in turn Christian Europe, from further breaches of the border by the Islamic Ottoman Empire. They themselves were the designated Krajišnici ("frontiersmen"). Their language was also spoken by other Serbs, who lived nearby in areas outside of the historical boundaries of the former Vojna Krajina, in Northern Dalmatia between Knin and Zadar and Western Bosnia between the Vrbas and Una rivers. Their language was fundamentally the language of the Tromeđa, or the "land of the three marches" representing Lika (where my ancestors lived), Dalmatia and Bosnia.

    As with any language when it comes to migrations, the language of the previously settler community often changes after long contact with the home community. And such language change is not exclusive to the settle community. Indeed the language of the home community changes to some extent. In this way, we could suppose that my ancestors absorbed many Croatian words and pronunciations into their language. Although my Serbian is mainly Ijekavski1 in pronunciation, it has altered many words to be pronounced according to Ikavski2 pronunciation. The language of most Croats in Lika also became a Štokavski dialect3, as the area of Čakavski4 speech drifted westwards towards the coast and the isles on the Adriatic sea, likewise thanks to historic migrations.

    Also, as people who settle into a certain area may come from different regions and may even have slightly different backgrounds, it must be noted. As I noted above, my Serbian ancestors underwent many migrations, and from what I know they generally came from modernday Montenegro, the historic home of the brave, noble and honorable freedom-fighting Serbian tribesmen and warriors romanticised by Petar Petrović Njegoš II, Eastern Herzegovina and other regions such as Sandžak, Bosnia and even Kosovo. My Serbian is classed as an Eastern Herzegovinian dialect, which also contains many elements found in the the Zeta-Sandžak dialect, spoken in southern and eastern Montenegro stretching north to the eastern part of the Sandžak region around the city of Novi Pazar in Serbia.

    I think I should start sharing with you examples of all of the above etc.!

    One characteristic word you'll hear among Serbs where I come from, even from Serbs who don't speak their parents'/grandparents' dialect but rather a more standard language, is "đe" (pronounced like the "je" in Jerry) in place of "gdje" (if you Anglophones can manage it!, with "g" as in goat, "d" as in date, pronounced together in that order in front of the "ye" in yes), meaning where. This pronunciation is not limited to us Croatian Serbs. In fact, you will find this pronunciation among Bosnian Muslims or Bosniaks. Nevertheless, it is a form of the word "gdje" that was brought to our regions in Croatia from Montenegro, where you will also hear "đe" spoken in daily conversation. Derived forms include: "neđe" (somewhere), "niđe" (nowhere), "iđe" (anywhere) and "svađe/svuđe" (everywhere).

    A very characteristic word you may hear is "nijesam" (pronounced "nee-YEAH-sum") which means I'm not in place of the more formal and also more common "nisam" ("nee-sum"). You will find this characteristic word throughout Montenegro, where the stress is alternatively on the "ni" of "nijesam" ("NEE-yeh-sum"). In western Bosnia between the Vrbas and Una rivers, you will hear among the Serbs there the form "njesam", without the transitional "i" and pronounced with a clear "ny" sound and elongated "e" (this form obviously derives from the former pronunciation mentioned in the beginning of this paragraph with the stress on the "je" of "nijesam"). Consequently, you may sometimes hear Serbs in Croatia say "njesam" in conversation as well.

    (In turn, "nijesi" means you aren't (singular); "nijesmo" we aren't; "nijeste" you aren't (plural); and "nijesu" they aren't. While it isn't is "nije", just like in all other Serbo-Croatian dialects.)

    However, you could quite freely translate "nijesam/njesam" into English as I ain't since this pronunciation is often considered colloquial. Considering which, you shouldn't be surprised if you don't hear many Serbs from Croatia in their fifties and younger say "nijesam/njesam", since people born in Croatia in the 1950s and later learnt to speak a more standard language in schools. Many of these people also consider this pronunciation in particular to be "peasant", since it seems to be the most characteristic word of the language of their rural/agricultural parents and grandparents, a way of life which they, in pursuit of an easier life in the towns and cities, have left behind.

    Back to linguistics, when you want to say the opposite of "nijesam", you can use the form "esam", which is a reduction of "jesam", meaning I am! (Look at the summary to see further forms) In the same vein, you'll hear the form "elda" for "jelda", which basically means isn't it or innit! And another example of "j" being dropped from the beginning of words is in the word "edan" meaning one. Since that word can be declensed through gender5 and case6, you'll hear "edna, edno, ednog, ednom" etc. Nevertheless, this loss of "j" in front of the vowel "e" is not so widespread in this dialect as is the case in the related yet far removed Bulgarian and Macedonian language(s) spoken further east. We still say "jezik" for language or tongue, and "jelo" for meal, etc.

