This post is going to be a short one. On Tuesday I woke up late and spent most of the morning and early afternoon writing the post about my interviews and activities on Monday. I also did a bit more work on my Fulbright IIE grant, finished up some relevant paperwork, and started packing up my things for my flight today (Wednesday). Finishing up at around 2 pm, I decided to try one last time to secure an interview with someone at the New Serbia Party (Nova Srbija).
This center-right nationalist party is best known through the activities of its leader, Velimir Ilić, a bombastic figure who played a key role in the fall of Slobodan Milosevic. He led a motercade from Čačak, where he was mayor at the time, on October 5, 2000 to Belgrade atop a bulldozer culminating in the charge on Parliament seen on television screens across the world. Since then, he has distinguished himself through his frequent emotional outbursts and use of profanity, particularly on national television. The party’s platform is remarkably similar to that of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) and the two usually run on a joint ticket during national elections. The party currently holds 10 seats in the National Assembly.
My interview with one prominent party member was brief but informative enough. For them, Kosovo is an integral and indivisible part of Serbia owing particularly to its place in national history and mythology. They are officially against any kind of partition of the province but they do support a widely autonomous Kosovo within the national sovereignty of Serbia. Also like most other parties, they recognize and support the independence of Montenegro as well as Bosnia Herzegovina as a state guarantor of the Dayton Accords. In the course of the interview, I did not learn anything new about the conflict over Kosovo but at this point in my research, I would have been greatly surprised if I had. My host generously offered to answer any other questions I might have through email, and I promised to be in touch.
In the evening, Rabbi Asiel invited me for dinner at his flat. There I had the pleasure of meeting his wife and two children who had recently returned from the United States. It was really wonderful to see him and the whole family. They and the rest of the Jewish community here have been very kind and welcoming hosts this whole trip. I am very much looking forward to my next visit to see them all again. In the late evening, I returned to Manga to finish packing up my things, to enjoy one last 1 liter plastic bottle of Nikšićko Tamno, and to give a final goodbye to my many friends I have made here. This morning I was up early to write this post and tie up loose ends. I will be catching a Jat bus from Slavija at 9 and flying out of Belgrade at noon assuming everything is running on time. By 8 o’clock this evening, I should be back home in Chicago. What a trip!