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“Ten Years Without Zoran Djindjic”: Serbia Honors Slain Politician

Zoran Djindjic, the first democratically elected Serbian Prime Minister, was shot to death on March 12, 2003. On the tenth anniversary of Djindjic's assassination, thousands of people marched in Belgrade to honor his memory.

Author and political activist Jasmina Tešanović paid tribute to Djindjic on the Huffington Post blog:

[...] He was the most important Serbian politician of the 20 century, who managed to step into the 21st, who toppled Milosevic, who was eventually killed by state mafia resisting his progressive steps toward a modern Serbia.

[...]

Djindic was a very popular man. Even people who didn't agree with him liked him. His enemies thought well of him. His murderers, too.

Where are these people now, what are they thinking, what about their future and conscience? I don't think it is a matter of a democratic party, his family. Not even of politicians and philosophers who are swearing on his grave using his words. It is a matter of all of us who gained a part of our civil identity in Serbia thanks to his political courage.

We can say all we want to say, in favor or against his politics, but thanks to him, history advanced in big steps forward — and without him, history limps and crawls back into the dark.

On the German Marshall Fund's blog, Djindjic's former Senior Foreign Policy Adviser Ivan Vejvoda wrote this:

Ten years ago today, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated by a sniper at the entrance of the cabinet office in Belgrade, marking a tremendous blow to the fledgling process of democratization in Serbia. While the conspirators, including the sniper, were condemned in a court of law and are serving long prison sentences, the identity of those who ordered his killing remains unknown.

[...]

Vehemently opposed to Slobodan Milosevic’s regime during the period of Yugoslavia’s bloody civil war, he eventually won a peaceful election in 2000. He was the chief architect of a victory in which political parties, civil society, a democratic media, and — notably — the student movement Otpor all played key roles.

[...]

A decade later, Serbia finds itself exactly where Djindjic wanted it to be at the end of 2003, showing the extent to which his assassination slowed Serbia’s democratic reforms. [...]

Kiran Mohandas Menon wrote this on OpenDemocracy.com:

In the two years in which he led Serbia, Zoran Djindjic strengthened its democratic and economic structure, cracked down on organized crime and ended its international isolation, with his pro western policies aimed at European integration.

An often controversial figure, Djindjic also initiated and strengthened cooperation with the International Crime Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and handed them Slobodan Milosevic. It was brave acts such as that which cemented Djindjic’s status as arguably the most important and respected figure in modern Serbian politics. It would also cost him his life.

[...]

In February 2003, Djindjic escaped an attempt on his life when a truck tried to crash into his car on a Belgrade highway. However a month later, on the March 12, 2003, Djindjic was fatally shot by a member of the Zemun clan, one of Serbia’s most notorious mafia groups, while standing outside the Serbian government building. Zoran Djindjic was 50 years old at the time of his death. His funeral drew tens of thousands of mourners, bringing the nation to a standstill.

[...]

A decade since his tragic death, Zoran Djindjic’s vision and memory have inspired and guided the people of a nation.

Below is a short documentary [sr, with English subtitles] directed by Aleksandar Mandić – “Ako Srbija Stane” (“If Serbia Stops”) which features “a collection of edited speeches given by Djindjic on a speaking tour in Serbia shortly before his death”:

A photo from Djindjic's funeral was posted [sr] on March 12 on the Facebook page devoted to the slain politician, with this caption:

March 12, 2003. The day when Serbia stopped! – Zoran, thank you for the vision!

Nearly 6,000 people ‘liked’ this post, nearly 1,400 shared it, and over 330 commented on it. User Petar Stantic wrote [sr]:

12.03.2003. Everything stopped… and began to slowly move backwards… Zoran, thank you for that little bit of a hope, and for a vision…

On Twitter, @AnjaKosanovic shared this photo [sr] from the memorial march, #SetnjaZaZorana (“A Walk for Zoran”):

@Ketyly91 (Katarina Pavlovic) re-tweeted @AnjaKosanovic's photo and wrote [sr]:

Zoran Djindjic lives through all the people in this column [#WalkForZoran] [...]

@MajaVidenovic wrote [sr]:

Today I am walking for Zoran. For the land he wanted and created. For what I deeply believe in! [#ZoranDjindjicLives] [#WalkForZoran]

@mali_uli (Ana Milovanovic) wrote [sr]:

[#WalkForZoran] According to my quick estimate, some 30,000 people are taking part in today's walk.

More photos from the Walk For Zoran were posted by @milosdjajic (Milos Djajic) and @DankoRunic (Danko Runić): here, here, here and here.

Not everyone was as enthusiastic about the event.

In his tweet, @BorisTrivan alluded [sr] to the economic situation in Serbia, whose unemployment rate was 22.4 percent in October 2012:

Djindjic would have been especially happy that thousands of people do not have jobs, so they have time to go for a walk…

Predrag Azdejković [sr], a Serbian LGBT rights activist and editor of GayEcho.com [sr], addressed his post [sr] on his B92 blog to the Serbian politicians who walked at the head of the column on March 12, ex-President Boris Tadić among them:

After the Walk For Zoran, I have just one question. Do you have no shame? I'm posing this question to the individuals in the front row of this fashion show.

Many people are saying that Serbia would have been better if Zoran Djindjic had not been murdered. I'm asking the charlatans from the front row whether they feel any responsibility for the fact that Serbia is no better ten years after his murder? Do you have no shame because of that? You are incompetent, and I think Djindjic is turning in his grave! Are you ashamed because, while you were in power, those behind the murder were not found and the political background was not brought to light? No. You're only ashamed because you're not in power.

But it is important that everyone today is having fun as [the first deputy PM Aleksandar Vučić], who once attached the sign for [a boulevard named after Ratko Mladić, accused of committing war crimes and on trial in the Hague], today lay the wreath for Zoran Djindjic. Nice, have fun, but I cannot. I am frustrated by the so-called Djindjic's successors, who are not even a pale copy of him, but a bunch of political losers! How can you not be ashamed!

  • Guest

    Why is everyone in the west so keen to raise this nazistic criminal maniac known as Zoran Djindjic? Us Serbs hate the bastard he was as much as a thief,a crook and a thug as any other politician in the Balkans, and the world. Plain and simple you are considered to be an imbecile in our society if you ever belive(ed) a word from a politicians mouth. Also his wife well his widow is one of the biggest mafia bosses in the country. Probably one of the people who payed for his murder.

    Not to mention that this maniac supported the terrorist bombing NATO did on Serbia in 1999. We never voted for him,it was a rigged election,we never liked him, HE USE TO PROMISE US THE SUN AS DIDN’T EVEN GIVE US A LIGHBULB. So screw him and all of you, who support him and lie to yourselves with this praising of the maniac since you sure as hell can;t lie to us who know who that bastard was.

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