Ironic night in Belgrade

Firstly, the sight of Serbs firstly cheering for the old enemy Croatia, then genuinely sad at their loss, but possibly only because they were playing the older enemy Turkey.

Even the Bosnians were shouting for Croatia tonight (take a bow Miralem).

It was not the 5 goal classic that was Portugal vs Germany last night, but it was not a bad match and there is no doubt Croatia were the vastly better team.

Secondly, I witnessed the strange sight tonight of a group of Roma troubadours on Skadarlija gawping in genuine fascination at a party of Indian tourists. It was as though they recognized their genetic brethren or perhaps they thought they were witnessing the miracle of a group of wealthy Roma touring up Skardarlija.

The Indian people looked very nice, beautifully dressed, happy and relaxed. We Europeans can expect greater and greater numbers of Asian tourists in future as our world flattens and the mega-economies of China and India level up with the EU and USA.

Creepy relic from Nazi POW camp

Originally published at the Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club

One of the coffee ladies at work popped into my office today to ask me about a ring she had found on her plot of land in the Belgrade suburb of Kotez.

It looks to me like either a survivor’s ring or guards ring from Stalag III A, a notorious WW2 Prisoner of War Camp that was located at Luckenwalde, 30 km south of Berlin.

Does anyone know anything about this ring? Ever seen one similar?

We are puzzled about where it came from and how it ended up in Belgrade.

Photo-0017

National Programme for Integration of Serbia into EU

Sustainable Progress

I recently came across a new and very interesting Balkan blog by Ari Rusila, a Finn who has spent some time in the region working for European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR).

He was full of praise for the new document delivered by Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic called “National Programme for Integration of Serbia into EU” [PDF 3mb].

Ari described the document as “outstanding”, which echoes what I have been reading and hearing about it.

The other word being touted about the Integration plan is “ambitious”, with the European Union’s Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn saying “Under the best circumstance this goal of candidate status towards end of this year is an ambitious one,"  and Djelic conceding that “These are ambitious goals but I believe Serbia and its capacity are well beyond”. [Source: Balkan Insight]

I am not surprised at all that Djelic has come out with yet another winner, his Sustainable Economic Development Project is superb and of all the politicians in the country he is the one who consistently impresses me with his vision and output.

See also:

European vision of Serbia -  Interview with: Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Bozidar Djelic – 16th June 2008 (New Europe Weekly)

Text of the SAA agreement with Serbia

Free Wi-Fi Zone in Students Park Vandalized

Typical Belgrade anti-street art defacement
Typical defacement of a Dorcol building

Telenor recently launched a free wi-fi zone in Student’s Park (Studenski Trg) Belgrade.

The idea was to allow “Students and people will be able to hook up to the Internet using their laptop by using wireless or USB links”

I heard last night that the installation lasted 4 days before Belgrade’s notorious vandals and spray-paint defacement scum managed to destroy it.

Vandals are very active in Belgrade, with the usual “Dragan hearts Ivana” type scrawl competing with hooligan gangs marking territory (only to have their tags crossed out, as above) and abortive political campaigning declaring “Kosovo is Serbia”.  You can see some more examples of this wall spam here.

Thankfully there is a very active and genuinely talented stenciling underground led by TKV that has Belgrade decorated with some superb stencils and some great political messages.

Worrying news on Serbia’s private security industry

A recent discussion with a friend working at the  South Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) alerted me to what is apparently a serious concern for UN Arms Control experts in Serbia, its unregulated Private Security Industry.

From a 2005 report “SALW and Private Security Companies in South Eastern Europe:  A Cause or Effect of Insecurity?” [PDF 2mb]

The situation in Serbia is probably of the greatest concern in the region. At the current moment there is no direct  legislation that addresses the private security market. This has meant that the industry, while extensive and  well  developed,  contains  some  companies  that  are  essentially  fronts  for  organised  crime  organisations.  The  current regulations covering SALW are also of concern. Weapons are owned by and licensed to the individual  guard meaning that there is a greater potential for their misuse. Further, automatic military style weapons are  commonly used by the industry despite their being inappropriate for such usage. The report recommends that  the government adopt a licensing system as soon as possible that will begin to eliminate the more unprofessional  parts of the industry. In the interim it is vital that international employers of security services in the country adopt  some basic principles in order to ensure that the company they employ is professional.

The situation is the same if not worse today.

This essentially means that those non-police armed paramilitaries one sees in Serbia see guarding banks, building sites and factories take their weapons home with them. Some of them are the heavily armed divisions of Organised Crime groups and they are potentially armed foot-soldiers in militias or paramilitary groups.

