Maybe this animosity has finally reached its expiration date. It went out of fashion, it got stale.

You should have just asked Split and Novi Sad, Sarajevo and Ljubljana, Belgrade and Rijeka, Zagreb and Skopje the other day.

Zoran Kesic

I am a Serb. My traditional friends are Russians and Greeks.

Russians, because they’ve always protected and defended us, except for that one time NATO bombed us a little, and the Russians were like ‘let’s not get involved in everything, they’ll sort it out somehow’.  Greeks, because they’re always so welcoming on their coast. And gyros.

They did ban us from their coast last summer, but that wasn’t personal, it was the pandemic, and we also have gyros in Serbia.

Maybe the closeness I feel towards Russians and Greeks would be even deeper if I actually met a Russian and a Greek. For now, this is more of a metaphysical closeness, one that isn’t rooted in personal friendship with a Seryozha or Vasilisa, or a long gone love affair with a Masha or Calista; maybe meeting real, tangible Russians and Greeks would banalise the nobility of our unbreakable bonds. Point being – the less I know them, the more I love them.

On the other hand, my very first traditional enemies were Germans. The other day, I suggested to my seven year old son and his friends to play Partisans and Germans. They just gave me a funny look and said they have no idea who Partisans and Germans even are.

After a rather carefree childhood in the 80s with the notion of evil Germans, the 90s suddenly meant my traditional enemies were Croats, Albanians, and Muslims from Bosnia, popularly Bosniaks.

The situation was now a bit trickier. Unlike the astral Russians and Greeks I love, and the Germans – or rather, the long-gone Wehrmacht soldiers – I don’t love, I was much closer to these enemies. Both territorially and orally. Vocally, I mean. Because the language, speech, swear words, songs, curses, verses – they were all familiar, all mine, or almost-mine. I have to exclude Albanians from this, though, because I don’t understand a word of what they’re saying, but I can only guess they’re planning to expand their family, and are wishing me ill.

Albanians attacked us first, and we were the first ones there – though they say we attacked them back then, but I think they’re lying; they say the same about us, so I guess it’s their word against ours.

The Croat situation is much clearer. They wanted to wipe us out, and they want that to this day – they have a problem with us being more beautiful, smarter, better than them in basketball, and of course Djokovic. As for Muslims, there’s nothing to say. We aren’t of the same faith and that’s a disaster. The worst thing that can happen to a man is for the other man to be of a different faith.

And so all the preconditions for permanent, anchored, life-long hatred were met. Any self-respecting man should strive for stability, both in love and in hatred. Seasonal little hatreds which come in and out of fashion may be attractive to a youngster, but I am a mature, adult man, and I want clear animosity coordinates.

Unfortunately, Croats and Bosniaks got in the way of my ideal hatred towards Croats and Bosniaks. A genius criminal mind sent me all sorts of people throughout the years with suspicious intent – Robert Prosinecki, Josipa Lisac, Darko Rundek, Fabijan Sovagovic, Drazen Petrovic, Radja and Kukoc (especially Radja and Kukoc), all sorts of Let 3s, Dezulovics, Ivancics, Tomics and Jergovics.

These people kept popping up, not unintentionally, Plavi Orkestar with a Losa, Davorin Popovic, Ivica Osimi, Susic, Baljic, Aleksandar Hemon, Abdulah Sidran, Stuke and Sarans…

This psychological warfare of sending cultural, artistic, and athletic rockets on Serbia, making us see our enemies as people we adore, admire and who inspire us, rather than as the bad guys, has left grave consequences.

It diminished my readiness to fight, blunting my blades of hatred, and I suddenly got sick ideas about loving my vicinity despite their century long (see above explanations).

Luckily, my Serbia fought back.

They sent us Oliver Dragojevic, and we counter-attacked with Balasevic. We amortised Haustor’s rush with Disciplina Kicme, and we responded to Dino Dvornik with Bajaga and Rambo. They gave us Mira Furlan, we gave them Milena Dravic. They sent Safet Isovic, we sent back Toma Zdravkovic. The cunning rascals then hit us with Boza Vreca, and that is quite a tough one to fight back.

Keep this between us, but I think we used chemical weapons for years too – Ceca, Jeca, Dragana, Seka… What can you do, you have to target all parts of the enemy population.

Add to all this the enemies I personally know and love, ones I can’t wait to see so we can talk, drink, and remind ourselves of the reasons we hate each other – it then becomes clear why I’ve been having traditional enemy issues for years.

I’m afraid to admit it, but this animosity may have finally reached its expiration date. It went out of fashion, it got stale.

You should have just asked Split and Novi Sad, Sarajevo and Ljubljana, Belgrade and Rijeka, Zagreb and Skopje the other day.

They’ll probably throw some tangerines at you, and small white bunnies. Or ask you to join them for a ride on the wheel.

‘Spin it around..’*


*Lyrics from one of Balasevic’s most famous songs