I arrived in Serbia yesterday after a 7-hour flight to Munich, a 3 & 1/2 hour layover and then another 1 1/2 to Belgrade...all after having got up at 6 that day and not sleeping at all during the trip. So all told I think I was awake some 28 or 29 hours yesterday. Still feeling a little loopy.
I'd have liked to get to sleep fairly soon after arriving but was prevented by the exceedingly loud political rally going on practically under my window. Serbia had their first round of presidential elections on January 20th and the 2nd, and deciding round, will be this Sunday. The rally last night was for the incumbent Boris Tadic of the Democratic Party (DS). Thankfully, because there's a ban on all campaigning for the two days prior to the election and election day itself, they had to stop at midnight and I was finally able to sleep.
After the first round the favorite to win is the Serbian Radical Party's (SRS) Tomislav Nikolic. The feeling from my friends here is that if Nikolic does indeed win, how do they get out? Will life here return to what it was like in the 90's during and just after the war? Serbia still hasn't come as far as other former Yugoslav countries. One of the markers of success is whether or not the GDP has gone as high as it was in, I believe, 1989. Croatia's has, Bosnia's has...but Serbia is only at about 70% of where it needs to be. While I complain that I don't like any of the candidates for the American presidential campaign...at least for me the decision won't plunge the country into civil war or require me to convert all my less than considerable savings into portable wealth and flee the country (well, unless Hillary wins that is). Both candidates are giving lip service to a desire to join the EU but both are very opposed to independence for Kosovo and neither seem to be saying much about finally coming into full compliance with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague and turning over the remaining war criminals who are "in hiding" in Serbia. While I haven't studied the political environment here deeply enough to really have an opinion I do rather feel that the devil you know may be the better choice this time.
My friends are advising that I practice my Russian at least through Sunday, not go out much on Sunday, especially in the evening, and avoid talking about Kosovo. This should be an interesting weekend.