• Marko Čadež
  • President, Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

“What is the benefit of being aware of endless expanses of air, when your trachea is on fire and so tight that you cannot breathe as much as you need and when all your efforts to do so hurt, giving rise to dizziness and terrible fear, never giving enough air. That’s how you live and die suffocating.” Ivo Andric

We are social beings. Our existential essence is invaded. Whether the connection is emotional, based on interest, family, or on economic ties – COVID-19 is the weapon of mass destruction of all that we are. It seems to be winning for the moment. To sit in Ljubljana with Blažo Brodnjak, director of NLB and exchange ideas on how to make the region more successful, now is not possible.

I am leading a conversation about the essence of friendship with wonderful Zaga Micunovic in Podgorica, with myself imagining his answers, having coffee with my friend Edi Rama and talking about bringing Serbs and Albanians closer together seems like a distant dream. To have dinner with the wonderful Skeljcim Devoli in Pristina with the idea of his participation in supply chains together with companies from Serbia is just a wish today. Being in Zagreb, Sarajevo, Skopje, all those markets where only together we can successfully build our economies, is threatened by a virus that takes away the essence of our existence.

I am the father of two daughters, Lara, 19, who lives in Frankfurt and whom I see only on FaceTime, and Olga Erna, 5, to whom the conditions in which we live today are becoming normal, and that is really scary. My wife Katarina, after I finish with my daily responsibilities in the covid-19 crisis management meetings, greets me every day with disinfectants as if I were in Chernobyl – her love and determination to preserve our family borders on the unreal. She fears for all of us.

Will we learn something when this is all over? In the past we haven’t really shown that we can do this. This time, I hope Lara, Olga and their generation will be smarter. That they will completely reverse what and how we learn – that the epic celebration of death, blood, earth, a strict separation of knowledge into sectors, will be replaced by solving and understanding problems. To understand that our ancestors did not give their lives to defend square meters of humus, but to celebrate life in some new political forms together and rally around values, become self-sufficient rather than greedy, and be ready to defend our values if needed. It is encouraging to see the responsibility politicians are showing in truly seeing what are the causes and possible solutions to this almost Biblical tragedy. Yet a real paradigm shift will be brought by the new generations, more conscious and responsible than us. Or as the great Ivan Cankar used to say: “Night is beautiful for a man who knows that the sun will rise.”

See you soon in Ljubljana, Maribor, Portorož…. together until victory!

12/04/2020