Skip navigation.


Banka hrane

Srbija 2020

The Serbian Diaspora - A new beginning?

A topic that often crops up during idle conversations in cafes in Toronto, bars in Adelaide or in the odd Chicago or London office concerns - a return to the old country.

Many members of the Diaspora fondly state a desire to return to the country of their birth, if only to visit.

Some people clearly have no desire to return to Serbia, associating their past experience with it in the context of the 1990's. Like some Westerners they associate Serbia with war, nationalism and (dare I say it) primitivism. Indeed some Serbs who have left the country have shed their ethnic identity altogether. They do not seek the nearest Orthodox Church or Hellenic club - even if they quite like having friends with Mediterranean origins.

Unfortunately (for Serbia) many of these people are highly educated and possess skills that a country like Serbia desperately needs. Others practice a form of patriotism that involves condemning anybody that condemns Serbia or Serbdom but have few ideas on more practical forms of help.

For those that remain interested in Serbia the million dollar question is how to re-engage with the people who have almost 'fallen off the radar' completely. How does one track these people down and more importantly what kind of incentives can be offered to make them consider returning to Serbia - even only temporarily?

The appointment of Milica Cubrilo as Diaspora Minister (for now at least) is a breath of fresh air. Having lived in France she knows the concerns of this generation better than any of her predecessors.

Cubrilo has already issued a statement outlining that she wants to develop relations with the 400,000 or so ‘qualified experts’ around the world. More recently the Ministry announced a plan to employ educated Serbians who have migrated to Holland – a small but positive step.Of course the Diaspora Ministry comes way down the list when the parties argue who gets what, but for once it seems we have got lucky with the right type of minister for this department.

The Ministry of the Diaspora will no longer spend as much time arguing issues that don’t interest the younger generation – for example dry debates concerning the use of whether the Diaspora website should be in Cyrillic or Latin, or the veneration of Draza Mihajlovic. This was very much the tendency whilst DSS / SPO ran the department. They never seemed to quite realise that their image of the Diaspora - a middle aged man who attends church, reads Politika and returns to Sumadija during the holidays, is increasingly becoming the exception rather than the rule.

More importantly Cubrilo has a vital ally in Bozidar Djelic who will support her initiatives if she seeks an increase in her budget for one off projects - I can imagine that one might argue that funds be released from the National Investment Plan to provide incentives to Serb born businessmen or similar projects.

There are incremental advances that will be made – for example the Ministry will attempt to resolve concerns Serbian men have with military service. It looks as if civil alternatives will be offered to those who left the country not wanting to participate in war and who might like to return, but fear being detained at Belgrade airport with worse to follow.

One of the primary tasks of the Diaspora Ministry is to complete the Holy Grail task of producing a list of Serbian citizens living abroad. There is no official figure - only estimates which naturally, run into the millions. Previous attempts at an official figure have failed. Perhaps a more creative or different approach may help. Many of these skilled Serbs are connected to the internet. A new modern looking, cultural website could be created and experts could be engaged so that the chances of catching 'wayward' Serbs cruising the internet are increased. One should also look at how other countries have engaged with their Diaspora and apply the best method to the Serbian case.

One might also want to try to engage with the sons and daughters of the Diaspora and refer to experts in the field, such as Professor Vladimir Grecic, who will have a good idea of the profile of each ‘wave’ of Diaspora. But there are other methods available as well. Some members of the Diaspora paid into a fund in the 1990’s which was supposed to assist the country. (Milorad Vucelic tasked to manage these funds, of SPS, has never fully explained where the money went) Why not offer improved opportunities for Serb born investors both on a patriotic level and that of making a profit? The profit margins for investing in the right companies in Serbia will be high. Why not offer tax free returns to say those who have a lump sum to invest in a domestic investment fund? For sure there are barriers – such as the small detail that all Serbian citizens currently have to pay capital gains tax of 20 percent and that there are only 2 investment funds that offer this service and one of them is a Croatian firm. But there are may opportunities and initiatives which, if applied properly, will work.

The timeframe is of key importance now. Some members of the brain drain have spent 15 years outside Serbia already and have families and set roots in the societies they have moved to.

Clearly one cannot force people to return if they have no desire to do so. However, the fact is that any person who spends time with all types of Diaspora Serbs know that many get misty eyed when talking about the homeland. Let us see how much of that is due to pure nostalgia for the past, or if it is connected to a desire to see Serbia as a developed state. There is no harm in tracking these people down and offering them opportunities to return / invest in Serbia.

