Novica Antic, President of the Army of Serbia Trade Union, about his return to Sumadija


Published in 2018.

Antic was born in Belgrade. His father is from Sumadija while his mother is from Jasenovac. Twelwe years ago he returned with his brother to their ancestral home and he has lived there with his family ever since.

– Somehow everything that has happened to us, taking part in wars, the second pogrom of our family in Jasenovac in the 20th century, we have gathered in Kragujevac, at our family estate. We have sold everything we had, everything three generations have acquired except for the estate in Jasenovac and decided to build houses and settle in Kragujevac. We simply started a new life. Sumadija was our natural choice, our desire to gather here at our source, as the folk would say. The region’s specifics which have, unfortunately, been put aside in the past few decades, are preserved within the ordinary people, farmers, workers, their habits, their sense of humor, their wit. Sumadija has made a huge sacrifice for Serbia, but it managed to preserve its values, tradition, and if we can put it bluntly its kindness and honesty of its people. It is the source of everything that has moved Serbia forward.

In an interview, you said that “the toughness of the Serbian peasant” will triumph.

- Serbian, or rather Sumadinian peasant in the past made the biggest sacrifice for Serbia’s wellbeing. If we would sum up the 20th century, there is no period in which Serbian peasant has not been on the frontline of the battle in all the wars. There is no economic crisis period when he did not feed Serbia and save her from hunger. At present, apathy has taken over the people as a consequence of all the hardships and injustice suffered by the Serbian people, starting from its own authority, we need to remind ourselves of those periods of Serbian history. And they were far more difficult than the current situation in which we are burdened by poverty. Serbian military is the only army in the history of modern warfare that chose to cross Albania on foot rather than surrender. Serbian peasant knew how to feed the country in the “hungry years” following World War II. All this has defined Sumadinians and Serbs as a tough and dignified people who even today, in the era of communications, can fight for their place under the Sun and epitomize their experience and their sacrifice.

You are seen by the public as a pro-Russian man. Do you think that the future is turning towards the East?

- What does that mean, a pro-Russian man? It is a buzzword invented with the purpose to put a boundary between the Serbian and the Russian people. And installing that boundary is impossible. Eight centuries of diplomatic relations, cooperation in good and in evil, orthodox faith and sisterly churches are one constellation within which no barrier can be placed, especially not by ideological phrases. Of course, we should not shy away from positive values coming from the West, but I personally think that those that are presented here are bringing decadency into Serbian culture. Under the guise of the fight for human rights we are presented with bare interests of security services, but also decadent phenomena. The fact remains that after twenty years of imposing the “western culture”, things are happening in Serbia that have never happened before and we are seeing a sharp rise in crimes such as pedophilia and peer violence among teens. A serious research is needed for all of this, a serious analysis instead of random placement of vulgar content that even ends up in Serbian school textbooks.

Let us return to Sumadija. Today Serbian villages are almost vacated, cities are getting depopulated, people are moving abroad...

- Every year 60,000 people leave Serbia and the problem of depopulation is an acute problem of all the countries in transition. Little is known that at the moment, an acre of land is cheaper in Croatia than in Serbia: people are leaving for other countries of the European Union since Croatia is also a member. In Macedonia, the number of voters has officially declined from 1.8 to 1.3 million in just 18 years. This means that a quarter of inhabitants of a country have moved out. This is a problem that we are facing as well and that we will continue to face in the future. We have to renew the Serbian countryside. To have the young people return. It would have been smarter if the government had given incentives of ten or twenty thousand euros to young married couples who return to the countryside instead of having us finance sweatshop companies that have come here to hire Serbian youth for a monthly wage of some thirty thousand dinars ($290). Sumadija has the potential in fruit growing, agriculture and tourism. This is what future should be built on. However, before all that, infrastructure needs to be built, and cooperatives or some similar sales system needs to be organized. The calculation is clear. For one dinar invested in the Serbian farmer the state makes another dinar. The measures to renew Serbian and Sumadinian countryside need to be immediate: funding young married couples and their return, with the obligation to spend at least twenty years living in the countryside, borrowing complete machinery that would be paid off by long-term interest-free loans… to revive and renew the villages. Throughout history this was proven to be our option for salvation. Sumadija alone managed to preserve the essence of Serbian tradition, to use the customs and festivities to pull itself away from reality culture we are bombarded with. And this is the basis of our regeneration and of the resurrection of the Serbian village in the future.