The Serbian Progressive Party rally yesterday in Belgrade was really a non-event for me. I was busy reading questions for the Knowledge Bowl (see our school’s blog for more information on that event) at the school during the rally. I did get down around 4:00 PM and snapped a few photos, but by that time, everyone was gone and the moving trucks were taking down the stage. Estimates from the B92 put the number at around 55, 00o. As this commentator put it on the B92 website,
The usual blabla from these two guys. 55 thds people that mostly came from south and central Serbia in buses! As always these people most probably received some daily allowance to participate!
It is certainly important to have a good opposition but when it comes to these two, apart from critics I have never heard, read any mention of a program that make sense or could change the situation in Serbia. So waste of time and money.
I would have to agree with this. The purpose of the rally was to complain about the performance of the current government and a call for early elections. People around the world want good government (ex- Egypt) but they don’t want ideals, or platitudes, which most politicians give.What they want are the basics like tax money being spent well, roads without pot holes, decent schools, clean hospitals, a dignified retirement for senior citizens, job opportunities, feel secure in their neighborhood, etc. I don’t see Nikolic (the Progressive Party leader) and others in his party being able to do this. They don’t see smart enough, or empathetic enough to manage an economy and a nation.
But instead of just criticizing them, I will give my ideas on how Serbia should be run. I see a nation with great potential, but it is being wasted, as young people who are innovative and ready to make their mark in the world, being disillusioned because the economy is horrible. I haven’t given it enough thought, but if I were president of Serbia, I would have the following platform:
1) Foreign Policy
- I would eliminate the military. It is a big expense for the Serbian government. This would free up the large amount of military land for the good of the public. This could be used for parks, schools, green housing projects, hospitals, etc. There should also be money to train ex-soldiers for civilian life. The ending of the military would also say a lot to our neighbors and the world that Serbia is past violence and open for tourism and business investment.
- The end of the military would also mean the end of military service. I would make a Peace Corps for the Balkans and send young people for 1-year missions around the ex-Yugoslavia and the poorer parts of Serbia. They could be intern teachers, nurses, security guards, construction workers, engineers, etc.
- Invite Montenegro and Republika Srpska (the Serbian part of Bosnia) to join Serbia. I would also negotiate with Kosovo and get the northern part to join Serbia. The majority Kosovar Albanians will never want to stay in Serbia. With a recognized government, Serbians will eventually be able visit whenever they want anyway. The dream of multi ethnic societies should be dropped for now.
2) Domestic Stuff
- Ban the Serbian Latinica alphabet. The Cyrillic script looks cool and this is a part of Serbian culture that should be protected and promoted.
- Eliminate the antiquated and Byzantine (appropriate for this place) laws on the books that make it impossible to do business. The amount of paper work for building permits, starting and ending businesses, hiring and firing workers, etc. is a huge impediment for companies. Belgrade is a natural business hub for the Balkans and with a business-friendly environment, it would entice more companies to move in and we would see more start-ups.
- Fight corruption and organized crime. These elements hurt society in the long-term.
- Collect income tax from everyone, including the rich.
- Pump huge amounts of money into schools and build a cutting edge, “green” curriculum that targets entrepreneurship, technology, and problem solving. (you can tell I am a teacher)
- Clean up graffiti and garbage around the city. Help neighborhoods to form cooperatives to beautify their apartment buildings and parks. Give matching grants to apartment associations for renovating of their buildings.
- Continue moving towards Europe because this would give young Serbs the opportunity to work in other countries in the EU as well as Serbian companies possibly expanding their markets.
- Adapt the ex-Yugoslavian slogan of “Unity and Brotherhood” to “Tolerance and Pursuit of Happiness.”
Those are my initial, undeveloped thoughts. If any bilingual Serbian wants to be my running mate, I would like to run for President. I don’t speak Serbian well and that would probably hurt me in government.