If only 2 percent of people respond positively to actively re-engage it would be a huge success.

milica_cubrilo.jpg42.25 KB

I'll be the first

to engage in such an activity. Idea of connecting over Internet is simple & powerful.

what happened to all those comments?

what happened to all those comments?


Curiosity Killed The Cat :))

Oh my god!

This is a SABOTAGE!!! Everybody RUN!!!!

Which comments? Have I

Which comments? Have I missed something :)

bganon, ako pogledate datume

bganon, ako pogledate datume videcete da nedostaju komentari poslati 30. i 31. maja. D. Restak je danas objasnio zasto se to desilo, ne samo na vasem blogu. I moj komentar je nestao - ali ne mogu sada ponovo da napisem, nemam inspiraciju :)

Aha pa hvala za informaciju.

Aha pa hvala za informaciju. Znam sta mislis kad kazes da nemas inspiraciju ali ipak bih zeleo da citam sta mislis.

Ovo je doduse vazna tema mada jasno je da ima vece interesovanje kad pisem besmislice o velikom bratu. :(

Not all even need to return.

Not all even need to return. I am sure even some of those who have families and roots in their chosen countries may be interested in investing in Serbia, or working in such a position which would allow them to divide their time between their old and new homelands.

I believe such creative arrangements should be pursued as well. Members of the diaspora are complex global citizens, who aren't necessarily confined to one place.

However I fear all of this is largely academic until the State takes some credible steps to convince members of the diaspora it is a SAFE place - for investors as well as individuals.

To many in the diaspora, Serbia is not nearly politically stable enough that we would allow the fates of our children to be tied to that of the State. Nor our investments. So long as 50%+ vote for the "patriotic block" instead of their own economic self-interest, that State cannot be trusted by this population.

Quid Pro Quo

In a couple of months, I will have spent half of my life outside Serbia. I left after High School, so my complete working life, family life, and a huge majority of social life have developed outside Serbia. None the less, I visit the country 4-6 times a year. In 7 years since Milošević's departure, I have not seen or heard of a single actual positive development that would aid me in returning to Serbia or encourage me to invest in Serbia. A few of my requirements (others are likely to have their own):

- Complete removal of military service, not a subsitution for civil service or option to pay.

- Mortgages for non-residents. Currently, only Banca Intesa has a laughable offer of 9.38%pa.

- Tax breaks for employers.

- Streamlining of issuing of documents - IDs, passports, drivers licences.

Obviously, all other requirements that residents of Serbia have, are the same for us non-residents: transparency of government, enforcement of law, tender processes that are run according to the rules, disappearance of corruption etc. etc. etc.

Serbia ROCKS

"The timeframe is of key importance now. Some members of the brain drain have spent 15 years outside Serbia already and have families and set roots in the societies they have moved to."
My family left in 1878 to come to San Francisco and more or less completely assimilated into American culture.
However, I have gotten back in touch with my roots and even spent a year living in Serbia and Bosnia where I met my beautiful and lovely wife. My son holds a Bosnian passport, and my dream for retirement is to live on the Montenegrin coast. Personally, I had a wonderful time tracking down long lost family members, discovering my roots and visiting our old estates (taken by the communists of course). I travel to the Balkans at least once a year.
I would also like to see it become easier for foreigners of Serbian descent to be able to obtain loans to invest in small business or real estate.
I also wish it had been easier to obtain information on Serbia when I first went there, it was very confusing to me. However Milosevic was still running around and I had to send my passport to Canada to get a Visa. Ironically enough, on my first trip ever to Serbia Milosevic was arrested while I was in Downtown Belgrade.
Personally, I think Serbia is a wonderful place to visit. We have great food, wonderful coffee and beautiful women. Not to mention Serbs know how to party and have a good time.
So, despite the fact my family left a full 130 years ago, I still retain an attachment to our homeland. There are many others just like me here, but have never had the joy of visiting the Old World.
I do truly hope that Kosovo becomes a tourist destination, as I think this would be a great economic benefit to the region as a whole and might possibly serve to better relations between Serbs and Albanians there.

Thanks Matthew things are

Thanks Matthew things are easier now on a bureaucratic level although far from ideal. Looks like your roots go back pretty far.

