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Young European 2006

At the Oratory Competition of the Faculty of Law University of Belgrade, held on January 27th 2007, IG Alpbach Belgrade has traditionally granted Young European Award to Neda Janic for her speech: "If Serbia Stops …"

IF SERBIA STOPS …

Have you by any chance walked over the Republic Square in mid December? Have you noticed that Millennium Clock did not work? I would like to draw your attention to the words of one man, words which stayed with me so deeply: Alright, we may have problems with the technology, we may have problems with raw materials, with working capital, but where is the problem in making one street clock work?

That man was a patriot. Great Serbian patriot he is a spiritual child of best contemporary philosophers, a man of the World without frontiers – returned to his country with the aim to create Europe and the World in it. He builds in his body in the corridor of those who rebelled and stood up against the corridor of armed and murky figures. Although atheist, he finalised the construction of the largest Orthodox temple on the Balkans for his country.

Charismatic, vivacious, humorous, but resolute and dedicated, he comes with an idea, with a clear vision of Serbia. He sees all his country’s flaws, but he does not accept them as such with his eyes closed, but rather corrects them, because his country is not ‘yesterday’ – it is ‘tomorrow’. But he does not promise us a future that will come tomorrow, but the future we would have to build ourselves. He wishes to set the foundations of a new society and not to make Serbia a heaven on Earth, but rather a country where we can live normally, and also a country with its tradition, with its customs and its history. There is a price that needs to be paid for such Serbia, but that price is not that high. As he used to say: Reforms are always colliding with the mentality, heritage and interests, they incite fear and they hurt. No more sleeping. It’s time for action. You will sleep when you retire. There are many who did not understand him. Do you really think that Metropolitan who gave the homily at his funeral understood him? What about you? Our people have a rule to think bad of that what we do not understand. He had been called a mercenary, a traitor; he had been underestimated, but also feared from, envied and hated. He had been accused for every wrong move made by a wrong person from his circle. But he knew that waters get spoiled if standing still, as said in a Latin proverb, and he changed things. With him, Serbia regained the respect of the World; he worked on giving you the dignity you fought for. And he had no need to be loved, he wanted to finish what he started, to achieve the goal he had started working on – a democratic Serbia. He loved this country – he wanted to live in a European Serbia, in a beautiful Serbia, in Serbia without prejudices. He believed in people living in this country, in a strong will of the people to recognise the given opportunity and to do something for themselves, for their future and for the future of their offspring. What about us? We have created this whole wailing philosophy out of fear from changes, from action, from facing problems.

Yet another chance missed out on, another door closed. Do we need another 10 years to get back on our feet, only to lose again afterwards? Serbs have a natural tendency to either kill or debase their great ones, said Du?i?. When will Serbia learn to remember the merits of its greatest men, instead of humiliating and exiling them? Vuk Karadži?, Nikolaj Velimirovi?, Slobodan Jovanovi?, Zoran ?in?i?.

Why was he murdered? In lack of other arguments, his enemies often associated him with a bunch of fanatic thickheads, with muddy pools, with villas in the darkest Belgrade suburbia. Dale Carnegie once said: “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do”. Did he deserve to have his name used as a prop-word in day-to-day political disputes aimed at acquiring election votes? Why do our people prefer to be propagated hate instead of love? When will we finally be able to look ourselves in the eyes, and to admit to ourselves have we or have we not given our utmost, before we start to accuse others ruthlessly? We have never been united in fighting for something, but only in fighting against something or someone.

I have lived amongst you, but you have not come to know me – said Njegoš on his death bed. If ?in?i? had known that he was going to die, don’t you think he would have said the same? They have not come to know him, but he did not think he would die even when it became almost certain:If someone thinks the law and the reforms can be stopped by eliminating me, than that is a huge delusion, because I am not the system. Look into the future, as I have every intention to live on in the future, said Jain?ic.

Serbia, do you see, do you remember, do you live…

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