It is little more than a month since my last visit to Belgrade and I find myself back in the city I have grown to enjoy so much. I am relaxed in this city and I have a number of good friends here. It makes travel so much easier when you know that you can pick up the phone to some friends and meet them within hours of arriving back.
Regular readers of my posts will know that the topics I share can be quite wide-ranging. They can also generate debate, which I see as a good thing. I like to see others get involved by contributing their own take on the issue and, although we do not always agree, it is encouraging to when someone can put their view across while respecting another person’s opinion. It works to get it out in the open. Most of the time. Like anyone, I have moments when I am so taken aback that I need to resist posting a comment that would only inflame the conversation more.
Serbia’s president believes his record will be enough to win next year’s election. “I believe our citizens trust us to deliver what is in the best interests of our country,’ he said. “In some months time, at the general election, the citizens of Serbia will judge whether this coalition has delivered enough to go back into power. I believe they should and they will because this is the coalition which has fought for a new democratic base for our country and which has always fought for the choice of Europe.”
A sense of concern did betray the President’s front, when Boris Tadić addressed his party’s election promises. “What I want to convey is that the coalition government and my democratic party set out with some clear goals and it has systematically delivered those goals,’ he told businessmen and diplomats in London.
A heartening documentary about the emotional meeting and shared memories of a US warplane pilot and the Yugoslav missile colonel who shot him down in 1999 is receiving extensive support even before filming has been finished. The touching reconciliation between the two protagonists forms the moving human story of The Second Meeting, from Serbian director Željko Mirković.
In March 1999, news spread around the world that an American F-117A stealth plane had been shot down over the Serb village of Budjanovci. Piloted by US air forceman Dale Zelko, the ‘invisible’ aircraft had been spotted on radar and then brought down at the command of Serbian colonel Zoltan Dani. Photographs of locals dancing on the wreckage of the destroyed airplane were shown worldwide, as the search for the pilot continued.
From little acorns, mighty oaks grow. This highly visual phrase can spur us on to make an effort at those difficult early stages of any project. Everything has a beginning. No matter how small or insignificant it might seem, we have to start somewhere.
This well known phrase came to mind this week, as I was preparing to attend the memorial service of good friend and business colleague, Professor Wangari Maathai. The Nobel Peace Laureate from Kenya has been a support and encouragement to me since we met and started working together in 2004. Her attitude to life, her clear-cut approach and her enthusiasm even when times were bleak have inspired many people worldwide. I was fortunate to talk with her extensively, as we travelled in Japan, Norway, France, Kenya and The Congo.