Obviously more work needs to go into capturing hearts, minds (and wallets) of the diaspora but I think it can be done.

Perhaps some kind of short questionaire should be issued along with the census

Not that diaspora

I'm sorry but Matthew does not represent the "brain drain" Diaspora that you're talking about. While his comments are welcome, and his story quite interesting, he is not who this blog is about... at least he shouldn't be.

I had a post which got deleted in the "midnight comments massacre" where I talked about members of the new Diaspora being global citizens, etc, and the need to accommodate their interests. I am hoping the comments get undeleted, as I don't feel like typing all over again...

Of course Matthew isnt a

Of course Matthew isnt a member of the brain drain but I did mention the sons and daughters (or grandsons etc) as being a part of the story too.

As anybody who has spent any period of time in the west will know getting in touch with your roots is quite popular. I'm certain that you have hundreds of Serbs out there with a Serbian surname who will back Djokovic or JJ and even make the odd ill informed comment about Serbia - trying in a clumsy way to defend the country. At the same time these people have never had the opportunity to visit Serbia. These people should be given a chance to do something for Serbia and gain some benefit from it as well.

Sorry that your comments were sent to the dustbin of history.

Would be happy if you were just to summarise am really interested in what people think on this.

not all need return

Of course Matthew isnt a member of the brain drain but I did mention the sons and daughters (or grandsons etc) as being a part of the story too.

right, missed that part... sorry.

Well, my basic point was that not all even need return. many members of the new diaspora are global citizens and might prefer to divide their time, or work in such a capacity that would enable them to do so. Especially those with families and roots in their chosen countries.

My second point was along the lines of Serbia still not being a safe place for life or investment due to the lack of rule of law, 50%+ of the population voting for the "patriotic block", etc.

That's the summary as I can muster. I promise the original was much more eloquent :)

'right, missed that part...

'right, missed that part... sorry'

I probably rambled on for too long anyway :)

'My second point was along the lines of Serbia still not being a safe place for life or investment due to the lack of rule of law, 50%+ of the population voting for the "patriotic block", etc'

Well to a degree yes. But in practice those that choose to live in this part of the world can soon adapt. One international friend of mine for example drunk a couple of rakijas but was stopped by policemen. They actually let him go because he was a foreigner. Not that I'd advocate Serbia as a good place to live because you can bribe or cheat your way through the system - but it does work both ways.
For example you can buy here mobile phones or DVD's cheaper than in other parts of the world where the rule of law is enforced.

As for 50 percent of the population voting for the 'patriotic' block I'm glad you made that point because this is another reason why we need to reactivate people from the diaspora.

It makes complete sense that if one takes out hundreds of thousands of people who are generally educated to a high level and replace them with hundreds of thousands of people who are generally educated to a lower level that the popularity of the radical party will increase.

All the research shows that voters for SPS and SRS are more likely from uneducated parts of the population.

The bottom line is one cant complain about the state of Serbia unless one is willing to do something practical about it. Or more precisely one can complain but it is a sad state of affairs if one is just complaining because they get some kind of kick out of it rather than because one actually wants to see the situation in Serbia improve.

Quote:Well to a degree yes.

Well to a degree yes. But in practice those that choose to live in this part of the world can soon adapt. One international friend of mine for example drunk a couple of rakijas but was stopped by policemen. They actually let him go because he was a foreigner. Not that I'd advocate Serbia as a good place to live because you can bribe or cheat your way through the system

uhm, and this is somehow a good thing? What about that same driver being let go by the cops, running down a fleet of kids on their way to school? This is exactly what I mean by "unsafe" place. Of course, I hate being harassed by cops when I'm driving, but remember, they are supposed to be doing their job for a reason.

And you said it yourself - he was let go because he was foreign!. What do you think would have happened to the average Serbian citizen in his position? Although I am living abroad now, I was born and spent a good chunk of my life in Belgrade. Some of it during the worst part of the '90s, so I know very well about the life of an average Serbian family during those times, and the indignities we had to suffer. To think for an instant that I would allow even the slightest chance of my children, or my children's children, being exposed to something like that one day, is ludicrous!

I understand and get your point - If you want Serbia to improve, do something about it, don't whine. It makes total sense.

However, those of us who have "escaped" the '90s and the Milosevic regime, think differently. From our point of view, the State has betrayed us, and did it's darndest to ruin our lives. Yes, we want to contribute to its prosperity now. But first it needs to regain our trust. The way to do that is by implementing solid property rights, rule of law, a functioning economy and social welfare system, etc.

