Monday, November 30, 2009

The Night of the AdEaters

By: Valentina Radulovic
Belgrade, Nov.19, 2009 (Serbia Today) - The 10th Annual Night of AdEaters will be held in the Sava Center, on December 3rd and December 4th. The best commercials submitted from all over the world, as well as from Serbia, will showcase exceptional international and local talent involved in the creation of these advertisements.
The selection of commercials is made by the marketing expert Jean Marie Boursicot, the owner of the biggest global foundation of commercials, Cinematheque Jean Marie Boursicot. Today this unique library contains more than 950,000 commercials from around the world.
The Night of AdEaters is a great chance to enjoy in all night celebration of amazing, intriguing, shocking and funny commercials, representing the vitality, creativity, passion and trends all over the world of advertising. No censorship is allowed in the commercials, so tobacco, alcohol, and sex are in the program.
This event is organized annually in around 50 countries and more than 150 metropolises and it attracts hundred of thousands people.
We can assume commercial as a phenomenon which helps us to understand society’s rituals, habits. The creativity required to make truly captivating commercials can sometimes make a commercial a work of art.
The most creative and original commercials usually can’t be seen on TV stations and during everyday programming, because they are not part of a corporate campaign. These truly genius work in commercials can only be seen in festivals of advertising or on special events for marketing professionals.
SuperStar Worldwide is the organizer of this event and they are proud to say that Belgrade is on the top in the world according to the number of visitors. This flattering title previously belonged to Paris, the home of the festival.
Every year The Night of AdEaters in Belgrade has its theme. Three years ago, in 2006, it was 150th birthday of well-known Nikola Tesla. A year after that, in 2007, the organizers dedicated the event to Novak Djokovic, and last year, in 2008, the event was dedicated to Milorad Cavic, a Serbian gold medal winner in swimming. This year the organizers will celebrate a decade of this event. They will choose the best commercial in the previous ten years. Those who are interested in advertising of this kind can vote for their favorite commercial by visiting the official site. They can also vote for the best billboard and the best non-profit campaign in Serbia for 2009.

Inflation Projected at 7.5% in 2009

By: Milen Vesovic
Belgrade, Nov.23, 2009 (Serbia Today) - Inflation in Serbia ran at 7.5% percent this year, it was announced at the presentation of the November Inflation Report by the National Bank of Serbia (NBS).
It is expected that in the fourth quarter of this year inflation will run at approximately 1.2%, primarily due to expected increases in agricultural product output of 9.4%, said Vice Governor of the NBS Bojan Markovic.
According to Markovic, the greatest risk to maintaining the current rate of inflation is the unstable prices of petroleum products and the increases in the tax of cigarettes, scheduled to start next year. Markovic said that key deflationary factor in the near term is low domestic demand, since the investment activity of the state and the economy is low, and the freezing of public sector wages and pensions.
The Republic of Serbian Dinar (RSD) exchange rates are stable despite the decrease in the prime interest rate and increased liquidity in RSD. These factors have contributed to successful negotiations with the IMF, and helped record a mild recovery of economic activity, said Markovic.
Regarding future changes in the interest rate due to the current slowing of inflation, Markovic had this to say, ”Taking into account all factors, the future is likely to reduce the prime interest rate, but, presently, it needs to remain at the current level of 10%.”
Risks that could stop the mitigation of monetary policy could be a faster recovery in domestic demand than expected, or a higher price increase than expected in world oil prices, added Markovic.
Markovic remarked at the meeting that the 3rd quarter, showed an increase in domestic production of 4.1%. The causes behind this increase in production are thought to be the growth of industrial production, according to Markovic.
"GNP is expected to increase about 1% in the fourth quarter, due to activity in the transport sector and manufacturing industry. The fall of GDP this year is now estimated at about 2.8 percent, which is lower than previous projections,” said Markovic.
Markovic reflected that continued reduction in the balance of payments, primarily due to falling trade deficit, was having a big impact on inflation. He noted that investments banks are still primarily focused on securities and investments and the economy recorded a modest increase in investment in those areas. Savings has also increased to EUR 926 million currently, and is expected to return to its pre-economic crisis levels at the end of the year.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Diabetes in Serbia

By: Una Zabunov
Belgrade, Nov.24, 2009 (Serbia Today) - According to Diabetes Association of Serbia, the number of people suffering from diabetes is approximately 450 000, and that number is constantly growing. Diabetes is a chronic, incurable systemic metabolic disorder that is characterized by permanently high blood glucose. Diabetes is a hereditary, and is due to reduced secretion or reduced biological effects of the hormone insulin, or the combination of these two factors. This disease is a consequence of reduced secretion or reduced biological effects of the hormone insulin, or combinations of these two factors.
Rodoljub Zivkovic, Honorary President of Diabetes Association of Serbia said that increased blood sugar is not painful and most people do not have the impression that something is wrong with their health until diabetes has already damaged their health, in many cases permanently. Zivkovic’s personal experienced with diabetes followed this exact pattern, and he diagnosed himself as having diabetes by accident.
"My grandmother and mom were diabetics, and I searched for medicine for them and I learned about the company MediSense which was selling a revolutionary device for measuring blood sugar,” recounts Zivkovic of his early years battling diabetes.
“Soon after I discovered this device, I started selling the device for measuring blood sugar in Serbia. Once I had to show a skeptical customer how the device works, so I had to prick my finger to get a blood sample for the test and when I looked in the device I realized that I had a serious blood sugar imbalance," said Zivkovic.
Hereditary factors often play a major role in occurrence of diabetes. The propensity for diabetes is transmitted directly to offspring, and the manifestation of the disease also depends on other factors in the course of life. Obesity is a major factor, because people suffering from obesity, over time, reduce the sensitivity of beta-cells to increasing concentrations of glucose in the blood, and in addition the number of insulin receptors in target tissues is reduced.
In the treatment of diabetes, doctors use several approaches; insulin in combination with diet, medicines in combination with diet, and in some cases a restrictive diet is sufficient. According to Honorary President of Diabetes Association of Serbia, people with diabetes in Serbia have access to everything available in any Western treatment program, including all medicines, tests, and trained medical professionals. He also stressed that education about this disease is based on a completely voluntary basis. People with diabetes do not have a great willingness to learn more about their disease. In Serbia, there is a National Commission for Diabetes, which, in general, is not consulted by the State, according to Zivkovic.
Diabetes has two clinical manifestations; Type I and Type II. Diabetes Type I is the most common type that younger people under thirty years of age develop. The basis of this disease is an autoimmune process that destroys pancreatic beta-cells, so that there is an absence of circulating insulin and hyperglycemia. Given that the survival of inflicted people depend on lifelong treatment with insulin, this type of diabetes is called insulin-dependent. Type I diabetes can occur as a result of infectious or toxic environmental factors, which, in genetically predisposed individuals trigger an immune system response that destroys beta-cells. Type II diabetes occurs as a result of various abnormalities at the level of peripheral tissues. Patients who develop this form of diabetes are usually older than 40 years of age and obese. These people do not need insulin for survival, but eventually, decreased insulin secretion and insulin is required in order to achieve optimal glycerin regulation.
The Diabetes Association of Serbia, which is supported by the International Federation for Diabetes since 2000, is leading a battle against ignorance of this disease. The fight is primarily directed to increased public awareness of diabetes, and educating the public on detection treatment. The biggest challenge in this battle is public indifference and lack of awareness.

Opera Premiere of Serbian Epic ‘Hassan Aga’s Wife’

By: Li Novak
Belgrade, Nov.20, 2009 (Serbia Today) - The premiere of the opera Hassan Aga’s Wife, composed by Rastislav Kambaskovic, will be held in National Theater in Belgrade, on November 22nd.
The Ballad ‘Hassan Aga’s Wife’, is a famous Slavic folk ballad from Bosnia, handed down from generation to generation in oral form until it was finally written and published in 1774 by an Italian traveler and ethnographer, Alberto Fortis.
The ballad is about an the daughter of a Bosniak woman from a number family who is the wife of the Turkish Aga, trapped in a world governed by male prejudices and patriarchal domination. She is eventually stripped of her freedom, and eventually her children when she angers her husband, the Aga.
The writer Ljubomir Simovic dramatized this text in 1973, and adapted it for the theater. The composer Kambaskovic was inspired by this play, and has taken Simovic’s text as a libretto, making it into an opera.
Kambaskovic’s earlier compositions have used themes in folklore as a foundation for his compositions. In this opera, one can hear the musical elements from his composition ‘Glamoch’s Country Dance’ in the mysterious and ancient dance, which is without instrumental music or singing, and based only on the rhythm of footsteps, in the tragic third act, when Hassan Aga’s wife is saying goodbye to her children.
The director is Ivana Dragutinovic, scene and costumes have been done Boris Maksimovic and Katarina Grcic and the conductor is Mladen Jagust.
The Opera ‘Hassan Aga’s Wife’ performance on November 22nd, is to mark the National Day of Theater, in Belgrade. The National Day of Theater celebrates 141 years since the first National Theater performed its first play, ‘Djuradj Brankovic’.