    As with many dialects in Serbo-Croat, the phoneme represented by the letter "h" (which is the same as the one heard in Standard German written as "ch") is often dropped from words in this dialect. Hence, "hoću" is pronounced "oću" meaning I want; "ćio, ćela" for "htio, htjela" as seen above; "ja bi'" instead of "ja bih" meaning I would likewise seen above; "nji'" instead of "njih" meaning them; "nji'ov" instead of "njihov" meaning their (in Dalmatia they also have "nijev", "njiv" and "njev"); and "ajduk" for "hajduk", 19th century freedom-fighting bandits who fought against the Turks.

    A number of words - but not all - where you find "tj" (just "t" followed by "y") and "dj" ("d" and "y") in standard ijekavski pronunciation, is converted in my dialect into "ć" (soft "ch") and "đ" (soft "dj"). This is a feature found in the Montenegrin dialect, though noticed more extensively.7 Examples of which found in my dialect are: "ćerati" for "tjerati" meaning to chase or impel; "ćio/ćeo, ćela, ćeli" etc. for "htio/htjeo, htjela, htjeli" etc. being various forms of the past tense of "htjeti" meaning to want (often used to form the conditional in I would like in "ja bi' ćio"); "đe" for "gdje" meaning where as seen above; and "đed" for "djed" meaning grandfather.

    Another very Montenegrin feature in my dialect are the hyper-ijekavisms, as noticed above in "nijesam". In our case system, the singular instrumental, the plural genitive and the plural dative, locative and instrumental cases for adjectives are as follows: "-ijem" instead of "-im"; "-ije" instead of "-ih"; and "-ijem" for all the rest. Examples: with a good man is "sa dobrijem čo'ekom", in standard "sa dobrim čovjekom"; "kod dobrije ljudi" for "kod dobrih ljudi" meaning 'round good people; and "u ljepijem mjestima" for "u lijepim mjestima" meaning in nice/beautiful places.

    After seeing a few examples of the dialect's Montenegrin/Herzegovinian features, let's look at the possible Croatian contribution to the language of my ancestors from their Catholic Croatian neighbours. We could use the label "hrvatizam", though bear in mind that some of these words and pronunciations with possibly Croatian origins can also be heard in the related Slovenian language spoken further north from our forefathers' lands in Slovenia, which borders Croatia, and dialectual similarities are to be expected. Therefore, just like many of the features of my dialect are not exclusively found amongst Serbian dialects, many of these listed below are not exclusively Croatian.

    In the speech of today's Croatian Serbs, for instance, we often use the word "kruh" or rather "kru(v)" for bread instead of the more Serbian "hljeb". However, in our dialect, which not all Serbs from Croatia speak, as you've already read, we also say "morem, nemerem" meaning I can, I can't instead of "mogu, ne mogu". Along with "morem, nemerem", the other forms are: "moreš, nemereš" for you can, you can't (singular); "more, nemere" it can, it can't; "moremo, nemeremo" we can, we can't; "morete, nemerete" you can, you can't (plural); but they can, they can't is the same as in all other dialects, "mogu, ne mogu". (In the Slovenian language, you will also find the words "morem, moreš, more", etc.)

    Although my dialect is mainly an ijekavski one, it contains many words pronounced in ikavski, like I mentioned above. This could also be considered another Croatian contribution to my Serbian. For instance: "dvista" for "dvjesta" meaning two hundred; "sikira" replaces "sjekir" meaning axe. When it comes to verbs, the "je" in the past tenses is mostly replaced by "i": when saying he/she/it lived, one uses "živio, živila, živilo" instead of "živjeo8, živjela, živjelo", representing the past tense of to live in its masculine, feminine and neuter forms all singular; and when saying he/she/it lived (See Montenegrin equivalent in Note 7 below) ; "vidio, vidila, vidilo" instead of "vidjeo7, vidjela, vidjelo", likewise representing the past tense of to see in its masculine, feminine and neuter forms all singular.

    Again when it comes to cases, this time the plural feminine dative, locative and instrumental, its case ending "-ama" is replaced with "-ami". For instance, when saying with hands or with legs you may hear "s rukami" and "s nogami" instead of "s(a) rukama" and "s(a) nogama". However, this feature is more widespread in the speech of older speakers. Nevertheless, this feature is still noticed when many Croatian Serbs today say "nami" and "s nami" instead of "nama" and "s(a) nama" meaning to us or with us when "s(a)" is placed in front, and "vami" and "s vami" instead of "vama" and "s(a) vama" meaning to you (plural) or with you when "s(a)" is likewise placed in front. (Again, you will find this -ami feature in Slovenian.)

