The European Movement in Serbia, the Center for Regionalism and the Center for Foreign Policy awarded this year’s Živorad Kovačević award for contribution to the development of good neighborly relations and regional cooperation to the writer and cultural worker from Belgrade, Vladimir Arsenijević.
The award was presented by Jelica Minić, president of the European Movement in Serbia, Aleksandar Popov, director of the Center for Regionalism and Dragan Đukanović, president of the Center for Foreign Policy, who, recalling the character and work of Živorad Kovačević, spoke about the achievements of Vladimir Arsenijević that nominated him for this award.
The awarding ceremony was also attended by Ambassador Jan Bratu, head of the OSCE Mission in Serbia, who, among other things, emphasized that the values represented by the award are also values that are embedded in the programs of the OSCE Mission in Serbia, which actively supports regional cooperation in various fields.
Mr. Arsenijević’s contribution in this respect is impressive – “Being with someone from a different background, from a different community or country, helps us understand them better and come together as people. I would like to mention that the award bears the name of Živorad Kovačević, a prominent diplomat and intellectual who, through his life and activism, demonstrated exactly those values. I am very glad that his legacy continues, not only through his ideas and ideals embedded in the Igman initiative, which he co-founded, but also through this award,” said Bratu.
Vladimir Arsenijević was born in 1965 in Pula, and published his first novel “U potpalublju” in 1994. This novel has been translated into twenty languages, and he won the NIN award for it. The play based on the novel of the same name in 1996 won the Sterija Award. The novel “U potpalublju” is the first book from Serbia published in Croatia (Arkzine, Edicija Bastard, 1997) after a multi-year break caused by the violent breakup of the joint state.
The novel Anđela, as the second part of the Cloaca Maxima, was published by Arsenijević in 1997. In 2000, his third book, Mexico – war diary, was published, and in 2004, he published the illustrated novel Išmail in collaboration with comic artist Alexander Zograf.
In addition to regular literary production (7 novels, 2 collections of stories, a book of essays, several dramatic texts, two film scripts and a number of published translations of books from the English language), Vladimir Arsenijević started the Rende publishing house in 2000, which is largely (especially through the publishing activities Ledolomac and the publication and promotion in Serbia of contemporary titles by the main actors of regional literature) was dedicated to restoring the ties between the post-Yugoslav countries that were broken during the nineties.
In the period from 2007 to 2009, he managed the newly established Belgrade branch of the Croatian publishing house VBZ, within which he continues with the regional publishing policy. Also, in 2009, he founded the Krokodil Association, of which he is the chairman of the Board of Directors and creative director. This association is known as the organizer of the festival of the same name (Literary Regional Gathering That Eliminates Boredom and Lethargy), a highly recognizable regional literary and cultural manifestation that gathers prominent writers and artists from Serbia, post-Yugoslav countries and Europe. In 2018, Krokodil’s Center for Contemporary Literature was opened, a multifunctional space for holding various cultural events.
Vladimir Arsenijević is also the winner of the award of the National Library of Serbia for the best book in the network of public libraries of the Republic of Serbia for the novel Predator from 2011.
With his decades-long contribution, Vladimir Arsenijević promoted tolerance, dialogue and a better understanding of the Republic of Serbia and its neighbors, but he also contributed to improving its image in the field of culture and art.
He also successfully influenced the connection between the peoples and countries of the Western Balkans, with a special emphasis on the post-Yugoslav area, which is burdened by the legacy of armed conflicts during the 90s of the last century.
This award is given for a speech, book, specific action or attitude of an individual, organization or group of citizens who have significantly contributed to good neighborly relations and regional cooperation in the past year. The European Movement in Serbia, the Center for Regionalism and the Center for Foreign Policy deal with regional cooperation and relations with neighbors and with this award they want to encourage greater engagement of individuals, organizations and the entire society in Serbia for reconciliation, mutual understanding and cooperation in the region.