Your opinions, dear readers…

A fascinating read, specially for someone on the edge, like me. Thank you very much, we all love it.

Karen Živanović

An interesting, intelligent and informative read. Showed the ‘Leaving Home’ piece to my mum, who left Plavno around the same time as Anđelija, and she is very impressed that ‘vee are on computer now as vell, veree good!’

Mel Vujatović

The best so far! Keep up the good work. I hope this Serbian assembly idea comes off. It would be great to have a powerful voice in this country.

Petar Đukić

I’ve read your latest issue & it keeps getting better & better!! It just provides everything you want - thoroughly enjoyable!! Oh, and I want to marry Roksy Music! Ha haa!

Lazo Vuković

Congratulations on the amazing achievement that is BRITIĆ. My (English!) husband and I read it cover to cover every time. I do have some appreciation of how much work has gone into it too, having worked in publishing for most of my professional life!

I think the very concept hits on something unique, addressing the issues related to being a Serb in exile and recognising this rather special community. It also gives people whose Serbian is not perfect the chance to stay in touch, discuss the issues and contribute in a way that is vital if our identity as British Serbs is going to be preserved for generations to come.

Mirjana Ilić

Želela bi da se zahvalim na vašem trudu i predivnoj ideji, da i mi imamo naš mali časopis. Ja živim ovde u Engleskoj već pet godina i otkrila sam vas časopis pre par meseci u Crkvi u Darbiju. Čitam ga sa velikom radošću i oduševljena sam informacijama koje ne bih dobila ni na jednom drugom mestu. Želela bi da vas pitam dali primate rukopise sa strane ili postoje odabrani ljudi koji salju rukopise.

Marija Bogdan iz Darbija

: Thank you for your kind words Marija. Yes, we gladly consider articles but in order to avoid disappointment we would ask any potential contributor to contact us first to run their ideas past us.

Congratulations on an excellent publication. Although I do not live in the UK, my daughter does and I visit frequently. The themes and issues raised in your article concerning Serbia’s new Diaspora law are of course similar to those discussed here in the US as well. An elected Diaspora Assembly may be a rather complicated way to go about improving relations, but on the other hand, “bolje išta nego ništa”. Let’s wait to see whether and how it will work in practice.

Branko Terzić, Washington, DC

Thanks for a great interview with basketball legend Vlade Divac. I had the privilege to briefly meet Vlade while on a basketball scholarship in the US. Vlade was with the Lakers at the time and the team used the gym at my university as a practice facility before they were due to play the Milwaukee Bucks. He was very generous to me with his time despite needing to leave promptly.

However, I was rather disappointed with your football article “Blastić from the Pastić” in the Sv Petka issue. This was a missed opportunity to speak to the groundbreaking British Serb footballers of the 70’s and 80’s and find out more about their glory days and what they are doing now.

I think there is much the UK Serbian community could learn from organisations like the Serbian Unity Congress in the US who appear to have much clout in political lobbying.

Finally, I am in favour of your proposals to create a Serb assembly in the UK. If this opportunity is not grasped now, it will be a sad indictment of the apathy and low standing to which the Serb community in the UK has declined and an indication that the motherland takes us for granted.

This is why your publication is the best thing to have to happened to the Serb Diaspora in the UK in the past twenty years - it has made people get up and want to do something positive.

Mirko Radoš, Northampton

: We took your suggestion and Mike Pejic is our feature artile – thanks Mirko!

I call Myself a British Serb

Regarding “Call yourself a Serb?”, an answer to Baraba’s comments: That’s why you’re a Serb and I’m a British Serb. This letter irritated me so I would like to reply. The majority of people in most other countries would feel proud that people of the same cultural background born in another country bothered to continue their traditions and learn the language whilst maintaining their dual nationality. It is because of this sad, narrow-minded attitude that I found myself in the situation of having to learn to speak the Serbian language without my parents’ dialect; I adapted so that I would be able to communicate easily with anyone from Serbia or former Yugoslavia. I now speak the language well enough to pass for a native, but can say with certainty that I am glad I am not a native. Having lived in Serbia, Croatia and Macedonia and having personally delivered aid to Republika Srpska during the Balkan conflict, I can confirm that my mentality and attitude is hugely different from that of the people I encountered. This is something that makes me happy.

