Facing far right extremism in Serbia

Reducing the threat of far right extremism – particularly its manifestation through terrorist means – involves finding a delicate balance between under-reacting and over-reacting; between giving tacit encouragement and sparking its escalation.

By Vladimir Ninkovic

Anders Behring Breivik reminded us once again that terrorism is an omnipresent threat that can strike in both rich and poor countries alike. A terrorist can be a man or woman, an engineer or a shepherd, a psychopath or mentally sane person. It is, therefore, very difficult to speak about the conditions and environments that facilitate the appearance of terrorism; whilst its erratic dynamics do not help us predict the time and place of the next terrorist attack.

Three years in a row, far-right organizations – together with the most conservative wing of the Serbian Orthodox Church and groups of football fans – have used threats of violence and de facto civil war to create a state of fear prior to the Pride Parade. In 2009 and 2011 they were successful enough to force the police and government to cancel the event at the last moment; whilst in 2010 – the only time it was held – the centre of Belgrade was wrecked by those who saw the Parade parade as an anti-Serb, anti-Orthodox and almost Satanic procession. Members of the LGBT and Roma communities, plus foreign citizens, have also been physically attacked several times in last few months.

Apart from football hooligans, the most prominent organizations which endorsed and participated in these events are generally understood to belong to the far right, such as the clerical-fascist ‘Obraz’, the chauvinist-nationalist ‘SNP Nasi 1389’ and the reactionary movement ‘Dveri’. Disconcertingly, such activities were de facto backed-up by the belligerent statements of certain politicians and church hierarchs.

Some definitions of terrorism describe it not only as the use of violence, but also as the threat to use violence in order to inculcate fear. The key point, on which almost everyone agrees, is that it is politically-motivated. The sources of ideology and the political aims of the terrorists, however, change almost every decade. Putting aside Islamic terrorism, the radical left (including Marxist-nationalist organizations, such as the IRA and ETA) were the dominant threat in Europe, and to a lesser degree in the USA, during the seventies and eighties, whilst the renaissance of the far right started somewhat later. The nineties were the golden years of the Patriot militias, Jean Marie Le Pen, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Jorg Heider, including disasters such as the Riot of Rostock-Lichtenhagen in 1992, the Waco Siege in 1993 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 to name just a few.

It is generally regarded that the right-wing variant of terror is more likely to occur in, and pose a threat to, those societies that are going through a period of ‘transition’ and/or societies possessing, in the words of Wilhelm Heitmeyer, a “basic stock of equipment” in the form of conspiracy theories, a weapons scene, religious groups plying their views and social deprivation. Serbia shows signs of possessing each of these elements.

After decade of wars and poverty, the new millennium brought new challenges which Serbia’s democratically-elected governments have not always been successful in addressing. The proclamation of independence of Kosovo – and, to a lesser degree, Montenegro – caused feeling of bitterness and resentment towards the country’s continuing decay. The arrests of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, meanwhile, were negatively perceived by many citizens. The recent global economic crisis, high unemployment, perceived corruption in the public sector, crises in Kosovo and Sandzak and several other problems that Serbia today faces has contributed to deeply undermining trust in the government, in particular, and democracy, in general.

Such a situation, on the other hand, has benefited extreme right organizations who see opportunities amidst the end of the “democracy honeymoon” and the renewed quest for alternative solutions. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that the results of a recent survey conducted by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, entitled the “Attitudes and value orientations of high school students in Serbia”, showed that Serbian teenagers are significantly more conservative, nationalistic and xenophobic than the previous generations. Furthermore, the clerical, reactionary and anti-western “Dveri” movement announced participation at the next year’s elections.

On the basis of this, should Serbia expect to experience further radicalization and perhaps even terrorist attacks? According to some definitions, creating a state of fear and uncertainty can already be regarded as terrorism. In that sense, therefore, right wing extremists can already be deemed to have crossed the fine line between activism and terrorism. Apart from those seen as “outsiders” (such as foreigners, ethnic and religious minorities, leftists, civil rights activists and the LGBT community) the state itself – which is seen as ineffective and even under the actual control of the outsiders – could be attacked.