BITEF Dance Company Breaking New Ground

By: Li Novak
Belgrade, Nov.18, 2009 (Serbia Today) - In recognition of the need expressed by many in the theater over the past few years to modernize the domestic theatrical scene, members of the Bitef Theater company will embrace modern production standards seen in large European theaters in the West.
The play writers, directors, actors and the audience have grown weary of the classic theatrical model which is almost exclusively based on dialogue.
Modern theater incorporates many other components of performance beside dialogue; dance, show, visual and audio effects, and computerized backgrounds. The Serbian audience will have the opportunity to see these kinds of modern plays only on international annual Bitef Festival.
Starting in the 2009/2010 season, Bitef Theater will changes its traditional approach to production, by founding the Bitef Dance Company.
This new theatrical troop will initially focus on the introduction modern dance into its productions. There is a general need for better organization of contemporary theatrical dance in Belgrade. The capital already has the National Opera and the Ballet of the National Theater and a theater in Terasije specialy designed for musicals. But the modern dance is neglected and it’s not connected with any established theatrical institution.
The Bitef Dance Company will be an elite dance troop, with a mission to promote modern dance throughout the Serbia and beyond the borders – into the European dance scene. The dancers will have classical and modern dance trainings. The troop will cooperate with the most eminent domestic and foreign choreographs and directors.
By founding this new modern theater ensemble, the Bitef Theater takes a large step towards realizing its initial goal of promoting and developing new theatrical styles and expressions. The repertoire of this theater, which is settled in a lovely old building in one of Belgrade odest districts, Dorcol, in next season will persue two objectives - pure dance expression and production of unique, modern plays, not in a strictly defined by genre.
This is a great opportunity for many young artists with the desire to create innovative, original plays, which stretch the limits and conventions of traditional theater.
Off course, those are the great news for the Serbian audience, which now has the opportunity to watch from domestic authors the type of plays they watched on international Bitef Festival.
The premiere of the first play by Bitef Dance Company, “Paranoia Chic”, was held on November 13th. The author’s of the play and choreographer is Isidora Stanisic, the composer is Anja Djordjevic, costumes and scene were made by Ivana Vasic and Sasa Ivanovic and the performers were Dejana Budiska, Nevena Jovanovic, Olga Olcan and Milica Pisic.
This play explores the false states of human mind which are provoked by “shock therapy”. “Shock therapy” is modern expression very often used in last few years in Serbia to ironically describe the impact of by using wars, embargo, and other disasters on the common man, thus creating a state of paranoia.
The play “Paranoia Chic” the audience may watch on November 19th and 26th on Bitef Theater’s scene.

Jovana Jaksic, Rising Serbian Tennis Star

By: Katarina Jonev
Belgrade, Nov.19, 2009 (Serbia Today) - Serbia is enjoying its Golden Age in tennis. Every day more and more kids want to train to be tennis players ensuring Serbia’s presence on the world tennis stage for years to come.
One representative of a new generation of talented kids is Jovana Jaksic (16), perspective player from Belgrade who plays in Tennis club Gemaks, who started to play as a child. Like many great young players she demonstrated determination early on.
“Even as a little-I went with dad to the tennis courts where he played recreationally. I really liked sport and I wanted to start practicing even though I was told that I am still young. But I was very persistent and I didn’t want to let go that idea. My parents did not understand my seriousness and determination to begin to deal with this sport, They thought it was a passing desire. After my persistent insisting they finally enrolled me in school tennis. When I started elementary school various tennis clubs started informing and inviting children to start training so I also started to train in TK Max. After a few months I moved to club Gemaks which member I still am,” said Jaksic of her formative years in tennis.
Jaksic began to participate in tennis tournaments and compete in 2005. In a very short period of time she has shown remarkable talent and managed to beat other competitors that had been competing 3 to 5 years longer then she had. She has managed to win 41 trophies and 5 medals in tournaments during her budding career.
“I played in 22 tournaments this year and I had 120 official matches. The last one I participated in was European Masters (under 16), which was held in Naples in Italy and I won. At the same time during the year I was seeded 1st on the European under 16 category. Until now, none of the players from our country had ever been first on this list and this tournament was never taken by our players. I consider this my biggest and most important success but I won’t stop here,” said Jaksic of her recent victory in the European league.
Jaksic has competed against players older than herself for several years. She managed to win on tournaments in the under 18.years category. When asked what her most exciting victory was besides the European Master Jaksic had this to say.
“When I was 13, I won in the under 18 years category tournament which was a great success,” she remembers with pride.
When asked how she picks the tournaments she competes in Jaksic has a very straight forward formula, “It depends mostly from my own results. If my previous results are good and if I am in good shape I will choose stronger and more prestigious tournaments.”
Jaksic is a member of national team of Serbia. Her first competition representing Serbiawas in the Junior World Championship was in the under 14 category in the Czech Republic 3 years ago.
“I have been a member of the Serbian team for the last 3 years and I am glad whenever I played for the national team. I participated on a few ETA tournaments where I played in quarterfinals, a few finals and I won the tournament in doubles. I played on the European championships for 14 and 16 years categories that brought us participation in World championships,” said Jaksic.
Jaksic’s main characteristics are primarily offensive play, a crushing service and forehand. Despite the fact that she regular trains several times a week, participate in tournaments and travel a lot, does not neglect obligations at school.
Jaksic is getting ready for a transition in her schedule as she switches to bigger tournament venues.
“Currently I am entering in the preparatory period for next year. Next tournament will be junior Grand Slam tournament. I am expecting to show my really quality next year and to participate on various, good and quality tournaments,” replied Jaksic.
Her tennis model is Lindsay Davenport. She is not superstitious and doesn’t have rituals before stepping on the court because she believes in herself.
“The competition is greater to me is easier to play the match because I have a much greater motivation to fight and success. I respect them but do not fear of them,” said Jaksic with a gleam of conviction in her eyes.
When asked if she would accept and offer to study and train tennis abroad if she would accept it, Jaksic has this to say, “My biggest wish is to be number one in the world. At this moment I see myself here in Serbia mostly because I have adequate training conditions in Gemax. My professional team consists of tennis coach Relja Dulic and professor Miljan Sile Grbovic. My clothing sponsor is a Chinese company Erke, racket I am using is HEAD, and conditions for training tennis club Gemax are remarkable. So far now I am not planning to go anywhere.“

Tender Released for Another Fixed Telephone Service in Serbia

By: Milen Vesovic
Belgrade, 19 November (Serbia Today) – A tender for application to become the second independent fixed telephone line operator will be announced tomorrow, confirmed the Minister of Telecommunications, Jasna Matic. One of the conditions of the tender will be that the candidate must have a minimum of one million current subscribers to their cellular program in Serbia.
“I believe that the conditions of this tender will attract the best possible providers in the market,” said Matic.
Though there is no reserve or minimum price established for the bid on this tender. Once the bids are opened on January 12th by the Republic (of Serbia) Telecommunications Agency (RATEL), the highest bidder meeting the qualification of the tender will be selected.
Details of the tender will be made public once the tender is run this week. RATEL has set a number of criteria relating to the number of users to be served by the tender and the expected revenue. Once these details about the tender are know, SBB and Telenor, the two most serious candidates for the new license, should make their intentions known.
Call for public tender were published in the Financial Times and Politika business sections yesterday (Friday), and will be published again this coming Monday in the Serbian daily Gazeta.
In Serbia, there is only one provider for fixed telephone line service – the State owned telecommunications company - Telekom Serbia

Friday, November 27, 2009

Vojvodina and Serbia to Divide State Property

By: Milen Vesovic
Novi Sad, Nov.24, 2009 (Serbia Today) – The future status of State property in Vojvodina looms as one of the more sticky issues associated with the Vojvodina Autonmous Province (VAP) bill making its way through parliament.
The question of any future division of State property between an Automous Vojvodina and the Serbian Government would create a cascade effect into issues that are already hard to untangle. The annual budget of the Serbian Government has required billions of dollars in international loans to stabilize and complicated intra party negotiations. Just how the process of budget reform could continue if the VAP bill were passed is beyond any reckoning.
Vojvodina municipalities have long been tasked to generate property lists, so that funds can accrue where infrastructure is shared between the district and the State on roads, Ostroznica’s loop, railways, and bridges.
State Secretary of Ministry and Finance, Slobodan Ilic, remarked that the question of future ownership, will depend on the solutions found in the public property law. Ilic said that the problem with making infrastructure lists and valuating them is that almost anything can be included in the list, but the value is not always easy to determine. For example forests, can be a source of income, but much of the value of such a resource is hard to determine, he added.
Assets in public enterprises will be easier to value and to divide. However, authorities in Vojvodina have stipulated that ‘the waters of Vojvodina, Vojvodina forest’ and ‘Department of City Planning’ are all quantifiable assets that are to be a source of income to the Province, if Serbia is to transfer of jurisdiction of these resources to the Government of Serbia.
So it is, that before dividing State property between a Vojvodina Autonomous Province and the Serbian Government, both parties will have to agree on what property already belongs to whom, before meaningful negotiations can begin.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Aleksandra Radovic on the concert in ‘Sava Center’

By: Valentina Raduovic
Belgrade, Nov,18, 2009 (Serbia Today) Famous Serbian pop singer and songwriter Aleksandra Radovic, will hold her second solo concert in ‘Sava Center’, on 19th November 19th and December 1st in Belgrade’s Sava Center. It is interesting to mention that she is the first female Serbian singer who is engaged for two separate performances at the Sava Center.
Radovic made her debut at Suncane Skale Festival in 2003 in Herceg Novi, Montenegro, with the song ‘Kao so u moru’ (Like salt in the sea) and she won the second price. Since that festival, she has been one of the most popular pop singers in Serbia and the region. In 2003, Radovic released her first solo album ‘Aleksandra Radovic’, with the singles ‘Jos danas’ (One More Day), ‘Nema te zene’(No woman like you) , ‘Ako ikada’ (If ever) and ‘Laz’(Lie). She has also won many prestigious awards for her vocal performances such as: ‘Vocal of the year’ in 2003 on Perper Radio, ‘Best Female Performance’ on Radio Festival in 2004 and 2006, ‘Best Female Performance on Suncane Skale Festival in 2004 and 2006, Female Singer of the Year on Frankfurter Festival in 2004, Female singer of the Year at Beovision Festival 2007. All those awards confirm her as one of the most popular and widely recognized singers in Serbia and in region.With academic and music education, she has created her career step by step, refusing to make compromises in her style and image. Radovic’s extremely expressive voice, sings pop music, with elements of fado, tango and R’n’B. She is most comfortable while singing ballads, but she equally loves faster rhythms.
So far Radovic has released three albums: ‘Aleksandra Radovic’ (2003), ‘Dommino’ (2006) and ‘Zar ptica’ (2009); and one live album in 2005. She has recorded many singles, as well.
With her new album ‘Zar ptica’ (named after a magic bird in Slavic mythology), which is, as she said in many interviews, devoted to brave and strong women - she gives the fusion of the classic pop sound and the popular, mainstream sound we hear in the songs of Rihanna and Beyonce. She also uses a lot of electric sounds, which is the new element in her music.
With the concerts in Sava Center, after a two year break, she decided to tour Serbia and Macedonia. The special guests on the concerts will be the participants of her ‘School of Pop Music’, which she opened last year. This school is her idea of promoting a real pop music, by working with talented young people. Radovic performance promises to be an engaging performance with the best sounds in Serbian music.

