Mon Jul 23rd, 2012 at 03:29:30 AM EST
Hi everyone! Just came back from my holiday in Serbia so here is a little diary.
I am not going to talk too much about politic all tho at the time I was in Belgrade there were presidential elections. I did not vote for two reasons. First is that I do not feel I am to choose anything or anybody because I do not live there and I am not to take consequences of my vote. Not to mention that I do not know many details that should determine my vote. Second reason is because I do not believe that whoever comes to power will be actually able to choose important things about politic there...it will be determined elsewhere (deals between Russia and USA to be precise). That is considering foreign policy anyway... As for inside policies it is always about who's going to throw more money/benefits over their shoulder to a poor people and I believe people there would know better about this stuff.
In any case people are now used to "democracy" so they do not take hard if their candidate lost this time , because there will be another election in few years ( maybe even earlier) so there was no protests or any kind of anger amongst them. They just want government to be formed so that things can go on. It took some time for government to be formed and SPS (Socialists which is Milosevic's party and his people) are simply unavoidable because no matter what percentage they have no one is going to be able to make government without them. As for a President ( Toma Nikolic) who is an ex Radical ( Seselj's / presently in Hague/ ex colleague) most of the people are embarrassed of his appearance and foreign language incapacity, because he is going to represent them now worldwide. Most of them at the same time believe that no matter what his pre-election promises were he or his government will not dare to do anything radical. That's about it. As why it took so long for government to form , the reason is not that their programs differ so much (because they do, but who cares, the most important thing is to cling in to the power). Real reason is that they could not agree who is going to get what exact ministry and especially power over the BIA ( Serbian CIA) and also even more importantly DB (military intelligence agency in Serbia) that by now used to be under jurisdiction of SPS /Milosevic's people in reality no matter that formally they should answer to government. Enough about politics...
Belgrade and Serbia on the other hand for someone like me, coming periodically to visit, seems to actually look better and better every time I visit. Things are happening there to my surprise. Belgrade has long way to go to catch up with Western Europe's infrastructure but things are going right direction. Belgrade just got new modern bridge over the Sava River;
they finally repaired another very important bridge. Builders are still building those new and very much up to western standard buildings with new apartments all over the city but elsewhere in Serbia too. Many new commercial buildings are there now too.
Generally things seems to move as opposed to here where I live (Brisbane/Australia) where no matter how good news we all hear about Australian economy nothing significant is actually happening for 4 or more years now, except investments in mining industry.
Belgrade is still great destination for tourist. There are many historical places to be visited in Belgrade and Serbia
combined with great restaurants with delicious food and low prices, cafés, bakeries, shopping malls, quite a few very good hotels now, beaches on river Danube and Sava...
ah so much is there for tourist to enjoy
and I was pleased to see groups of tourists from China (imagine that) not just in Belgrade but also in Novi Sad which is another nice destination to visit in Serbia (and not only because of EXIT music festival).
I also spotted group of tourists from Turkey visiting Kalemegdan fortress and I made a joke how they are inspecting their former colonies as they are rising as an economical but also military power . Now it is obvious what countries are doing well when you see their tourist far away from home, ha-ha. Interestingly right now they have a lot of Turkish serials (soap operas mostly) on Serbian TVs. Years ago it used to be Spanish soap operas all over TV but now maybe just one. Also I spotted Indian one...So times are changing. I was never in to the soaps of any kind nighter here or there but I became very interested in historic serial Magnificent Century about "Suleiman the magnificent" which is also kind of soap opera but it has been done interestingly ( one you can see here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XCwGCIKD0Q with English translation . I can't wait for new season, ha-ha.
Anyway...I am going to post few photos here but as I have literally millions of them you can also see some of them here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4357021572584.177767.1499073105&type=3
As about how people live in Serbia right now...Unfortunately Serbs did not have chance to experience benefits of a good times in recent past because of the wars and sanctions and transition etc. etc. A little bit of that good feeling they had maybe about 4 or 5 years ago...just to taste it and then it was gone. The biggest problem is obviously unemployment that no one can really even measure to real extend. It's kind of horrific especially when one bears in mind how government does not really have social programs that would actually help. Many people that are close to getting pensions are out of jobs and after exhausting up to 2 years of some kind of unemployment benefit these people are with no income so families have to cover for them until they can get pensions. Young people are also broadly unemployed and I am not talking about those uneducated but the opposite, people with university degrees can hardly find jobs too. It was always the case in Serbia that in order to get a job you need good connections and you need to pay someone to get it. It's still there but one new thing is that company would very often employ your child if you promise to leave and go to pension or whatever. It sounds incredible but that's how it is and people are using this opportunity to employ their kids. This goes for state companies. On the other hand those who are lucky enough to get job in foreign companies are enjoying extraordinary high salaries compared with others. Somehow no matter how people in Serbia are crying out loud that they are having such a hard time making ends, for me looking from outside they seem to live pretty normal lives. They are driving newish cars, are dressed better then more Europeans and not to mention Australians or Americans. They eat well (oh food is unbelievable) and in the end they managed to go on holidays this year again (some are going to Turkey because of ridiculously low prices and luxurious resorts, some to Greece to show solidarity, some even to Croatia)... How they manage to do it I do not know but Serbia was always a wonder land and people seem to be magicians when it comes to money.
As for stuff that one can buy in Belgrade's shops I was impressed. Coming from Australia where APSOLUTELY everything is made in China I was pleasantly surprised to see stuff from all over the world. And there is something for everyone's pocket. Cheap Chinese stuff for the poor, much better Turkish stuff for middle and all those world's brands for those with money. Also there is great choice in furniture and other stuff from all over the world. Yes that means that Serbian factories are hardly working at all...No matter what there are benefits from the fact that Serbia is in Europe and is now open.
I can write for ages about my impressions but I will finish here with telling you that I had a great time in Serbia. Every time I go there and I come back to Australia I am more determined to go back and if not live there then spend much more time in Serbia once circumstances allow for it. Obviously one of the things that I miss the most is family and those gatherings with family and old friends that miraculously did not forget us and are very happy to spend time with us whenever we come.
I hope this man made financial crisis will eventually come to an end ( when those man that made it decide to lose some money) and that Serbia and others in Europe will get new start...cause no matter what Europe is a great place.