At first, terrorists usually avoid confrontations with the authorities, with their anger instead being directed at the outsider. Eventually, however, they convince themselves that the government is not doing enough to protect the “original community” and the state therefore also becomes a target.  This is already apparent on several occasions, such as the attack on the USA embassy in February 2008, and the targeting of the B92 TV studio and the offices of the Democrat and Socialist Parties (the DS and SPS, respectively) during riots in 2010.

It is important to stress that both underreaction and overreaction by the state may trigger the process of radicalization. Underreaction – which has generally been the case in Serbia – can imply encouragement; whilst excessive repression may escalate into anger and hatred, and also give additional prominence to the extreme movements. The appeal of the fascist Russian National Unity in Moscow, for instance, gained prominence amongst youth after its gatherings were banned by Moscow’s mayor, Yuri Luzhkov.  The political representation of far-right sentiments – through, for instance, Dveri, which demonstrates lesser tolerance towards other more extreme and less formal groups – could prove a mitigating force to the already present threat of further radicalization of an already quite popular far right. Finding a balance between overreacting and underreacting to the far right threat will be the task for not only government and its agencies, but also for the media and the civil society.

Vladimir Ninković is a project officer (security) for TransConflict Serbia.

This article is published as part of TransConflict’s newly-launched initiative, Understanding Extremism, further information about which is available by clicking here.

To keep up-to-date with the work of TransConflict, please click here. If you are interested in supporting TransConflict, please click here.

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  1. Pingback : Facing far right extremism in Serbia – TransConflict | Angola news

  2. Houssin-Tirard

    A brilliant timely reminder of the present and immediate challenges facing Serbian society and specialized agencies eluding however dangers faced by interferences and destabilizing activities of foreign agencies.

  3. Ver Ami

    Do you think there will ever be a genuine investigation into allegations of the murder for organs of hundreds of Serbs and other non-supporters of the Albanian KLA in Kosovo?

  4. Dear Ver Ami,

    TransConflict has been extensively covering the Kosovo crisis. Kosovo was, still is and, in the foreseeable future, will be the main security challenge in the region.

    However, I don’t think Serbia should be a single issue country with a single issue government. It is simply unrealistic. The government, relevant agencies and civil society cannot and should not turn a blind eye to any of the existing security problems and sweep the dirt under the carpet.

  5. Dear Mr Tirard,

    Thank you for your insight, I fully agree with you. Activities of foreign intelligence agencies, as well as connections of the far-right organizations with and within the Serbian security apparatus, can never be excluded.

    I wanted to focus solely on the security component, so to speak, of this phenomenon and give the opinion of what can be done in order to diminish the risk of possible escalation of violence. The background, the analysis of the actors, the roots and the causes of this problem seemed to me too complex and important to be briefly represented in this article.

  6. Nikola

    So you critisize the Serbian people instead of the Tadix regimee,a stelite american regimee? No,they WERE NOT DEMOCRATICLY ELECTED! An election is when you have a choise, the THING that is happening in almost all ex yu countries is this: 50 parties,all the same as if they are one.

  7. This

    We have already learned of the Northern League Countries, and how an Al-Qaeda Libya, and other Northern African Countries would be the Natural Nazi Allies of the Northern League, even though they were not Members of the Northern League.

    As Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council, we can all clearly see how Britain, France and America deliberately lied to want to protect Libyan Civilians.

    If America tries this Responsibility to Protect on other Countries, then they will look Grossly Hypocritical if they do not Impose the Improved American Federal Constitution and American State Constitutions on Libya.

    There are People who know that the Overwhelming Majority of Libyan People want American Federal and American State Constitutions with Only one Electoral College of the entire Country of Libya, along with 100% Public Funding for Federal and State Elections, and Free and Fair Media time during Election Campaigns as part of the Media’s Licensing Arrangements.

    As we know Britain, America, and France also falsely claim that they want to protect all the Serbs of Kosovo, and if they were genuine then they would withdraw support for Kosovo Albanian Illegal and Immoral Declaration of Independence.

    We know that Britain, America, and France are not genuine with regards to Human Rights of other People, and one proof is how they installed the Modern Day Secret Muslim Janissary Boris Tadic as President of Serbia.

    We know that Tadic likes to leave the Country at times of him and his Fellow Traitors co-ordinating treason against his own People who believe their Election Campaign Lies.

    The Media says that Serbian President Boris Janissary Tadic will go on an official visit to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 16 November 2011.