International Festival of Gay Film ‘Merlinka’ on Belgrade

By: Valentina Radulovic
Belgrade, Nov.16, 2009 (Serbia Today) - International Festival of gay film ‘Merlinka’ will be held from November 16th to November 19th in Dom Omladine – Belgrade. The festival has been produced to promote a wide spectrum of film titles dealing with homosexuality, gender and sexuality issues from all over the world.
The films selected here rarely receive a mainstream theatrical or television release in Serbia, due to their subject content, making the festival a rare, uninhibited of issues related to human sexuality. The festival will feature shorts films, features and documentaries from all over the world. The festival producers also aim to create a safe and open atmosphere for the community to discuss gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, and celebrate diversity.
One of the main aims of the festival is to promote gay-lesbian rights and impact on reducing homophobia in Serbian society through the film art.
The festival is named after murdered transsexual Vjeran Miladinovic Merlinka, who played in ‘Marble Ass’, a film by well-known Serbian director Zelimir Zilnik. This film will also be shown at the festival.
The festival brings together a selection of local and international titles. The audience will be able to see Serbian films: ‘Kennedy is getting married’, ‘Marble Ass’, ‘Take a Deep Breath’. From Germany the following films will be shown; ‘Ghosted’ and ‘Otto: Or, Up with the dead people’. Two British films will be screened at the festival - ‘An Englishman in New York’, and a documentary ‘Beyond the Pink Curtain’. Bosnian documentary ‘Queer Sarajevo’ will be shown. Other international entries include Icelandic-French co-production ‘The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela’, a Romanian film ‘Love Sick’, and a French film ‘Les Chansons d’amour’.
Before the beginning of the festival a panel discussion with the thematic focus on ‘Queer Moments in the domestic film’. Participants will be directors and actors who acted or directed gay/lesbian films. They will discuss how individual people stick to the cultural binary definitions of male and female, and how we are all trapped by the dichotomy of male and female, and how those issues reflect in Serbian film.
This festival will bring a rich selection of seldom-seen films to the Serbian audience, as well as, support the work of local, national and international filmmakers. It is hoped that the event will help to promote an atmosphere of respect and tolerance, in and around the gay and lesbian community.
The ‘Merlinka’ festival is organized by the Gay-Lesbian info center GLIC and Dom Omladine Belgrade. It is supported by the Center for Nonviolent Action, Queeria Center, Goethe Institute, French Cultural Center, British Council, Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and the Reconstruction Women’s Fund.

Serbia Taking Active Role in Copenhagen Conference

By: Milen Vesovic
Belgrade, Nov.23, 2009 (Serbia Today) - Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, Oliver Dulic, said that Serbia is ready for an active role at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen from December 7th to the 18th.
While appearing at a joint press conference with UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, Srdjan Kerim, Dulic also emphasized that Serbia needed financial assistance and a technology transfer to fully participate in the objectives of the world community to stop climate change.
In the coming week, a delegation, led by Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, will work to define Serbia’s positions on the objectives set in forth for the UN conference in Copenhagen.
Dulic said that Serbia wishes to join regional leaders in confronting climate change and to give its full cooperation to make an impact in issues surrounding agriculture, energy and human health.
Kerim has expressed supported of the efforts of the Serbian Government in recognizing the role of the UN, especially in a complex and delicate issue of climate change. He recalled that the UN was marking the Day of the Child, which was established 20 years ago and that it is the duty of all nations to leave their children a planet that will allow them to live in dignity and without a shortage of resources.
Kerim said that the Copenhagen agreement must achieve a common vision on the reduction of harmful gas emissions by 50%, and the measures to be taken so that the temperature of the planet does not increase by more than 1 to 2 degrees. He warned that if we do not reach such agreement, will be faced with a disaster that threatens to raise the sea level so dramatically, as many as 45 UN member countries will disappear. These Pacific Island States that are currently at risk represent the first State casualties caused by global warming.

South Western Serbia Development Program Starting in Prijepolje

By: Bojana Jankovic
Prijepolje, Nov.21, 2009 (Serbia Today) - As part of the Program to Support Development in South Western Serbia (PRO), a meeting was held in the municipal meeting hall of Prijepolje on Wednesday, November 18th. The objective of the meeting was for the program representatives to publicly review the results of an public opinion poll carried out by Strategic Marketing in the area.
The municipality of Projepolje belongs to the Zlatibor District, and is located in the South Western part of Serbia, close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro.
The PRO’s plans to spur develop in the South Western region of Serbia is taking place in eight municipalities; Novi Pazar, Ivanjica, Priboj, Prijepolje, Nova Varos, Raska, Tutin and Sjenica. The goal of this program is to strengthen the capacity of municipalities to plan and achieve sustainable socio-economic development that will in turn allow for an improvement in the quality of life for the citizens in this part of Serbia.
The most recent phase of the study explored the satisfaction levels of residents with services provided by the municipality. The study examined if residents are satisfied with registrar services, issuance of permits for construction, social payments, services provided by state owned enterprises, and other social services.
Of the respondants that were polled, 74% considered that the municipality provides quality services to its citizens. The positive result indicates that recent changes in local administration are making an impact on residents in the area.
The Delegation of the Europen Commission, the Europen Union and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation funded the development of this program in South Western Serbia, which is being implimented by the Union Nations Development Program (UNDP) in cooperation with the Serbian Government and the municipalities involved the PRO.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

No Conflict: Vojvodina Statute and Constitution

By: Milen Vesovic
Belgrade, Nov.23 (Serbia Today) – After a two hour hearing, the Serbian Parliament Committee for Constitutional Affairs, has agreed to allow debate to move forward on the Autonomy for Vojvodina Province bill in Parliament on Tuesday, November 24th.
President of the National Assembly of Serbia, Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic, told reporters after the meeting that the Committee for Constitutional Affairs reviewed the proposed language in the bill and found that Vojvodina has the right to increase autonomy, as described in the bill, within the confines of the constitution, and that the proposals in the bill do not infringe upon the unique rights associated with statehood.
Board members from the Socialist Party of Serbia and G17 Plus stated that the proposed solution is in accordance with the Constitution of Serbia and announced their support.
Head of the parliamentary group of the Liberal Democratic Party, Cedomir Jovanovic, said that the issues of the autonomy in the bill are being misinterpreted. Jovanovic expressed his protest. He said that the measures in the Autonomous Vojvodina Province bill in its current form pushed the issue of decentralization of the entire state too far.
Head of the center right Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Milos Aligrudic, told a meeting of the board that the proposed law is based on the principle of separatism, that the proposed solutions would have only negative repercussions, and the DSS will not support the proposed bill.

Nis Still Searching for more International Carriers

By: Bojana Jankovic
Belgrade, Nov.17, 2009 (Serbia Today) - Swedish airline MCA Airlines planned to starts fly from Nis to Stockholm on the 14th December, 2009, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. There was an offer for customers to buy tickets to Nis on their website. But, MCA’s website canceled the offer for tickets to Nis.
Nether the website or Nis’s airport Konstantin Veliki (Big Constantine) had more information about the Swedish company’s proposed line from Nis to Stockholm.
The only possible flight directly to Nis is from Montenegrin air company “Montenegro airlines”. From December this year, these flights will be runnning twice-weekly flights from Nis to Zurich, as well as to Podgorica.
Mayor of Nis, Milos Simonovic, said flights from Nis to Italy are to be expected, but this information has not been confirmed from the Italian low cost airline Wind Jet.

Serb Living the American Football Dream

By: Katarina Jonev
Belgrade, Nov.16, 2009 (Serbia Today) - In a small town in middle America the commentator’s voice blasts across the stadium, "And now Serbian – Dejan Roncevic.” The crowd breaks out into enthusiastic applause. As disjointed as this image may seem, one of the stars of Lindenwood University’s ‘American football’ team is Serbian player Dejan Roncevic.
Located in St. Charles, Missouri, Lindenwood University is situated in one of the many parts of the US where they take their football seriously. Thanks to Dejan Roncevic’s athletic skills he has been able to find a prominent place in this football team’s roster.
Admiringly known by his teammates as the ‘Serbian nightmare’, Roncevic begin training as a youth for the Belgrade Wolves. In 2007, the club won the Serbian Championship and won the Central European Football League title. His talent did not go unnoticed and he received the offer to continue training in the United States.
“When I came to America I impressed trainers with my strength, speed and way of thinking. But they were not satisfied with my basic technique, so I started to work harder and on a higher level and the results can be seen,” said Roncevic.
About his reception in the US, Roncevic had this to say, “From the first days most of his teammates accepted me without problems, but there were also those who doubted in my qualities because I'm from Europe where this sport is not generally popular.” Roncevic and his teammates where both surprised by the speed with which he made the transition to the US football college scene.
“For me it was strange that after only two years of experience on the Serbian scene I had come here and in the first year I got a chance to show my skills. In my first season my team finished third in the NAIA league,” said Roncevic, who is the only foreigner from outside of the American continent, which plays in the NAIA division. Roncevic expressed satisfaction when asked whether he was satisfied with his current teams chances for the next season.
“As I said we finished last season at third place in NAIA league. Now we have started the season as the third-ranked team and we won in 9 games with no defeats. We have great chances of winning at the national league, so we are training very hard to give ourselves every chance,” said Roncevic.
Roncevic is grateful that he selected American football as his sport, despite the fact that he was actually very good in a number of sports and that American football is not popular in Serbia.
“I had trained karate for 3 years, water polo for Partizan for 2 years, handball in Red Star for 4 years and I've won many medals. I even trained for bob sledding, and was a member of the national team of Serbia and Montenegro. Nevertheless, when I heard about tests for American football club, my friend and I decided to try. I can freely say that it was mostly out of curiosity I started training for this sport, but now I cannot imagine my day without it,” reflected Roncevic. Roncevic found the transition to America and its training challenging, and difficult.
“After only few months I was able to fight for second place in the team on my position on the defensive squad. The first days in America were not easy for me because I missed my family, friends, and Belgrade a lot. But I got a full scholarship to the University here and my professors and coaches believe that one day I can succeed in this sport. That gave me then and now the additional motivation to work diligently. Every day I learn something new here and I enjoy that fact,” said Roncevic.
When asked if playing college ball for a university in Missouri bore any resemblance to NFL matches televised in Serbia, Roncevic had this to say, “American football is the national sport here. Seats in the stadium are always filled down to the last seat. Here, every game is truly an experience! The crowd is really great, and they always support us in large numbers and cheer until the last minute.”
Trainings at 7 AM in temperatures as low as minus 12 C, or weekend training at 6 AM in the gym were initially difficult for Roncevic, but perseverance and strong motivation to succeed kept him on track.
“Since I started to play this sport, I have dreamed of coming to America and playing here. I can freely say that I live my dream even though it is not easy as it seems. After little more than two years spent here the coaches are more and more satisfied. I am improving myself from day to day and my team mates respect me very much, not only because of my skill as a player but also because of positive energy. My teammates also appreciate my translation of Serbian jokes that I am telling them non-stop. I have not neglected my studies and my average rating marks is 3.60 (out of 4.0).”
Roncevic’s success in American college football, and his bright future there demonstrate yet another example of talented young Serbs being embraced by the world community when they show the dedication to succeed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Railroad ’Beograd – Nis’ Blocked

