SUN, 16 JUL 1995 22:50:07 GMT
From the Diary of Dr Mirjana Markovic, Serb President's Wife
It is absolutely of no importance whether the scandalous confession of Mirjana Markovic in the Duga magazine about her, him and "her" is a story about her own marriage. It is impossible to deny it, and it made people happy - that the President has a girlfriend. In this part of the world it is considered prestigious.
AIM, July 12, 1995
It might have happened to Tito and Jovanka. But, we knew nothing about it. The "love story" between Sloba and Mira, alias Coba and Beca as they were called in high school, raised to the level of mystification, and described voluptuously by journals at the time of their rising to power, is completely shaken up. Apart from the wife, the President has a girlfriend, The Times and the Financial Times carried, but so did the BBC, after Duga published the latest regular confession of Dr Mirjana Markovic about her, him and "her". Just as the citizens of Serbia gave a sigh of relief - finally something human showed underneath the well-groomed robot-like image of the President - some connoisseurs of circumstances in Belgrade manifested evident restraint. Namely, for them, the probability that Sloba would make an "outing" was equal to the possibility of elephants flying in the skies above Belgrade. Scarce sceptics started betting who could "he" be (if not Sloba, maybe Lilic?), but for the majority of readers nothing could be amended any more, and having a girlfriend in this climate is considered prestigious.
While lime-trees bloom in Pozarevac
This is not, however, just a light story for summer newspaper scheme. It should be kept in mind that the scandalous confession is not at all anything like the wedding and other fiddle-faddle about the problematic Italian Di Stefano or Arkan and his singer wife Ceca, that engrossed the soul of the anaestheticized population of Serbia in the past few months.
This is a question of war or peace in Serbia, a leader of a minor opposition party exclaimed without controlling himself. Even if he may not be right, one must consider a few facts which could raise this story about the eternal triangle to the level of a state-political affair. First, a long time ago, her already removed colleague, communist and general, Stevan Mirkovic, called this woman "Suslov in skirt" who pulls all the President's strings. And when mentioning Pozarevac, journalists usually remarked ironically that it was the town where Mirjana Markovic with husband was born. Second, in the past few months, her people, meaning the Yugoslav Associated Leftists (JUL), have taken possession of significant financial and information posts, and it is believed that the League of Communists - Movement for Yugoslavia (SKPJ) have "cleansed" the staff in the Army too. Finally, this woman has so far infallibly announced falls of various people whom her husband had in this or that way no more use for. Now she announces in Duga that when "his" mandate expires, he will lose everything he had acquired together with her. The threat is evident and the journalist of the Financial Times draws the conclusion from it that the wife has impressed the "deadly kiss" on Milosevic's forehead.
Until now all we could find in the newspapers about this political couple were idyllic kitschy pictures of their joint youth or joint party activities in mature years, and just quite rarely, like in the book written by Slava Djukic, about cunning, secret, personnel combinations behind the doors of their former modest apartment, by the aid of which they traced the road to their joint promotion.
That is how journalist Gordana Brajovic, wife of the editor of Vecernje novosti (the most regime of all the regime journals in Serbia) Rade Brajovic, conjured up for us pictures of "two young people" who hold each other's hand "while lime trees bloom in Pozarevac". Later on, Dr Mirjana Markovic herself in her diary notes described this with high-school enthusiasm: "They stood in the wind, freezing, so touchingly young and so enchantingly open to each other. She - engrossed with the events in an almost metaphysical way which remained a part of her nature forever".
And here is how she begins her confession now: "The two of them, she and he, had similar biographies until recently. They are of a similar age, they have graduated at similar faculties, they have spent their childhood and youth in a similar way. Since they got married after graduation, they had common friends and common inclinations... Modest, serious, hard-working and cheerful people. They would have probably remained this way if he had not suddenly somehow become a very important person. The change of his place in social hierarchy disturbed the modest and cheerful harmony of their little family".
Afterwards, Mirjana Markovic says, he surrounded himself with people from television, loyal associates, reduced his life to work, and "slowly became quite a different man". Then, "she was a modest person and did not think much about material wealth... I do not know when she started to be aware that that she had nothing to be joyful about."
Then the leader of the JUL reveals to us that "he was not modest any more. He takes great care what brand of cars he is driven in and what cut of suits he wears. He is not as serious as he used to be. He is more frequently in 'merry' company and without her... Along with the new job, the new car, the new suits... a new woman went. He used to be a non-conformist, but now he sees non-conformism as a threat to his status and that is why he is not getting a divorce."