This is sort of why I responded to Matthew the way I did and perhaps appeared exclusionary in that regard.

I guess the best way to sum it up is that the task of engaging this generation of diaspora is entirely different from the task of engaging Matthew's gen. Both are important, but there is no overlap and they should be separate efforts by the ministry. From the onset, my understanding was that your blog was primarily about the former. Does this clear up my views a bit?

Of course its not a good

Of course its not a good thing - nor is it a good thing that my reply to you was barely understandable. If you ask me about the rule of law and reform etc my view is actually quite hardline - not because I'm one of those authoritarian types or free market disciples, far from it, but because a dose of more radical measures are necessary for Serbia.

What I am saying is that there is a 'flip' side to those disadvantages that many of us are familiar with. Sometimes I focus on those when things get me down in Serbia. I dont think its wrong to point to the other side of the coin.

But let me take issue with your sentiment regarding Serbia in the 1990's and the Milosevic regime. Serbia of the 1990's did not appear from nowhere - if a part of Serbian culture had not been the way it was, the Milosevic regime would have never appeared. Therefore the problem is deeper imo.

If that is the case then using the 1990's or the Milosevic regime as a reason to be bitter is only part of the story. The bitterness / distrust must be deeper than that. Does this stem from a fundamental distrust of Serbian organisation for example? My reply to such a thought would be that the Serbian private sector is / will perform as well as any in the world, given time. There is nothing inherantly bad about Serbian organisation that wont be solved.

I dont know how the state can repair the damage in the heads of those who continue to blame Serbia for that period / regime, or those that might think that 'Serbianess' is a byword for incompetance or corruption. I'd argue that this is a seperate but interlinking point linked up with reform etc.

The state should push through reforms necessary and more quickly and try to adopt a softly approach with this part of the diaspora.

The topic of the blog in my mind was on those who have something to offer to Serbia, above all the diaspora.

I still maintain there is considerable overlap. How can there not be? Whats the difference between the son of a middle class Serb who was born and educated in the US and a guy of the same age (also from a well to do Belgrade family) and also educated in the US?

If you are suggesting that some parts of the diaspora will never return because of their experiences of the 1990's you are right. But I dont believe that all or perhaps even the majority of them were so scarred by their experiences that they would not return. It may not be scientific but I've had many friends in the diaspora that would take a good opportunity in Serbia if it were offered or at least they say so. Lets offer them something.

Actually I think your views are well understood. Its just a pity that the comments were deleted in the first place.

Good suggestions. In

Good suggestions. In principle I agree with the first suggestion for our Serbian case although generally speaking I support the idea of a six month civilian service for both men and women.

I would add that another barrier to investment generally (since we were going in that direction) is unclear property / land ownership. This deters business.

And I agree completely that much time has been lost since 2000. From the amount of press releases from the Ministry of Diaspora it would seem that there is a lot of activity at the moment. It probably is too little too late for many but if one has a modest aim and a determined and well thought out strategy...

Getting in Touch with One's European Roots

"Looks like your roots go back pretty far"
I can actually trace my roots back to the 10th Century in Risan, where we have always been Knez's, we're related to the Nemanja Dynasty. The Bjeladinovic Palace in Kotor's main square was built by my family and we founded the first library in Belgrade. None of which I knew before I started looking into my family roots and contacted my relatives, which is an interesting story in itself. Tracking down one's roots and history in Europe is the dream fantasy of most European-Americans. I actually did it, AND got married in a Castle, it was a lot of fun.
Actually in a way I did indeed contribute to the "brain drain" by marrying a college educated Yugoslav born woman. In addition, although my son was born here in the States, he speaks Serbian (I do not) and he has dual citizenship. So my family are dealing with the exact same issues any other member of the Serbian Diaspora are facing. We Serbs that were born in the West do in fact have a lot to offer in that we understand the West and how it works very well. Let's face it, Serbia lost the wars of the 90's not because of inferior fighting forces but because we lost the Public Relations war as our arguments did not appeal to those raised in the West.

I would most certainly move to Serbia if I could find an adequate job that would maintain the standard of living to which I am accustomed to here (Sorry, but living in an apartment in Belgrade without heat in winter is not exactly fun for me, heh heh). I am a highly skilled computer tech who is an expert in eDiscovery and Litigation support and would greatly be able to contribute to the modernization of the legal system there. Also, we do send money back to her family to help support their small business and I contribute to the local economy with my tourist dollars of course.

