English Srpski

Young European 2011

On January 27 2011, Club has granted “The Young European” award for the sixth time. The winner is Marko Krstajic, fourth year law student for his speech: Fear of Freedom.


During the rule of Obrenovic’s[1] and particularly prince Mihailo[2], the most dangerous and, in view of the government, most reprehensible, was talking about liberty. Even that very word, liberty, was considered to be anti dynastic. Because of this, Garasanin’s[3] coppers arrested a landlord of a tavern, for no greater crime than having thepainters signature on the pub sign. The man was Czech and he had, for the Serbia of that time, quite unfortunate surname – it was Svoboda[4]. He was very suspicious.

Now, one must imagine, how much courage and optimism, in such time and in such country, one man needed to name his firstborn son Slobodan. That man was Vladimir Jovanovic[5], apostle of Serbian liberalism, and he indebted us not only with his work and care for wellbeing of this country, not only by rearing such son[6], but also with the fact that he introduced the new name into Serbian language – Slobodan[7]. Since then we had all sorts of Slobodan’s in great quantities, but very few truly free men. Liberty is still considered to be reprehensible.

Libertas omnibus rebus favorabilior est. Of all things, freedom is the most precious. This is written down in Digestae.

But firstly, what does it mean, being free. To be free, one needs to do what he wants, to say what he think, and to live without fear. Man lives in society, so his liberties must not interfere with liberties of others. My liberty begins from liberty of other people, and I can demand only as much , as I myself grant to others.

Source of liberty is in liberation of fear. Freedom of fear, as our professor Dragoljub Jovanovic[8] (another individual of interest to coppers) said, is the very basis of our liberties. Mean to that liberation is a word, speech. There where silence reigns, where words are mumbled and buzzed, there can be neither freedom nor free individuals. The country in which you cannot hear different opinions, different opinions which are the juices of liberty, quite soon becomes Vinvaver[9]`s hamlet of evil magicians, where hymns are chanted in praise of damnations.

In the same time when that misfortunate landlord was arrested, one other Serbian prince wanted, with help of truth and with means of science, to improve and establish his people. That prince later became king – King Peter the First, called liberator. And he found no better way to do so , than by translating John Stuart Mills essay “On liberty”, to Serbian language. Mill, through Peter, advises us that the very basis of the freedom of man, the freedom of citizen, is in his capability to think freely and convey freely those thoughts to others. Who can compute what the world looses, says Mill, in the multitude of promising intellects combined with timid characters, who dare not follow out any bold, vigorous, independent train of thought… because they are afraid. Fear, again. Fear is freedoms mortal enemy! That’s exactly why, Martin Luther King shouted those immortal words – we have nothing to fear but fear itself[10].

We are not a fearful nation. We have proven this many times. Most clearly , on 27th of March[11], 1941 when this entire nation (tricked truth be told, but tricked with freedom) uttered those famous lines – Better to be in a grave than to be a slave! One nation with millions of its voices is saying – To be free, or to die! Why then, did the people who so perfectly knew to die, later couldn’t or wouldn’t be free?

Behind us is anniversary of another great and loud day, 5th of October[12]. On this day, also, the millions of voices were raised in defense of liberty. On that day liberty indeed was gained. But, today, it seems that that liberty is fading away. So it is quite appropriate, here and now, to ask – Are we free today? Today, when judges[13] are being elected and replaced through political machinations, and legal profession holds its tongue; today when workers are treated as mere slaves, and syndicates are silent; today when alley scum has entitled itself with right to beat up and kill people out of pure rage[14]; when teachers, doctors, professors, bus drivers are being beaten, today when not even dogs[15] are safe on the streets; can we say today that we are free?! Are we free today? And why not? Well exactly because of our fear and our silence.


[1] Obrenovic's were the royal house of Serbia in XIX and begining of XX century.

[2] Most famous member of this house, during his reign Serbia has retaken large proportion of her historical teritories. He was cosidered to be the first of the „european“ Serbian leaders, even though his methods of goverment were as authoritarian as his fathers were .

[3] One of the most famous politicians of the period, he served as minister of police, minister of foreign affairs, and prime minister.

[4] Serbian word for liberty is sloboda, which sounds almost exactly like Czech surname Svoboda.

[5] Economist, proffesor at the Belgrade University, politican and most notably father of Slobodan Jovanovic

[6] Slobodan Jovanovic, proffesor at Belgrade University, Faculty of law is widely regarded as one of the most important Serbian intellectuals of all times

[7] Slobodan quite litteraly means „one who is free“, corresponding name in english could be Freeman.

[8] Proffesor of law, of Belgrade Law school. Persecuted and arrested by Tito's communist regime. Served 12 years in prison for bogus charges.

[9] Stanislav Vinaver, Serbian poet and translator.

[10] In his last speech, called "I've Been to the Mountaintop", King quotes these famous words from president Roosevelt’s inaugural speech

[11] 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.

[12] Fifth of October marks the end of Milosevic era, and is consideredto be the begining of democracy in modern Serbia.

[13] 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.

[14] 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.

[15] For some reason, in the same period, violence against animals has also in rise.

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