    Leaving aside possibly Croatian features, another feature in our dialect relates to the case system in the widespread replacement of "em" found in declensed words after letters like š, ć, đ et al. by "om", and even "eg" by "og" (very common in the speech of older Dalmatian Serbs). Examples: instead of "mojem" meaning to my or in my for masculine and neuter nouns in the dative or locative, you may hear "mojom"; instead of "vašeg" meaning from yours, "vašog". This phenomenon isn't just found in the declensed case endings, it's also found in the neuter nominative form of adjectives: "vrućo" instead of "vruće" meaning hot; "mlađo" instead of "mlađe" meaning younger. Unfortunately, these pronunciations are considered to be very ungrammatical by speakers of standard dialects and are sometimes considered amusing for its peculiarity.

    Other particular words in my dialect include: "oklen" or even "okle" instead of "odakle" which means whence or from where; "doklen" for "dokle" meaning till where/when or as long as; and "do'len" or "dotlen" for "dotle" meaning till there. Instead of "kada, tada, sada" meaning where, then, now, we say "kade, tade, sade". When saying again, we say "jope" instead of "opet". "Uvijek" means always, however we often drop the "k" and say "uvije'" instead! (You may also hear the forms "vavije'", "vaje'" or "vajek" among the elderly.) When you want to say someone, let's say a man, is like this or that, we say "vaki" instead of "ovakav", "taki" instead of "takav", or "naki" instead of "onakav". When you want to say like him or her, we say "ki on" instead of "kao on". Though "kao što je on bio" meaning like he was is "ka' što (je) on bio", and thus just like me is "ka' i ja" instead of "kao i ja". And when saying with him, her or them, you may hear "šnjim", "šnjom" and "šnjima". And like with another example above, these three words are also found to be particularly funny to speakers of more standard dialects!

    The final feature of my dialect that I will share with you is to do with the past tense of verbs. To say I looked at her, if you're male, you say "ja sam gledao nju". However in our dialect we drop the "o" in the verb ending "ao", thus making "ja sam gleda' nju". When saying he said that, instead of "on je to rekao", we say "on je to reka'". This contraction of "-ao" into "a'" is also found in many Croatian dialects and also found in the Montenegrin dialect. For the verbal ending "-uo" found in "ti si skinuo odjelo" meaning you took off your suit (singular), we remove the "u" and say "ti si skin'o odjelo". And the verb ending "-eo" is likewise contracted, and thus "sinoć sam lijepo prov'o" instead of "sinoć sam lijepo proveo" meaning I had a good time last night. The last verb ending "-io" is not altered and remains the same.

    And I'll finish this essay with one final word! As you've noticed from the title of this essay, we Croatian Serbs often use the word "divan'ti", which means to converse, chat. This word can be heard in many Croatian and Bosnian dialects, and it came to us via Turkish, yet is originally derived from Persian! But as you can notice in the word, where the "i" should be between "n" and "t" is dropped, as this is also a particularly common feature in my dialect to drop the "i" in verbs with the infinitive suffix "iti": vid'ti for viditi/vidjeti (to see); and vol'ti for voliti/voljeti (to love, to like).


    So after these long paragraphs, let's summarise through this list of the features that make my dialect "unique" (well ok, not all of these are completely unique to my ancestors' dialect, but they do make my dialect what it is):

    • "đe" (where), "neđe" (somewhere), "niđe" (nowhere), "iđe" (anywhere) and "svađe/svuđe" (everywhere)

    • "nijesam" or "njesam" (I'm not), "nijesi/njesi" (you aren't (singular)), "nijesmo/njesmo" (we aren't), "nijeste/njeste" (you aren't (plural)) and "nijesu/njesu" (they aren't). It isn't is the same as in other dialects, "nije"

    • "esam" (I am), "esi" (you are (singular)), "est(e)" (it is), "esmo" (we are), "este" (you are (plural)), "esu" (they are)

    • "ćerati" for "tjerati" (to chase or impel) and "doćerati se" for "dotjerati se" (to smarten oneself)

    • "đed" for "djed" (grandfather), "đever" for "djever"(male cousin-in-law) and "đetelina" for "djetelina" (clover)