By: Bojana Jankovic
Lapovo, Nov.19, 2009 (Serbia Today) - On Tuesday morning, long before the sunrise, a group of 120 laid off workers from the privatized construction conglomerate Prvi Mai (May 1st) blocked the Belgrade – Nis railroad. Located in Lapovo, a small town located in the Sumadija district of Central Serbia, Prvi Maj was a producer of construction materials, including finished concrete and gravel.
Union President Novica Markovic said that the workers have decided to block the railroad track all day if talks do not begin with government officials for solving the problem.
The company was sold in 2006 for RSD 82 million ( EUR 880,000) and the majority owner is Novi Sad-based Autovojvodina. Problems have persisted as the new owners have not taken definitive steps to resolve outstanding wages and other benefits that are owed to the idled workers.
In July this year workers obtained promises from the government that the unpaid wages, taxes, and contributions to pension and health insurance would be paid. These promises have yet to materialize, reported Serbian new service B92.
“We sent a letter to the government on November 10 with a demand to fulfill the agreement immediately, which was reached in July for the payment of wages, benefits and the start of production,” said Markovic.
This is the fourth time that Prvi Maj workers have blocked the railroad, since protests started earlier this year in April.

EUR 250 Million for Small and Medium Enterprises

By: Milen Vesovic
Belgrade,16. Nov, 2009 (Serbia Today) - According to the NBC, the complicated procedure of approval of funds from the European Investment Bank (EIB) has finally reached the end the EIB will soon credit small and medium enterprises in Serbia with EUR 250 million, said the National Bank of Serbia (NBS).
The agreement between EIB lending and NBS was ratified in the Serbian parliament on August 31st and put into force on October 8th.
The NBS and EBI sent drafts of each contract between entrepreneurs and commercial banks in Serbia. EIB agreements were inserted into the text of the contracts for obtained on November 3rd, which are conditions for signing the contract between the NBS and commercial banks.
When this is done, ask a loan from EIB funds, explained the "Flash of the Week" Sladjana Prijic-Sladic from the NBS.
An issue created by the long process for the EIB loan approval was the many waiting for a loan, were forced to take commercial loans, at a higher rate, while waiting for their loan approval.
Kikinda Baninija, a producer of candy and other confections, plans to hire 150 more workers, was forced to find bridge loans while waiting.
“Because of the slow procedures of the arrival of money from the EIB we were forced to take commercial loans for which he was lost around one million euros,” said Rade Stanic, director of Baninija
Terms and conditions for loans from the EIB are more than favorable. The interest rates will not exceed five percent, a grace period of several years for the some loans, the repayment period is 12 years, and the minimum amount of the loans is EUR 20,000. Commercial banks in Serbia that will manage the loans from from the EIB funds are UniCredit Bank, Erste Bank, OTP Bank, Cacak’s Bank, Commercial Bank, Commercial bank Belgrade, Raiffeisen Bank and EFG Euro Bank.

The New Bridge In Cacak

By: Bojana Jankovic
Cacak, Nov.16, 2009 (Serbia Today) - Cacak, a city in Serbia, located 140 km South of Belgrade, on 1st December will be able to boast with one more the new bridge over the Western Morava (a river). This new crossing will be located between the center of the city and Cacak’s village Ljubic.
For now, there will be one lane from the upstream side of the old railway bridge. In the spring, the number of lanes should be the on both sides.
The new bridge will measure 70 meters in length, while it will measure 10.8 meters wide.
The investment required to complete the bridge is 171.8 million dinars, and most of the funds secured by the Ministry for Infrastructure, while local government funded work on the relocation of utility installations.
The original completion deadline of 8 months to complete the bridge has long since passed, despite the best efforts of the company contracted to complete the bridge, Putevi
This new crossing over the river Morava should relieve the passenger bridge in the city, which was built after the Second World War.
The opening of the bridge in Cacak is a concrete sign of progress in the region for its citizens and all who pass through the area.

Conctract Signed on MEGA Program in Arilje

By: Bojana Jankovic
Arilje, Nov.14, 2009, (Serbia Today) - In 2007, the Government of the Republic of Serbia started sweeping tax collection reform aimed at creating a better tax base by boosting property tax. To this end, the MEGA program was created in which the transferred responsibilities for the collection of property tax with national tax administration was shifted to a system administered by local tax government. Directors of the MEGA program selected Arilje as the first in a group of eight municipalities to implement the program. A total of 32 munincipalities are scheduled to implement the MEGA program, and benefit from the added economic capacity for encouraging local economic development.
Arilje is a city and municipality in the Zlatibor region, in Western Serbia, at the confluence of the mountain rivers Rzav and Moravica. Arilje is rich in tourist potential due to the natural beauty of its surroundings. Arilje created an economic development strategy spanning nearly ten years, from 2006-2015, as part of the reforms brought on by the over haul of the tax collection and tax base development.
On Wednesday, November 11th 2009, Dr Mirjana Avakumovic, mayor of Arilje and Edwin Hyde, representative of the MEGA program, have signed an agreement on the implementation of the project of improving the efficiency of collections of taxes on property. Hyde points out that much of the assistance from the MEGA program to local tax authorities will be technical in nature.
“The MEGA program will provide support to Arilje in the procurement of data and evaluations of state held real estate by employing local people who will work on collecting information. In all local governments we met with the problem of the formation of updated and complete list of property owners, and the MEGA program goal is to create a good fiscal census. In addition, we offer professional help for input and database creation,” stated Hyde when asked to describe the current stage of MEGA’s efforts in Arilje.
The ambitions of the MEGA appear to be reaching to one of the key elements in stimulating local economies by creating local incentive and oversight to encourage business development. The added technical expertise brought from outside experts through the MEGA program will be giving a long overdue reform to the Serbian State’s financial arm.

Festival of New Domestic Music

By: Valentina Radulovic
Belgrade, Nov.13, 2009 (Serbia Today) - On November 27th and 28th November the first Festival of New Domestic Music (Festival Nove Domace Muzike) will be held at Dom Omladine, with the eight bands scheduleled for the event. The festival was conceived by Digimedia, the company which is an owner of the site and web magazine ‘Popboks’, with the aim of further promoting Serbian pop culture.
Digitmedia is the youngest company of this kind in the region, which deals with the production of audio, video and web content. It is more than just a development studio for audio, video and web content production as the studio itself represents the creative epicenter where Serbian musicians and artists of all generations exchange their ideas, experiences, and plan future collaboration.
The audience of this festival will be able to see and hear the authentic sounds of music which has the energy and power to significantly changes domestic music scene.
On Friday November 27th the audience will enjoy the following bands; Keckec (Novi Sad), Repetitor (Belgrade), Slaptrap (Novi Sad), and Consecration (Belgrade).
On Saturday November 28th, the bands performing will be Nikad Dosta (Belgrade), Stuttgart Online (Belgrade), Zene Kese (Belgrade), and Iskaz (Pancevo).

“Dream furniture!”

By : Una Zabunov
Belgrade, Nov.18, 2009 (Serbia Today) - Modern tables made of glass and ethnic wooden furniture filled the halls at 46th International Furniture Fair in Belgrade. The original designs and colors of furniture justify the slogan of this international exhibition as ”Dream furniture”. A wide range of original and sophisticated furniture to satisfy every taste. Everyone can find something special for their home. This year exhibitors are presenting products in addition to furniture, such as equipment and supplies for interior decoration, technical literature and magazines in decoration and home design.
In addition to the traditional exhibitors, students of the Faculty of Forestry in Belgrade and students of specialized secondary schools in the area of wood manufacturing and design have presented their art creations. There was also Technical School’s International Workshop ”Drvo Art”. The young secondary school students with their interesting works have charmed visitors at the fair with variation on the theme ”coffee table” which can be transformed into chairs, shelves and other items.
Student attending the fair won this year’s award for design at theTechnical School ”Drvo Art”, and earned a diploma for the promotion of practical education. This is the first time that Technical School ”Drvo Art” participated in the Furniture Fair. Their imaginative and creative pieces of furniture can be seen on November 18th in Hall II.
The award which is given to the 9 commercial producers is the ”Golden Key” was won by exhibitors DALLAS doo Tutin or NOVART from Kragujevac. Sitting on the jusry of design experts this year is Professor Ranko Bocina from the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, the architect Ana Mihajlovic, Milos Curcic from the Agency for Investment and Export Promotion.
All visitors to the Belgrade Furniture Fair will have the opportunity from the November 12th to November 18th to see upholstered furniture, period furniture, massive furniture, kitchens, dining rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms. Working hours are from 10 AM to 7 PM. Single tickets cost 280 dinars. Tickets for organized groups cost 180 dinars per person, parking is 100 dinars per hour, and parking for the whole day is 500 dinars.

