Dud Bullet in Rio

Večernji List, December 5, 1992. Culture, p. 56




By Branka Kamenski

A year ago Serbia tried to destroy Dubrovnik using cannons; now the American P.E.N. delegation wants to destroy it with words

“What happened to us yesterday could easily happen to you tomorrow. What happened to Dubrovnik and Croatia, happened to everyone!” said S.P. Novak, president of the Croatian P.E.N. Centre, at the 58th lnternational P.E.N. Congress in Rio de Janeiro and announced the 59th International Congress in Dubrovnik for the year 1993. It is now certain that writers from all over the world will come to one of the most beautiful Croatian cities in April, despite the attempts to sabotage the Congress.

Along with the announcement of Dubrovnik as the following city-host for the 59th International P.E.N. Congress, many other documents regarding the state of the countries of former Yugoslavia were discussed at the Congress. In that context, as we have gathered from the report from Rio, two Serbian delegates Jovan Hristić and Slobodan Selenić tried to present the stance that they were fully opposed to Milošević’s politics. Whether in the heat of the discussion or just out of confusion it was proposed to expel Milan Komneneić, Brana Crnčević and Dobrica Ćosić from the P.E.N. membership but subsequently it was established that neither Komneneić nor Crnčević were P.E.N. members at all. The Serbian delegates later stated that they were sorry that these three hadn’t been expelled as they would have been the first to suggest this (it’s a pity we cannot verify their statement).

As the report states, special attention was drawn to the “mild statement by the Serbian P.E.N. Centre about the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Even though it is a step forward in the conduct to date of the Serbian writers, this statement is just a modified (and malicious) version compared to the considerably more direct declaration which was proposed by the Croatian P.E.N. Centre and had already been accepted in Barcelona in April”.

The Croatian delegation noticed that the mentioned statement could have also been signed by Slobodan Milošević himself, and they requested from the Serbian delegates that the statement (in case they wanted their text to be included in the agenda as a proposition to the declaration at all) should mention the fact that “war has never been waged in Serbia and Montenegro, that neither a single window has been smashed nor a single square meter of their territory attacked while, on the other hand  -  Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina didn’t want the war. They suffered the aggression (and in Bosnia there is still a war on) of the so-called Yugoslav Army and Serbian paramilitary units which were armed by the said Army”.
Delegates at the Congress supported the foundation of a P.E.N. Centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina and discussed the problem of Macedonia and its identity (the Greek and Egyptian P.E.N Centers were reprimanded due to their inactivity).

The International P.E.N. Congress in Rio de Janeiro dealt with problems of the relation of -literature, nature and the environment. Gyorgy Konrad, president of International P.E.N., spoke at the opening ceremony of the Congress about the question “Does the world exist?”. He also announced his intention to leave the presidential position and the possibility that the next president of International P.E.N. would be Ronald Harwood, a British writer and author of the well-known play (and film screenplay) “The Dresser”.