A challenge, or a political manoeuvre
About "her", the rival, we learn only that she is capable of just being the second, that she has a shorter length of service and a shorter skirt. She has no university diploma, nor a husband, but she has a wish to marry a truly important person. To abuse at work the fact that everybody knows about her affair with him and threaten her colleagues with "him". And yet, Mirjana Markovic says with bitterness, she will never achieve what she wishes the most, to appear with him in high society.
Drawing conclusions what each of them has gained and lost, the most interesting part is about "him": "He has lost his former personality and disturbed everything in the life of his family. He has, of course, made his wife and his children unhappy. He has lost his friends. Once he is out of his very important office, he will not be able to recover any of the things he has lost. That is what I am convinced about. And once this very important office ends, he will also lose everything he has acquired with it."
The diary confession reveals also the frustrated ambition which is not at all just spousal: "Once she and her husband used to dine together with their friends. They were all equal at the table, equally interesting and important to each other. They all participated in the conversation, everybody had what to say. Nowadays, at dinner with important colleagues of her important husband, she is silent and eats... And eats... What else could she do? She herself has contributed a lot to the position in which all she can do is be silent and eat."
Mirjana Markovic is approached with caution, even when she writes such irrational messages to the public, from the angle of a distressed woman. This is evident from the complete silence in Serb media. So far, only Nasa Borba carried a part of the diary notes from Duga, with no comments. At the same time Vecernje novosti carries on the front page the interview Slobodan Milosevic gave to the American Time magazine insisting on his key role in the peace-making process.
Vladan Vasilijevic, a Professor at the Law School and an opponent to the regime claims that this story is also aimed at creating an illusion that policies of the espouses (of the SPS and JUL) are not the same.
- The aim is to deceive the public that there are disagreements there. It will become obvious in September already, when the election campaign for the Federal Assembly begins. They will try to create a powerful coalition then which should create the illusion of a multiparty parliament. In fact, it is a single party with the same objective - to remain in power. The obvious intention is to have a maximum homogeneity in the coalition which will replace the former failures of the SPS with the Radicals, or the attempt with Djindjic's Democrats. The coalition with New Democracy does not offer high possibilities for political manipulation, due to the minor significance of New Democracy. This married couple will not jeopardize their position. This is best illustrated by the relations in the Company Politika. The Director of the Company, Zivorad Minovic, who is a figure from among Sloba's personnel and the Director of the daily Politika, Dragan Hadzi Antic, who is Mira's men, cannot stand each other, but survive because of the consensus which exists between the spouses - Vladan Vasilijevic says.
The diary notes and their messages can be observed from the unusual aspect of the theory of the system, Vuk Stambolovic, a member of the Belgrade Circle, assured us.
- In her Diary, Mrs Markovic writes about two very close people who are constructing a unique psycho-social system which, as the theory of the system goes, has just passed on to a different mode of operation. Namely, the system we can read about in the Diary, is not in a crisis any more, it is not in the intermediate stage when a possibility of choice between two modes of operation still exists, the one which is somewhat similar to the former and the future one. The so-called bifurcation point, the transition point, has been bridged already, essentially new conditions have emerged. The question what will become of the expressedly politically exposed one of its member has now become top priority - Stambolovic says. - Becoming politically exposed could not have just happened, "somehow suddenly", as Mrs Markovis writes. It was influenced by the environment into which the system is submerged, but acting and reacting of his own were key things in it. Now it is clear only that a tendency will exist to preserve the political exposition of the predominant member. The question is, however, in what way and what modalities will prevail. It is also a question whether the less exposed member will tend to become exposed,too. If that should happen, to what extent the the former accomplices will become opponents and to what extent the more prominent member will be threatened?
According to Stambolovic's opinion, political prominence is always exposed to powerful winds, so there is the additional question how the exposed member will survive in them. Whether he will be able to endure the political loneliness which "the other she" will in no way be able to replace. Especially since the Diary shows that he is the weaker part of the described system. "We shall see", Stambolovic says in the end. "If it is a political game, then it is just an expression of arrogance. Because in diary notes which have become a seismograph of political reality, it is impermissible, even in the horror we are living in."
Therefore, as it usually happens after publication of diary notes, it remains to be seen who this confession is addressed to. And who has in fact received the "deadly kiss". Because, Dr Mirjana Markovic warns in the end that only men who are "motivated by high and honourable ideals, are honourable in their personal life. And vice versa. Only the one who is honourable in his personal life, can be honourable in his social role". And social roles are, as commonly known, of vital significance in Serbia.