I have noticed these guys before. Their vehicles sometimes have police like flashing lights mounted on them (although blue lights seem to be reserved for cops) and are sometimes very hard to distinguish from police, since often they wear the SWAT style overalls that the elite Gendarmes wear.

Unfortunately so little is getting done in Serbia these days. Projects and initiatives are delayed as the government is agreed and even when there is a stable government, arguing over Kosovo takes precedent over disarming security guards, economic stability and cleaning up the environment.

Worrying news on Serbia’s private security industry

A recent discussion with a friend working at the  South Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) alerted me to what is apparently a serious concern for UN Arms Control experts in Serbia, its unregulated Private Security Industry.

From a 2005 report “SALW and Private Security Companies in South Eastern Europe:  A Cause or Effect of Insecurity?” [PDF 2mb]

The situation in Serbia is probably of the greatest concern in the region. At the current moment there is no direct  legislation that addresses the private security market. This has meant that the industry, while extensive and  well  developed,  contains  some  companies  that  are  essentially  fronts  for  organised  crime  organisations.  The  current regulations covering SALW are also of concern. Weapons are owned by and licensed to the individual  guard meaning that there is a greater potential for their misuse. Further, automatic military style weapons are  commonly used by the industry despite their being inappropriate for such usage. The report recommends that  the government adopt a licensing system as soon as possible that will begin to eliminate the more unprofessional  parts of the industry. In the interim it is vital that international employers of security services in the country adopt  some basic principles in order to ensure that the company they employ is professional.

This essentially means that those non-police armed paramilitaries one sees in Serbia see guarding banks, building sites and factories take their weapons home with them. Some of them are the heavily armed divisions of Organised Crime groups and they are potentially armed foot-soldiers in militias or paramilitary groups.

I have noticed these guys before. Their vehicles sometimes have police like flashing lights mounted on them (although blue lights seem to be reserved for cops) and are sometimes very hard to distinguish from police, since often they wear the SWAT style overalls that the elite Gendarmes wear.

Unfortunately so little is getting done in Serbia these days. Projects and initiatives are delayed as the government is agreed and even when there is a stable government, arguing over Kosovo takes precedent over disarming security guards, economic stability and cleaning up the environment.

UFO videotaped over Serbia

This is apparently a video  “taken from a commercial jetliner en route to Crete while over Serbia.”

How long before the Radical Party picks this up as “proof” of CIA activity over Serbia or the CIA uses this as “proof” that Serbia has acquired some sort of North Korean flying WMD to use for ethnically cleansing Kosovo?

Looks like a cloud to me.

Phantoms and Monsters: Paranormal, Unusual and Extraterrestrial Events

UFO videotaped over Serbia

This is apparently a video  “taken from a commercial jetliner en route to Crete while over Serbia.”

How long before the Radical Party picks this up as “proof” of CIA activity over Serbia or the CIA uses this as “proof” that Serbia has acquired some sort of North Korean flying WMD to use for ethnically cleansing Kosovo?

Looks like a cloud to me.

Phantoms and Monsters: Paranormal, Unusual and Extraterrestrial Events

Ironic: Serb arrested for not serving in Croatian army

PARAĆIN — An ethnic Serb driven out of Croatia in 1991 was Sunday arrested by Croatian police on charges that he did not serve in that country’s armed forces.
Saša Cvetojević, a refugee with residence in Paraćin, Serbia, was detained as he was crossing the border into Serbia.

Paraćin’s Center for Communication Pravda said in a statement that Cvetojević previously crossed into Croatia with no problems, to travel to his native Zagreb.
He planned to arrange his documents, renew contacts with friends, and explore possibilities of returning home.

The statement from the center adds that Cvetojević was arrested "like the worst of criminals, pushed into a police van and driven to the notorious Remetinec prison".

Imagine being imprisoned for going AWOL from an Army that was Ethnically Cleansing your people from the country. It is just another Balkan Kafka moment.

B92 – News – Region – Serb arrested for not serving in Croatian army

New Rules for the New Biology

Kevin kelly follows up his New Rules of the New Economy (fee online) with the beginnings of the New Rules for the New Biology. Here are items 4, 5 and 6 from the nascent list:

4) All inovations follow a one-way migration from enhancements to normalcy.

5) One person’s biological ideal is another’s horror.

6) Understanding is not necessary for use.

[From Kevin Kelly — The Technium]

Kevin Kelly’s Lifestream is overwhelmingly one of the best reads on the web. Between Kevin Kelly’s Lifestream, Arts and Letters Daily , Abeland.org and Bruce Sterling’s Beyond the Beyond, once could keep abreast of 99% of what is worthwhile out there.