CEAS statement on the insults addressed to Novak Djokovic

Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies from Belgrade (CEAS) strongly condemns the tendentious, and completely unprovoked, insults by Edon Cana, Pristina's provisional institutions ambassador to Bulgaria, addressed to Novak Djokovic and the Serbian tennis team, after their phenomenal victory at the ATP Cup, for which CEAS expresses our heartfelt congratulations and gratitude.

Namely, using the account on Twitter social network where he is signed as the ambassador, leading CEAS to also consider this an official position of the Pristina provisional institutions’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cana literally wrote the following,: "After Military March Song they continued with Kosovo...!
You can be ATP winner but still deep remain primitive, backward and ordinary Balkan nationalist and chauvinist! “

By singing the songs "March on the Drina" and "Vidovdan", that contain no explicit calls to violence or to spreading of ethnic hatred, Serbian champions, who have nothing to do with the wars of the 1990s, did nothing inappropriate, but instead celebrated the triumph of fellowship with songs symbolizing the community and the importance of collective identity, and  expressing their potential political views on a complex issue such as the status of Kosovo, not recognized by more than half UN member states, where many historically significant monuments of the Serbian nation and religion are located. There is no reason to waste words stressing the importance of a sense of community and collective identity in team sports, and how normal it is to celebrate victories with songs and other rituals that glorify them.

It would be interesting for Ambassador Cana to take a position on whether all others who do not recognize Kosovo, and  those who recognize it, but acknowledge all the specificities and encourage dialogue to reach a compromise, are also to be considered primitive, backward, nationalists and chauvinists.

Bearing in mind the official account, CEAS believes that the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the competent international community institutions and diplomatic missions, should request from the Pristina authorities to urgently come up with a statement on this scandalous announcement.

CEAS reminds the local, Kosovo and world public that the popular song "March on the Drina", mentioned by Cana and sung by our champions, was written immediately after the Battle of Cer Mountain at the beginning of World War I, when a small Serbian army claimed an incredible victory over the Austro-Hungarian forces. In that battle in 1914, Commander Miloje Stojanovic Brka, who led the legendary Iron Regiment, lost his life, and the renown Serbian composer Stanislav Binicki, amazed by this hero's courage and sacrifice, dedicated this wonderful composition to him. Later, Serbian warriors, known as Salonikans , who retreated to the hills, cheered on themselves and their comrades by playing the Binicki march, all the while hoping their honorable fight will end soon. "March on the Drina" was their song.

Unfortunately, the “March on the Drina” was brutally abused during the 1990s by war criminals, leaders of the Serbian paramilitary formations, predominantly in Eastern Bosnia. In that regard CEAS would understands if, for example, this song was not played or sung in those areas, or in circumstances relating to dealing with the criminal legacy of the 1990s.

However, although we should distance ourselves from its abuse, the glorious Serbian history of the World War I, that  the “March on the Drina” commemorates, cannot be erased, nor can others who have nothing to do with the war crimes be outrageously insulted  for singing the song in an appropriate manner, in an appropriate circumstances. Serbian heroic WWI history was recognized by US President Woodrow Wilson and honored by flying the Serbian flag at the White House, and CEAS believes that it is of great importance that the Serbian and US officials marked the centenary of this important event in 2018 with a series of events.

CEAS has already pointed to the trend of negating everything genuine and honorable about Serbian history, as well as denying the legitimate right to collective emotions and the rights of Serbs, most often justified by the Serbian politics and actions of the 1990s, something many regional, but also Western actors, have no qualms doing. This trend is on the one hand playing the part in obstruction to reaching a compromise solution to the new status of Kosovo, and on the other hand in normalizing other nationalisms, that are supposedly harmless and justified, and at the same time, conducive to relativization of the atrocities of other actors, that are less talked about and whose punishment is much less addressed. We would like to emphasize that every day, twenty years after the end of the short dark period of its past, something no other country in the world is immune to, Serbia is taking actions to distance itself from it, which is by no means the case with Kosovo. The fate of more than 1,500 Serbs and other non-Albanians killed during the Kosovo war is yet unknown, and practically no one has been convicted for those crimes.

Last but not least "Go @DjokerNole to # 3LPM."

Belgrade, 14 January 2020