Freedom Trek: Belgrade, Serbia


– The guy at the bar (intense sound effect) The guy at the bar is quite clearly- We left the bar, and he walked out immediately after us. – We’re definitely being followed.
He’s definitely watching. – He’s watching us. He wants
to know where we’re going. – He’s been watching us the entire time. – I think he wants to take the tapes. I don’t know. – Can you see him on the- – He could be, like, a ghost. You know what I mean? Like, okay. We heard
enough stories about this. You know, hit squads, and stuff today. – Yeah, there’s definitely
a lot of haunting going on in this city. – Who knows what that guy was
involved in back in the day. And, you know, – He could be right behind us. – I know, that’s why I’m freaking- – Alright, let’s go a little higher. This night has turned into a horror movie. (drum-heavy pop-rock music) – My name is Matt Kibbe, and I run an organization
called Free the People. Last year, me and my band
of intrepid filmmakers were invited to Belgrade, Serbia by International Students for Liberty to give a talk about how we
tell stories about freedom. While in town, we hooked up with our
friend and guide, Petar, to learn about Belgrade’s communist past and where it’s headed in the future. We also took time to sample
some of the amazing food, drink, and culture Serbia has to offer. This is what we found. (sullen piano music) Compared to a lot of
Eastern European centers, this is a pretty cosmopolitan city. – Yeah, so the thing is that it’s the biggest city in the region, so people-wise and area-wise. It also has the biggest
airport, all these things, but also it’s basically place
where two different empires met for several centuries. Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ottoman, so we have, also, two different cultures, and it’s kinda on the way like
connecting all these things like Western Europe with Turkey. So we are kinda used to
the flow of people here, and I think that either
in transit or as tourists people come here a lot. (soft violin music) – [Matt] So this fortress goes
back in time forever, right? – [Petar] Yeah. It’s very old. Back in the first part of the fortress, when this site, this area,
were built back by the Romans in the first century, so
it’s a very old fortress, and then, it was used alternatively by whoever held Belgrade be it Ottoman Empire
for several centuries, or Austrian Empire that
usually attacked it from the other side of the river. And then, of course, when Serbia established
itself as a country with Belgrade as the capital city. They slowly started turning it into a park back in the mid-19th century. (upbeat guitar music) – So we’re here at Menu Factura. Pardon my Serbian, it may
or may not be accurate, but we came here last time we
were here a couple years ago, and Balkan food is typically
huge piles of grilled animals. So it’s everything that I love. We’re gonna try some grilled meat, we’re gonna try rakija, which is a sort of
brandy-style hard liquor that they love here, and
it’s gonna be awesome. We’re gonna be in a meat coma by 9:00. – And this is iron sausage. It’s donkey, sheep, and beef meat. It’s really good for aphrodisiac, okay? – Okay. – Enjoy. – Wow. I’m just locking my door tonight if Matt eats some of that. These are the two rivers that, sort of, fed the city originally. – [Petar] Yeah, so this is Sava River and then
it meets Danube over there. You don’t see it, but Danube
is actually much bigger. You can’t see the whole river because it’s on the other
side of the island, as well. So that’s where they meet. So they had to find the city
from the very beginning, and this part is older. New Belgrade was built
after the World War II. It used to be a swamp, it was drained, and then during communist times, it started developing and building. The first buildings were
built before the World War II, when it was the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, but most of it, like 98% of it, was built after the World War II, especially during the 60’s and 70’s, and then it further developed. – And this used to be, this
big building right behind us, was the Communist Party. – [Petar] The tall tower, the glass tower, used to the be headquarters of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia. This was the central committee building. It was bombed by the NATO in
1999 for a different reason. Back then it was not anymore
Communist Party headquarters. – I suppose being on
the Danube made Serbia a central place for trade. – [Petar] Yeah, Danube connects Austria, and through other rivers even Germany and the rest of Europe to the Black Sea. So it’s an important route for trade, but I don’t think it’s used
