Now in Serbia, the next anniversary of the NATO bombing is being celebrated. Your attitude to those events is well known. But still, what was it for you, and what did it leave behind?
At first, perhaps, it should be said that Serbia is the first country in the world that has twice offered resistance to the West forces, which use an old historical recipe called "Drang nach Osten" ("Onslaught to the East". - Ed.). The first anti-fascist fighter in Europe was Dragoljub (Draja) Mihajlovic, who in May 1941, being the Yugoslav Royal Army brigadier colonel, created the first group of the liberation movement in the mountains, in Serbia. That movement was formed and grew very quickly – 8 divisions joined there. So, the first resistance to Hitler was then formed under the influence of Woodrow Wilson and his 14 points about the new peace.
With look directed to America, the first Serbian "Guerilla" was called not partisans, as it was called in Russia, but Chetniks. In the conflict between the Yugoslav Royal Army and the British, who managed our thoughts and actions, the whole that story about the people offering resistance was often associated with Russia. This is because Russia and Serbia have similar in value moments of history, which, although, do not coincide with each other in time. Our historical science already confirms that for us 1918 has been the same as 1945 for Russia. Our small country managed to win the war in 1918. We are grateful to Nicholas II, who, because of Serbia, entered the First World War, in which, as in the Second World War, Russia was the main target for the West.
Similarly, in 1991, American planes, along with the aircraft of 20 countries more under the NATO auspices, bombed Serbia. NATO should have already disappeared then, because the Warsaw Pact fell apart. I want to say Serbia in the 1990s was a guinea pig for what had been preparing for you. Now it is clear from the TV shows when the President of America calls your Vladimir Putin a "killer", it means they are no longer hiding their main goal. The hegemon always acts in the same way.
The non-synchronicity of the two stories in Russia often creates a distorted picture. Russia identifies the Serbs with Yugoslavia. And since the breakup of Yugoslavia in 1991, Serbia has been floundering desperately, because "titoism" has been built into its social organism, or rather, that consciousness which had been formed in 1948, when Tito said "no" to Stalin. Then, actually, all those who today set the tone in Serbian politics has come to power.
In Serbia, there were two anti-fascist movements, in which not only partisans participated. In reality, in 1918, Serbia lost its territory. Alexander Karageorgievich multiplied that territory in accordance with agreement between the great powers. Yugoslavia was created by the great powers, and before that there had existed an attempt to create Yugoslavia within the Habsburg Monarchy. (Here was talking about the fact the creation of the single Yugoslav state had not occurred as a result of other Yugoslav regions and states unification around Serbia, as they had dreamed of that in Serbia on the eve of the First World War, but as the formation of state of several equal peoples and territories. Therefore, from the many Serbian politicians point of view, Serbia, at will of the great powers, has lost its state independence and territorial sovereignty, having been "dissolved" among the Croats and Slovenes and agreed to the formation of state bodies united with them. – Ed.) So that, between the history perception of one small nation and one large nation, there is a shift that hinders the real understanding of Serbia from Russia side.
For a historical assessment, there is lack of the period between 1918 and 1945. I want to repeat 1918 was the same for us as 1945 was for the Russians. And, when we are called "little Russians in the Balkans", it would be good if science reminded that Serbia practically lost its territory in 1918. It got more space, but in 1990, it turned out that it had been doing more for others than for itself. And today Belgrade (I'm not saying this from anger, but simply stating the fact) is such a public mechanism with non-governmental organizations and with our state apparatus, which is mostly guided by the thought this is still Yugoslavia, and nohow takes up the mind and does not denote its territory. And this is the territory of the most populous state in the Balkans, the territory of the Christian people, who, by the way, thanks to the Russians, have managed to free themselves from the Turkish yoke and create first a principality, and then an entire state that have been fighting first in the Balkan wars, and then in the First World War, and eventually having won back all they have today. What Serbia has today is all ours. In any case, we thank Russia but it is needed to make certain efforts and shift from these common places and to understand that we, the Serbs, in my opinion, had two anti-fascist movements.
History is a complex matter, especially in regions with different national populations. The Balkans have always been like this. However, let's get back to the modernity. Now it’s clear the world is in a serious crisis. And, this is not only the pandemic, it is also relations crisis between countries. How do you suppose this could end?
In 1974, there was a meeting between Nixon and Mao Zedong. And since 1974, the Chinese have offered their cheap labor to the Americans for the first factories opened in China. And in the long process of world change, China has turned into a superpower. Meanwhile, America, which has two coasts – the Atlantic and the Pacific, and has New York and Los Angeles, has amassed wealth. There, the people have incredibly got rich, who, due to cheap labor, have become whom you call oligarchs in Russia. They created transnational companies. But America has lost what China has gained – the Chinese produce the most steel and other materials needed for construction.
