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Thursday, April 1, 1999 Published at 20:57 GMT 21:57 UK


Letter from Belgrade



As Nato strikes intensify against Yugoslavia, and the refugee exodus continues from Kosovo, a resident of Belgrade writes for BBC News Online about how the people of the Serbian capital are coming to terms with life at war with Nato.

In the midst of the serious analysis of the Kosovo crisis, one thing is often forgotten - the general single-mindedness among the Serbian population brought on by the Nato bombing.

Kosovo: Special Report
If one happens to be aware of the fact that one lives under a repressive regime and disagrees with the local war-time propaganda, one should keep one's mouth shut or risk getting court martialled and prosecuted for grand treason (no such cases yet, but everything is possible in war).

'The whole world hates us'

A famous Serbian songwriter Bora Djordjevic came up with the ultimate patriotic song (the genre has been fully exploited on national TV since the attack began) - tailor-made for the current situation and recorded here two days ago.

The lyrics go: "Now that we're being bombed, we the Serbs don't argue any more" and "The whole world hates us".

The Serbs are finally united. The little opposition that Milosevic had to deal with is silent, the previously politically undefined/indifferent citizens are now angry and ready to support him at any price, even the ones who were aware of his past misdeeds think he is not to be blamed for this.

Nato made them forget who the arch-culprit is and why we're in this war in the first place.

'Miserable Clinton'

Morale-boosting concerts are being held daily on the Republic Square in the centre of Belgrade, thousands of people are waving their flags in a trance, drawing courage from the spirit of the masses.


[ image: Anti-Nato protest in Belgrade]
Anti-Nato protest in Belgrade
Indeed, these are hard days for an individual in Serbia. No-one dares oppose or even laugh at the state television labels "miserable Clinton", "genocidal Nato", "the infamous Christopher Hill", "the frustrated James Rubin".

It is difficult to estimate whether there are people in this country who actually disagree with such views - even if there was an alternative opinion, and even if one dared to express it, we wouldn't be able to hear it because the independent media that weren't banned are operating under strict censorship (the daily newspapers such as Danas, Blic, Glas Javnosti).

It has often been said that the West is aiming at Milosevic only and that it sees the Yugoslav people as its greatest ally in the future.

The chances for winning over the Yugoslav public are - at least for the time being - destroyed for sure.

We are now truly alone in the world. This fact makes some of us desperate - while others relish it.



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