At one of the last meetings, a week before the tragic March 12, he talked with the representatives of German Friedrich Ebert foundation and explained that for some time he had been reading the books on Serbia’s history of the past two centuries and concluded that whenever the state had to make an important democratic step forward, someone would pull out Kosovo issue and stop or obstacle the process of democratization.
Zoran Djindjic was deeply concerned over the time that Serbia lost in 1990ies and not only in 1990 ties, as well as with necessity to make up lost time. Peaceful victory against Milosevic’s regime fought by the citizens-voters and democratic forces at the elections on September 24 and defended on October 5, 2000 in front of the Parliament in Belgrade, opened a possibility for Serbia to keep a pace with time, its neighborhood, Europe and the world.
He was in hurry because of the citizens, people, state and society. He knew there could be no significant improvement in renewal and process of modernization of Serbia if the majority of economy is in the hands of state, therefore the privatization was put as a priority. He knew that this process will be accompanied with problems and mistakes. He focused to social-economic changes but very soon he realized that he should take all responsibility for resolving institutional-political issues inherited from disastrous consequences of Milosevic rule.
He understood how essentially important was speed of resolving all open issues for the sake of the opening of a road towards overall growth of economy, i.e. attracting foreign investments and opening of new jobs because the country was destroyed and neglected, institutions ruined, internal financial reserves spent. Speed was important for the beginning of democratic political reform, for the beginning of a long lasting process of creating democratic political culture. That is why he traveled by bus throughout Serbia and had many meetings so that he can personally hear what people think and at the same time deliver a message that people should wake up and take a part of responsibility for raising themselves and society from ashes, because neither Europe or the world wait for anybody, and speed of social-economic trends in a global world impose to the small countries need to adjust as soon as possible and find their place and their specific role in global division of work. Only in this way, they can protect their dignity, interests, culture and identity – only in this way they can survive.
We can’t be on our own - he used to say, very often repeating that we mean something in economy and in attracting possible foreign investments only as a region (Balkan peninsula) with 50 million inhabitants.
Zoran Djindjic was a modern, democratic, political leader who could see the problem in depth and size of challenge that Serbian state and society was facing. At the same time he had crystal clear vision of a path that should be taken, in spite of all existing obstacles and not wondering whether he will pay the price for that at the next elections. True, democratic leader like Zoran Djindjic was, the size and difficulty of a problem could not stop. Fairness, democratic values, publicity, pluralism, tolerance, human rights were his main guidelines. To keep a pace with time or even to go ahead of time.
He understood the world. He was in harmony with time as a philosopher and pragmatic person, and first of all as a leader. That is why he was so decisive, committed and persistent in resolving the issues. For him, it was essential to go toward the problem (eat famous frog) and not to wait for a problem to come to you when there was no recourses to resolve it.
He was aware how big burden is pre-civilian and communist heritage: patriarchate, authoritarianism, paternalism, clientelism, provincial spirit, lack of a free individual as a foundation of a society. He knew that at least some elementary rule of law has to be established as soon as possible and create societies, and state itself to get the firm foundation. He did not underestimate resistance of old regime, he was facing that at each step he made and tried to dismantle that regime along with other things. At the end, ten years ago, a swing of tail of a fading dinosaurs/old regime killed him.
He was in his full strength, full of enthusiasm and ready to resolve the piled problems. He arrested Slobodan Milosevic because he wanted to show that Serbia can respond to its international obligations and that judiciary, in this case UN’s, has to be respected. At the beginning of 2003 he started resolving Kosovo issue not waiting the international community to do it, because he knew that it was Serbia’s responsibility if it is serious about its own future. He used to say that this issue should be resolved in a triangle – Belgrade, Pristina and the international community – and we are there today where Zoran Djindjic wanted to be ten years ago. We took snail steps after his assassination. Our responsibility toward ICTY was completed in 2011. We were in hurry but the process of transition i.e. democratization and modernization of the state, economy and society, went slowly.
Thanks to Zoran Djindjic, Serbia has started to change suddenly, he spread strong and contagious spirit by his own presence and recognizable energy. He did not have enough time to show us what else he was able to do. Today, ten years after, nothing is the same as it was but it is far from what we have imagined and how we see a modern, democratic and European Serbia. There is nothing simple and fast in the process of democratic changes, and it is particularly difficult in an overall economic crisis, fall of standard of living and uncertainty in everyday life.
The only way to stay loyal to the courage, decisiveness and persistence of Zoran Djindjic’s democratic spirit is that each of us, every day, with small doings contributes to the changes and strengthening of fairness, freedom and democracy and that we publicly and through state and civil existing institutions, make the elected authorities responsible for their work.