I do not know how many metallurgical plants in the United States have been closed, today it is a country with a huge budget deficit, there are many hungry and unemployed people to live there. But the US is still the trends-setting country, but unfortunately not the trends that have led the way in the 1960s and 1970s. The United States also produces and sells the weapons more than anyone else.
The crisis in America is a world crisis. It is being carried over to the rest world, and the figures showing what is happening inside America indicate the country is not in the best condition. Strong states always export their problems to other countries, especially this applies to the imperial forces having begun the Latin America disintegration in 1947 using the idea of imposed democracy. But, every time any of the Latin American politicians was going to build the democracy by America example, they turned it into an autocracy.
There is one interesting fact. When the son of Ilija Garašanin, the author of the first Serbian national program, published his father's "Inscription" in 1906 (Ilija Garašanin – Foreign Affairs Minister of the Serbian Principality. In 1844, he developed the "Inscription" program, where he called for the overthrow of Turkish power in the Yugoslavian lands and for those lands unification under the monarchic Serbia authority. - Ed.), very few knew the "Inscription" had been initially written in England, and Mr. David Urquhart had printed that national program in some French magazine, and then in the Foreign Office magazine. And only then the Serbian people saw their program. Why am I saying this? Russia can be great, but Serbia will not be allowed that. Serbia has been created by the great powers that govern our history. Since 1804, when the First Serbian Uprising began and it became clear that something was going on there, and up to the Balkan Wars, they had been trying to convert us to another faith. That policy was being carried out mainly by Western forces, who created entire nomenclatures in Serbia, who then realized at a certain moment that our only real ally was Russia.
That became evident also in 1867, when Pirot and Nis cities were liberated, despite the efforts of England insisting the Ottoman Empire should not be touched. The British issued it large loans, because Ottoman Empire was convenient for them right because of Russia strengthening. At the same time England's attitude to the Islamic world, or rather, to the Middle East, was formed, where the trend of ignoring aid to small Christian countries was to turn into a global policy. The same thing is happening today. All the ruling elites that came to power after Milosevic got there at the head of the state by a certain consent of the West. There is a bilateral mistake in our relations – Russia is wrong because of looking at us in many ways through the prism of Yugoslavia that is from its side, is an imperial level of communication.
There is also our ill fate - this is 1948. Then Tito said "no" to Stalin. (The occasion of the open conflict between Yugoslavia and the USSR was the intention of the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito and the Bulgarian Communists leader Georgi Dimitrov to create the Southern Slavs federation in the Balkans. On February 10, 1948, Tito and Dimitrov were invited to Moscow, where they were pointed out regarding the inadmissibility of conducting a foreign policy that was not coordinated with the USSR. Stalin's conversation with Tito took place in an abusive tone for the latter. Dimitrov succumbed to the pressure, but Tito continued to defend his point of view. – Ed.) He told him that, because the British have been insisting since the First World War time our small and resilient people able to achieve great goals both at the individual level and at the whole society level, to become the core for all other small peoples, who in 1991 were formed into small states.
I think Kosovo is that controversial position, where Russia is our only real ally. Fortunately, our administration is still quite wise and, unlike the opposition, it manages to balance and not impose sanctions against Russia. But this is also debatable. We do not impose sanctions against Russia, but we have a trade exchange with Germany of 76%. Therefore, this story of cooperation with Russia is also frozen and does not develop in the direction in which it could, since we have the opportunity of exporting to Russia on preferential terms, under a very small duties percentage.
It is very difficult to realize this breakthrough, because since the First World War, the West has had its proxies here, even when we were creating our national programs that had to be approved first by the West. So it was, and only after that we managed to establish spiritual and other contacts, on the basis of which the trade ties have managed to grow.
To my mind, our relations with Russia are convulsive, they are "paroxysmal" ties. Thus, Nicholas II declares war on Germany because of the Serbs, and before that only the Russians have sent us volunteers for liberation from the Turks. The time we live in can be described as a "brothers-relationship". However, a small splinter that can get into the Balkans' foot very often manages to cause infection, which becomes the arena for a much more serious competition than it seems at the first sight.
Now, under the pandemic guise, a great "Reboot" is taking place, as Klaus Schwab, director of the World Economic Forum in Davos, would say. Western forces are trying almost in unison through their media and megaphones to deploy a large-scale campaign and conduct actually depopulation the people. Based on distorted Marxism, they create a new left orientation implementing everything that can be called the destruction of states and small peoples. The statistics data indicate this. Serbia annually loses 35 thousand people in the ratio between birth rate and mortality, 140 thousand abortions are performed a year, and now here is the law on same-sex marriage being discussed. If you combine these three elements, it turns out that even if homosexuals and lesbians could adopt children, the question would arise: what kind of children would they adopt? Apparently, those who are going to come in large number from the East, from the "hot spots", those whom the most powerful West countries are opening up to in order to, in all probability, destroy Western Europe, and it agrees to this in every possible way.