    • "ćio/ćeo, ćela, ćelo, ćeli, ćele, ćela" for "htio/htjeo, htjela, htjelo, htjeli, htjele, htjela" (past tense forms of htjeti (to want))

    • "ja bi'" for "ja bih" (I would), "nji'" for "njih" and "ij" for "ih" (them), "nji'ov", "nijev", "njiv" and "njev" for "njihov" (their), "vr'" for "vrh" (top), "lače" for "hlače" (trousers)

    • "-ijem" for "-im" and "-ije" for "-ih"; "s ovijem" for "s ovim" (with this/these), "s tijem" for "s tim" (with that/those), "s onijem" for "s onim" (with that/those (over there)), "ovije" for "ovih" (from these), "tije" for "tih" (from those), "onije" for "onih" (from those (over there))

    • "kru(v)" instead of "hljeb" (bread)

    • "morem, nemerem" for "mogu, ne mogu" (I can, I can't); "moreš, nemereš" (you can, you can't (singular)); "more, nemere" (it can, it can't); "moremo, nemeremo" (we can, we can't); "morete, nemerete" (you can, you can't (plural)); but "mogu, ne mogu" (they can, they can't)

    • "dvista" for "dvjesta" (two hundred), "vidila, vidilo" for "vidjela, vidjelo" (she/it saw), "živila, živilo" for "živjela, živjelo" (she/it lived), "bolila, bolilo" for "boljela, boljelo" (she/it hurt or ached), "volila, volilo" for "voljela, voljelo" (she/it loved or liked)

    • "-ami" instead of "-ama": "nami" for "nama", "vami" for "vama", "s rukami" for "s(a) rukama" (with hands), "s nogami" for "s(a) nogama" (with legs)

    • "vašog" for "vašeg" (from your), "našom" for "našem" (to our/in our) "vrućo" for "vruće" (hot), "lošo" for "loše" (bad)

    • "oklen" for "odakle" (from where), "otalen" for "odatle" (from there), "doklen" for "dokle" (till where/when or as long as), "dotlen" or "do'len" for "dotle" (till there)

    • "jope" or "jopet" for "opet" (again)

    • "uvije'", "vavije'", "vaje'" or "vajek" for "uvijek" (always)

    • "vaki" for "ovakav" (like this), "taki" for "takav" (like that), "naki" for "onakav" (like that (further)) (for masculine gender); "vaka" for "ovakva", "taka" for "takva", "naka" for "onakva" (for feminine gender); "vako" for "ovakvo", "tako" for "takvo", "nako" (long "a") for "onakvo" (for neuter gender)

    • "ki on" for "kao on" (like him), "ka' što …" for "kao što …" (like +verb), "ka' i ja" for "kao i ja" (just like me)

    • "šnjim", "šnjom" and "šnjima" for "s(a) njim", "s(a) njom" and "s(a) njima" (with him, with her and with them)

    • "gleda'" for "gledao" (he looked), "reka'" for "rekao" (he said); "skin'o" for "skinuo" (he took off, removed or undressed) and "prov'o" for "proveo" (he carried out or spent, as in spent time)

    • "divan'ti" (to converse, chat); vid'ti" (to see); and vol'ti" (to love, like)


    As I have mentioned a couple of times already in this article, you will not hear that many Croatian Serbs speak the way I have presented here. Some Serbs add aspects of this dialect into their daily speech, though others don't pronounce any word according to this dialect. This dialect is mostly preserved in its fuller form by the older generations, people born before the 1950s, and even many of those people may sometimes pronounce the odd word in a more standard way at times. Nevertheless, these people are indeed the best guardians of our centuries-old dialect, albeit moribund guardians!

    Although the Serbo-Croatian language is not particularly under threat - well, the language isn't, but the use of the name "Serbo-Croat", it must be admitted, has significantly dropped ever since the break up of Yugoslavia - my dialect in many ways is endangered. It's not exactly the only dialect of the language that is in such a position. There are other dialects of the language that are likewise spoken by fewer and fewer people as the years go by, not to mention are scarcely represented in televised media. But there is also another reason why I, as a young person, feel a degree of passion for this dialect.

    Like I've stated above, people born in the 1950s and later learnt to speak a more standard language in schools and universities. You'll find many who mix many words, phrases and pronunciations of their parents'/grandparents' dialect with the more standard language they were educated in. While others are "standard language purists" and, as I mentioned above, consider many of the characteristics of this dialect to be "peasant", representative of a way of life they wished to move away from. But don't be surprised if you hear such "purists" unconsciously add in the odd word, phrase or pronunciation characteristic of this dialect when speaking to you! (We are only human afterall!) And of course, this varies from person to person.

