Serbia - Exit Europe
Serbia is a divided country, and the border runs right through people's heads. On the one hand, there are people like Milorad Mirčić, who does not think rock 'n' roll has any political relevance. The deputy leader of the Serbian Radical Party also believes that the overthrow of the Milošević regime in 2000 was a coup d'état organised by the Americans. He calls reports of the genocide in Srebrenica "propaganda".
On the other hand, there are people like Nataša Kandić of the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights who have been working for years to alter public perceptions. Nataša believes that Serbia must stop regarding itself as a victim and that the crimes committed in the name of Serbia should be made public. In 2005 she forwarded a video tape to the media that shows the execution of six Bosniaks from Srebrenica by members of the Serbian paramilitary unit The Scorpions.
Return to Europe shows that recently the borders in people's minds are beginning to crumble as Serbians develop a keener interest in more foresighted movements. For instance, the democrats won the elections in 2008 despite Kosovo's declaration of independence. It seems Serbia does want to be a part of Europe. The country has been given a new chance, says journalist Dejan Anastasijević. "However, we shouldn't underestimate the capacity of our politicians to fail to grab hold of a sure thing," he laughs grimly – past experience has taught him to be cynical.
If you would like to watch the complete film please go to www.standard.at/balkanexpress (due to copyright restrictions this will not work outside of Europe)
Exit Europe, the film about Serbia, is not exactly what you'd call a comedy. It speaks about the attacks on courageous journalists, about dyed-in-the-wool nationalists, the assassination of Zoran Djindjić and the decline of the textile industry in Leskovac. And yet the film still manages to show the potential of a country that has suffered greater political upheavals in recent years than any other in the Balkans.
It shows the will to survive of those who are suffering most from the after-effects of the Milošević years. Milan and Gordana Petrović, for example, who used to work in Leskovac when the textile industry still provided work and a purpose in life to thousands of people. Now the couple have moved back to the countryside, where they are raising chickens and sheep.
Gordana says she can afford to buy new boots for just one of her children; she tells us of her feeling of panic when she does not manage to sell enough of her home-made ajvar, a spicy relish. Her existential worries lie at the core of an issue that should have been much more seriously discussed in Serbia – the question of how politics can boost the economy and move the country closer to Europe. Milan and Gordana are not the only ones who care about little else more than this. This is a feeling shared by most Serbs – so in this respect at least Serbia is not a divided country.