#PERIOD AFTER Dejan Sretenovic - 03/1999 Belgrade
NATO Angriff - Der Zusammenbruch der unabhänigen Medien - Szene in Fry

NATO Napadi Krahbcene Nezavisnih Medija u Jugoslaviji

NATO Aggression - Breakdown of the Independent Media Scene in Fry

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Dear all,
Thank you for your numerous initiatives to help and support Radio B92 and other independent media in Yugoslavia, NGOs, human rights activists, political opponents, army reservists, etc. Their lives are not in danger and there's no forced mobilization yet. No one is proclaimed a traitor since the regime likes to give people an image of the national unity and patriotism in these hard times which, more or less, turns to be true. NATO aggression gave an excellent opportunity to Yugoslav president to silence all dissonant voices in Serbia and to "solve" Albanian problem at once. Few remaining independent daily newspapers are under censorship which has been declared since the war broke out. Few radio stations in the province have been shut down too. ANEM (Association of Independent Electronic Media) ceased to exist. Censorship is inevitable in such circumstances (watch CNN or BBC and you will get the idea) and there's no way to skip it. Internet users and those with satellite dishes have a privilege to get informed from various sources, but they consist a minor group of the whole population.

This is the end of so-called "alternative scene" or "other Serbia" which somehow managed to survive and to develop in past years despite all troubles and persecutions. Now we realize the fragility and weakness of this scene and its utopian self confidence. It is clear that "other Serbia" did not manage to survive due to its own strength or socio-cultural significance. On the contrary, it was allowed to exist due to a good will (political interest) of the regime. For example, B92 which turned into a symbol of independent media in Serbia abroad, was quite useful for the regime to show the outer world that media freedom exists in Serbia. All these years B92 got a lot of support and protection from foreign foundations, individuals and governments, but in those times Milosevic did not play with open cards, still trying to make the image of Yugoslavia as a democratic country. We should also stress that Serbian opposition never gave full support to B92 since it resisted their efforts to control it or to turn into an overtly oppositional media. Space for an independent opinion was always pretty limited in Serbia and my friends from B92 experienced it the best. Now, we have to deal with the Lacanian "traumatic return of the real" which diminishes our self deception, our illusions about civilized transition into a democratic society, our efforts to establish new cultural codes and media independence. Majority of the people involved in civil and students protests in Serbia in Winter 1996/97 think that the failure of these protests and the disappointing disintegration of the coalition "Zajedno" marked the end of our utopian hopes for better future. In other words, oppositional mind in Serbia felt into a deep apathy and hopelessness after the protests. A friend of mine, an artist from Belgrade, said that this war came like a stroke of an ax which unexpectedly broke off the lethargy of our small world we used to live in. I agree.

I hope that my B92 friends won't get me wrong, but I ask myself what use can we have here if Radio B92 continues to exist abroad (as a radio program, web site or something else) under the control of foreign institutions and their interests, especially those from NATO countries. Radio B92 gained its good image and popularity in the country since it represented an authentic voice of urban Serbia which means that it can exist in its proper manner only if its staff is based where it belongs to - in Belgrade. Please, do not make of it another "Radio Free Europe" which is, with all compliments for their work, edited by ex-Yugoslav expatriates who are not any more fully familiar with turbulent reality of this country. Please, do not apply blindly Western standards in solving our local problems, because at this very moment it might do more harm than help to all of us and especially B92 staff. B92 employees (45 of them) might be fired any day and the main concern should be how to find appropriate way to help them to survive and to keep on working in other forms if possible.

This may not be a proper moment for such discussion, but we in Yugoslavia should prepare ourselves for the hard times ahead of us. It is clear that nothing will be the same in this country when the war comes to an end, but it is also clear that no one can predict all political, economical, social and cultural consequences of this disaster.

This is not a pessimistic but, unfortunately, realistic point of view.

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