    With regards to their children, people born in the 1980s onwards (my age group), the Croatian Serb youth, in particular those who live in Serbia, are in a completely different linguistic state. Following the tumultuous events of the 1990s, many of my fellow Croatian Serb peers have spent a significant period of their lives, namely their childhood, in Serbia, a good deal of which in Serbian schools, where they learnt the standard form of Serbian spoken in that country, which differs significantly from our ancestors' Serbian (many Croatian Serb youths, bear in mind, still live in Serbia). Now the extent to which these young people have received Serbian Ekavski pronunciation9 (the dominant pronunciation in the country, as opposed to Ijekavski and the Croatian Ikavski) differs from person to person; some of them mix ijekavski with ekavski, while others speak pure ekavski and with a strong Serbian accent. Therefore, not only do such people not speak their grandparents'/great-grandparents' dialect, they speak a completely different dialect that their grandparents and great-grandparents, depending on education and exposure to other dialects, may not completely understand!

    Another important issue is indeed identity, and the roots of which are revealed in very special ways through the medium of this very dialect. We are Croatian Serbs, whose ancestors came from Montenegro and Eastern Herzegovina and settled in demarcated lands along the frontier of two civilizations, where they lived side by side with their Croatian neighbours for generations. And every such mode of communication, be it an entire language or just a certain dialect, tells us a story about the people who speak it. And what a loss it would be for my Serbian, with its colorful roots and its equally colorful influences it has absorbed over the centuries, to no longer be spoken by the descendents of those simple and yet noble people who lived in karst surroundings that can only be found in the part of the world they lived in, who helped defend Europe bravely and fearlessly, as I've mentioned all the way above in the article, who spoke this very dialect.

    The dialect in its fullest form is largely spoken by older people, many of whom admittedly haven't attained as high an education as their children and grandchildren have through the medium of designated standard languages. Hence, the view of many educated people that this dialect, like many other dialects of the language nevertheless, represents an "incorrect manner of speaking".

    And it is because of this lack of usage amongst the younger generations (which bothers me the most), the virtual rarity of the dialect in various sections of the media, and the presently limited number of active speakers (all of which can pose a risk of extinction to any language, let alone to smaller dialects), that I want to give my own personal contribution, however small it is, to the survival and revival of my ancestors' dialect by speaking it myself!

    To i radim!

    Besides, the first step always comes from yourself!


    1 Ijekavski pronunciation is seen in words like "lijepo" meaning pretty or beautiful, "mlijeko" meaning milk, and bijelo meaning white. Sometimes in speech, the transitional "i" in "ije" is dropped and only an elongated "e" after "j" is heard: "bjelo" instead of "bijelo"; and in the case of "lijepo", the "l" becomes a "lj", thus making "ljepo". Also, "vidjeti" meaning to see, "živjeti" meaning to live, and "letjeti" meaning to fly.
    2 Ikavski pronunciation is seen in words like "lipo", "mliko", and bilo, all meaning the same as in note 1 above. Also, "viditi", "živiti", and "letiti", also with the same meanings.
    3 Štokavski is spoken throughout Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and has provided various dialects that have been designated standard languages for either Serbo-Croat or separately for Serbian, Croatian or Bosnian.
    4 Čakavski is today spoken in Dalmatian coastal areas, islands off the coast, Istria and areas inland in much of Gorski Kotar and the Otočac and Senj areas of Lika. According to historians, Čakavski speech spread further east encompassing western Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nevertheless, it is also spoken in Austria, in the Burgenland area and in Italy in the Molise area by Croats who migrated there during the Ottoman period.
    5 The Serbo-Croat language (or Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian) has three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter.
    6 There seven cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, vocative, locative and instrumental.
    7 Further examples of this phenomenon in the Montenegrin dialect include "viđeti" for "vidjeti", "lećeti" for "letjeti", and "đeca" for "djeca" meaning children.
    8 You will also hear "vidio" and "živio" spoken by people who also say "vidjela, vidjelo" and "živjela, živjelo", since "-io" instead of "-jeo" in the male gender past tense is also considered standard, and is actually more common.
    9 Ekavski pronunciation is seen in words like "lepo", "mleko", and belo, all meaning the same as in notes 1 and 2 above. And finally, "videti", "živeti", and "leteti", likewise with the same meanings.

    Edited many times, inc. 26th April 2008, and later 26th January 2009. Last edited: 6th October 2009