Monday, November 23, 2009

15th Festival of Author’s Film

By: Valentina Radulovic
Belgrade, Nov.11, 2009 (Serbia Today) - Festival of Author’s Film is founded in order to introduce the Belgrade audience with the top level film pieces.
Founded in 1994, a turbulent time in which war and the embargo had isolated most Serbs, the Festival of Author’s Films was literally the only way for Belgrade an audience of drama students, artists and intellectuals, to see what was going on around the world.
The festival gathers movies based purely artistic values, regardless of the fact that their authors have different theme preferences (racial, national, political, religious, sexual etc.).
The pieces that are shown in this festival differ from the mainstream films we usually watch in our cinemas. The aim is not just to entertain, but to search for deeper, more truthful and more complex depictions of human beings and the world they live in. This festival searches for ‘new energy’ of the author’s film and renews the classical patterns of the film narration in the world of technological and civilization changes.
The Festival emphasizes not commercial but less known, cinematography of the ‘third world’, taking care in selecting the quality and the ‘message’ of the film.
Today, when the films of Hollywood can be seen all around us and uniformity threatens to overflow the European market, the importance of author’s festival is much more significant.
The aim of the festival is to select films that communicate openly with the audience, through words and dialogue, and to make communication with the artists behind the film possible.
To that end the organizers of the festival prepare many additional programs such as retrospectives and round tables discussions, where the authors can exchange their experiences, ideas, and aspirations. This festival holds the promise of making Belgrade an important spot on the map of art-film in Europe and in the world.
This year the Festival audience will have a chance to see a great number of author films from all over the world, including the winner of the Cannes Festival, ‘The White Ribbon’ by Michael Haneke and the winner of the Berlin festival, ‘The Milk of Sorrow’ by Claudia Llosa.
The Festival is going to be held from November 25th to December 2nd and the authors will compete for the main award which has been named after one of the best Serbian directors, Aleksandar Sasha Petrovic. The jury for the festival consists of highly eminent international representatives from the world of cinema. The official program consists of twenty films and they can be seen in DKC Belgrade, Balkan cinema, Dom Omladine, and the Museum of Cinema and Art.
An additional program of the festival will consists of six programs; a new Romanian film, a dedication to John Cassavet, the famous director, the retrospective of Aleksandar Sasha Petrovic’s films, the music films program, the retrospective of documentary films by Sergei Dvortsevoy and the program ‘Paint the Film’ (film as an inspiration in painting).
This year there will be an award for the best film by a director under than 35 years.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Kosovo Elections without Conflicts or Mandate

Kosovo Elections without Conflicts or Mandate
By: Miodrag Stosic
Belgrade, Nov.17, 2009 (Serbia Today) – Yesterday, for the first time since their declaration of independence in 2008, Kosovo held general and local elections. Due to the lack of international compromise on the status of Kosovo it was long under question as to when these elections would take place. Those monitoring the election had expected a low turnout and they were not disappointed.
Election authorities put the overall turn out at 48%, according to the BBC. This turnout is only a marginal improvement on the 40% seen in the last local elections in 2007. There were wide spread complaints of a shortage or polling stations in Serb dominated areas, especially Northern Kosovo.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, did his best to celebrate his party’s symbolic victory, and keep the show going.
"I am very pleased to announce... that the Democratic Party of Kosovo is the convincing winner of these elections," the party's deputy chairman, Hajredin Kuci said in a news conference broadcast live by public RTK TV.
It remains to be seen as to whether international observers are expected to announce on Monday if the vote met international standards, and the authorities in Kosovo's can take one more step in their push for wider recognition.
Elections in Kosovo were preceded by a debate in the Serbian political circles as to whether or not Serbs should vote in the former Serbian Southern province that is now an independent state. There was concern that the participation of Serbs in the elections would be indirect recognition of Kosovo's independence. However, Serbian officials called on Kosovo Serbs to vote because the results of the local elections were too important for Serbs living in Kosovo, as this election is their only means of selecting their representatives in the municipalities.
Seventy four electoral lists were reported in the elections, of which thirty four lists came from Albanian parties and the rest from Serbian and others ethnical groups. According to initial assessments, a small number of Kosovo’s citizens voted on the election. There are a million and five hundred thousand registered voters in Kosovo and yet under fifty percent voted on yesterday’s elections.
Serbs won in three of the newly formed municipality, but has lost two in which they are majority - in the municipalities of Strpce and Novo Brdo.

Is the Serbian Primary School System Broken?

Is the Serbian Primary School System Broken?
By: Li Novak
Belgrade, Nov.16, 2009 (Serbia Today) - As Serbia makes strides forward in reforming its education system to prepare with integration with Europe, the dysfunction in the primary school system looms its head as a significant barrier to progress.
Individual teachers singlehandedly presiding over classrooms of as many as 40 students with no resources at their disposal are unable to properly prepare and supervise primary school children for the educational challenges in secondary school and beyond.
The Serbian primary school model has significant gaps, such as the need to design a new curriculum matching European educational standards, and retooling outdated educational facilities, but those inside the system point out that low pay to teachers is one of the greatest barriers to progress.
In spite of the many years spent completing degrees in higher education, teachers in primary schools have low salaries. Low pay has been sighted as the single reason behind their low job motivation.
“Hidden Poverty” is the title of the recently done study by Blanka Bogunovic and Ivana Stankovic from the Institute for Pedagogical Researches. A total of 141 teachers from high schools and primary schools, from the various Serbian towns, have participated in this research. Participants confirmed that the difficult economic status of educational workers has influence on their personal life and on their job motivation.
Many school teachers are forced to do extra jobs to make extra money or to keep the schools functioning. In primary schools, a teacher’s full monthly salary is approximately 40,000 RSD (EUR 400). This pay is barely enough to cover rising living expenses in Serbia. Travel, concerts, cultural events and the other traditional diversions associated with middleclass life are simply not a possibility for Serbia’s primary school teachers. Teachers ask themselves how could they be role models to their pupils, if they come to work in the old clothes, frustrated and dissatisfied?
Teachers from several Belgrade primary schools told SerbiaToday that in addition to issues over low pay that systematically lax disciplinary standards has created a growing sense of anarchy in the class rooms. Behavior which is legally determined as “indecent behavior to the teachers or other pupils”, results in a short detention for the violating students which does nothing to deter future infractions. In practice, this means that certain pupil may constantly disturb classes, he may swear, insult teachers or other pupils, argue, make noise and there is no adequate legal means for the teacher to sufficient corrective measures.
There are efforts to improve awareness of student conduct in schools, but because of the ineffectual after school detentions, there is still lot of verbal aggression. Teachers report significant numbers of students with problematic behavior, due to the trauma the last 20 years in Serbia has caused to the society as a whole.
Many primary school teachers are in constant fear from the ongoing cost saving measures and reorganization in Serbia’s primary schools. The current process called “rationalization” has already begun, yet the Ministry of Education is keeping some of the aspects of the program under a veil of secrecy.
There is a possibility that some schools should cut the number of classes, and concentrate pupils from smaller class rooms into one class, according to the rules of rationalization. Some small schools will be conjoined with bigger school’s. Many teachers are afraid of being fired or sent into the early pension, as a result of the reforms, and express concern that the current economic crisis may deepen the cuts that are already planned.
In some cases, outdated curriculum is unable to get the interest of the student. Serbian language teachers are complaining the choice of texts hasn’t been fully changed for many years, yet the pupil’s way of living and their interests have changed dramatically. The school program isn’t flexible enough to include current literature that is successfully reaching children outside of school. Texts including poems about war in the beginning of sixth grade, may have been appropriate in forging Yugoslavian identity, or in raising national allegiance during the wars of the 90’s, but children in primary school today have a different set of needs, which are not being met by the outdated model in place.
In big school’s colletives, it is not uncommon for “clans” to be formed in the administration. Some influential members of collective form some a clan with the goal of imposing their own ideas and opinions in the classroom. This type of dynamic may have been acceptable under the older socialist model of operation, but there is no place for such politics in an educational system that needs to make large improvements quickly.
Most of the reforms implemented by the Ministry of Education have been focused on administrational of schools, disregarding other issues. These reforms have made secondary school teacher’s job more difficult by talking away more time from children so that they can fill out forms and reports.
The only reforms that will actually improve education need to be centered around school life and not on administration. The trust and the respect between the teachers and the pupils should be renewed and established again with a disciplinary system that is strict enough to decrease misbehavior. The school programs more relevant and interesting. Freedom is important for the children’s development, but not absolute freedom; pupils must be reminded on their obligations, not just their rights.
The classrooms doors should be open not only for the inspectors and educational advisors, but also for support from the community and school administration.

14TH Annual “Without Translation” Theater Festival canceled due to Swine Flu Scare

By: Bojana Jankovic
Uzice, Nov.10, 2009 (Serbia Today) - As was the case in 1999 , after NATO bombing, the regional “Without Translation” festival will has been canceled due to unforeseen reasons, but this time it is concerns about the spread of the deadly N1H1 flu virus which convinced the events producers that the show must not go on.
This year the Uzice National Theater was to be host to the 14th Without Translation theater festival. The Council of the Yugoslav Theater Festival which had selected three theaters from Serbia, two from Croatia and one from each, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro theaters from the Republics of former Yugoslavia was forced to reschedule the event was rescheduled for April 2010 after the spread of the N1H1 flu virus to Uzice.
All preparations for the start of the festival were ready, but with the recent appearance of the first few cases of the N1H1 virus in Uzice, the event producers had to consider the potential risk to locals and visitors alike if the festival went ahead as scheduled from November 9th to the 16th.
“Those people that choose to have their money returned for their tickets will be able to do it with the standard return procedure. If they do not wish to return their tickets, their places will be secured them in the newly scheduled event,” said Zoran Stamatovic, director of The National theater Uzice and Without Translation festival.
Regardless of the epidemic and the removal of the festival from the calendar, the National theater in Uzice not stop the working. The classic piece “The little red riding hood” by Aleksandar Popovic, directed by Milan Neskovic, is scheduled for November 12th, on the small stage, and after that follows the preparation for the contemporary comedy “Unexpected consignment” by Luka Djakomocija, directed by Ljiljana Arsenov.

