Academician and Professor Vladimir Kostic, president of SASA, publicly presented his views on the Kosovo issue which burdens the Serbian state and society for more than a century, and causes numerous consequences on the lives of citizens throughout the Balkans. Instead of opening a democratic debate on the issue of Kosovo and all the aspects of the various solutions that stand before us, a part of the institutions and the public tried to silence academician Kostic. Serbia’s President Tomislav Nikolic, using harsh words, even questioned his position as President of SASA. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that it is the “bad time for such statements.”

The issue of Kosovo and its future, including its formal legal status, the position of Serbian and other ethnic communities, the status of cultural and historical monuments, as well as many painful issues related to the recent and not-so-recent past of people who live or have lived in Kosovo, are important issues for the public in Serbia and the region, and require a serious and reasoned debate. These issues are a part of broader discussions which have lasted for more than a century and a half, regarding the essential issues of development of Serbia, and are succinctly summarized in the dilemma formulated by professor Olga Popovic-Obradovic: how big or what kind of state?

It is everyone’s right to express his or her stance on Kosovo, as well as on any other topic. This right cannot and must not be denied by reference to what individuals or government proclaims as national interests. No one has a monopoly on topics that are important to all citizens of Serbia. It is time that we open all issues, and that we discuss them through a public and democratic debate. Words such as “traitor”, “enemy” or “foreign mercenary” should move from public dialogue into the history books. These words are not appropriate for a democratic culture or the culture of dialogue which is trying to develop itself in Serbia.

We invite all institutions and government officials in Serbia to enable an open dialogue regarding issues that polarize the public, including the Kosovo status issue and the defining of Serbia’s borders. This includes abstaining from harsh words and imposing personal beliefs or ideas as the exclusive and the only correct ones. The academician Vladimir Kostic has with his public appearances already largely contributed to building a culture of dialogue and moving difficult topics from closed, monopolistic circles into public life, as it is only appropriate for a democratic social order. Any retaliation and pressure on him because of the spoken word would mean a drastic step backwards and would seriously harm the development of the state and society.

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