The Balkans: Children of the revolution

Empty crisp bags and chocolate biscuits litter the area. Kids in their late teens and twenties crash around the office. Yet at the grubby table, talking serious matters of state, sits a neat-suited European diplomat. Alex Rondos, advisor to the Greek foreign minister, is talking intently with a handful of slightly scruffy students. Even for Belgrade, it is a bizarre contrast. Resistance is in the air and maybe moving to challenge those who run the regime.

The World Today Updated 28 October 2020 Published 1 August 2000 5 minute READ

Gillian Sandford

Guardian and Observer correspondent in Belgrade

Alex Rondos was visiting the Belgrade headquarters of the student-based Serbian Resistance movement Otpor. Like other members of the international community, he views it as a significant political group; so does President Slobodan Milosevic. His key regime allies have just labelled Otpor activists ‘terrorists’ and ‘traitors’ and subjected hundreds of them across the country to arrest and questioning.

Crisps and chocolate biscuits notwithstanding, Otpor is becoming an increasingly influential force in the Yugoslav Federation. In the words of one western diplomat: ‘We take them very seriously. They are the only serious players in town.’ So what exactly is Otpor? How does it operate? And what is its potential as a force for change in a country whose official political opposition is weak, egocentric, divided and fractious?

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.