I would like to add that although my wife has only been in the US a couple of years, already she gets very frustrated at the lack of service and reliability in Serbia when she visits, although to be honest, I personally find it very charming (Even when I'm cold). So while I may not "technically" be the target of the Diaspora Minister, neglecting to take into consideration the skills and abilities of those who were born over seas is counter productive and foolish. Serbia needs to reverse the "brain drain" and entice people like me to move there and/or invest there.

As the topic of this blog was more about how to get the Diaspora to return rather then how to prevent them from leaving, I do feel the same exact issues apply, with the exception of the military service requirement of course. Which by the way, I helped to reform in Bosnia (So no issues for my son), so I would be happy to work on that in Serbia as well.

Only a Montenegrin can trace

Only a Montenegrin can trace his roots that far back :) Why am I not surprised? :)

In addition, although my son was born here in the States, he speaks Serbian (I do not) and he has dual citizenship...

with the exception of the military service requirement of course. Which by the way, I helped to reform in Bosnia (So no issues for my son), so I would be happy to work on that in Serbia as well.

Not that it's any of my business, but these two statements appear to contradict one another. If your son is a Serbian citizen, how do the Bosnian military laws affect him?

And what do you mean by "you helped reform the law in Bosnia"? Bosnia abolished mandatory conscription several years ago, I am pretty sure as part of the demilitarization effort mandated by the provisional authority of Mr Wolfgang Petrich. No?

The Foreign Born are important too...


As I said my son holds a Bosnian passport and Bosnian citizenship. We are Orthodox. So yeah, if you want to split hairs, maybe this blog doesn’t apply to us, since my wife and son are Bosnian Serbs and my family are half Montenegrin. However, Bosnian Serbs look to Belgrade just as much as any Serb who lives outside of Serbia proper. In addition, in reality I’m “only” 25% Serbian, although I carry a Serbian last name and I look EXACTLY like the Njegos family.

I was on Bosnian television contributing to a round table discussion with Prigovor Savjesti, although I admit the role I played was very very minor. In addition my friend from Belgrade who attended that discussion with me was (I believe) the first person in Serbia to be allowed to keep his long hair without cutting it while doing his military service. He did this with the assistance of Prigovor Savjesti and personally met Tadic.

Now I am going to make the argument that in fact people like myself might turn out to be a far more valuable resource then Serbian born members of the Diaspora. First off, there are far more of us. Chicago alone has 300,000 people of Serbian descent the vast majority of them US born. Secondly, while first generation immigrants make up the majority of millionaires in the US, its their children that benefit from their hard work in the form of better education and opportunities. In my family we have Senators, Judges, lawyers and doctors that have contributed greatly to American society. The Governor of Illinois is of Serbian descent. You simply can not make the argument that this sector of the Serbian population is not important to Serbia’s interests. In reality while getting educated Serbian born Serbs to return is helpful, there is a great deal that can be done from the countries in which we live now. Not only is it a global economy, but Public Relations between countries is also highly important. Had Serbia a strong and vocal Serbian lobby in the US, the PR war might have gone in another direction. However, that sector was more or less ignored by the Milosevic regime.

The simple fact of the matter is what Serbia needs to accomplish is to retain the hearts and minds of the people that live outside their country. The same things that will appeal to the Serbian born can be used to attract the foreign born.

Now in my case, I have attachments to all the various regions of the former Yugoslavia. I have family in Dubrovnik and a rich history there. The same goes for the Kotor Bay region. Zagreb is the nearest International Airport to my wife’s village and has an established international legal presence. Banja Luka is the major city in RS and is central to my wife’s life. I’d also consider Belgrade, Novi Sad and Sarajevo. Serbia needs to think smart and attract people to her instead of the other possible regions. Croatia has done a marvelous job of attracting foreigners including plenty of non-Croatians.

I simply can not fathom the logic behind the argument that it’s in Serbia’s best interest to ignore the foreign born Serb members of the Diaspora.

“Some members of the brain drain have spent 15 years outside Serbia already and have families and set roots in the societies they have moved to.”