In one interview, you called yourself a person from the last century. What do you put into this?
That's true. The new century imposes a new communication type. Cinema has been a sublime art for 100 years, and the at CIA they have even been telling it could turn into a religion. It seems to me the Hollywood has achieved a certain religiousness in its propaganda. But, nevertheless, George Clooney has still finished as the hero of the espresso coffee advertisement. It's not typical for saints to advertise anything. Therefore, I believe the digitization which has covered the whole world, has changed the cinema nature. The cinema is no longer the same, it no longer shows life episodes, but shows an impression. Serious films will be made, there are good authors. However, they will not reach that high point of propaganda called "Netflix."
"Netflix" is the highest propaganda point talking about Hollywood as a space of white racism, etc. So when I talk about myself as a person of the last century, it means my themes are from the last century. We have no new person, there is only a new idea that a person without God, a consumer, is the only "real" person who can be managed. He can be managed in the same way as a flock of sheep or cows. He is being squeezed in the transnational companies grip. These companies are destroying our education system. Serbia is entering the critical phase of its educational system, by which children in schools are taught the Serbs are villains, vampires, they are taught everything that has not been important for us in history, that disintegrates the idea of our nation homogeneity. There are people who resist this, but the question is if they are able to win this battle? This question is more likely to be answered for us as a result of the highest level conflict, and not on the basis of what is happening in our country.
Emir, I know you have often said in various interviews that you regret Yugoslavia collapse, because that country is no more. Is it nostalgia for Yugoslavia or nostalgia for your youth?
Let's first get straight with it. I am not nostalgic for my past at all, I am not sentimental, and I see the city I have been born in as some distant point. It's like it's hidden in the refrigerator. I have nothing to regret. So I can only be nostalgic for people, for some natures from my life, but in no way for Yugoslavia. The easiness that it fell apart with indicated the Serbs had not wanted it; it had been imposed on them as an idea that had come out of the Habsburg Empire heart.
In 1848, there existed a plan that Austria-Hungary should leave Germany and Italy. And then it was decided that Austria and Germany would be expanding to the East. Then, they inhaled life into the Yugoslavian idea, that was insisted by the Vatican and the Habsburg monarchy on, that was supposed to leave those two countries and go to the East. Of course, all the projects in practice are to be corrected.
So the Yugoslavia I am talking about can only be associated with certain types, characters and some events, but in no way with the state system. The Serbs also remember this Yugoslavia for its firm order, and people love order, regardless of whether it is dictatorial or democratic. Democracy is a concept that has obviously survived the erosion, it has been "eaten" by the market. When we talk about Yugoslavia, we cannot remember Yugoslavia as a democratic entity, although we would like to, but in any case we can describe it as a dictatorship which has been possible to live in. The collapse of Yugoslavia requires a very serious and responsible analysis. My analysis and my reading of the books suggest we have been a project the West has created in 1918 with the consent of Russia which has not been then what it is today. And the second Yugoslavia has been created in a similar way: in the underground, in the Masonic lodges, in the agreement between the great powers that has realized this idea.
How the continuation of Yugoslavia collapse is happening in Serbia is clear from the fact we do not have a law on the protection of our Cyrillic Script. If you asked what was more important for Serbia – same-sex marriage or the Cyrillic Script protection, of course, the Cyrillic Script would be the answer. However, no one will dare to do this, which means that the main roads, including the army, the police and all the rest are given to us from the outside, they are not originally Serbian. All this is going on undercover.
In a wonderful way, thanks to the Russians, the temple of St. Savva was restored and a monument to Stefan Nemanja was erected. When you look how so-called Yugoslavs have reacted at this, you see that they have been against it. Nevertheless, Serbia is as if on a swing, very contentious one, and, unfortunately, it has always made more concessions to foreigners than even they have demanded.
There is data that on the eve of 1830, when the Serbs received their state, Miloš Obrenović (Prince of Serbia in 1817-1839 and 1858-1860, the founder of the Obrenović dynasty) educated boys in his barracks in order to send them then to the Sultan and his nobles for sexual pleasures. There are documents confirming these facts. If it has been then, I assume that also today we are taking a number of actions that can be called concessions to the Western hegemon, which, fortunately or unfortunately (since I cannot determine definitively my relation to the West), is in degradation phase, and this is more than obvious.