Friday, November 20, 2009

“Entrepreneur 2009”

By: Miodrag Stosic
Belgrade, Nov.14, 2009 (Serbia Today) - The “Enterpreneur 2009”, election of the best entrepreneur in Serbia, will be held during the beginning of December. This event, organized and supported by the Serbian magazine Blic and Intesa Bank, by choice of the jury, will pick the best entrepreneur for the year 2009. The winer will gain valuable exposure to their business and rewarded with 30,000 euros.
The initial stage of the competition event takes place when the jury makes a list of 50 the most successful entrepreneurs in the country. After the selection is made, the jury will spend one month visiting all candidates to explore the degree to which they have developed their businesses and their financial success. The companies will be evaluated by the standards of their internal organization, export potential, extent of product innovation. Other catagories upon which the candidate’s success will be measured are orientation towards environmental protection, achieved contribution to community development and by their success in the market. At the beginning of 2010 the jury will declare a winner.
The first Enterpreneur contest was organized in 2006, and since then it has become an opportunity for the promotion of private entrepreneurship in Serbia. “The main purpose of our action is to promote small and medium enterprises which has 70 percent of employees in our country” said Vojislav Tufegdzic, chief editor of the economic section in “Blic”.
Djankarlo Miranda, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Committee of “Intesa Bank” and a member of the jury, said that they have recognized the problems faced by entrepreneurs sector in Serbia a long time ago.
“The feeling that we are left with through our contact with the small and medium enterprises is that we have to appreciate that strong entrepreneurial spirit and their great desire to succeed on their own ideas” said Miranda.
The visibility of the Entrepreneur contest is contributed to by the fact that it is opened by Mladjan Dinkic, Minister of Economy and Regional Development.
“Small and medium enterprises produce about 35 percent of gross domestic product. In the year of economic crisis, the Serbian Government has assisted this sector through various programs for a total of 1.5 billion euro’s, and through subsidized loans for liquidity to small and medium enterprises to the amount 430 million euros” said Dinkic.
The Entrepreneur contest will award only one candidate but the rest will also benefit from the close media coverage by Blic magazine, and Blic daily.

9th Annual Christmas Charity Bazaar

By: Valentina Radulovic
Belgrade, Nov.14, 2009 (Serbia Today) - Belgrade’s International Women’s Club (IWC) is preparing for the ninth Annul Charity Bazaar. The Bazaar is organized as a support to local NGOs which work with at risk segments of the population in Serbia.
The 200 member strong IWC draw their ranks from diplomatic corps and international business groupings. They want to contribute to positive change in Serbia, while they are staying in Belgrade, and use this event as a vehicle to empower the programs making a difference.
The event is supported by all Embassies as well as international companies with representation in Belgrade. The women who volunteers at the IWC come from over 42 countries.
The Bazaar will be held at the Belgrade Fairgrounds, Exhibition hall number 5, on December 6. This year, the catchphrase of the event is ‘Join Us to Make Difference’. This will be a unique chance for visitors to taste the food and drinks from different countries and to purchase different products from those countries, such as clothes, souvenirs, music and literature. The Bazaar is giving visitors the opportunity to purchase those traditional items from all over the world as well as to enjoy in the entertainment that the organizers have prepared..
The Club had has donated to many charity drives in Serbia. Last year 6,000 people visited the Bazaar and over 160,000 euro’s were collected. The funds collected also went to population groups in need.
This year the IWC will be focusing the proceeds of the Bazaar towards buying medical equipment, funding assistance programs for people with disabilities, and for the elderly. Other groups targeted by the IWC for charitable assistance are the displaced and homeless, victims of domestic violence victims, and educational programs for Roma children.
Students from international schools operating in Belgrade will also contribute to the cultural component of the event with live performances, along with guest performers from various countries.
The event promises to bring the best elements of an international presence in Belgrade, through the offer of good music, food, shopping and entertainment – which can rarely be enjoyed while helping the needy.

TITO, COME BACK! (all is forgiven)

By: Bojana Jankovic
Uzice, Nov.14, 2009 (Serbia Today) - In a bid to turn back the hands of time, the citizens of Uzice persist in their their four years battle to return their massive bronze statue of Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980) the president of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).
The movement to return the monument to the city square formally began in 2005, when the municipal organization Uzice’s Association in Belgrade, launched an initiative to return the monument of Tito return on the Square, because it was once a symbol of the city Uzice. This initiative and other after it were not succesful in convincing the sity administration to return the monument. The most initiative was addressed to the city fathers on August 21st, this year, and according to words by Lucic Uros, Secretary od Veterans Association of Uzice, made specific political threats in an attempt to convinve city political leaders.
“Since the filing of the first initiative were the last 4 years ago, we have submitted two request, but the response from city authorities are not received. Preservation Institute has given us support, while our the government of Serbia responded that such a decision must be made of the city assembly, with note that they have nothing against the idea. Last August 21st we make a request, we will organize the protest on the November 29th and seek dismissal of the mayor and the president of the city assebmly,“ Lucic.
He added that the decision of the Executive Council of the Municipal Assembly to remove the moment from the town square on August 28th, 1991 was illegal.
The bronze monument of Tito, by Zagreb’s sculptor Frano Krsinic, is 5 meters high and weighs over two tons. It stood for 30 years in Partizan Square in Uzice. To those that are not familiar with the region, Uzice was formerly known as ’Titovo Uzice’ – or ’Tito’s Uzice’.
With all necessary construction machinery, watered curses and curses new ideologues, Tito’s monument was removed in 1991 from Partizan Squre in Uzice and placed in the National Museum.
Josip Broz Tito’s image and role in the history of the region is undergoing a slow rehabilitation. He benefits from being associated with the halcionic ’Yugo-nastalgia’ with a simpler and more propserous time for the residents of the region. Although his grand expirement to unite much of the people of the Balkan Peninsula may have eventually failed, the people of Uzice are showing that they need not forget to forgive.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Memorandum Between Serbia and German NGO ‘HELP’ for Small Business Development

By: Bojana Jankovic
Belgrade, Nov 11. 2009 (Serbia Today) - After ten years cooperation with the German nongovernmental organization (NGO) ‘HELP’, representatives from municipalities across Serbia have signed memorandums of cooperation with the NGO in preparation for a new program which HELP will adminster to assist in small business development.
Representatives from 17 cities will sign the memorandum including; Bujanovac, Presevo, Bosilegrad, Surdulica, Vranje from Southern Serbia, Aleksinac, Gadzin Han, Leskovac, Nish, Pirot from Southeast Serbia, Kragujevac, Kraljevo, and Novi Pazar from Central Serbia, Sremska Mitrovica from Northwestern Serbia, and Uzice from Western Serbia Trgoviste are project designed to develop small entrepreneurship.
President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (CCS), Milos Bugarin, stated the importance of formalizing the cooperation with CCS, as a formal way to signal the importance of further promoting economic relations between Serbia and Germany. He said that Germany is one of the largest donors to Serbia by already having donated 700 million euros aid for economic cooperation and development since the year 2000.
“In the last two years support from Germany was primarily intended for development of energy, utilities and financial sectors. Germany has become the most important bilateral donor for Serbia. Serbia and Germany have traditionally good relations which are manifested through a variety of areas of cooperation such as trade, investment, infrastructure support, economic reforms, and support for starting small businesses, said Bugarin.
He went on to point out the growing importance of the Serbian to Germany. “Trade between Serbia and Germany, since the beginning of January until the end of September, this year, amounted to 2.15 billion dollars, while in 2008 it reached a record value of 3.8 billion dollars,” said Bugarin.
The German Ambassador to Serbia, Wolfram Mas, announed that the German government will now fund the current small business development initiative being administered by HELP to the tune of four million euros.
“The activities of HELP are concentrated primarily on the implementation of projects in regions such as Southern Serbia, where unemployment and poverty are high and where living conditions are difficult. This organization provides assistance to sustainable systems of self-employment and small businesses through the donation of equipment, materials and training to entrepreneurs for business planning,” said Ambassador Mas.
Regional representative of HELP for Southeastern Europe, Timo Stegelman, recalled that during the 10 years he has working in Serbia, HELP successfully oversaw more than 50 projects costing approximately 18 million dollars and built more than 250 residential facilities for displaced and vulnerable population.

Serbia Battles Organized Crime

By: Jelena Jovanovic
Belgrade, Nov.14, 2009 (Serbia Today) - In the statement given on October 27th, the chief of Belgrade police Milorad Veljovic, stressed that all kinds of crime in Serbia are decreasing, except organized crime, Veljovic also announced the continuation of large scale law enforcement crack downs directed at stopping drug smuggling and drug dealing which is run by organized crime in Serbia. He added that the priority of Serbian law enforcement combating organized crime included the fight against corruption.
Veljovic stressed the importance of internationalizing the campaign against organized crime.
“The only possible way to fight organized crime in Serbia, is to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in the region,“ said Veljovic.
In September of this year, European officials gathered in Belgrade for a two-day regional conference on combating organized crime in the Balkans. Participants in the conference were interior and justice ministers from the region, as well as representatives of European organizations such as Interpol and Eurojust.
Serbian president Boris Tadic said that, “unfortunately, the political fragmentation of societies in Europe did not result in the fragmentation of organized crime.“
Instead, he said, fragmentation in the Balkans actually "accelerated the cooperation among organized criminal groups, which have always been one step ahead of the institutions that fight them."
Organized crime has developed networks for drug trafficking and human trafficking, as well as fraud and cyber crime. Organized criminal groups are cooperating with other criminal groups in the region accross the international borders. Kosovo and Metohija continues to be a hot bed for organized criminal networks engaged in drug and human trafficing which impacts all neighboring countries.
Jacques Bare, vice-president of the European Commission for Justice, Freedom and Safety Issues, while attending a conference in Belgrade, stated that organized crime had specific weight in Balkan region, and that it could imperil its integration into the EU.
He also stressed that all citizens in EU should feel safe and protected and that it was necessary for all countries to fight against organized crime, to have the resources for that fight, an effective legal system, and stronger mechanisms for the fight against corruption.
Daily media coverage of crime in Serbia of individual cases of violent crime has increased the publics outcry for stronger sentancing and more effective prosecution. The State is responding to this demand by responding more swiftly to individual cases, especially those that have received public attention, such as the recent football violence.
Hopefully, the public outcry and the wide attention given to the exploits of organized crime will continue to spur Serbian law enforcement to keep the pressure on, and keep Serbia’s path forward clear.

