The Serbian Movement Dveri:
- Post by: Nemanja Zaric
- January 5, 2017
A Family-Centered Political Organization
The history of the Serbian movement Dveri begins with the first issue of the Journal for National Culture, which was published on January 27, 1999, as a publication of students at Belgrade University in Serbia. Those were very turbulent times in Serbian history. On one side, there was a socialist government made up of members of the old communist regime. From the other side, a rising opposition looked to the liberal West for support. The Serbian people found themselves between a hammer and an anvil, between two faces of the same anti-Christian ideology, and it was actually difficult to tell which one would be more efficient in destroying what was left of Serbia after the breakup of Yugoslavia. A number of Serbian students were unwilling to accept this new reality. We understood then, very clearly, that the only true path for Serbia in years to come must begin with a return to our Christian values.
In addition to publishing over 50 issues of the journal thus far, Dveri has organized hundreds of lectures at Belgrade University, covering virtually all topics regarding the importance of faith, family, freedom, and patriotism. Four years later, in 2003, we registered as an NGO, the first Serbian patriotic NGO at that time. Our representatives travelled to over 60 destinations around the globe visiting our people, many of whom had fled the communist regime. We brought them news that the Serbian youth had awakened, and that we were finally starting to turn to ourselves, to our Christian heritage and traditions. In 2004, we adopted the symbol of a mother with a baby—resembling the Holy Mother of God with the Christ Child—as our logo, sending out a strong message about our values. After 10 years of hard work, Dveri received recognition from His Holiness the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Pavle.
In 2010, Dveri organized the first march for family, attended by thousands; this soon became one of our organization’s most significant repeated events. This march was the foundation of all our future efforts in protecting and promoting the natural family. It was held on the streets of Belgrade, with people celebrating a permanent commitment to the protection of life, faith, and family.
Two years later, 2012, after the World Congress of Families in Madrid, we realized that we were not alone in this battle, that families around the world share the same problems we faced. In 2013, with the help and active participation of our newfound friends and colleagues, we organized a street protest in Belgrade one day before the “gay pride” parade was to be held, with thousands attending; the protest swayed the government to cancel that shameful event. It was a great victory, not only for Dveri, but for all pro-family forces worldwide.
These events give a glimpse into the heart and soul of why Dveri was established back in 1999: to bring the alternative to people in Serbia, to remind everybody that we are a family-oriented, Christian nation, to break the cultural chains of socialism and at the same time to establish effective social mechanisms for resisting the terrible, anti-family, and anti-civilizational wave of liberalism. We have been at the forefront of this battle for the past 18 years, sending out a clear message that marriage and the natural family are the first line of defense and a stronghold that we will fight with everything we have to protect and preserve. That fight is equally important and crucial in every country, in every culture, on every continent.
In September 2015 our social movement decided to enter the political arena, so we registered as a political organization. We proclaimed that demographic winter is the biggest threat facing our society and state, and that pro-family policies are the most important for the future of Serbia. We presented this platform to the Serbian people during the parliamentary election campaign at the beginning of 2016. As it turned out, despite all the hostility directed against us; despite being labeled as fascists, homophobes, and far-right madmen; despite the total media blackout, these policies were enough for us to cross the threshold and enter the Serbian Parliament as the only pro-life and pro-family political organization. In September of last year, we organized a regional conference of the World Congress of Families, which was the first regional conference ever to be organized in a national Parliament. The topics were comprehensive: demographic winter in Serbia and worldwide, abortion and post-abortion syndrome, surrogacy, euthanasia, same-sex partnerships, sexualization of our children, home schooling, pro-family policies, and so on. Speakers at the Conference were experts in various fields from Serbia, the Republic of Srpska, Russia, the United States, Italy, France, and Georgia. After adopting the Belgrade Declaration in 2016, we marched through the streets of Belgrade to deliver the Declaration to the Serbian Government in order to remind them what their job was all about.
In December of 2016, Dveri signed the Cape Town Declaration1, joining hundreds of organizations and leaders in the global effort to protect and promote the importance of marriage between a man and a woman as well as the importance of the natural family.