Basically if you are to follow that logic, then Serbia must give up on those whose children are foreign born. Even without direct financial investment in Serbia, tourism can and will play an important role in the Serbian economy. I personally remember spending months in Belgrade without talking to a foreigner. Last time I was there, there were organized tourist groups and such, a complete turn around in only a matter of a couple of years. Clearly tourism is the first step in maintaining an attachment to the mother country. If people don’t want to even visit, they most certainly would not be interested in moving back or starting or investing in a business there.

Just remember it’s not a contest as to who is most Serbian, its all about how can Serbia utilize to her advantage those of Serbian descent living in other countries. The simple reality of the situation is the vast majority of my family have completely assimilated into American culture and know nothing about Serbia. Serbia needs to work hard to reverse this trend.

I am going to suggest that it would be advantageous if the Diaspora Ministry would make it easier for to get Serbian citizenship. Clearly anyone possessing special skills, talents or education should easily be able to qualify.

Basically Oldtajmer it seems to me you are trying to alienate rather then welcome the foreign born members of Serbian society and I personally believe this is the wrong attitude for the Diaspora Minister to take. In reality you should welcome my input on this matter rather then condemn it.

Quote:I simply can not

I simply can not fathom the logic behind the argument that it’s in Serbia’s best interest to ignore the foreign born Serb members of the Diaspora.

Well, what do you think would happen to those occupying the plush cabinets in the ministries, directorates, secretariats and other institutions if a bunch of young, enthusiastic, experienced, bi- or multilingual Serbs armed with MAs and PhDs and plenty of know-how swarmed back into the country?

I am 100% sure that's what's at play here. In other words, jealousy and the fear of being rendered marginal and irrelevant to the development of the country by 'outsiders' is what figures as the major obstacle to the reintegration/repatriation of the Diaspora.

No doubt they are!


Let me address just a few points, and perhaps some misunderstandings.

First of all, my comment about your Montenegrin ancestry was not meant as a negative, nor an assault of some sort on your character. I just found it cute how cliches prove to be true, as Montenegrins have a reputation for knowing their family history, while Serbs from Serbia tend to lose the trail after just a few generations. Something I'm sure you're very familiar with. I had absolutely no intention of "competing" over who is "more Serb", a game I could certainly not hope to win, as I, too, come from a Balkan melting pot.

The question about your son was legitimate because you claimed your son had dual citizenship. I honestly thought you meant US and Serbian. Not that anything is wrong with Bosnian citizenship, but it makes a world of difference in terms of military service, as I'm sure you know, and as this is one of the most significant problems this Ministry needs to help address. I made my comment in that context. You and your son are not directly impacted by this, while millions of young Serbian born men in the diaspora are.

I am not saying the foreign-born are unimportant. Quite the contrary, a struggling state like Serbia should look to anyone who wishes to contribute to it's well being. In that sense, your input is most welcome.

I will however strongly disagree with your assertion that the foreign-born are more important, or able to better contribute. This just does not hold water. This country needs to be built, or re-built, by its citizens, not migrants from a few generations ago. It's the self determination argument, if you follow. Of course, contributions from all sides are welcome, but there can be no question that Serbian born Serbian citizens who live in the country have the most vested interest in its well being, and must be the ones taking the lead in its development.

You have emigrated a long time ago, and are mostly "lost" for good to this country. People like you (interested in their roots) are exceptions, not the norm. This country needs to concern itself with people it is losing today, but has a chance of keeping. You are not part of the "brain drain" as most previous waves of emigration were economic, blue collar migrants. In facts a majority of those Serbs in Chicago to this day are blue collar. The 90's emigration is different in that a vast majority was college educated.

The simple fact that you are not citizens of this country makes you a lower priority for its gvmt and ministries. That's just the way it is and the way it should be. By the same token, as Americans (or Australians or whatever), your interests are not necessarily 100% aligned with those of this country. Again, as it should be. Let me use the example of Governor Blagojevic, since you mentioned him. In the spring of 1999, Mr Blagojevic was a Representative from IL in the US Congress. Do you remember how he voted on the bombing? Do you remember what his role was in the Jackson POW mission? In fact, Mr Blagojevic has not done one thing "for" Serbia his entire political career. Please correct me if you have examples.

Finally, I would argue that not having spent a good chunk of your life living in Serbia, you just cannot understand it as well as those who have. And, please don't take this as a personal challenge. I would say the same of myself, as even thought I was born in Belgrade, I have spent about half of my life now outside Serbia, and I would never pretend to have the answers to Serbia's problems today.