Eros Ramazzoti Performed in Belgrade

By: Milen Vesovic
Belgrade, Nov.6, 2009 (Serbia Today) – Famous pop singer Eros Ramazzoti performed last weekend in Belgrade, at the Belgrade Arena in front of 15 thousand people. The famous Italian sang the 23 songs from his selected from his new material from the albums that have made him celebrated throughout the world.
The 46-year-old Eros performed, accompanied by seven musicians and three backup vocalists, stepped onto the stage after the performance by the opening band, an Angolan group, Yuri Da Cunha.
At the start of his show the stage was bare and the sound of wailing sirens filled the air. The shadows created by the stage lighting created a macabre scene which was complemented by the equally lyrics of the song "Notas Y Apuntes. The lighting fell onto the coffin which had been carefully placed on stage without notice. The top of the coffin swung open to reveal Ramazzotti sitting inside.
His show quickly picked up energy with the hits ‘Un attimo di pace’, ’Quanto amore sei’, ‘Una terra mix’, ‘Una canzone’, ‘Un emozione per simper’. Ramazzotti played, ran across the stage, joked with the audience, played the guitar, and in short used his entire repertoire to engage the audience. There was no way to disguise the absence of the authentic renditions of his famous duets ‘I belong to you’ and ‘Cosa della vita’,
This is the second appearance of Ramazzotti in Serbia since the 2006 performed in Novi Sad at the stadium of Football Club Vojvodina.

“They Wanted Something Else”

By: Miodrag Stosic
Belgrade, Nov.7, 2009 (Serbia Today) – "In Stage Organization", the Center for Interactive Art’s theater production company, is presenting “They wanted something else”, a play about violence in school. The play will premiered on November 9th, at the Belgrade’s Cultural Center in Capt. Misa’s building and afterward will be followed by the plays in Belgrade’s secondary schools. This show is the final product of a theater project organized by high school students from Belgrade. Performance will be held with the support of the City Secretariat for Culture and the Center for Culture (Stari Grad).
In recent years, violence in schools has become a major problem without any quick solutions. “They wanted to play something else” is the first attempt for students to explore the issues surrounding violence in school through the theater without avoiding sensitive issues. The play will show how high school students perceive the position of their peers, teachers, schools and parents.
Another element to the production which will only add to the realism of the productions is the fact that among the participants of the plays will be real victims of violence at from the schools. The script of this performance was inspired by actual events.
Writer of the play “They wanted something else”, Milena Depolo, left the possibility for the actors to improvise the ending of the performance. Every following performance will have different ending depending on the inspiration of the actors during the play. According to the author, the postmodern concept of the play has the task to express the transformation of the character of the young people during the act of violence.
Ana Tomovic, director of the play, decided that the public also has the right to become part of the stage action. Unlike most plays, where the audience has the role of the “fourth wall”, “They wanted something else” at the end of performance - to invite the audience to join in a debate after the conclusion of the play.

Nikola Sandor, Profile of an Upcoming Water Polo Star

By: Katarina Jonev
Belgrade, Nov.9, 2009 (Serbia Today) - In large part due to Serbia’s ascendancy as a world power house in water polo, a whole generation of aspiring youths are giving everything to the sport in the hopes of participating in the Serbian water polo phenomenon. One such talented youth, Nikola Sandor (16), a young goalkeeper playing for water polo club Beograd, demonstrates the depth of commitment that is actually fueling the explosion of the sport.
Like most water polo players, he made his first steps in the school of swimming. “My parents directed me to swim, mostly because of the health. After several months, the swimming coach in the swimming school recommended me to the water polo coach Miroslav Tomovic. He thought that because of my good technique in the water that I could be a good goalkeeper. It sounded interesting and I tried.”
At the beginning, Nikola showed great willingness and readiness to learn and train. His talent became obvious the more effort he put into the sport.
“In the second grade of primary school I started to train water polo with the club VK Belgrade. I was the fourth goalkeeper, but with time I advanced, and now I am one of the youngest players in the team and I often train with the first team Beograd.Nikola’s career has had a very promising start with 20 medals, 10 of which are gold, 5 silver and 5 bronze.
“The greatest success we have achieved 3 years ago when our team took the first place in Serbia and Montenegro championship and winning the Serbian league for players born in 1991. We participated in a water polo tournament called the Nikola Kovacevic Memorial ournament, tournaments in Hungary, and Macedonia. We won the Beoval league two times and we also hope that we will this year record to continue winning. Our senior team was fifth in the championship of Serbia, and in Europe we played in the finals of the LEN Cup.”
Nikola continues to play the goalkeeper position. His talent has not remained unnoticed and several times he was listed on the secondary team for the Serbian national team.
“Two years ago I got a call to be a member of the preparatory camp in which future players are selected for a national team. I was on the broader list, and I hope soon I will debut in the team with the state seal.”
Like his role models Stefik and Sostar, Nikola also has ability to coordinate the offense and the defense of the team. The remark ''the goalkeeper is always guilty” is never applied to him – he is one of the best goalkeepers in his league and a goalkeeper who allowed the least goals last season. Like most promising athletes he dreams of a career abroad.
“I want to deal with waterpolo professionally. The first step would be to debut for the first team of Belgrade and then, one day, to resume a career abroad. Hungarian and the Italian league attract me most.”

Misconceptions About the Virus H1N1

By: Una Zabunov
Belgrade, Nov.11, 2009 (Serbia Today) - In the latest press release of the Institute of Public Health of Serbia "Dr Milan Jovanović Batut", according to the National Reference Laboratory for the respiratory viruses, the Institute of Virology, vaccines and serums Torlak, confirmed 254 cases of illness caused by a new type of influenza virus H1N1. It’s registered the seventh fatal outcome from this type of flu. Of 254 sick people, 72 cases of disease associated with the travel of these people. International airports are a potential risk for getting the virus, because it circulates a large number of people from different parts of the world.
Media in Serbia every day published reports about the victims of the virus and at the same time appeal to citizens not to panic. Every winter, people in Serbia are sick from seasonal flu and fatal outcomes are not rare, but until now the media are not attributed significance. Mortality of a new flu the same as the mortality from ordinary flu.
The symptoms of swine flu are very similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu. Infected people usually have: fever (greater than 37.8 ° C), hoarseness, stuffy nose and runny nose, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, sneezing, coughing and fatigue. Difficulty breathing is a confirmation that it is a serious phase of swine flu and in this case hospitalization is necessary .
Grip gradually overtakes all parts of Serbia and the citizens still do not reliably know how to protect themselves. Councils by the Serbian experts for the prevention of commas new flu were: regular hand washing, healthy diet, vitamin intake and wearing protective masks. Due to the poor of information, people are in fear of possible commas empty shelving pharmacies. Protective masks and preparations for lifting immunity are sold out extremely fast. However, masks can protect only 30 minutes and after that period it is necessary to put a new one. It is not in the nature of man to repeatedly wear a protective mask. For example, if someone wants to have breakfast or drink coffee must remove the mask, which means that in this way expose themselves to the virus. Shopping of protective masks is proved as a bad investment.
The attitude of the World Health Organization is that influenza vaccines are one of the most effective ways to protect people from contracting illness during influenza epidemics and pandemics. They said that these vaccines will boost immunity against the new influenza, and help ensure public health as the pandemic evolves. Our health facilities are not equipped with vaccines because stocks do not exist. Despite months of advance was known that a new wave of influenza starts in the winter, vaccines have not yet been ordered from manufacturers.The absence of a vaccine is not the only problem. Chairman of the Working Group of the Ministry of Health to monitor the pandemic Predrag Kon in several press releases stated that the priority in vaccination will have children older than six months, the elderly, chronic patients and employees in public institutions. If someone refuses to receive the vaccine he must sign a statement of fact, however, and eceryone who receives the vaccine must sign that he take responsibility for himselves. This caused further distrust of the citizens receiving the vaccine. The question is if the vaccine is completely safe why everyone should sign to take it on own responsibility. Some countries don’t have a positive attitude about the new vaccine against influenza. In Poland, the vaccine will be given until complete all the tests on pregnant women and children, so that pharmaceutical companies could actually guarantee that the vaccine has no side effects.
President of the German society for General and Family Medicine Michael Cohen recommended doctors not to give vaccines against new influenza virus A (H1N1), especially pregnant women and children, because the risk is greater than the benefit. Russian Academician and Vice President of Board of Health State Duma Sergei Kolesnjikov said that the purchase of vaccines against swine flu unnecessary spending of money, because the level of threat from a new flu inflated. The position of our Minister of Health is that the vaccine is safe. Who is the right time will tell us.
One of the measures to slow the spread of influenza, as recommended by epidemiologists, is the extension of the autumn holiday for two days by the Serbian Education Minister Žarko Obradović because children are most sensitive. Also, all excursions, lessons in nature, and other gatherings that would spread the virus with a favorable N1H1 will be delayed. Many parents are on their own initiative decided to not keep their children in kindergarten to protect them from influenza, and a large number of children missing their kindergarten’s activities. The possible measures as a declaration of a pandemic and new precautionary measures, special working group will review on Tuesday, 10 November. One of possible measure is the embargo of public gatherings such as concerts, theaters, cinemas.
Tips from the working group for pandemic influenza to people who have a fever, they should stay at home and use drugs for the overthrow of temperature and vitamin C. If high temperature does not decline and there are problems with breathing it is best to consult with a doctor who will decide on further treatment of the patient.

