The main purpose of my visit to Belgrade this time is to try to get a Serbian passport. I was born in Belgrade but I have never had a Serbian passport. When I left Belgrade almost half a century ago, that country was called Yugoslavia. And it no longer exists.
So before I could apply for a new Serbian passport, I first had to prove my identity with a Birth Certificate and a Citizenship Certificate. Alas, I have never had either of those,
So for the last couple of weeks, my nephew Stasa had been helping me get them. Which he finally succeeded to do a week ago. Today, he and I were supposed to go into the Ministry of Internal Affairs (“MUP” in Serbian) office to present all these documents to a person who had been briefed about my situation by an old business friend Milan. So this story begins from the moment we entered the MUP Serbia building this morning.
May 16, 2018
SUCCESS! LIFELONG DREAM REALIZED AFTER A 6-MONTH QUEST
Today, May 16, at 1:30 PM, I received my first-ever Serbian passport and the Personal ID card. After a few nail-biting moments in the last three days, my lifelong dream was realized.
It took six months to get here. I took the first step on Nov 20, 2017. The passport and my new ID card rolled off the MUP Serbia production line yesterday – May 15, 2018, also the 40th anniversary of the founding of business – Anne. In between those two dates, things happened that might be worth a separate story in and of itself. Maybe one day I will write it.
Meanwhile, I need to take a bow and thank many of my Serbian friends without whose help and dedication this could not have happened. Three people among deserve a special honorable mention – Stasa, Milan and Sandra.
When Sandra, the lady in charge passport processing at MUP Serbia-Belgrade (MUP – Ministry of Internal Affairs, handed me my passport in her tiny office this afternoon, I shook her hand and said in front of four other people who witnessed the event:”
You probably have no idea, Sandra, how much this means to me,” I said. “This is a fulfillment of a lifelong dream. My first Serbian passport. You are my hero today.”
And with that, I handed her a nicely designed bouquet of red roses. She looked so happy that she blushed a little.
“It matched my shirt,” she said shyly.
Other witnesses to this (for me) momentous event were all smiles. A lady-policeman said to Sandra, “that is so sweet. I think you should go home now.”
Everybody laughed.And so we’ve done it! Thank you one and all who have helped achieve this.
PS: For those who may be wondering why I never held a Serbian passport since I was born in Belgrade, here’s a brief explanation. The country I was born in was called Yugoslavia. That country no longer exists. So this is the first legal document which affirms my citizenship of a country that has always been the homeland in my heart.For the full story, see… https://wp.me/p3R16m-4OG
VISIT TO SERBIA’S ONLY ORGANIC WINEMAKER
Before that, Stasa and I paid a visit to my old friend Bane, a savvy high tech guy with international experience, who has now reinvented himself as Serbia’s only organic winemaker (see http://www.plavinci.organic/)
His property is also on the Danube close to Stasa’s. So it took us only about 10 minutes to pop over for a delightful chat over coffee.
During the couple of hours we spent in friendly banter, the weather had changed once again, and the sun emerged from behind the clouds.
Bane and his sister also have quite a canine a feline menagerie – 2 dogs and 3 cats – all of whom get along splendidly, as you can see.
Meanwhile, here also a view of the Danube from Stasa’s home in Brestovik – early this morning when it was still raining, and just before noon, by which time the storm had abated and sun was peaking out again,
UPDATE MAY 17, 2018
Epilogue and Prologue to a Six-month Quest
My six-month quest to try and get a Serbian passport started with an idea that came to me on Nov 20, 2017. In early December, I contacted the Serbian embassy in Washington and the Consulate in Chicago. I was hoping my old (now expired) Yugoslav passport would ease the way for an automatic renewal.
Boy, was I ever wrong. I hit a bureaucratic wall at both places who treated me as someone who had to prove his existence. They wanted my birth and citizenship certificates, neither of which I ever had, and neither of which was required in the past to have my Yugoslav passport renewed.
“My goodness,” I said to my nephew. “You would think they would make me an honorary citizen even if I never had passport, in recognition of what I had done for Serbia in the 1990s.”
“That’s typical,” he replied. “Nikola Tesla also died as poor as a mouse. You have to do first before they would appreciate you.”
I then changed the tack and contacted some of my friends and family in Belgrade. I was hoping they might know of a bypass around this wall of bureacracy.
It all started mid-April when a former client of mine invited me to come to their company’s 25th anniversary ball in Moscow. Yes, a ball, like in the old imperial days of Russia.
You know how bad the political relationships are now between the US and Russia, and that they have closed all Russian consulates in the US. So rather than go through a hassle of getting the Russian visa here, I thought I might try to kill two birds with one stone – get a Serbian passport, which does not require a visa to Russia, and fly to Moscow from Belgrade.
I then ran into snags trying to obtain my Birth and Citizenship certificates in Serbia. Without them, one cannot get a passport.
What happened reads like a plot from a Sherlock Holmes or Dan Brown novels. The story has both mysterious and archeological elements, going all the way back to the 4th century – the era of Constantine the Great, the first Roman emperor to accept Christianity.
The problems seemed insurmountable as of Friday, May 4. My nephew Stasa, who was helping me with all this was in despair. According to the officials in Belgrade, I did not exist, he said.
That weekend, I did some shamanic work during which I asked my spirit guides for help. On Monday, May 7, an elated Stasa emailed me to say that he had “found me.” The next day, he received my Birth and Citizenship certificates. We were on our way…