One of Belgrade's nicest parks, the Tasmajdan Park, has recently got renovated – thanks, partially, to a donation of 2 million euros by the Azerbaijani government. The news that has been stirring controversy these past few weeks among Serbian bloggers and on-line community is the condition for this gift from Azerbaijan: in return for the generous donation, Belgrade will erect a monument to Heydar Aliyev, the former president of Azerbaijan, in the park.
Vlada Dulovic of Living in Belgrade blog writes [en]:
…putting no less than a 3m tall statue of a single person who died just a few years ago would in any case be highly questionable. And what a person that was!
Until his death in 2003 Aliyev ruled his oil-rich republic for more then 30 years, first as a communist and then as the first democratic president, but with little change in his strong-arm attitude. He left his office to his son Ilham who praises his fathers and his own rule by donations with a catch in poor countries, such as Romania, where recently Bucharest accepted the same arrangement.
Blogger Mahlat also refers to Aliyev's rule as the “worst kind of a dictatorship” and adds [sr]:
But, none of this really matters, because [Jovan Krkobabić, deputy PM in charge of social affairs] stated that we “shouldn't behave like police officers and investigate what's been done in the past. Because we don't have time for such things…” – in other words – never mind the dictatorship, it's two million euros, for god's sake, and that “all this will serve the city and the citizens well.”
Nebojša Krivokuća on his blog wonders [sr] why almost nobody in the media mentions anything from Aliyev's biography – and concludes:
Two million euros obviously allow a significant degree of freedom to the donor.
So now – if among the rich folks we find some with a more twisted sense of humour or different views on things – there could soon be another one who would offer to renovate part of [Kalemegdan], for example, with the condition of putting up a statue of Stalin! We hail to him, occasionally, from time to time anyway. And perhaps there would be someone even richer, who would offer to redecorate the [Ušće] park, with the condition of putting up a 30-meter monument to, ok, let's not say Hitler, he already has [a room in a Belgrade hotel named after him], but let's say Kim Jong Ill would do – his rule is far enough from us geographically that it doesn't really matter how he ruled, right?