Confidence Restored in Serbian Banking

By: Milen Vesovic
Belgrade, 9 November 2009 (Serbia Today) – Confidence to the once distressed banking industry of Serbia appears to have been restored. After years of instability due to war, sanctions and inflation, the banking system in Serbia is finally enjoying a vote of confidence from the citizens.
Savings in Serbia last year amounted to more than 5.7 billion euros in foreign currency accounts and around 10.6 billion dinar accounts (about 113 million euros). Banking officials point out that the global economic crisis did cause the withdrawl of almost one billion euros in the last quarter of 2008, but for the first nine months of this year individual savings increased by more than 520 million euros.
"This trend shows strengthened confidence in the financial sector and that this trend will continue. In a crisis, people spend less and save more," said NBS Governor Radovan Jelasic. He added that this trend in banking is a sign of the market confirming the correctness of what is done by the NBS to stabilize the domestic currency and the banking sector.
Only this year NBS made nearly 20 different measures to maintain the stability of the banking sector, and among the most important is the reduction of the bench interest rate from 17.75 percent at the beginning of the year, to 11 percent, and the changing structure of the required foreign currency reserves for banks returned to the 50 billion dinar level. These factors have all contributed to making credit cheaper in Serbia, thus stabilizing lending.
Economic experts add that the Serbia’s success in stabilizing the banking system owes much to the fact that it has met requirements to obtain loans from the International Monetary Fund amounting to 2.9 billion dollars.
Despite these positive indicators, Serbia’s credit system is still listed as “risky” based on last October’s report of the international agency for credit evaluation, "Dun & Bradstreet”.
"Dun & Bradstreet" did point out that the banking system in Serbia has remained healthy since the foreign banks continued to support operations in Serbia.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Contract signed for the construction of a Dam and Water Reservoir “Arilje-Svrackovo

By: Bojana Jankovic
Arilje, Oct. 18,2009 (Serbia Today)-- On Wednesday, October 14 , 2009, on the premises of a public company “Rzav”, Director of the Republic Directorate for Waters Prodanovic Aleksandar, Mayor of Arilje Mirjana Avakumovic, Mayor of Pozega Milovan Micovic,  Mayor of Lucani Slobodan Jolovic, Deputy Mayor of Gornji Mlanovac Mico Mirkovic, Mayor of Cacak Velimir Stanojevic and a Representative of Management Committee PC “Rzav” from Arilje Dragan Vasović, signed a contract of uniting funds for the construction of a Dam and Reservoir “Arilje - Svrackovo”.
 This agreement settled the mutual rights and obligations regarding the construction of a Dam and Reservoir “Arilje-Svrackovo” with accompanying facilities, 35/10 kV telecommunication cable, access road, and pipelines leading raw water to the plant for the preparation of drinking water.
In a statement for Serbia Today, Mr. Prodanović Aleksandar said that this investment is very significant for Serbia, before all, for the city of Cacak and 4 municipalities, as it will solve the problem of water supply for the next 50 years.
 “Building a Dam and Reservoir will ensure sufficient quantities of quality drinking water and there will be no more water restrictions in dry summer periods. Also, it will provide over 7 megawatts of electric power and the minimum of industrial waste downstream is guaranteed  so the flora and fauna of the Big Rzav will not be endangered. The accumulated reservoir water will be used for irrigation, tourism, and citizens will not be affected by floods. The Republic Directorate for Waters, in addition to the construction of a Dam and Reservoirs, funded 60% of regional systems for water supply and wastewater treatment.”-Said Mr. Prodanovic.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, through the Directorate for Water, will finance the construction of a Dam and Reservoir “Arilje- Svrackovo” with over 47 million Euros, which will be provided in the next 5 years. This is also the term limit for contractors for the completion of the total project.
Holder of the construction jobs of the Dam and Reservoir is a public company, “Rzav” Arilje.  

The Miracle of Life is Lost on HRT’s Stankovic

By :Bojana Jankovic

Uzice, Nov.7, 2009 (Serbia Today) – Located on Serbia’s Western border, near the Bosnian border, sits renown Serbian director, Emir Kusturica’s tourist village, Mecavnik. Mecavnik commonly referred to as Mokra Gora, the mountain upon which it is located, in what is Serbia’s Zlatibor region.

Mokra Gora is a tourist village whose design was aimed at capturing an idealized traditional Serbian village. Preserving the natural beauty of the setting and living in harmony with nature were the early objectives of the project. Mokra Gora succeeds in turning back the hands of time and creating a time capsule of Serbian life in the village without the past political complications or present encroachment of the modern world.

On Wednesday, November 4th , 2009, Croatian television HRT team, led by television broadcast “In Sunday in two”, Aleksandar Stanković in Mokra Gora met with Emir Kusturica. Stankovic felt the need to ask, what whiskey the late Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic during the blockade of Sarajevo. Stankovic wasn’t stopped on this issue, but continued with the same tone. Stankovic said, he was reminded of one touching scene in the Hague courtroom, during which Milosevic sent kisses to his wife Mira and compared there interaction with Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Kusterica responded, “Why do not you talk a little about the Croatian legionaries who killed Serbs in Croatia?”. The Kusterica was then asked by Stankovic what he thought about Ante Gotovina, the Coatian war criminal being sought byThe Hague. Kusturica was forced to eject the Croatian television team after it become obvious that there presence was a mere effort to provoke him and attempt to create bad press for nationalistic reasons. The material from the interview was taken beofer the team was escorted from the property.

And while Stankovic believes that the seizure of material “classic robbery and pure thievery,” Kusturica said that the talks ended because of the evil intentions of journalist, and that the “he had forgotten about the tapes immediately following the event.”

For Kusturica, the issues surrounding the entire interview were not related to any future plans the director’s Mokra Gora, but based on politics. The sad scene played out by Croatia’s own national network by Stankovic showed that there are still too many people in the region that find it more important to hold on to the past and stoke the fires of hatred, even when they are in the middle of the most bucolic of settings surrounded by artists.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Twentieth Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Twentieth Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall
By: Miodrag Stosic
Belgrade, Nov.9, 2009 (Serbia Today) - The Berlin wall, the concrete barrier that physically separated East Berlin from West Berlin, and psychologically separated the communist world from the free world, fell 20 years ago today. The biggest postwar symbol of the Cold war was built in 1961, and drove a wedge into the heart of Europe. Today, Belgrade, and the world, is celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the demolition of the Berlin wall.
In the beginning “the Wall” was in fact simple wire fence which was later replaced with concrete blocs. Afterward, in the seventies it became an impenetrable, reinforced concrete structure and remained so until 1989.
After WWII and before the Berlin Wall was erected, those who did not want to live in East Germany and could not migrate through official channels simply fled. They were met with imposing difficulties by the Soviet authorities administering the region in accordance with the post WWII armistice. By 1963, the massive emigration westward left East Germany with only 61% of its population of working age. The fledgling DDR state in East Germany was faced with a crisis of losing its population and credibility as a sovereign state in the face of the mass exodus of Germans to the West. In the face of total chaos, the East German regime realized that nothing short of totalitarian measures would control the population and border guards were finally given the infamous order - ‘shoot to kill’ your own countrymen if they try to escape.
At that time Serbia was part of Yugoslavia. Although Yugoslavia was still a socialist country it was not a member of Eastern bloc. Many of Yugoslav citizens remember the fall of the Berlin Wall with a bitter sweet mix of emotion, as this moment not only marked the collapse of the Eastern bloc, but the beginning of the ethnic tensions that would eventually tear Yugoslavia apart.
Few can forget when American president, Ronald Regan, demanded “Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” during his visit to Berlin in 1987.
In November 1989 mass demonstrations started in Berlin. German people from both sides of the Berlin Wall came out on the streets and demanded their freedom. Young men, equipped with hammers started to beat the Wall which was a symbolic proof that wall could no longer separate the people. The unification of the people on both sides of the wall symbolized far more than German reunification – it was the end of a bitter division of the world.
Yugoslavia sent a message of support to German protesters. Belgrade radio station broadcasted the performances of rock musicians who were celebrating the arrival of freedom in Berlin. “Wind of freedom” was the most popular song at time in Belgrade. So, we might say that fall of the Berlin wall was saluted from Yugoslav nations that wanted similar changes in their own country.
Today, twenty years after fall of the Berlin wall, the world is no longer the same. Mikhail Gorbachev, former General Secretary of Communist party, says that the biggest benefit from the fall of the wall was realized by Germans and Russians. “I am pleased that we managed to pass through all those changes without shedding any blood” said Gorbachev.
This evening, many citizens of Belgrade will attend the event at the Republic Square that will symbolically mark the fall of the Wall. German artist Frank Belter has built a cardboard model of the Berlin Wall at the Republic Square, to prepare for the ritualistic destruction this evening. The museum which currently houses the wall will be open by Germany's Ambassador in Belgrade Wolfram Mass.
Despite the bitter lessons of the years that followed in Yugoslavia, all Serbs can enjoy the fall of the Berlin Wall and its unmistakable metaphor for the people’s thirst for freedom.

Roma in Serbia

Roma in Serbia
By: Miodrag Stosic
Belgrade, Nov.5, 2009 (Serbia Today) - The Roma community is one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Balkans. Nevertheless, during last few centuries Roma were considered second-class citizen. After 2000 the state of Serbia initiated numerous reforms which were designed to improve conditions for the Roma minority in Serbia. Today, Roma in Serbia have much more political, economic and cultural rights than ever before.
Despite the fact that large numbers of Roma have made the Balkans their home, they are a people without a state or region to call their own. There status as a minority without a state has combined with a number of other factors that have left the majority of Roma without education, housing, or basic medical services.
The year 2000 was crucial for starting changes in all areas of Serbian society. Thanks to an increased liberalization in state politics and the contribution of funding and guidance provided by NGO’s, the Roma community started its first political parties – “Roma for Roma” and “United Serbian Roma”. In the last decade these parties played an active role in Serbian politics, and their representatives served in Parliament. The Roma community got its first television station called ‘Krlo e Romengo’ (Voice of the Roma) broadcasted entirely in the Roma language.
This year, Serbia was the host country of “Decade of Roma inclusion”. This campaign aims to promote Roma culture and highlight the problems that the Roma community faces across of the globe. Roma experts from affected nations everywhere will attend this event to make a concrete assessment of the position of the Roma in Serbian society today. The Serbian government was an active participant in this event.
Recently, the Belgrade City Administration, together with the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), started new educational programs aimed at providing assistants in teaching in the Roma language. The most successful training students will be engaged by the Secretariat of Education from the City of Belgrade Administration as teaching assistants in selected schools in Belgrade. This program will take implemented between November 2009 and August 2010. These teaching assistants will be specifically assigned to the Roma who were recently displaced from the shanty towns under the Belgrade’s Gazelle bridge.
Roma pupils in Valjevo have recently received assistance in the form of 20 sets of textbooks. This donation was made possible by the Union Association of Roma in Western Serbia with support from the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights. “Our wish is that more Roma children complete primary school, at minimum, since these children often leave school in the fifth or sixth grade” said Sofka Vasiljevic Secretary General of the Union of Associations.
One of the most important steps in improving the lives of Roma was the recent opening of the first Museum of Roma Culture in Serbia. The opening ceremony was exhibition of the written legacy of the Roma called “A word of Roma”. The organizer of the exhibition was Dragoljub Acković and whole event was supported by was supported by Belgrade Mayor Dragan Djilas and the Serbian National Library. “It is important to change the image of Roma because they are an integral part of Serbia and Belgrade, and their contribution to our culture and history is enormous. The museum is a good way to show that” said Djilas.