The current demographic situation in Serbia is devastating. Our total fertility rate is 1.43, far below replacement level. The average age of men entering marriage is 29 years, and for women it is 27. The average duration of marriage in Serbia is only 13 years. We are a nation of a little over 7 million people, but we have over 100,000 abortions annually, and some researchers estimate this number to be closer to 200,000. Only last year we lost 38,000 citizens, and over half a million in the last 15 years. According to the latest research conducted by the Novae Terrae Foundation, which ranked nations based on a set of three indicators measuring factors such as fertility, marriage rates, divorce rates, family cohesion, social trust, and political supports, Serbia took the 40th place, out of 46.2 Our media and cultural space are polluted by messages of consumerism, violence, extreme individualism, and the sexualization of our children. Liberal politicians are pushing very hard to legalize same-sex “marriages,” surrogacy, and euthanasia through the proposed new Civil Code of Serbia. Despite our open letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Serbian ambassador to the UN voted for establishing the mandate of an independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
We are witnessing major global geopolitical changes. The liberal side is still very strong, well organized, well-funded, and in control of virtually all governments and mainstream medias in the world. But that should not worry us. We know all too well what is at stake here. Besides that, developments occurring even in this moment could be very useful for families around the world. The victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. and the first steps of his administration; strong political movements in France, Italy, Austria, and Germany that could reshape the European Union; Brexit; the victories of pro-Russian, and more importantly, anti- Brussels-EU and anti-NATO politicians in Moldova and Bulgaria; a pro-family Hungary—these are clear examples giving us all hope in better futures for our families, hope that we could not even imagine possible just a few years ago. The rising number of pro-life and pro-family organizations around the world clearly demonstrates that the time for returning to our core values, our heritage, and our traditions is at our doors.
Liberalism is now paying the price for its extreme positions, for forcing multiculturalism and political correctness around the world. Serbia is a part of the European geopolitical sphere, and we are looking forward to major changes in mainstream politics that the Eurosceptic parties are bringing to the table. We believe that the future of Europe lies in mutual recognition of similarities and differences and in respect for our cultural specialties. This cannot be achieved through multiculturalism, which has obviously failed. European elites must respect the will of the majority to preserve their own religious beliefs and cultural norms. People of European countries want to see their fundamental rights protected, not attacked by the Brussels bureaucratic machinery. Human rights were established for the purpose of protecting the people from the tyranny of governments, and the socially most important rights are those granted to the natural family. Instead of respecting the central role of the natural family in the well-being of an entire society, European liberals are tirelessly imposing the so-called new human rights—sexual rights, the right to abortion, the right to “death with dignity.” The majority of Europeans do not share these liberal values. Under pressure from liberal totalitarian ideology, and with developing crises of identity and economics, they are turning to our long-standing core values: faith and family. The position of Dveri is that the EU needs fundamental reorganization, beginning with the recognition of its Christian roots, values, and heritage. In the center of these values lies the natural family, as the most important social institution and the bedrock of our society. We strongly believe that by placing the natural family in the center of our social and political actions, we could resolve the majority of social problems, with the demographic winter being the most important one. This cannot be done with liberal immigration policies, as we can witness from painful examples all over Europe. From our standpoint, Serbia should be a part of European economic integrations, but not a part of European political integrations as long as the dominant ideology is liberalism. Forcing our nation, which is strongly pro-family, to accept liberal values as one of the conditions for joining the EU is not something that Dveri is willing to accept.
As a parliamentary political organization, we are using this new opportunity to present our family policies. It is not an overstatement to say that Dveri is the only political organization in Serbia that promotes natural family values and pro-family politics as the most important politics for the twenty-first century. We also truly believe that the family-first principle in politics could be a stepping stone for overcoming our differences and the future of human civilization.
Many people have asked us: why have you entered politics? They believe that we will become just like all other parties, looking out for personal interests, and selling out to the wealthiest lobby. They say that the social conservative, Christian, pro-life, and pro-family movement has no place in politics. We strongly disagree. We believe that family-centered politics is exactly what Serbia needs. We believe that going back to our Christian roots and values is exactly what is necessary for the rebirth of our nation. And we believe that our greatest enemy today is liberal ideology. So we took our chance, and now we have a unique opportunity to present a number of laws that will promote, defend, and strengthen the natural family in Serbia.
Serbia is currently dedicating only around 0.4% of GDP for direct financial support of families, through means of child and family allowances, which is far below the European average of 2.6% and very far away from the leading country in this field, the Republic of Hungary. Politicians in Serbia unfortunately still fail to realize that welfare payments are inefficient and that a comprehensive approach to family policy is absolutely necessary. Also, they do not recognize the fundamental importance of a marriage between a man and a woman for the demographic and economic development of Serbia, which they clearly demonstrated last year by dedicating the first session of the Parliamentary Committee for human rights to protecting the rights of the LGBT community.
I strongly believe that all of us have the obligation to take this battle to the political arena, wherever and whenever we can, all around the world. Without the power to make some real changes, our entire efforts will be at least very limited, and more probably, they will fail. As Aleksandr Dugin well said, if we want to make changes, first we must win.