The West is in a phase of degradation because it has not been able biologically and mentally to preserve what has been its tradition. And why is it happening? Because the Western Christianity is seriously collapsing there. In Holland, churches are most often turned into cafes or warehouses. When I played with my musical band in Italy, especially in Calabria, we left our instruments in the churches, they were empty. So Western European culture is collapsing and turning into what I have started to talk about – it relies on some new person who has no own characteristics, who has lost his identity and who, unfortunately, has not his own culturological ground.
In the 1990s, Samuel Huntington wrote a work - a projection into the future, which is already now being confirmed. He spoke that the four cultures would exist. That America would be able to save itself if it had the intelligence to preserve within its own continent all that it can preserve. That the Orthodox culture would exist – here I see our chance. That the Muslims would exist and, of course, that there would be the Buddhists, i.e. Asians.
If we look at the today world picture, we will be able to answer the question of whether Huntington's assumptions come true. It seems to me these assumptions are very likely from the forces balance, not only in weapons, but also in terms of the fact that all the Eastern peoples have borrowed quite a lot from the West, but they are not Americanized. And this is the mistake of globalism. It will be impossible to completely impose globalism by the English language or culture and make them eliminate local cultures that have emerged from the single Christian root.
Many of us speak English, but we don't stop speaking Serbian because of that. In Turkey, many people speak English, but there are more people who speak Turkish. The same is in Latvia. Therefore, the experiment, which seems to be Americanization on the surface, is over, even in China. Very often, when I was in Beijing or Shanghai, I had a feeling in some districts that I was in Houston. That globalist pattern was applied in all countries, but at the same time people were not Americanized. So, if you have a fridge it doesn't mean you're Americanized. The future, fortunately for Russia, fortunately for India, and fortunately for us, is based on the deep culture sources, which in turn lead to religion and religious patterns, and they can bring results in the future.
How, in your opinion, can Russia conduct a dialogue with the West in the current conditions?
I look at liberal dialogues as the goodwill of Russia. In 1910, one English historian wrote that if we gave Russia 10 years more, it would definitely become one of the most developed countries in Europe. According to Huntington, Russia should become one of the six strongest economies in the world by 2025. I support this dialogue, which President Putin insists on, because you and we need more time to establish ourselves in the superiority or, as I would call it, at the economic height which Russia can negotiate from with them (with the West).
I consider one of the most controversial issues that could lead to a world war is the Nord Stream-2, if Russia does not manage to export its raw materials to the extent dictated by the free capital flow or liberal capitalism, which is itself under the question. Liberal capitalism has never really existed. In 1914, when the Rockefeller family, and the Rothschild before them, became rich from the weapons sale, they accumulated enormous wealth and, with the federal reserves help, created funds stuffed with money obtained in all the world's imperial campaigns, including robberies. So, the American economy has always functioned based on large funds, and not just on free trade, as we imagine. It's visible now how free trade with China is faltering, because it has turned out that it is better to have a billion and a half people and cheap labor than five or ten rich families who are getting richer, but at the same time Americans are losing their middle class.
A liberal dialogue between Russia and the United States is only good as a "purchase" of time, as in that 1910. Unfortunately, in 1914, when they realized that Russia had strengthened too much, the British pushed the Germans to start the First World War – that was one of the reasons. Therefore, it is good this dialogue is being conducted in order to win the time for realization Russia's goal to become one of the five or six most powerful economies in the world.
Let's come back to the culture. I've heard you are going to make a film adaptation of Dostoevsky. Have you thought about the film adaptation of Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita?
"The Master and Margarita" is a very complex novel, because it is full of metaphors. There are too many metaphors, and a film is constructed from quite specific episodes. The movie camera records a certain reality and then turns it into a metaphor. And, "The Master and Margarita" is one of the five greatest novels of all the times, and therefore it is difficult to translate it into the language of cinema. "Crime and Punishment" in my case is called "Crime without Punishment", and the film is based on the criminal story that exists also in Dostoevsky, but touches on the idea of modern Serbian life, and that is a retreat from the great work of Dostoevsky. Therefore, the film should show my perception of this novel, but also show what such a plot can create today from the life of a refugee from Croatia, from the Serbian Krajina, who becomes a Serbian Raskolnikov in France.
If you had the opportunity to start the life anew, would you change anything?
Nothing. Maybe I would have corrected the phase, which I had spent my time in not very recommended places in, before I started making movies. However, this is a life that has its own development and realized sense. A person living without sense practically does not live. I "interfere in reality" and make politics, but not as a professional, and only in order, as far as possible, to achieve the highest sense.
The opinion of E. Kusturica may not coincide with the position of the editorial.
The editorial board expresses its gratitude to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Serbia and personally to Margarita Komissarova - Deputy Chairman of the Russian Diplomats Association, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary V. E. Egoshkin, as well as to Igor Gojkovic for their assistance in organizing the interview.