to the full capacity still. But today you see a lot
of tourists, as well, coming with river cruises and things. Maybe it used to be trade
ships, now it’s tourist ships. (awkward music) – The sort of tagline
for the series is like, “intelligent travelers take three idiots on the road with them in an attempt to explain
foreign cultures.” – [Sam] That’s a good tag line. It’s like “Idiot Abroad.” – [Terry] Idiot Abroad? – Yeah. (twinkly cultural music) – Travel 101 for me is just
ask the waiter what to eat? – [Terry] Yeah. – Are you filming yourself right now? – Yeah. I wanted to get a little like “Matt learns how to travel” segment here. – If you choose the right restaurant, then you can just say, “Feed me.” If you choose a tourist trap, they’re just going to
fleece you, and it’s… – So okay. Question. How do you know if you
wound up in a tourist trap? – If there’s a guy standing
out on the sidewalk, and trying to grab every
single person walking past, that’s a tourist trap. – Okay, so if they want
business, don’t trust ’em. – Don’t trust ’em. – Laminated menus are a
bit of a red flag, too. – Yeah – So you probably have
stronger opinions about the state of the Serbian economy and whether or not this is
a good place to do business. – It’s not the best place to do business, it’s not really the worst, but I think having in mind the capacities of the people here and the environment, it could be much better. There have been improvements, for example, in getting construction permits, the public finance is more stable now, there hasn’t been a big tax
increase for several years, but, at the same time, the
rule of law is very bad, and that can deter and
scare away the investors. Bureaucracy is still too big. Doing business
electronically is kinda hard. Getting payments, like with
PayPal and stuff like that, is still complicated. There are many small things
that are kind of blocking the economy from going full speed, and, of course, there
is the fundamental one, which is the lack of the rule of law, which is significant. If you look at the Heritage
index, the Fraser index, you will see we are doing
okay relative to Europe in taxation, in labor
freedom, and things like that, but the rule of law is not very good, and that’s the fundamental
deficiency of the system here because people don’t wanna really invest a lot if they risk being
stuck up in courts, having their property, maybe, confiscated, not being able to get
their payments on time. So this is all blocking investment, and blocking people from
starting, like people from here, not only for investment, but it’s harder if you’re
an entrepreneur here. There is a lot of taxes you have to pay, all the fixed costs because of the bureaucracy and the
government regulation. But especially for small people, you really have a lot of
fixed costs with taxation, with contributions to pension funds. It’s mostly corruption,
and so, for example, the rules are complicated, so you kinda have to find other ways to do what you want to do. Recently, we have the
Belgrade waterfront area which is being built right there. It’s highly controversial. They would bring people with
bulldozers during night, destroy the building so that
somebody can build there. And then police did nothing,
the courts did nothing, and it’s been over two years now. Nobody did anything, and a factory was destroyed overnight so somebody can build something. And this tells you about
the business environment. (jazzy music) – So why did you haul me across town to this particular neighborhood. What the hell are we doing here? – So, we’re in front of the Tesla Museum, and Nikola Tesla was born an ethnic Serb back in the Austrian Empire, but he and Thomas Edison
were very key figures in developing electricity. And I’m an engineer,
so I’m kind of a nerd, so you drink beer, I do
nerdy things on occasion. – So Tesla was sort of the dorky scientist who really understood the
theory of what he was doing, and Edison, he almost
sounds more like Steve Jobs. He was the seller. He was the marketing guy. – Right, right. Tesla was actually a disruptor. He was a visionary. Edison just kind of
plotted through things, but Tesla actually envisioned and started talking about
wireless transmission, so without Tesla, we probably wouldn’t have
cellphones, for instance. – So he imagined this stuff. – Right, he imagined that stuff, and Edison was just making little sketches and developing the
incandescent light bulb, which people say that many
of Edison’s inventions would have been invented by somebody else, but not what Tesla did. – And Edison was electrocuting
animals in propaganda films. What the hell? – Well, there is that. (floaty clarinet music) – [Battaglia] Wait, so
