Feeling dyspeptic from the Eurovision cheesefest? If so, check out a dissenting view on Scary Azeri’s blog. Here’s a taste:
I don’t know what surprised me more. The fact that everyone else, including all those people who left their home country years ago, suddenly felt proud to be Azeri (but not quite proud enough to go back to live there) because of one awfully trashy European pop song … or the fact that I was, clearly, alone with my lack of national pride over something like this.
And on a completely different topic:
I received a press release from the Montenegrin government’s international press officer the other day. It said police had arrested “an associate of the suspected drug lord Darko Saric” on suspicion of laundering proceeds from drug trafficking. There’s not much information (not even the man’s name) but it does say that he is suspected of having invested the ill-gotten gains into legitimate businesses, pretty much the definition of money laundering (if only the guys in Office Space had had this press release handy – viewers in the United States can see what I’m talking about here).
Anyway, I thought it was interesting because I’ve never received a press release from Podgorica’s international press officer, or any press officer from the Montenegrin government, and because battling corruption is one of the seven priorities that the European Commission has set for Montenegro’s eventual EU entry. The country was awarded candidate status late last year. So maybe I’ll be seeing more of these.
The Saric case came to a head in 2009, when a multinational police force seized a shipment of cocaine off the coast of Uruguay that authorities say was headed to Europe. Serbia accused Saric, a Montenegro-born Serbian citizen, and more than a dozen others of running the drug-smuggling operation. Saric remains a fugitive and Montenegro has refused to turn over some of the suspects to Belgrade, citing insufficient evidence.
The resulting trial began last week in Ljubljana and related tremors are being felt elsewhere. Brazil recently arrested 17 people, including some Serbs, on drug-trafficking charges, according to the Beta press agency in Belgrade. Those arrested included “one of the most wanted criminals from Serbia,” the agency said, although it’s not clear that Saric was the fugitive in question.
In Belgrade last week, a rocket was fired at property owned by a witness in the case, although rented out by someone else. And in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska, at Belgrade’s request, investigators have temporarily seized the assets, including a sugar refinery, of another alleged Saric associate while they determine whether or not the property was purchased with laundered drug money.
It feels a bit like the breaking apart of an iceberg, and it’s possible that we’ve only seen the tip. If any of this was the result of EU accession process, then three cheers for those earnest, slow-moving, technocratic wonders in Brussels.