Plans For The Future
At this time, there are unfortunately no true pro-family policies in place in Serbia. We have child allowances, which are census dependent, and family allowances, which are paid to the parents for first, second, third, and fourth children, and which are also census dependent. Both of these measures are social welfare programs, however, which have proven to be highly ineffective in dealing with demographic winter. Dveri proposes first that the state should truly recognize the natural family as the fundamental unit of society, as is written both in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia. Second, the natural family should be recognized as the basic economic unit and the foundation of sustainable development of the Republic of Serbia. Third, the State must protect the natural family from growing anti-family ideologies. Having these in mind, we are proposing an act for the protection of the family in order to:
- create the legal framework that would oblige all political parties to protect the natural family as their political priority;
- define the natural family as the union of man and woman in the sacred bond of marriage, and a social institution of highest importance;
- legally separate pro-family policies from welfare policies once and for all;
- oblige the government to prioritize pro-family policies in state budget allocations each year;
- oblige the state to create a real and positive work-family balance, one which would allow working mothers to take care of their children, end discrimination against mothers, and create the opportunity for motherhood (of three or more children, under certain circumstances) to be recognized as a job category;
- oblige the state to create and support a special housing project for large families;
- create a legal basis for introducing lectures in our elementary and high schools on the sanctity and dignity of human life from the moment of conception, healthy lifestyles and behaviors, and the importance of family and responsible emotional relationships—all with the idea of preparing our youth for marriage and family life;
- require TV stations to adjust their programs in accordance with the values of marriage and family;
- reinforce the right of parents to decide the education their children should receive in public schools;
- stimulate a return to rural areas and farms with non-refundable incentives—a piece of land and subsidies for housing and mechanization for those willing to farm;
- reform the tax system to allow families with more children to retain a larger portion of gross salary;
- reallocate health-care funding to facilities offering primary health care, OB/GYN clinics, and children’s hospitals;
- offer kindergarten for all children, but free of charge for the second and every subsequent child;
- offer subsidies and start-up programs for family businesses;
- give a family allowance for every child, without discrimination;
- abandon state funding of all NGOs that promote LGBT rights and abortions, and at the same time, reallocate these funds to NGOs that promote the natural family, healthy lifestyles, the beauty of the unborn baby, family counseling, pro-family think tanks, etc.;
- establish an independent Parliamentary Committee for family.
In addition, and to help accomplish these goals, we will establish a Ministry for Family, which Serbia currently lacks. It would be an important signal to families in Serbia that things are changing for them. We are also very seriously considering implementation of a Family Impact Statement, and establishing an independent office of Family Ombudsman that would control actions of the government regarding the well-being of the family.
Simultaneously with the introduction of new family policies, we must protect our families from totalitarian ideas and ideologies. Our position is that we do need sexual education in our schools, but the kind of sexual education that we look to implement is one that would teach our children about reproductive organs, conception, pregnancy, the beauty of prenatal life and birth; it should inform our youth about STDs and the avoidance of risky sexual relationships, and promote the ideal of sex with a loved one, in a monogamous relationship and ideally in marriage. Such education should promote values and virtues of honesty and fidelity in a relationship and in marriage; it should promote marriage and family as a natural environment in which the sexual relationship has a higher purpose. We are firmly opposing programs of comprehensive sexual education, and thanks to our efforts, the first textbook on CSE, which had an entire chapter dedicated to LGBT ideology, was removed from 72 schools for revision. The new textbook is free of LGBT propaganda.
We will continue to oppose this indoctrination of our minors, and we will propose a law that will prohibit it in public spaces, as has been done in the Russian Federation. Our position is that every citizen’s human rights must be respected, but we strongly oppose special rights on the grounds of sexual orientation and behavior.
Dveri has already made amendments to the proposed new Civil Code of Serbia, in which we asked for the prohibition of every form of surrogacy and euthanasia as well as prohibition of legal grounds for recognition of same-sex “marriages.”
What we are especially dedicated to is ending genocide by abortion in Serbia. We need a comprehensive state-level program that will promote birth, motherhood, fatherhood, and the truth about the beauty of prenatal life.
A long road lies before us. Everything we have done in the past is merely a foundation for our future work. Dveri is a family-centered political organization, and while we can have different opinions on some issues, we strongly believe that the care of our families can be a building block for future political alliances not only in Europe, but around the world. There is nothing more beautiful in this world then the face of a smiling child and the picture of a happy family. As Dostoyevsky said, beauty will save the world. Our mission is to save beauty.
Dr. Nemanja Zaric is the International Secretary for the Serbian movement Dveri.
1. See The Natural Family 30.4 (2016): 349; also, http://www.capetowndeclaration.com/ .
2. Luca Volontè, Francesca Maccioni, Giovanna Rossi, Maria Letizia Bosoni, and Vera Lomazzi, Independent Global Index on Family: Report 2016 on the Right of Family in the World, Novae Terrae Foundation and the Family Studies and Research University Centre of the Catholic University of Milan, July 7, 2016, Table 2.2, available at http://www.novaeterrae.eu/en/publication-list/877-igif-published-the-independet-global-index-on-family-2016.html