Today, at the end of the first quarter of the 21st century and seven years after the Forum for Ethnic Relations had prepared the “Serbia-New Deal” (Plan for the Revival of Serbia) it is time to assess what was done on establishing a clear strategy for the 21st century, and what is necessary to do. That is why a panel discussion on this subject was organized on Saturday within the multi-congress “Serbian Vision”. The conclusion – not much has been done, and the responsibility for this lies with the state, in all its areas of operations – international position, agriculture, migration, economy, and security.
Director of the Forum for Ethnic Relations Dusan Janjic reminded that the document “Serbia-New Deal” (Plan for the Revival of Serbia) was created at the moment when the global financial crisis was at its peak, which at that moment went unnoticed in Serbia, and that this plan should be perceived as an invitation for a new debate. “We are aware of the reality. Whether we join the EU or some other alliance we have work to do at home. Europe is a competition, and it is a chance for our country to prepare for that World cup” Janjić said. The Forum director has a clear vision of Serbia in 21 century – small, developing country with many problems in responding to crises, primarily those concerning ethnic identity, as well as the state. The main problem will be Kosovo, adding that Serbia will make important decisions in the next couple of years, which will determine the future of that part of the territory. “One thing we can recommend is not to search for a final solution. The Kosovo crisis is a crisis of status in a pure sense, it will be resolved when Serbia recognizes Kosovo independence, but it is currently relevant as we are trying to manage that crisis…” Janjic explained, adding that it should not be forgotten that Kosovo Albanians are strategic partners to America, helping it change its image in terms of relations with Islamic nations.
Dr. Danilo Šuković and Dr. Milan Prostran delivered their views concerning economy and agriculture. Professor Šuković said that the World Bank estimated that it will take Serbia 50 years to reach the level of European Union countries, counting Bulgaria and Romania. He also gave recommendations for Serbia on “how to catch that train” – maintain macroeconomic stability, boost investments, accelerate the reform of public institutions, and improve state efficiency. He believes that it is important to develop market economy because there can be no success without competition. In his opinion, Serbia must focus on increasing exports and improving education. It is also important to turn to renewable energy sources, which should be the goal of the EPS. Milan Prostran, agro-economics expert, listed 4 – 5 key issues in agriculture: the issue of land policy (“The law on banning the complete sale of land as a national resource should be passed”), the extinction of villages, small and medium-sized farms (“My proposal is to give 20 ha to small farmers and that way get rid of the burden”), and finally to open the agriculture for investors.
When discussing demography, gloomy prognoses for Serbia prevailed in the discussion. Dr Nada Raduški presented the data of the Statistical Office, which foresee a continued depopulation trend by 2041. Prognoses say that by 2041 the number of inhabitants will be lower by 700,000, to even one million. This requires measures such as promoting birth and immigration flows. The president of the Center for Globalization Studies, reminded that 350,000 people have left Serbia, which is equal to a small city, adding that we should ask ourselves how much we take care of people and whether we have appointed the right people for right positions. “No politician is ready to say to own nation and the world public that Serbian interests are not recognized by the international community,” Miletic said.
Stevan Lilić, professor at the Faculty of Law, also took part in the discussion, saying that the political scene in Serbia is characterized by confusion and that scandals are piling up. He asked exactly how is Serbia a republic if it has a coat of arms with a crown, adding that this shows identity crisis. Another problem is institutional reform. He proposes finding a model to be applied. According to former diplomat Zoran Milivojevic, one of the problems that must be resolved in the 21st century is country’s international position, specifically – define boundaries, decide whether Serbia is a civic state or a nation state, whether the Serbian national issue has been resolved or not, and relations with neighbors. While agreeing partially with Mr. Milivojevic, Dr. Dusan Lopandic said that Serbia is divided between two tendencies – politics of status quo and national frustration. According to him, three things are important – the population in terms of active population policy, energy – open the issue of nuclear energy, as well as ecology and agriculture – irrigation, first and foremost.
Dr Branko Krga reminded that Serbia has 162 strategies, each one invalid, and that if a proper strategy existed the internal dialogue on Kosovo would not be necessary. As an illustration of how important the strategies are, Krga cites the example of Germany, which has three stages – the first is the European Union according to the German model, in the event it fails to dominate the northern hemisphere, and if that doesn’t work, turning to the Euro Asia. As concerns the strategy for Serbia in the 21st century, he said that the state should make a commitment – whether it is a vision or a strategy, and then select the mode of operation – deductive or inductive.