News 02 Sep 16

Belgrade to Name Street after Milosevic Ally

A Belgrade street is to be named after Serbian nationalist writer Brana Crncevic, who was an ally of President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb genocide convict Radovan Karadzic.

Sasa Dragojlo
BIRN
Belgrade
Serbian writer Brana Crncevic (on the left). Photo: Wikipedia.

The city of Belgrade decided on Thursday that a street in the city’s Vracar municipality should be named after Crncevic, a prominent writer known for his nationalist ideas and support for wartime leaders like Milosevic and Karadzic.

“Brana Crncevic was a player in and a witness to a broader social, political and historical events,” the city said in a statement.

Crncevic, who died in 2011, was a co-founder of the Serbian Progressive Party alongside current Prime Minster Aleksandar Vucic.

Vucic proposed the idea of naming a street after Crncevic in June, saying that five years after his death, his importance to Serbian history and culture is indisputable.

“He was an interlocutor with authority, an occasional associate [and] definitely an influential contemporary and friend of several important and powerful people - statesmen, politicians and party leaders who shaped modern Serbian history,” he wrote in an article for newspaper Vecernje Novosti at the time.

Crncevic won fame and praise for his literature, mostly for his gentle style in his children’s books, which were widely read and won him an award in 1987. His aphorisms were praised for their sharp irony in dealing with contemporary issues.

But he gained prominence in the political sphere with his hardline nationalist stance and close ties with controversial figures like Milosevic, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Serbian Radical Party chief Vojislav Seselj.

Like many other Serbian writers, Crncevic embraced nationalism after the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989.

He became close to President Milosevic, supporting the arming of rebel Croatian Serbs during the 1991-95 war.

Crncevic also backed the nationalist policies of Karadzic, who was convicted of genocide at the UN war crimes court this year for orchestrating the massacres of more than 7,000 Bosniaks from Srebrenica.

In 1994, Crncevic said in an article he wrote for Politika newspaper that “Serbs do not have war criminals”.

At the height of the war, Crncevic sided with Karadzic in a dispute with Milosevic.

“I believed in Milosevic in the 1990s,” he said in an interview. “But after he split with the Serbs in Bosnia, I too lost real contact with him.”

After the Bosnian war ended, Crncevic in 1996 joined a team of prominent nationalists who campaigned for Karadzic and publicly defended the fugitive politician against the genocide charges levelled by the UN tribunal in The Hague.

“Sometimes I’d also get letters from Radovan in my post box - they were friendly letters, but without clues as to where he was. Although he was in hiding, he was freer than us - we are living under a government that is a traitor to its people,” Crncevic said.

For a while, he was a member of the Serbian Radical Party, whose leader Seselj was cleared of war crimes by the Hague tribunal.

After leaving the Radical Party, he joined two other former members, Vucic and Tomislav Nikolic, in founding the Progressive Party.

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