I was exposed to politics, religion and history from a very early age, and went on to formulate my own opinions by researching the vast resources available to me as a Serb born in Britain and by listening to the personal accounts of many Serbs, both native and living abroad. Therefore, unlike the views of the majority in Serbia, my opinions are not based on falsehoods. I shouldn’t have to feel inferior because you were born in Serbia and I was not; I am proud of who I am and will not have my identity or integrity questioned because of the country of my birth. I was born in a foreign country because of people with your attitude and their actions during the first half of the 20th century.

All of the above can be easily translated by Google Translate, it just entails using your keyboard.

Natali Spasovski

A follow-up on the Election Special

Firstly, may I congratulate Britić on its latest issue. Being into politics, I particularly liked the election special and I applaud the fact that you are trying to help Serbs make informed choices about who to vote for in the coming election.

One point I would like to pick up on though, is the absence of any mention of a party which was opposed to NATO’s attacks against Serbs during both the Kosovo and Bosnian wars: the BNP. You say that you asked all the major parties and that only two responded: Labour and Plaid Cymru. It is of course possible that you asked the BNP but that they did not respond. However I would be surprised as they would have been in a position to provide positive responses to your questions.

Jovan Isaković

: We asked these questions to all mainland British parties which had national or European elected representation which did include the BNP. Only two parties were willing to go on record.

Poetic Memories

My father was born in Serbia in 1921. When he went to school children who did well at something stood on stage and recited a poem that they had learnt by heart. My father can’t remember it all, nor the title. He knows that the first sentences go like this, “It’s dark in the valley and dark on the mountain. All around is quiet / Only water from the stone runs down”. He thinks the poet might be Karadžić. My father is very ill and I would like to help him rediscover the poem. Can anyone assist?

Pete Batačanin

You never stop learning…

While web browsing I came across this editorial footnote:

“Mileva Marić was Einstein’s first wife. She was a Serb and an extremely talented mathematician and unlike Einstein, an excellent student.” This widely disseminated story is untrue. Marić excelled at maths at school, but not at the Zurich Polytechnic. In 1896 her maths entrance exam grade average was a moderate 4.25 on a scale 1-6. In 1900 she failed the diploma to teach maths and physics in secondary school because of her very poor grade in the maths component (2.5 on scale 1-6; Einstein obtained grade 5.5). While Einstein was top of their group in the intermediate diploma exam, Marić’s grade placed her fifth out of six students. In the last two years of the course Einstein neglected his studies to concentrate on his extra-curricular interests in advanced physics, and came fourth out of five students with a grade average of 4.91, while Marić obtained a grade average of 4.

Allen Esterson

I am trying to learn Serbo/Croatian and I am looking for conversational Serbo/Croatian with native speakers particularly in the Sheffield/S.Yorkshire area. Can you help me!?

Dave Hewson

I am curious whether there is anywhere that kajmak could be obtained in England or if you may know of an equivalent?

Aleks Karić

I would like to compliment you on Ilija Kadionica’s “Agony Pop” article which answered questions regarding Slava.

 I am English but my partner of over 20 years is Serbian (born in England) and we celebrate the main Orthodox Festivals of Slava, Božic and Easter.  I know what most of the traditions are for each of these festivals, but I do not know their origins or significance. I would like to understand these better in order to explain them to my own children and also to raise awareness of the Orthodox faith to teachers and children in school.  I did go to my son’s school and speak to the year 3 children to give them a brief insight into our celebrations.

Keep up the good work.

Karen Evans, Birmingham

Call this justice?

I know it is slightly unusual but I want to write about that much maligned Serb, Slobodan Milošević. Contrary to most people’s opinion, Milošević did everything for the Serbian nation. There was nothing else he could have done with all the enemies stacked against him.

I hope you print this letter. I am not a recent arrival but an old generation Serb from Krajina who came to this country in 1948. My countrymen ran like rabbits in 1995; I for one do not blame Slobo for that.

Ilija Ilić, Telford, Shropshire.