    We know that Publicly and Officially, the Northern League Countries are Britain, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, but perhaps there are Countries that are Secretly and Unofficially in this Group, most notably France, Germany, and Northern Italy, and especially America.

    Black Europe, or Countries like Spain, Portugal, Southern Italy, Malta, Greece, and Cyprus, and Orthodox Europe, and Orthodox Slavic Europe, and the Al-Qaeda Muslim Albanians, and the Al-Qaeda Muslim Bosnian Herzegovinans, and the Al-Qaeda Muslim Turks are not in this Northern League, although the Al-Qaeda Muslims are the Modern Day Nazi Allies of the Northern League of Nazi Countries.

    Catholic Countries like Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, along with Belgium, and the Germanic, the Scandinavian, and the Nordic Countries, and possibly Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland are probably Secret Members, or they will join, because of their Geographical Location.

    Britain knows that it needs to sell Non-Northern League Countries to the Muslims, because otherwise Scotland will become Independent and keep their Oil Revenues.

    Osama bin Laden was said to have been killed on 2 May 2011, and three days later, the Scottish Parliament General Election was held on 5 May 2011, where the Scottish National Impendence Party won the Election with a comfortable Majority.

    There could be People who are thinking that Germany and possibly France asked America to kill or to pretend to kill Osama bin Laden three days before the Scottish Election, in order ensure that the Scottish National Impendence Party who promised a Referendum on Independence to the Scottish People would win that Election, because the Scots do not want to build Empires anyone.

    Germany may have thought that this was cunning, but Britain by means of the Northern League of Countries will threaten the Scottish People to remain in the Union.

    The Northern League and Tadic’s Plan is to make Kosovo Independent so tat Kosovo will become a NATO Member.

    The Albanians with the help of the West will be up to there old tricks, and they will cause trouble and pretend to be the victim in order to want Presevo Valley and other parts of Serbia that Albanians want to become Independent.

    Tadic and Company who always wanted to join NATO knows this, and he will say that Serbia must join NATO to preserve its Territorial Integrity in Presevo Valley and other parts of Serbia where Albanians happen to be.

    The Serbian People will be deceived to join NATO as the lesser of the two Evils, only to find, that once NATO is in Control of Serbia, then Presevo Valley will be the new Condition for joining the European Union.

    The Hungarians will want Vojvodina where Serbia’s food comes from, and they will get with the help of Boris Tadic, Dragan Sutanovac, and other Traitors of their own People.

    Germany will always be very vary of Serbia joining the European Union, because they know that Britain will use their Puppets to vote against the Fourth Reich, and Germany has worked long and hard on the Fourth Reich to let the Serbs or anyone else endanger it.

    We know that Otto von Bismarck discouraged the Germans of his day to unfriendly attitudes toward the Balkans.

    We see that the European Union changes the rules, and this can be seen with regard to Russia being able to own the Gas Pipelines.

    I would never want to own any gas pipelines except in my own Country, because if I needed to switch off the gas to NATO Europe, I would not loose that Money that I could have invested elsewhere, because Resource Poor Japan knows that if any Country is too reliant on their Natural Resources to run their Economy, then that Country is not a very Advanced Society.

    Money that needs to be spent or lost because of NATO Europe is Money that is Excellently Spent and Lost, especially if it is a Northern League Nazi NATO.

    There are People who think that Russia should encourage Countries to own and to pat to build their gas pipelines, so that Russia can invest that Money on creating Employment for its own People.

  8. Nikola P.

    Dveri is simply a organization of decent people who are not under the command of tycoons or Western embassies. None of the parties today, on the right and left care only meaningless cosmetic changes.

  9. This

    The last sentence of my other comment should read: There are People who think that Russia should encourage Countries to Own and to Pay to build their gas pipelines on their Own Territory, so that Russia can invest that Money on creating Employment for its own People.

    Resource Poor Japan knows that if any Country is too reliant on their Natural Resources to run their Economy, then that Country is not a very Advanced Society.

    Germany was placed in a very difficult position with the Treaty of Versailles, and such a provocation would lead to Hitler inventing a new Banking and Monetary System that was hated by the Western Banksters.