I am certainly not trying to alienate anyone here. I am just trying to put things in perspective. Foreign-born, second, third, or n-th-gen Serbs, who are still interested in their roots, are welcome to contribute, invest, move back, or whatever... of course all those things should be your right! But expecting to lead the way in this stage of Serbia's history is just plain unrealistic. I don't you'll find an example of this in any country that has a significant Diaspora (think Ireland, Italy...)

Farbeit for me to reply on

Farbeit for me to reply on behalf of Matthew but there are a few points...

Firstly as far as I'm aware the whole tracing your roots, family tree thing is hugely popular in the United States. The internet is flooded with US based sites of this nature.

For this reason I dont think its true to say that tracing ones roots is the exception. Its quite common - particularly in countries with little history / and the whole melting pot thing going on.

On top of this one should also bear in mind that the second or third generation did not make the choice to leave Serbia. That choice was made by their parents for reasons known to them. Tied in with this point is the question of citizenship. If one becomes / intends to become a Serbian citizen not having been born in Serbia should one be a lesser priority than those born in Serbia?

Think the primary issue is the qualifications of the person in question. If the person is motivated to seriously consider moving to Serbia they will have likely acquainted themselves with the situation there. In other words by moving to Serbia one will understand the country.

As I understand it Macedonia has quite a few of its diaspora in government. Some of them are spearheading the countries IT strategy - Serbia lags behind Macedonia on this at the moment.

Interesting, your family

Interesting, your family history sounds richer than mine although its hard to tell with the myths attatched to my family background.

Thanks for being (living proof) the type of person(s) needed. And trust me you are not the only one who wasnt born or raised in Serbia who would consider / has already moved to Serbia.

Accomodation would be least of your problems. If paid a good wage there are plenty of good properties. You should see some of the properties international NGO / diplomat types live in. I went to a party the other week and was shocked at the extravagence of one guy. Nice enough (sort of) he lives alone and his monthly rent bill is probably higher than my monthly salary.

Then there was the pad of some US embassy employees - luxury is not the word.

I think another fact that should be emphasised when trying to attract would be second generation types is the average wage in Serbia and the cost of living.

There is every chance if you are working in the US and being paid a good salary by US standards that if you were paid even a third of that salary in Serbia you would have an even better living standard.

Jobs, Housing and the Economy...

Yes, I’ve seen some very nice places in Serbia. I deliberately chose to live in very poor conditions as I wanted to directly experience what it was like to live that way. I grew up in one of the most affluent areas of Silicon Valley and I personally believe that all Americans could learn a great deal by living a while under those types of conditions in foreign countries.

I do think there is money to be made in Serbia, and believe that I could be satisfied with my standard of living if I owned my own small business.

Now the thing with foreign investment is Serbia will want to do as much as possible to ensure that the money made stays within the Serbian economy rather then being sent back over seas. Creating jobs helps the average Serb but for true long term growth, the money needs to go back into R&D.

Personally I believe that Serbia would be a good candidate to adopt an economic policy similar to India and encourage outsourcing. Serbia does have some very educated computer techs and the young people seem to know good English. Creating a local economy where the skills learned while living in foreign countries is needed is a good step forward in encouraging Serbs to return.

I have spent most of my life

I have spent most of my life in the diaspora, as well as my brother, and both of us seek to find the best way to return to Serbia, but not jeopardizing our living standards and habits that we enjoy in the West. It may sound naive, but it's not impossible. One has to have luck and brains in order to use his potential in the same way that he used it abroad. I agree with bganon that the new minister is a breath of fresh air and I wish that she will invest much effort in showing us the perspective, for those of us who wish to return, that we have our perspective in our Otadzbina.
Another point I would like to adress is, we in the diaspora, at least from my point of view, have double identities of being Serbs, but also citizens of the respective countries where we live (even though I have Serbian documents I do live my life in Germany), and both of these identities are in a collision. Serbs in diaspora some times tend to have the feeling that they need something stable they can return to. Not only the ministry, but the whole new government needs to invest some work in proving and showing us that Serbia will always be our home to which we can return. At lest these are my observations from myself and from the Serbs that surround me (very few in the city I live - don't think about a typical gastarbeiter image). Maybe there are other perceptions.