Duško Tadić, a Bosnian Serb, was the first person to be sentenced by The Hague Tribunal. Arrested in 1994, he was tried for alleged war crimes committed against Bosnian Muslim civilians at the Omarska camp. The trial was covered by a BBC2 documentary crew, whose findings were subsequently broadcast. Here follows a summary of the main points of their programme.

The main witness for the prosecution, Witness L, claimed that Tadić had raped several women, and to back his story “L” named the village where the alleged offences had taken place, and described the scene as the basement of a house with a white roof. As an extra piece of information “L” told the court that his parents were not alive.

During a weekend break in the trial, Tadić’s defence lawyer decided to visit the “crime scene” for himself. He discovered to his amazement that not only did the village not have a single house with a white roof, it also did not have a single house with a basement. The lawyer also tracked down the “dead” parents of witness “L” and persuaded them to travel with him to The Hague for the trial.

Armed with this information, the lawyer confronted “L” in court. During a lull in the proceedings he brought in the parents of the witness. There was pandemonium in the courtroom - the witness had been brilliantly exposed as a liar. The witness asked for a recess and re-emerged telling a different story. He was Dragan Opačić, a Serb soldier caught during the war and imprisoned in Sarajevo by Bosnian Muslim forces. They promised him his freedom if he “testified” against Tadić. Opačić alleged that the Bosnian Muslim authorities had stipulated what he should say at the trial. Opačić recanted all the former allegations, saying that he was just trying to win his freedom and avoid being returned to the Sarajevo prison.

Astoundingly, despite the main prosecution witness being discredited, the court found Tadić guilty and handed down a sentence of twenty years. In any other court in the world, a mistrial would have been declared and the defendant immediately released.

The ruling proves to those few who still believe the Hague tribunal to be an impartial court that they need to think again. Until such blatant injustices are addressed it is hard to take seriously any allegations made against Radovan Karadžić.

Aleks Gašić, London

GAY DIVIDE

Watching the footage on the news, I was horrified. I have to say - the images of nationalists and football hooligans hurling Molotov cocktails and young women with children holding up vulgar signs is not going to change how the world sees Balkan people for the better. As a Serb living in London, I was ashamed. I am not unrealistic and do not expect old-fashioned and religious people to entirely accept things like this, but I do expect people to realise being gay is not a disease, and is not catching, as some of the Family Protest members seemed to think! It is one thing having quiet religious or moral objections to homosexuality and quite another to force out 6,000 police to protect a group peacefully marching for fifteen minutes.

We are all Serbs, regardless of our sexual preferences, and turning on a small minority in such a public and destructive way is hardly tolerant or, indeed, a good diplomatic move. If there had to be a march on Sunday, it should have been about our 20% level of unemployment, because realistically, if half of those frustrated hooligans had work on the Monday they would not be out trashing and looting their own city on Sunday. It is hardly the biggest problem Serbia faces these days, that a tiny number of gay people feel it is time to stop being ashamed of their sexuality. Aside from anything else, it was nothing compared to the annual Gay Pride Parade in London which is tolerated by all types of people! Focus on the problems that really matter, and to those who attacked the police on Sunday SRAM VAS BILO.

Anon

If Serbia was a child she would have been taken into care many years ago. I, and any right minded Serb, strongly condemn Sunday’s homophobic rioting and Tuesday’s moronic behaviour in Genoa. However, it is ironic that the behaviour of Serbia’s feral youths is a direct consequence of the routine beatings and humiliations that have been served up by Europe and the US.

The hooligan element of Serbia is a generation unlike any other in Europe. They’ve seen their country bombed for 78 days in 1999. Oppressive economic sanctions bring their country to its knees. Seen ‘impartial’ justice in The Hague pin the misfortune of the Balkans squarely on their door. Seen a media in the West demonize and dehumanize their people. Seen justice for their own overlooked with bias and contempt. Most painful of all, they’ve seen 12% of their lawful sovereign territory wrested from their arms by Western bullies.

President Tadić and his ‘patchwork quilt’ of a democratic government will have difficulty staying in power if Europe and the US refuse to change its attitude towards Serbia. The notion in the corridors of power that Serbia can be brought to heel only by ‘tough love’ may be correct. However, we have only applied ‘tough’. We have neglected the ‘love’.

Anthony