    William Gayley Simpson was associate director of the National Civil Liberties Bureau, now termed the American Civil Liberties Union, and William Gayley Simpson said: “Hitler’s monetary system proved sound and it worked, because in a few years Germany easily became the most powerful state in Europe. It worked so magically and magnificently that it sounded the death knell of the entire Global money system. The Western Banks knew that they had to destroy Hitler’s system, by whatever means might prove necessary, or their own system of charging interest would necessarily die. And if it died, with it must die their dream and their hope of making themselves masters of the world. The primary issue over which World War 2 was fought was to determine which money system was to survive. At bottom it was not a war between Germany and the so-called allies. Primarily it was war to the death between Germany and the International Money Power.”

    Even many Europeans who do not like Hitler or the Third Reich, will acknowledge the Fact, that the German People have always been an Efficient and Advanced Society, and that Hitler did act Competently and Effectively in certain matters, because otherwise, the very poor Country of Germany at that time, could not have conquered most of Continental Europe.

    People should not be envious of Germany, because Germany is Economically Prosperous today, because Germany is on average a more Industrious and Hard Working Country than many other European Countries, and they have earned their Money.

    European Countries need to be on Guard because of the Evil Conspiracies of Britain and America with their Northern League of Countries, and All European Countries should learn something Positive from each other in order to mutually benefit, and All European NATO Countries can reduce their Military Spending to help solve the European Union Debt Crisis, and to Pay to build gas pipelines that will create Employment for Europeans.

  10. This

    It is necessary for all People of Kosovo including the Kosovo Albanians to mutually recognize that Serbia’s Province of Kosovo has a border with FYROM, Albania, and Montenegro, but not with Serbia.

    There is a Provincial administrative line, between Serbia and its Province of Kosovo.

    Serbia Insists on Every Letter of United Nations Security Council Six Point Plan for Kosovo to be Fully Implemented, which Explicitly Excludes ANY Kosovo Albanian, or Kosovo Albanian Government Representative or Representatives at the Jarinje and Brnjak administrative checkpoints.

    Regardless of what the Kosovo Albanians say, they are not in favour of Joint Control of administrative checkpoints, and neither is Serbia, especially for the Jarinje and Brnjak administrative checkpoints.

    Even before the European Union Mediated Talks began, one Condition that both the Albanians and the Serbs agreed to, was that during these Talks, there would be no mention of the Status of Kosovo, and that both sides agreed that they would not do anything to change the situation on the ground by using any Unilateral steps.

    We can see that the Albanians never keep their word, and the Albanians can either Negotiate Autonomy that is according to the Serbian Constitution, UNSCR 1244, and the Six Point Plan for Kosovo, or they can choose Isolation, or Imposed Autonomy by EULUX and the European Union.

  11. Since this article is not about Kosovo, such comments are off-topic and I will not address them.

    Let’s not simplify things. Far-right is not a derogatory term, it is just a position on the right-left political spectre, and does not equal Nazi or fascist. Reactionary does not imply fascist, fascist does not necessarily imply nazi, and nazism does not necessarily (albeit often)imply Hitlerism.

    Intentio auctoris was not a political text, but a security assessment of an emerging security problem which is rarely discussed in Serbia.

    Personally, I think it would be a good idea for Dveri to participate in the elections and the government to allow it. Some researches showed that inclusion of far-right parties in the election process can mitigate the tension in a society. The tension that, as we can all see, at least by judging by the comments, is still higher than it should be.

  12. HOUSSIN Tirard

    Some comments regarding this article are offensive and off limits and would need to be moderated. An expression of a balanced opinion and a analysis work however short it can be on some points cannot and must not in my opinion be insulted especially on personal grounds. Such comments speak for themselves and justify efforts to open a true and balanced dialogue in Serbian society on such important issues, not to the detriment of reality and truth, naturally. Passion and violence never conduct to careful analysis and drive fruitful policies a point worth to remember.

  13. HOUSSIN Tirard

    Some comments regarding this article are offensive and off limits and would need to be moderated. An expression of a balanced opinion and a analysis work however short it can be on some points cannot and must not in my opinion be insulted especially on personal grounds. Such comments speak for themselves and justify efforts to open a true and balanced dialogue in Serbian society on such important issues, not to the detriment of reality and truth, naturally. Passion and violence rarely favour careful and interesting points let alone any analysis, don’t drive responsible public actions and bring about positive and fruitful results.

  14. Pingback : Facing far right extremism in Serbia | The Roman Gate

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