Think about the time

Quote: "The Ministry of the Diaspora will no longer spend as much time arguing issues that don’t interest the younger generation.." (...) "their image of the Diaspora - a middle aged man who attends church, reads Politika and returns to Sumadija during the holidays ..."

Many of us who left their country were still young in the early 1990s and are middle aged now. Seventeen years passed so our children are now the young ones. I have never venerated Draza M. and stopped reading Politika long time ago in the early 80s. So please do not push me there. This is the reason I am avoiding other immigrants here, some of them very young and, yes, reading 'Politika' and venerating Draza. Please try to avoid labeling people based on their age (either in Serbia or elsewhere). If you really want to do something useful about the diaspora, forget about asking people's age, be more interested in their ideas.

Missing the point

I honestly think that the pouint that needs to be made here is not that of a new Minister or the money for the ministry, but rather that there are no jobs that would satisfy the needs of the people who have left. They have learned how to work, how to work with others and unless there are jobs that would allow them to work and earn in such an environment as they are used to, I think that few if any would go back. Why would I leave all that I have worked hard for here (US) to go back over there and have some uneducated idiot treat me like a piece of you know what because he/she is not able to comprehend what I am saying? Why would I want to go back to a place where I can't provide for my family what I can provide here? No new Minister of her funding will ever change that. Only the fundamental changes in society will lead to such a move (mine or any of the people I know). When the people are ready to learn, educate them selves in the ways of the world and change (their way of closed minded thinking)then we will see a migration in the other direction. Not just investments - they are no good if there isn't anyone to work on them, capable of turning them into someting valuable. But that of people who have gained an invaluable experience able to turn that country around. My (only) two cents for now and nor more as they have not done anything to earn them.

Just look

what is happening to people who want to go back and do something (invest, change something, help). Divac is the best example! It's not very encouraging at all.
A lot has to be changed there to make people from diaspora go back. The attitude first!


are you refering to those who even don't bother to vote?
In Chicago less than 200 people voted. Like Goran Svilanovic once told me I wouldn't count on them. Although, these 200 could be enough if they are reeeeeally good.


They don't even have to vote if it's for that. It's almost impossible to collect the signatures for the lobbying in congress. US diaspora is the worst organized Serbian diaspora.

Honestly?! Nonsense!

This is complete nonsense. This Ministry should be closed ASAP and let money go into Serbian education system or something more useful. I’m not sure if you are a Serbian or a foreigner looking into this. I am a Serb for the past 15 years living abroad and I know lot of Serbs. Apart from few, which came mainly from Belgrade and some other bigger cities, I am so sickened by majority’s sub-culture, taking their mentality, state of mind and bitterness wherever they go, willingly or unwillingly. They are refusing to accept new culture, learn language, and become real members of society. No, they brought Chetniks, corrupted Ortodox priests, Mladics, 1389s. Once I went to Church and I saw a photo of Mladic, next to Draza Mihajlovic and King Peter. C’mon! Never again I set my foot there! And what will Ministry do about it? Change this mentality? Give them better education? Make new clubs for “normal, civilized” Serbs? And why do you think this corrupted ex-Serbian Tourist Organization head, didn’t pay any attention to “expatriate tourism” and organized some “educational” tour arrangements for thousands of Serbs living overseas? Suddenly, she will be our bridge, and will return us back home… Silly.. And, why should Serbian people in Serbia be paying from their empty pockets and funding this Ministry’s operation? For Chetniks and Mladic’s sympathizers?

great idea,

If this (ora any) Serbian government is serious about technological and economical development, they will soon realise that diaspora could be of great help, regardless of general public opinion about us immigrants, as I'm pretty sure that most of us have experienced some form of negative feed-back to our criticism randomly expressed on our visits to Serbia. How many times have you guys heard something like: "vidi ga ovaj, tek je sleteo i odmah bi da nam soli pamet?"

Apart from those friendly misunderstandings, often raised in drunken discussions with our old friends, I believe that many serious obstacles would appear in professional environment. For example, a number of problems could arise in our comprehension of work ethics, punctuality, dedication to profession, discipline, team-work habits, etc. To cut the story short, there is a huge gap between professionalism in west and what is meant to be professionalism in Serbia. Nevertheless, Serbia has to deal with transition and the smartest way would be to open possibilities for her own people willing to make their small contribution towards greater good. There are many of us who are waiting for this opportunity. At least I like to believe so.

All the best from Australia