Sam, what did you get? – I got a ham and cheese omelet which was- It probably really shook
up the kitchen back there because they offer a ham omelet,
and then a cheese omelet, but not a ham and cheese omelet. So I’m really breaking
stereotypes around here. – [Battaglia] Logey, what did you get? – So this is a traditional
Serbian breakfast. It’s, as I discovered
when I went to Vienna, these countries, they
don’t like hot breakfasts, they like cold meat and cheese and an egg and a corn muffin for breakfast. So I wanted to go a little local. Try something that they eat around here. It’s got bacon and ham. – [Matt] So you’re president of Serbia, and you can make one change that would really
unleash the economy here. What would it be? – There are many easy
things that you can do, like improve the time that
it takes to pay taxes, or things like that. But I think to really improve, you would have to, one, really work on the rule of law so the court cases last shorter, so that there are clearer rules, so that there is a
better judiciary system. So that’s the fundamental pilar, the fundamental thing that has to be done because everything else would be just like a small thing compared to that. And then, I would probably
experiment with having special economic zones in the
poorer parts of the country where we would have special
regulatory environment which is freer- like in
Honduras, like in Hong Kong, where we could experiment
with different models of economic development. And then maybe turn really
poor areas, or desolate areas, into something prosperous,
like Singapore and Hong Kong. So a combination of those. I would, in most Serbia, just establish better rule of law, better judiciary, work on cutting public spending
where it’s not necessary, and then, of course,
lifting the tax burden, and introduce special economic zones as would be vehicle for
very rapid economic growth. (mischievous music) – Hey, živeli! – Don’t shoot this. – Sip, it is sipped, it’s not shot. – Delicious. – This one tastes like Grappa. – I like it. – It’s not too sweet. – No, not at all. – This one’s sweeter. – Yeah, it tastes sweeter. – Actors, artists, poets, they hadn’t committed any crimes. They weren’t with the Nazis. They were dangerous because they knew how to tell a story upstream of political ideologies. And I think we need to understand and maybe take a lesson from that. If Tito thought that a poet was dangerous, maybe we need to do more poetry. Maybe we need to make more music, maybe we need to make more videos because things have changed. – So please join me in
welcoming our next speakers, and enjoy the segment. (applause) – You don’t wanna box yourself
in with just one role. If something needs to be
done, step up and do it. Before I knew it, I’m involved in a video
production company. I never expected that
to happen in my life, but I’m doing it, and it’s wonderful. And I’m enjoying trying to
change hearts and minds. – Come up with a story that moves you, and you’re gonna move your audience. That’s how it works. If it affects you, it’s
gonna affect your audience, and just trust that process to happen. – So, a good first day. You guys all did this panel, and, per my advice, you didn’t fuck it up. The house was packed, and I think a lot of people
were, sort of, interested. Every student I’ve met has
been watching our videos, and they’re, sort of, picking them apart, and they’re looking at the
metrics that they can see. So, from my point of
view, mission accomplished because I want every one of these groups to be stealing all of
our stuff, and using it, and rethinking it, and
beating us at our own game. But I think there was
three or four other panels, and you guys filled the room. I was mostly surprised
that Battaglia did okay, I’ll be honest. (soft trumpets) – There’s such an interesting
mix of different styles when you look at the architecture, because there’s clearly the stuff that’s like communist, Soviet which looks like prisons, but there’s something
interesting about them, because now they’re old and worn out so they look like they’re,
sort of, meant to be there type of thing. Like, they fit. And then you have these,
sort of, beautiful buildings that have all these more
intricate details on them. – So you’ve got the great contrast of the old, beautiful architecture, and then, right across the square is the Soviet style apartments that would be suck the life out of you. – I wonder if there was
an explicit decision by the Soviet Union to herd
everyone into cement boxes to kind of dehumanize them, or was it just stupid architecture
that was cheap to make? – The theory of communism had to do with being utilitarian and being modernist and kind of rejecting the
