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The Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) from Belgrade, one of the most prominent think tanks from Western Balkans would like to ask you for a small non-project related one time financial contribution or institutional support, personal or organizational, to help us bridge transition period which we are currently facing. Your support would help us bridge some donor policies, hiccups, reshuffling and donor withdrawal from the Western Balkans that have heavily affected us regardless of our impeccable cooperation with them, as well as severe consequences of Covid-19 pandemic on our sustainability. 

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Even less than the “30 pieces of silver” is more, mister Chepurin, it is a pity that you do not understand

Jelena Milic, Director of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies from Belgrade (CEAS), reply to the Russian Ambassador Alexander Chepurin regarding his insulting and inaccurate interview: “Chepurin: We will not be bigger Serbs than you”, given on October 17, 2013 to “Večernje Novosti

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I was unpleasantly surprised by the shallowness and inaccuracy with which “Večernje Novosti” processed and then published an interview with the Russian ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Chepurin, and even more so with the arrogant and inaccurate conclusions which he has put forward in this interview.

It is obvious that an inaccurate and insulting reply was given to the following question of the media reporter – What would be Russia’s response if Serbia was to move towards NATO membership? – “Russia’s position regarding this question is clear: NATO is an atavism of the last century. The wounds left by the NATO bombing and death are still fresh – and not only in Serbia. I will never understand and accept those who for 30 pieces of silver push their country into this military alliance, betraying elementary human values, undermining remembrance of the victims. Serbia has a longstanding tradition as an unaligned country”, replied Chepurin.

Who exactly does mister Chepurin have in mind when he mentions 30 pieces of silver, which elementary human values, what evidence does he have that NATO is an atavism of the previous century? In comparison to what? With the Collective Security Treaty Organization which has no command chain of its own, no operative standards and procedures, which cannot be made in a day. And whose “voluntary” membership is quite questionable.

As far as the 30 pieces of silver are concerned, Serbia has a stable electoral body of people who want to see Serbia in the West, who believe that all new identities, and not just the old, imposed ones, are what Serbia needs to go forward. This West is where the scientists, industry, sportsmen, etc. are … who’s results are rated according to the Forbes lists, Nobel prizes, sport medals, music top lists, TV and other earnings and not arbitrary assessments. It is in this West where elementary human values reign, including the rights of the LGBTIAQ community. it is from this West that we do not yet receive brutal images of the relation towards immigrants. The influence of churches is secular, churches do not play a dominant role in the ossification of society behavior and slowing down of its process on entering global flows which contribute to widening our identities and our maximums. Mister Chepurin, there are among us those who have spent all of their active political life, paying, one way or another, politically, materially, and unfortunately, sometimes paying with our lives, to have Serbia become part of the Euro-Atlantic world, and who have never, then or now, taken 30 pieces of silver each to put in their pockets. I do not know if the words conviction, or citizen responsibility, carry any meaning for you. For me they do a lot.

You also mentioned that you are confused with how silver-lovers easily forget the victims. Which victims exactly? The Humanitarian Law Center recently presented the Dossier on the 125 motorized brigade of the Yugoslav Army on the actions of this unit during the war in Kosovo and the crimes committed in its area of responsibility, and in which 1, 813 Kosovo Albanian civilians were murdered, out of which 216 of them are still classified as missing. To date, not one of the perpetrators was punished. Did you have these victims in mind, too? Do you ever even think of these victims?

The mentioned pieces of silver have entered Serbia, among other, for the purpose of security system reform, pensions of the surplus personnel, training, demining and clearing the field of the NATO intervention consequences, public advocacy of one legitimate political option - which is to you, as a Russian, and Russia in general, apparently unclear, having in mind that over there, imprisonment is still the consequence of opinion exchange - the therefore legitimate option of having Serbia, for now, improve its cooperation with NATO. The majority of these pieces of silver can easily be traced through budget and financial reports, which is not the case with the billions of rubles. Part of this silver entered for the purpose of the most difficult post-conflict task – realization of the concept of transitional justice and implementation of prevention mechanisms – placing the security system under democratic oversight. For unveiling what happened with each, not only NATO victim, and finding a way of arranging the system in order for this to never happen again.

In the case of CEAS, we invite you to take a look at our website and in the Programs section take a look at the contents of all of our projects, names of donors and amounts of donations. Part of this your embassy could have had a knowledge of before, had anyone of your representatives ever attended any of the conferences that we organize, for example the ones in which for the “30 pieces of silver” we confront the families of those murdered in the bombing of RTS with NATO officials. NATO officials have not avoided a single one of these conferences.

Since the demise of your marionette Milošević, these inhumane Western NATO and NATO-friendly states have incomparably sent more resources for electricity and coal, help intended for mothers, school refurbishing, budget support, homes for orphans, psychiatric hospitals, than “brotherly Russia”.

The only honest statement, which speaks enough on the manner in which your foreign policy is conducted, given in your interviews is “Your country will always be our ally, because this is a political reality.”. I hope that it will not, given the fact that, in the global world, geography does not play such a key role anymore; there is also something in transport, in system quality, in the humanity of this system and in trust in partners. Your predecessor Konuzin was offended when someone explained to his the basic difference between European integration and the God-given natural foreign policy influence which Russia prescribes to itself in comparison to its neighbors. All Western Balkan states have among their societies a majority support for the process of approximation to the EU. This is better to be heard and understood, than to angrily storm out of the auditorium.

In any case, thank you, also to “Večernje Novosti” and Chepurin on the following questions and answers, due to the relatively confusing image which the Western international community has on these topics: “Have the links between Belgrade and Moscow strengthened since the new political set is in power? – in comparison to the previous government which called upon Russia only when there was no other solution in sight, two factors are now obvious: first, these relations lead to speeding up of our mutual cooperation, which is in certain field in an embryonic stage, and second – mutual benefit. Presidents Putin and Nikolić have met two times, in Moscow and Sochi. Vice President Vučić visited Russia, and in a wider sense, took part in negotiations between four walls. This spring also saw Prime Minister Dačić in Moscow. Such meetings are undoubtedly useful … Niš will, given there is support from Belgrade, see the opening of the Russo-Serbian humanitarian Center for emergency situations. It will guarantee better security of your country and the entire Balkans. Russia is investing more than 60 million dollars, practically in form of a donation. The procured equipment is for fighting natural and technogenic disasters, which the country needs. The money will be invested in firefighting and sanitation vehicles, robots, helicopters, de-mining equipment … both Serbian and Russian experts will work in it.”

And in conclusion mister Chepurin, sometimes there is a need for being brave and wise and recognize when a battle is lost. Take a look sometimes at the programs of cable TV providers in Serbia. Cinema programs. Bookstore windows. Take note of the music played in clubs. Repertoires of the most visited concerts. International sports heroes cheered by Serbs. Notice the type of gadgets and computers which we all use. Ask about the software. Look into shop windows. The most popular tourist destinations. We did not have a Pride Parade, but we are advancing. We do not beat up immigrants and gay diplomats.

I hope the EU and NATO membership will enable us to continue with this trend, voluntarily. And believe me, we do not do this for 30 pieces of silver but for ourselves and for the generations to come who deserve a better, more developed, more civilized, more globalized, and before all, a more humane Serbia.

Jelena Milic, CEAS Director

Belgrade
October 18, 2013