Danas, 31 December 2010
Monarchy for Serbia
by Prince Alexander Karageorgevitch
The whole of my life I’ve been following and monitoring events in my country of origin and destiny. Over half a century I did that from far away, the last ten years from inside it! I am an optimist by nature, and have to be like that because of my origin and because of the future.
Serbia has come a long way since 1 December 1918 when it invested its sovereignty into the union of the South Slav nations called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, until 21 May 2006 when the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro disintegrated following the referendum in Montenegro. Now that Serbia is an independent country again, there is no need for any kind of concession to other constituent nations or countries. Now we are on our own and responsible only for our destiny and our deeds. At this moment, we are pretty much left in-between of what we are, what we want and we could be, and what we are offered to be without alternative! Sometimes I believe that we are choosing between things where there is no actual choice.
They say “We want to go to Europe”, it is not about formal membership within some association, but about the choice of values that make Europe what it is. Who is stopping us to adopt these values, if we feel them as our own? But here it is more important which values we will adopt first, easy ones which bring just a superficial European look alike, or the substantial and hard to carry out ones. Who is stopping us to integrate with ourselves, if we want integration? Who is stopping us to unite with ourselves before we unite with Portugal, Malta or Finland?
Speaking of the image of the independent state of Serbia throughout time, we must say that than we speak mainly about the monarchy. Since 1830, when Serbia was granted a certain degree of independence as a Principality, until 1 December 1918, we are talking about 88 years of constant progress and development, liberating territories and being perceived as a part of Europe. There is no need for comparison with the last four years, not in length nor in quality. No matter if it is the Principality of Serbia under the Obrenovic dynasty, or the Kingdom restituted by King Milan in 1882 followed by his son Aleksandar and then King Petar I, it was always a European country. Not because of its geographical position, nothing has moved since than and we are in the same place, but for the perception of it, from the inside and from the outside. Ever since the First Serbian uprising, Karadjordje and his insurgent comrades knew that they were fighting for the liberty of European Serbia. At the dawn of the wars for independence in 1876-78, the Serbian Government commissioned a French journalist to publish at least one affirmative article per month in two leading Paris magazines. Do you think that this something that we can achieve today? The problem is that people usually fall into the trap of thinking that everything is starting from them, and here is another problem of ours. We claim that we know our history and respect tradition, but I am afraid that this is not the fact. When I speak about it, I equally praise the achievements of both our dynasties that paved the road for modern Serbia. Talking about all of this, I have to say: I am not in power and not in opposition! I am part of history as same as today will be the history tomorrow, as the future will become history as it happens! The future is based on history! A future without history is just like a house without a foundation!
Speaking of the image, today we have state symbols, a flag, a coat of arms and the anthem of the Kingdom of Serbia, It was not easy to re introduce them, but now, a few years later, people who were the hardest opposition to this “entering of constitutional monarchy trough the back door”, are the most enthusiastic promoters of our symbols. This is good, but this is not enough. If we want to know who we are and what we stand for, we must define these things before we join the European Union, as it will be too late to think about it afterwards. We need this kind of comparative advantage to the rest of the countries from so called “New Europe”.
I meet many people in our country and abroad. I have many friends and acquaintances. Friendship has to be constructed and nurtured. You rarely inherit friends, but have to make ones, and especially there where they are in short supply, where they are a minority. Countries are the same as people, they need friends. They need friends which can bring them into the circles of friends that they couldn’t reach on their own. This is the reason why I am using every opportunity to bring friends, important people to Belgrade to see and feel, to get their own experience of Serbia. I am very proud to contribute to different activities which are aimed to improve the image of Serbia, whether it was the City Break conference, Euro Song, some scientific conference or Belgrade candidacy for the European capital of culture. Of course there will always will be nasty comments in some media, like “they party again”, but they do not understand basic principles of friendship and bonding between people.
It is my obligation, as I am speaking critically, to mention that in many areas things have significantly improved. It is difficult to see due to the huge inherited and imported problems, but it is obviously present. That improvement shouldn’t be overestimated, but not to be underestimated, as well. In other, more stable and happier circumstances, such progress should be recognized and appreciated, but at the present it is constantly kept in shadow of collateral events. But, nevertheless, progress made gives hope and brings optimism. Of course, progress in one field which is not accompanied by progress in other fields is just in vain, because progress, as friendship, should be nurtured and maintained.
I firmly believe in the benefits of Constitutional Monarchy in Serbia. We need stability, unity and continuity. Arguments in favor of that can be seen everywhere. Look around you, and if you were hoping and fighting for that, then you are a happy person, and I congratulate you on that! But, look again, and see how many other people feel the same way! I am afraid that you won’t see much of them. If you believe that Republic is cheaper than Constitutional Monarchy, make another calculation. If you believe that a citizen makes a greater influence in a Republic than in a Constitutional Parliamentary Monarchy, reconsider what polity is present in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Spain, Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand … Reconsider if Pol Pot was better than Sihanouk, Mengistu than Selassie, Chaushesku than Michael, Zivkov then Simeon, or today’s Afghanistan comparing to the state of King Mohammed Zahir!
We shouldn’t follow ideological clichés. Each country and each nation has a better and worse option of polity at any given time. For Serbia today it is Parliamentary Constitutional Democracy!
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