romanticism of the past. And so, I don’t know
if it was explicitly to dehumanize people by putting
them in cardboard boxes, but the whole theory
of modern architecture was part and parcel
with communist ideology. – Petar was saying yesterday, talking about growing up in the block where it was built to
have everything you need in this one little community. You go to the same school there, there’s all your shopping and
necessities are right there, and everyone’s in these block buildings, and it’s almost the same feeling as, the way that he was describing it, it sounded almost like
dorm living in the US. – It’s a consequence of central planning when you’re trying to be
as efficient as possible, and you don’t allow the beauty of just spontaneous buildings to crop up and everyone could design it
the way they wanted it to be. (upbeat music) – [Battaglia] You don’t
tip in this country? – [Terry] No. – [Battaglia] You don’t
tip in Europe, right? – [Logan] No one tips
except Americans basically. – Alright, so here’s
breakfast for five people. It’s 2,040 dinar, which converts, roughly,
to 20 dollars in the U.S. We just had breakfast
for five for 20 bucks, Which is why traveling over
here is pretty awesome. I have to look twice because I- to make sure that I have it correct. – [Battaglia] So the
dollar is strong here? – The dollar is very strong here. (soft music) – Don’t they grow wine in Serbia? – Oh yeah. – Because I think we had
some Serbian wine last time. – Yeah, there are several areas where there are wineries, cellars, but they’re outside of the city. You’d have to go into
countryside and really see them, but in recent years,
especially, this industry, the wine industry, has
been growing very fast, and you have many family-owned cellars that have built up production and they’re now exporting
around the world. – Yeah. – I’ve heard from people who
buy them in other countries, they’re considered pretty good wines. (jazzy music) – You’re wondering how the
hell I found this place, right? So yesterday when I was
walking to meet up with you, I walked past this bar
and it looked really cool And we like to try different
wines in different countries, and since this was a wine bar
that focused on Serbian wines I thought it would be a cool place. Most people think when you’re in Europe the only place to get good
wine is France and Italy, but every country makes amazing wine, and people just don’t know about it. And it’s a really cool way
to experience the culture and try new things. – We’ve had wine in Croatia, and I feel like every Balkan country makes really cool wines, which you wouldn’t really expect, but pre-communism they all
made these beautiful wines. This one’s kind of a bordeaux-style, I don’t know, I can’t read it
because it’s all in Serbian, but there’s definitely cabernet in here, it’s probably merlot, and
it’s pretty damn good. – It is good, and we’ve had wines in Georgia, and that’s one of the
earliest countries, I believe, that started producing wine. – Yep – And Georgia actually exports to the U.S. They sell it at Whole Foods. – Well, it must be- – It must be good if they
sell it at Whole Foods. – All I know is that it’s been a long day, and a nice glass of
cabernet is pretty cool. – Perfect way to end the day. – With my special lady friend. – At least you called me that
and not your honey badger. – Yeah, well, I’ve called you other things, too. – Yeah, I know. (suspenseful music) – This night has turned
into a horror movie. – [Battaglia] This did
turn into a horror movie. – [Logan] I told you. – Alright. Well, we’re around people
now, so that’s good. – We were just on a boat on a river where we almost got, presumably, murdered and left in the Danube. And now we’re in a outdoor
restaurant with a band. – [Sam] Yeah, I think traveling
is about just exploring. Just really going where you
instincts are telling you to go. – [Battaglia] And that’s
what this is, it’s great. – [Sam] That’s exactly what we did. – [Logan] Yeah, you never
know what you’re gonna find. So much of this stuff
over here is the same as what they have in the US, and if you go to the touristy parts, you’re gonna be disappointed. But if you wander around, you’d find stuff that’s
completely different. – In the US this does not
exist as a restaurant. This is just like there’s
just half of a wall up and now, okay, we put a restaurant here. It’s awesome. – [Logan] This place is so much different than the place we were just at. – Yes, yes. This is very hip and upscale. There’s a band playing and- – [Sam] It’s like a light,
there’s bright lights. – Yeah. – [Logan] I feel safe here. We need to rename this series
“Traveling with Idiots.”

