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Young European 2010

On St. Sava’s Day 2010, for fifth time, Club Alpbach Belgrade has granted “The Young European” award at the Oratory Competiotion at Faculty of Law, University of Belgrade. Our new Young European is Miloš Jankovi?, third year law student.


First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a communist. 
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist. 
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew. 
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak out.

Sixty-five years have passed since pastor Martin Niemoller, a Holocaust victim, penned these words, and yet we still remain silent. Sixty years after the passing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and yet we remain silent… As if we don't know that an attack on the human rights of one is an attack on the human rights of all of us! Instead of civil courage and solidarity, we have come to learn that the supreme values are frightfulness and obedince. We understand one another best when silent[1] , we heard once in the media. So shh … Just be quiet and be smart!

Last year, citizens have stood up once and spoke. After several months of increased violence, we could no longer remain silent in face of French football fan's death[2]. However, ministers' expressed sympathies and their neverending promises were enough to convince us of their willingness to get to grips with this problem … Sometime. And even then, many were saying that we pay too much attention to those hooligans… We had no choice but to sit down once again and remain silent… And that is why another 15 year old boy died in a street fight few days ago!

Why would we speak after all? That's why we've elected MP's. So they could speak for us. And throw shoes at each other for us[3] … They even can't apologize properly; even when they admit mistakes, they do so solely because it's a good marketing trick. In situations when we need to express our sincerest regret, we act it, because others told us that we have to feel like that. Perhaps it is better to remain silent, than to fake apology, just because others demand it.

On the other hand, the students, the carriers of change in every society, had much to say last fall! At least a couple of them who were marching the streets asking for lower criteria at universities and demanding the state to pay for their tuitions, even though they don't attend classes. We don't care for anything else! Violence, discrimination, rights threatened… It seems that we, the young citizens of Serbia, are not offend by this apathy at all!

The difference between now and pastor Niemoller's time is only that they don't come for Communists anymore; now the Communists and anti-communists together have come for the judges[4] ! Although our politicians for years demonstrate their will to cope with the corruption, ie. with themselves, it seems that this particular fight was much easier for them. But then again, independent judges are not some opponents. Independent, because nothing ever depends on them. In 2006[5] they knew what they had coming, so why are they surprised now? Whatever was happening within the state, judges were always silent, always the government's accomplices! Do they have the right to say anything now?

And those hooligans, who were up until yesterday killing each other, now protect each other against the state. They demand “Justice for Uros”[6]. And lawyers? You were screaming at the top of your lungs, striking, when the government wanted to introduce fiscal cash registers! You made a noise then, but after the judicial "re-elections" you stood mute!

And Justice? And Justice … means not only to live honestly, to injure no one, and to render to each his own, as Romans use to say… No… Justice is conscience; the conscience of every one of us! Justice means to be ready to fight! It is the will to deal with the problems of the world which lives in constant fear. Now we need people who are neither timid nor obedient. People who are not afraid to stand up and raise their voice! For the different. For the disadvantaged. For the discriminated. People who don't seek power and glory, but whose reward comes from knowing that their compatriots can feel free and safe, that compassion and humanity are not extinct!

And I am not talking here just about how silent we are when state is doing wrong… Discrimination, hooligans' brutality, re-election of judges are not the only things we don't mind… We remain silent even when we hear beatings in neighbor's apartment, because it is their private matter. We remain silent when we see corruption in the hospital, because one has to get by somehow. We remain silent when rapists get shamefully short sentances, for we hear in our classes that a girl can be raped only when she's asking for it!

We stand mute untill we ourselves become victims. And who will than speak out for us? Who?



[1] In his last speech, called "I've Been to the Mountaintop", King quotes these famous words from president Roosevelt’s inaugural speech
[1] 27th March 1941, on that day protests were organized in Belgrade, demanding that Kingdom of Yugoslavia withdraws from Axis pact. It resulted in military led, coup d'etat, and consequently, war with Nazi Germany. It is widely (and populary) considered that these protests were organized and instigated by agents of British secret service as a mean of relieving preassure on Home front, by drawing Balkan countries into war with Germany. These claims, though popular and widely accepted, are quite vague and yet to be supported with substansial evidence.
[1] Fifth of October marks the end of Milosevic era, and is consideredto be the begining of democracy in modern Serbia.
[1] In 2009, more than 800 hundred judges in Serbia were not „re elected“, and thus lost their jobs. This issue is still quite controversial. Venetian commision has on several occasions and in several of its reports raised questions of legitimacy in theese matters, and called Serbian goverment to revise its decisions.
[1] Serbia (Its capital in particular)in last few years (especially after controversial declaration of independence by local Kosovo authorities) had witnessed insurgence of nationalistic inspired violence, street crime and hooliganism.
[1] For some reason, in the same period, violence against animals has also in rise.
[1] Former Yugoslav president, Vojislav Kostunica, to his close aide, army security chief, General Aco Tomic, who was in custody and under suspicion of participating in organisation of assassination of Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic.
[1] Brice Taton, 28, was attacked last year in a Belgrade bar ahead of the European League match between Partizan (Belgrade) and Toulouse. Days later an Australian man, 25, was attacked in a Belgrade park. A month before that another young man, this time a Serb, was accidentaly wounded in a gunfight in front of a night club.
[1] Gordana Pop Lazic, MP and member of Serbian Radical Party, threw her shoe at Gordana Comic, vice-president of National Assamby, last November during parliamentary debate.
[1] General re-election of judges was held in Serbia last year. The European Commission for Democracy through Law, EU and other international institutions and organisations criticised judicial system reform because there were no clear and precise standards for re-elections. Many think that is the reason why some judges responsible for elections fraud in 1996 got the job, while some of the most efficient professionals didn't.
[1] New Serbian Constitution was adopted in 2006.
[1] Uros Misic (20 y.o.) is charged with attempted murder of police officer. He attempted to shove a flare into the officer's mouth during a riot that broke out at the football match.




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