WHEN a man enters his deep years (and I am in his nineties), when he leaves behind more than half a century of work in science, the results of which are many volumes of books and hundreds of bibliographic units, and then he receives the highest award of AP Vojvodina “Mihajlo Pupin”. without false modesty he must be satisfied. Not because this recognition supports old age vanity, but because it is a formal and real confirmation that decades of effort and scientific performance have not been in vain.
With these words, honest and without “femking”, as they would say in his hometown of Đali in Banat, academician Vasilije Krestic reveals for “Novosti” that he is very honored to be in Novi Sad on Thursday, the day of the 103rd anniversary of the annexation of Backa. Banat, Baranja and Srem to the Kingdom of Serbia, to receive an award named after its great predecessor, also from Banat, Pupin. Academician Krestic owed his homeland, compatriots and the entire Serbian family capital works “Serbs in Hungary (1790-1918)”, “History of the Serbian press in Hungary 1791-1914”, “From the past of Srem, Backa and Banat” …
* How do you perceive the claims that Vojvodina has continuity from Austria, ie Austro-Hungary, despite the historical fact that as a whole it never existed in that period?
– Lately, there have been several different types of forgers of our history. I don’t think it’s accidental and harmless. The evil is that these counterfeiters are given a lot of attention in our media, which they often have support in some authorities. Those who today refer to past times, from the time of Austria and Austria-Hungary, and are looking for historical bases for the widest possible autonomy, even for separation from Serbia, cannot find healthy and reliable evidence for their aspirations. Therefore, they falsify history, so some of them claim that the Duchy of Serbia and the Tamis Banat, which was created in 1849, were the crown. If the Duchy, as these forgers claim, became crowns in 1849, then today it could be a completely independent state-legal entity.
* Isn’t the root of that idea the desire to devalue the historical performance of the Austro-Hungarian Serbs, who, as you often point out, have always been the pride and pride of the whole of Serbia?
– The idea of creating a separate autonomous Serbian territory on the territory of Austria and Hungary arose soon after the Great Migration of Serbs in 1690. The meaning and goal of that idea, in all later times, was to preserve the national and religious-Orthodox individuality of the Serbs, to defend it from Germanization and Hungarianization and from violent unification. There is no dispute that the idea of creating Vojvodina was Serbian. The intention to enable the national orientation “Vojvodjanin” in the upcoming census is essentially anti-Serbian. It is the opposite of the entire history of Serbs in Austria and Austria-Hungary who sought to create their own separate autonomous territory.
* Why is the famous SANU Memorandum, in the creation of which you participated, relevant even after 35 years in daily politics?
– Today, the memorandum is mostly mentioned by those who, for reasons known to them, condemn it and find only evil intentions in it. As a rule, these are those who are not in favor of Serbia and Serbs, who always find in them reasons to suspect, attack and criticize them. For them, the Memorandum is a specter by which they intimidate all potential enemies of Serbs. All the plans and programs of Serbia, with which it wants to improve its society and its country, are marked by the haters of Serbia as a new Memorandum.
* If you had the opportunity to participate in the drafting of that document again, would you change anything in it?
– The memorandum was written in 1986 in accordance with the then time and the then national, state, economic and cultural problems in which Serbia found itself. It has been overcome by time and events, because it was not even written as a long-term national and state program, as some are trying to present it maliciously. In that and such a program from 1986, I would not change anything important. In everything I agree with what is written in it. How inappropriate the criticism of these documents was, and constructed with bad intentions, can be seen by the fact that not a single conviction of the Hague Tribunal was pronounced on the basis of the Memorandum. If the critics of the Memorandum had more morals and honesty, they would have to take care of that when they express unfavorable assessments about that document.
* How would you describe the current moment in SANU?
– Lately, the Academy has been losing more and more of its scientific physiognomy due to which the Society of Serbian Literature (1841), the Serbian Academic Society (1864) and the Serbian Academy (1886) were founded. The goal of all those predecessors of today’s Academy was to study the Serbian language, Serbian history and culture in the broadest sense of the word. The situation in SANU has been reversed for a long time. In every respect, and especially in terms of number, the representatives of exact sciences are more represented in SANU than the representatives of national and social sciences. With full respect for the exact sciences, which are universal and are practiced by everyone around the world, not everyone is involved in national sciences, but mostly in Serbia. Neglecting the national sciences will be difficult for us to retaliate at some point.
* You opposed the change of the Statute of SANU and the renaming of the Department of Music and Fine Arts into the Department of Art, but recently the title of academician was given to the first directors. What did SANU gain and what did it lose?
– When I stood up at the SANU Assembly against the changes to the Statute which asked for the name of the Department of Music and Fine Arts to be renamed the Department of Art, I had nothing against artists. I was afraid and I am afraid that with this change, our Academy will become even more than it is now a nonsense in which the national sciences will be neglected even more than is the case now. I advocated that the Academy preserve its traditional physiognomy and that artists get their own special academy.
* What prevents SANU from reviving the Committee for the Study of Genocide Committed in the Independent State of Croatia, which was founded by the now deceased academician Vladimir Dedijer, and which was mysteriously shut down after only one scientific gathering?
– I do not see that today there are any obstacles for the establishment of the Committee for the Study of Genocide Committed in the Independent State of Croatia at the Serbian Academy of Sciences. However, the question arises as to whether it is necessary to establish such a board in the Academy when there are institutes that deal specifically with recent history.
* While we, to put it mildly, look back irresponsibly on our victims, it seems that the whole world has conspired to make Serbs, on the basis of the crimes in Srebrenica, bigger criminals than Hitler’s Nazis?
– I would say that we treat our innocent victims shamefully and treacherously. When I say that, I mean, first of all, the increasingly frequent attempts to unjustifiably reduce the number of Serb victims, not only in Jasenovac and the Independent State of Croatia, but, more recently, the victims of the Balkan wars and the First World War. If you ask me if there is a cure for our national disagreement, I will say – there is, but it should be well thought out and consistently applied.
* As a connoisseur of the turbulent Serbo-Croatian history, do you believe that our mutual relations could one day reach the point of correct cooperation at which Serbia and Hungary are today?
– I would like to make a mistake, but I don’t think that will happen in the near future.
WORLD POWERS AND KOSMET
* Is Serbia currently waging a strong enough diplomatic battle for Kosovo and Metohija?
– In international relations concerning our geopolitical space, it is not easy to wage a strong diplomatic battle for Kosovo and Metohija. However, as much as possible, I think that our country is finding ways to oppose the world’s powerful. I hope that she will persevere in that fight, which is not easy, it has been going on for a long time and it will not end quickly.
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