“Danas”, 26 June 2003
Can Serbia choose between monarchy and republic
Harsh warning from the city on the Neva
At the time when the new Constitution of Serbia is being prepared, it is not possible to avoid the fundamental issue of Serbia’s future: will it remain republic or become parliamentary monarchy? Of course, the answer can only be given by the citizens of Serbia, after a referendum. If, however, certain political factors succeed in not organizing the referendum on this question, that will be a reliable sign that there is no political maturity to critically view all the possibilities of rational organizing of social life. If the problem was ignored or put aside by force or through political schemes, we would have a confirmation that there was no democracy in our society. That would be followed by radicalization of existing conflicts. This region has been a republic since 1945. It was established as a result of the victory of those forces who were leading antifascist struggle and revolutionary change of social structure. Republican forces won victory over the forces loyal to monarchy who could not find vitality in defending the old social structure, and who lost support of the people and international antifascist coalition because of their collaboration with the occupiers.
Republic introduced equality of sexes, proclaimed equality of nations and ethnic groups, enabled free education, even conducted industrialization by force, created jobs and opportunities for prosperity of millions of people. International position of our country was good. All the time until the republican forces, personified in KPJ-SKJ (Communist Party of Yugoslavia and the League of Communists of Yugoslavia) had and promoted new ideas, the entire society went forward.
However, it didn’t take long until the new ideas were replaced by the monopoly of power. Time was going by, the solution was sought in the nation, the privileges of the ruling class were growing, and alongside of that, of course, the repression towards those who didn’t share the views.
Final destruction of the society followed at the end of the 80’s. The institutions of the republic stood in defense of the old regime. The Parliament of the republic easily passed the laws and decisions which meant introduction of fascism. Leading political factors resolutely rejected the idea of entering the European Community. They chose self-isolation, nationalism and war. That is how Yugoslavia was destroyed. It is important to mention, from the point of view of our subject, that all of that happened in the republican form of the state. By definition, republic should have to be the most democratic form of social structure. Theory aside, the experience of the republic is that it persecuted its own citizens, in an organized way led thousands of them to death, organized warfare in the neighboring countries, and in, at that time, its “southern region”. So everything that failed, failed with a reason. Like before to the monarchy, such outcome happened to the republic, too. In both cases, causes are well known.
Today we live in the ruins of the republic. The old was destroyed, and the new was not yet contemplated, let alone built. The reliable witness to that is the fact that all attempts to elect the President of the republic failed. Our form of the state might be called interim republic. Such form is not present in Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia. That is why it might be said that Serbia is forced, but at the same time privileged to choose whether to be a republic or a parliamentary monarchy. It was noticeable in the media that some representatives of political parties demanded from Prince Alexander “to renounce pretensions to the Crown”, making unacceptable analogies with his father. The Prince was also criticized for “being in the service of the British Queen”!? Should he perhaps have waited to be in the service of Yugoslavia despite the fact that his citizenship was taken away? One should admit that the Karadjordjevic who was born after the WWII is not responsible for the circumstances that had put him into position to claim some of his rights only after the democratic changes in 2000. No one should be allowed to demand from anybody to renounce a completely legitimate right, and whether it is going to be effectuated is to be decided by the citizens of Serbia in the referendum.
It is possible that history will show the idea of republic suffered the final blow by the fact that it was possible to assassinate the Prime Minister of Serbia. Let us remind ourselves about the recent tricentennial of Sankt Petersburg, the city on the Neva. That was a holiday for the whole world. No representatives of our country were invited to that celebration, far more important than just for the city! So much about the reputation of our form of the state.
The possibility that Serbia chooses, in a democratic way, monarchy as the stable form of the state, is a challenge for the total discontinuation with the past in which all the citizens got used to the state committing crimes in the name of its citizens. Parliamentary monarchy offers a chance to restore our country’s honor and reputation of the ally of antifascist coalition, having in mind the fact that King Peter II Karadjordjevic had appealed to the soldiers of “Yugoslav Royal Army in the Fatherland” to put themselves under command of marshal Tito and fight for the liberation of the country in NOV (People’s Liberation Army). That would put a stop to the attempts to rewrite history. Finally, there is nobody who could blame Crown Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic for the course of events in our country. The facts are as stated above. Do we have the right to renounce the possibility to choose what kind of the form of the state we want? Last, but not least – who would be the true representative of Serbia: a party candidate who would become the President of Serbia or a person who would represent all citizens of Serbia and have obligations towards the citizens and not towards political parties? The Constitution can not include the procedure on the removal of a king, whereas the Constitution does contain such procedure for the removal of a president of a republic. Insurrections, uprisings and revolutions are not regulated by a Constitution, but they do happen. They happened in 1804 and 2000. Today we celebrate both of these events. During the time when this country was a republic, its supreme leaders resided and ruled from the former residence of the monarch – from Beli Dvor in Dedinje. Such decisions were not made by citizens attending a referendum. The time is approaching when a historical compromise will be achieved in this region. Not that long ago, in Italy, Aldo Moro and Enrico Berlinguer made such an attempt. They were not allowed to carry it out.
The most progressive man in Serbia, the man who sent a fascist to the Hague, was killed as the Serbian Prime Minister. Again, Serbia is seeking its identity, in order to live in harmony and cooperate with others. Still, our only stable currency for the cooperation with the world is war criminals. Our prestige is depending on our ability to arrest and deliver war criminals to the Hague Tribunal.
Parliamentary monarchy implies a clear profiling of political parties as left wing, right wing and center. In such conditions, flirting with nationalism will not be the deciding factor for coming into power. In 2004, after 200 years since the Uprising against injustice, it is correct to expect that citizens of Serbia would choose equality before the law, brotherhood amongst people and freedom to organize their lives. Only then will our country’s representative be invited and honored at every gathering in the world. With this act, individual and national identity of each person living in this region, will be recognized.
Author: Vladimir Krstulovic
Copyright © 1998 NJ.K.V. Prestolonaslednik Aleksandar II
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