This week marks 31 years since the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro, thus hermetically sealing off the country, leaving its survival to human endurance, smuggling, and looting. Instead of admitting the mistake and trying to fix it, Milošević’s government joked with sanctions. The media spread the fighting spirit and encouraged the people, saying nobody could do anything to them.
Sobering up came very quickly after shops were deserted, pharmacies ran out of medicine, gas stations moved to sidewalks and canisters, and the salary was equal to the price of ten eggs.
Economists estimated that sanctions alone set us back at least 20 years and that the cataclysm of the 90s caused more damage to Serbia’s economy than World War II.
Sanctions against Serbia (and Montenegro) did not appear out of nowhere. They were the result of the decisions of the state leadership at the time. The fact that the majority in Serbia believed that we were right and that the whole world was wrong caused the biggest fall that a nation could experience.
The reminder of the anniversary of the introduction of sanctions is not just for the sake of it. Unfortunately, this is necessary because there is a spirit of some kind of defiance to the whole world today, accompanied by a feeling of moral superiority over everyone.
Thirty-one years is not such a long period that one could forget a significant episode in life, particularly after a severe trauma that did not bypass any family in Serbia.
If you experienced and survived the isolation from the early 90s without lessons learned and you provoke the reintroduction of sanctions because you stoically endured them once you deserve to have that nightmare repeated.
Serbia was isolated from the whole world because it refused to accept changes. Those who decided the fate of the people ignored that the Soviet Union collapsed half a year before the introduction of sanctions, that Germany united two years before, and that the Czech Republic and Slovakia parted amicably three years earlier.
Those were the days the West was to blame for every national trouble. It is similar today. We forgot overnight that the West was the model we aspired to, Western culture, democracy, and openness. We embraced something else we knew nothing about. And we immediately forgot that the latter also voted to impose sanctions on us in 1992 through their ambassador to the UN, Yuli Vorontsov. This oblivion has been ongoing for 31 years.
The delusion persists for so long that we will drive through a new historic intersection at full speed without checking the traffic on the left and right and come out unharmed. It’s as if we’ve never had a tragic accident that we barely survived.
Trivializing the 1992 sanctions is a daily occurrence today. You don’t even have to say the word, but everyone is joking with sanctions when they say we are the only ones who are right and don’t need anyone. They are invoked by those who want us to break away from the EU because it has been “pressuring” us for anything and everything and those who wish for the EU’s disintegration and ruin.
Every frontpage toys with sanctions when it conveys garbage from the St. Petersburg fake news factory saying that Germans are freezing because there is no heating, that shops are empty in Austria, that there is no gas at gas stations, and that people eat squirrels because there is no meat in the UK.
Whenever the retired swindlers from the JNA (Yugoslav National Army) wish for the death of the West and the victory of the “invincible” Russian weapon on TV, and many who watch believe them, they take at least one step towards the abyss from the beginning of the 90s, when they were retired.
Sanctions will not be imposed on Serbia, as 31 years ago. Serbia has moved far from that danger zone because someone was careful not to repeat the same mistake, so he opened the country to the most advanced part of the world and brought back their companies, technology, and even laws.
He did it despite the widespread feeling that we don’t need it and could do it all ourselves, even isolated. A voice shouting to drive faster because everyone else will probably be waiting for us to rush through the intersection. After all, we are right and know how to pass such an intersection.
No one will wait for us, just as no one waited for us in 1992, but they passed us at full speed while we were driving in reverse. It took us almost 30 years to reach our economic level from 1989, and that’s only thanks to the significant growth rate in the last decade.
We understood what happened in Europe in the early 90s after two or three decades. Unfortunately, not all of us, but fortunately, only those who make decisions.
Another significant, perhaps the biggest, shift in Europe since World War II has been unfolding before us. Nobody could say in a decade or two that they didn’t know what was happening when they knew what happened to Serbia in May 1992.
Anyone with such an experience asking Serbia to go against Europe again, to underestimate it and call for its downfall, is asking for a repeat of 1992 and all the following years. Serbia does not need a repetition of that horror, but someone else might. An “eternal friend” who raised a hand in favour of sanctions against Serbia 31 years ago. That evil has been dragging us to the bottom with them, soiling us with the blood of innocent victims in Ukraine. We are one step away from the gates of hell, but whether we open it irrevocably and condemn future generations to pay for the crimes of others we approved and supported still depends on us. But then there will be no justification. We are all to blame if that happens!