Neither Serious Nor Sorry, Aleksandar Vučić Goes to Potočari

So Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vučić won the “emptier gesture than Boris Tadić“ category, and will be making his way to the commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. What will happen there? A few pious words, penned by somebody else, may scamper their way across his livery lips. They will have been calculated to avoid mentioning the character of the event at which they will be spoken. Meanwhile, Alek will nervously sweat, hoping that none of the people present will remember who he is.

How did he get there? By making a deal: if the UK Foreign Office (which has no credibility on the issue of human rights – the occasional celebrity photo-op aside) proposes a Security Council resolution that does not use the word “genocide”, then Russia (which has no credibility on the issue of reconciliation) will not veto it. In exchange, Vučić (who has no credibility on human decency), will make motions simulating respect for victims.

This gives him the opportunity to join a host of profound-looking people also engaged in a spell of greenwashing. The representatives of the international community will be there, taking a day to emulate respect for the victims of violence before they return to their day jobs enabling the people who profit from the conditions created by violence. Representatives of the US and UK will be there, fresh off a new set of reports about how they prevented peacekeepers from carrying out their obligation to protect victims. If we are lucky, Carl Bildt may pontificate, though as pontiffs go he is more Pius XII or Benedict XVI than Bergoglio.

All the while, from the usual positions the usual things will happen. Milorad Dodik will continue to call the recording of history a “conspiracy against Serbs”. Tomislav Nikolić will continue to write letters to apolitical figures hoping to dilute the facts in a stew of “Armenians, Jews, Roma, Ethiopians, numerous Africans, indigenous Australians, indigenous Americans, the autochtonous peoples of South America, Russians, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Chinese, and unfortunately many others.“ In Bajina Bašta, a group of people will do something a whole lot like what a similar group of people did at the Belgrade Law Faculty ten years earlier. Trading a word in a resolution for a trip to the country won’t change that.

As the spectacle continues to draw attention, there will be a lot of things that people do not know. They will not know that the Serbian Parliament is being compelled to consider, by a group of its members, a resolution that says a good deal more than any of the resolutions proposed before the Security Council ever did. They will not know that 7000 people in Belgrade will be carrying out a massive show of solidarity. They will not know that people are refusing to be represented by the worst among them.


This piece was originally published on Eric Gordy’s blog, East Ethnia. He has generously given us permission to republish it here. 

Cover photo via

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Eric Gordy

Eric Gordy is a political sociologist, teaching politics of Southeast Europe at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies of University College London. His most recent book is Guilt, Responsibility and Denial: The Past at Stake in Post-Milošević Serbia, available from University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.