Science in Serbia

Hits: 2194

There is nothing extraordinary in the science in Serbia. It would not deserve particular attention of the European scientific community, if it were not for the fact that  the case of Serbia turns out extraordinary, indeed.

Let us start with an extraordinary question: would it be possible a state in contemporary Europe to sucumbe to a fashist rule (or  communist or any other totalitarian government)? The answer is extraordinary too – yes. The case in point is Serbia.

The trick is marked by Kosovo (see, e.g. P. Grujić, Kosovo Knot, 2014). When this southern province of Serbia, Kosovo and Metohia (Kosovo in the following) was occupied by NATO, after the military intervention in 1999, Serbia lost control over  this  region of a mixed ethnic population, mainly Slavonic, Albanian and Roma. By occupying the province NATO took control over the territory and SAD established a military base near Prishtina. About  40.000 corps  have been placed at Kosovo  (KFOR) . Formal status of Kosovo is UN protectorate under UNSCR 1244. After the occupation the overwhelming majority of non-Albanian population (Serbs, Croats, Roma, Montenegrins, Jews,  etc) left Kosovo. After that hundreds of thousand Albanians from Albania (and possibly Macedonia) settled into newly acquired territory. The population of the capital Prishtina raised from 200.000 to a number estimated to be well above 600.000. In 2008 Kosovo’s Parliament declared independence. Up to now 108 states recognized Kosovo as an independent state, with 23 from EU (out of 28), whereas 85  have not. Since then there has been enormous pressure on Belgrade government to recognize Kosovo independence, since it is such a recognition only which would substitute  the protectorate status of the occupied territory. (Situation appears similar to the Cyprus case, where the Turkey occupied part of the island, which cann’t be recognized as an independent state, since the Cyprus government refuses to do this).

In order to prevent an eventual treachery act of a Serbian government, the preamble of the Serbian constitution reads: „Kosovo and Metohia are integral parts of the state of Serbia.“ Before the overthrow of Milošević’s regime in 2000 it was Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and Šešelj’s Serbian Radical Party (SRP) who ruled Serbia, in a fashist style. Since majority of the electoral body prefered  the pro-European orientation, a group of MP Radicals separated from Šešelj’s SRS and founded a new party Serbian Advanced Party SAP), led by th former deputy and the present day president of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic and the former general secretary and the present day prime minister Aleksandar Vučić. The new party retained all of the bagage of the original party, except for the new pro-Europen politics. In the next elections the coalition SAP and SPS lost the  election by a margin, but won the following round four years ago, by a margin too, and took over the government. And then an interesting phenomenon emerged on the Serbian political sene. The same people who agitated eagerly against EU a few year ago got the firm and steady support from the same EU. So much that  they became European favourites! The explanation for this quirk is simple – evidently a deal with EU was made: We support your governing Serbia (by whatever means) and you hand over Kosovo. As simple as that. So much for the political background.

What all this has to do with science? Much and nothing, depending on the way one looks at the prospects of the science as such in a society which undergoes serious social transformations. To appreciate the issue we compare the period under Milošević’s rule, and the present day situation.

Because of Serbian involvement in the Bosnian conflicts sanctions were imposed on Serbia in 1992, including the scientific sector. Serbia was banish from all scientific organizations, conferences, projects etc (see, e.g. P. Grujić, Physics World, June 1993; October 1994). Here we stress that Milošević and his regime were direct product of the Tito’s communist (sic) regime. Those who opposed his rule did it for two different reasons: some because he was communist and the other because he was not communist enough. This ideological determination is important to keep in mind when considering the present day Serbia.

In 1996 SRP, essentially fascist organization, joined the SPS (communists) and Serbia got a weird black and red ruling coalition. During this regime science and higher education were seriously damaged, (see, e.g. P. Grujić, Physics World, September 1998; Nature, 394, 20 August, 1998; Europhysics News, 30, No 1, 1999; Euroscience News, No 9, October 1999), with consequences still present, in particular in the science sector. When Milošević-Šešelj regime was overthrown in 2000, situation was much improved, but by 2012 election, when the red and black coalition took over the power, the devastation of the Serbian society was resumed. But th