Tuesday, 17 December 2013
BILO JEDNOM JEDNA ZEMLJA (ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A COUNTRY)
Original text: Published in December 14,2013
AVNOJ (Antifašističko Vijeće Narodnog Oslobođenja Jugoslavije – Yugoslav Antifascist National Liberation Council) was established in Bihaç / Bosnia in November 26, 1942. Having bravely fought not only against the Nazis, but also against Ustaşa (Croatian fascists) and Çetniks (Serbian fascists), they gathered again in Bosnian city Jajce between the dates November 21-29, 1943. In the last day of the meeting the foundations of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were laid.
After the liberation from the Nazi occupation, November 29 was celebrated as “The Republic Day” in Yugoslavia under the leadership of Tito. However, during the last years of Yugoslavia, the Republic Day was impassionately celebrated by only state officials. June 25, 1991 is the de facto end of Yugoslavia, when the two most prosperous states of Yugoslavia, namely Slovenia and Croatia declared independence and while it was immediately recognized by the West. After Macedonia’s and Bosnia’s declaration of independence, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia existed de jure until 2003 with Serbia and Montenegro.
The time period between 1991 and 2003 has a tragedic imagination in the memories of people who lived in ex-Yugoslav republics. During this time period of 12 years, Milosevic, who claimed to prolonge the legacy of Yugoslavia, had simply slaughtered the positive perception of Yugoslavia in blood.
Establishment of free Kosovo under UÇK’s terror, 1999 NATO bombardment and the post-Milosevic collaboratist governments do not change this reality. Milosevic’s regime, neither supported the equality of peoples against UÇK terror, nor did it have an anti-imperialist stand against NATO bombardment. Since Tito’s death, Milosevic’s aim was clear: To upside down Tito’s “weaker Serbia, stronger Yugoslavia” to “smaller Yugoslavia, greater Serbia”. Milosevic was not only significant by practicing the most archaic forms of nationalism, but also was recognized with his attack against working class at home.
This period of twelve years had a significant perceptual change in Bosnia, which was recognized as the most Yugoslav republic of Yugoslavia. Despite the time passed by, it is difficult to clear this perception. While JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) was retreating from Bosnia, it is known that most of the heavy weapons were left to Çetniks (ultra nationalist paramilitary Serbian armed units) and the massacres in Bosnia were done by those weapons.
Despite the fresh scars of the war, the warm memories of Yugoslavia revitalizes in ex-Yugoslavia as well as in Bosnia, often visible in the sphere of popular culture. It was a case that in the 70th anniversary of the November 29, 1943 Jajce meeting of the AVNOJ, shared visual items referring to Yugoslavia had an apparent increase. Especially Yugoslav flag with the red star in the middle or Tito’s photos were frequently visible in facebook profiles.
It is widely known by the public that the image of Yugoslavia, which had been polluted under Milosevic regime, is reviving within the concept of Yugonostalgia. Republic Day (November 29) or Day of Youth (May 25) are began to be celebrated in the urban centres of ex-Yugoslavia with fireworks.
An academics, Goran Markoviç, recognized as being leader of Communist Workers’ Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina (which does not exist anymore), took attention to an important point during the interview which published in Abraş Media, analternative media web site on November 29. Markoviç underlined the context that the Yugoslav experience is not only an issue that has to be studied by the historians, but by the citizens of banana republics. He argues that the image and perception of Yugoslavia should not be a part of nostalgia, but has to be a part of future. Markoviç also takes attention on the current situation of ex-Yugoslav republics which are stuck in corruption and argues that the AVNOJ experience must be considered as an alternative in the future. (1)
Although we can talk about a constant revival of the positive image of Yugoslavia in the sphere of popular culture, similar dynamics are not yet reflected on the political sphere and it seems it will take some time for that. The Left in ex-Yugoslavia still could not cure the wounds of the nationalist demolition. On the other side, and more importantly, the socialist or communist parties in ex-Yugoslavia were unable to train experienced cadres which would replace the veterans and this is the main obstacle for the ex-Yugoslav Left to go further in political sphere.
In addition to that, the ex-Yugoslav left did not go through a process of criticism of Yugoslav socialism, or so-called Titoism. There is even not any attempt for that. As a result of not passing through a process of (self) criticism and an interruption in the continuity of the political cadres, the reviving positive perception of Yugoslavia is not reflected on political spheres since the socialist/communist parties are not seen as political alternatives which could carry Yugonostalgia to political platform.