25 thoughts on “Freedom Trek: Belgrade, Serbia

  • Marvellous Job, I totally liked it!, check my live band cover or guitar(solo)+vocals cover of 'Rock the Night', you might like 🙂

  • I say this as a gay guy living in Belgrade. I have NO problems what so ever, i dont understand what this video is about? And why are these people here? Economy is good, my prime minister is openly gay, city is developing as full speed etc. We dont need western propaganda to scare people again

  • Belgrade is a beautiful place, people are nice, good food, economy is growing, there is no shortage of democracy. I don't understand what is this all about, maybe just to cause a trouble? Is there a better democracy in the western countries, USA? I don't think so. Have a nice day.

  • Always tip the waiter in Serbia! 10-15% is recommended. So, if your check was 2000 dinara, tip the waiter with 200-300.
    If you ate for $20 commenting that is so amazing to have a meal for that amount of money, please don't be so miserly to give few dollars tip.
    Pozdrav iz Beograda.

  • Belgrade is not like US city, cant get murdered just like that…. Americans are always paranoic about safety

  • I was born in Belgrade and lived there for more than half a century. This is not accurate picture of the town and life in it.
    Why do they have to show old ugly building twice in the video, but not so many nice new and modern or old historical buildings?
    And the longest sequence in the video was the name of the store which represents capital of Jordan (nothing personal, just saying).
    If I didn’t see my town with my own eyes and if this was the only source of information, I would think that this is the place I would never ever consider visiting.
    Actually, it’s totally opposite.
    Anyways, thank you for being in Belgrade and not making worse propaganda that was already made before the war in 99, and after.
    Btw word “communism “ was never mentioned so many times in ex YU compared to how many times people from western countries talked about it.

  • Lot of Serbs doesn't eat meat, haven't you noticed? What you had seen is our price for enormous love for freedom.Why do you think Belgrade has been carpet bombed so often trough history? Why are you,people, so opssessivlly brainwashed with that one word- comunizam? In Serbian history socializam has been less than 50 years in more than 1000 years of living in Balcans!!!

  • E, Seronjo! Baš si nas lepo predstavio! I to jednom nadmenom, umišljenom čudaku koji misli da je Big in Japan ovde u Srbiji. Ugledaj se na Čarlija. On je veći Srbin od tebe.

  • These Guys are delusional Liars and despicable Servants of NATO-US neo-colonialism called "freedom and democracy", no matters that these Words lost any real Meaning in Reality- except as a Cover-Wordsmith for complete take-over all National Resources and brainwashing of ignorant younger Population, who don't remember that this "Freedom-Fighters" took the Power through the Coup'd'Etate in 2000. and almost completely destroyed the State and the Nation. They are "colluded" with foreign Powers and have no right to enter Political Scene – same as USA would not allow Party financed from Russia or whomever to take Part in the Elections, we all see how America treat such a Combination in recent "Russia-Gate" Hoax. So, all these despicable Traitors and Agents of US NED should be expelled or banned of any Political Engagement. Meanwhile, everything they say is a steamy Pile of BS, switched Thesis and worst Hypocrisy.

  • Really? You don't tip in Serbia? In Europe? Yes you do. You don't tip in the UK. But everywhere else you do. And every American I've met, in the states, in the UK AND IN Serbia, tipped well, all but you. And the representation of Serbia is kind of off but not to shabby. Your guide did well, he is right for the most things.

  • Communism, communism. Through our history Muslim Turks were killing us for being Christian, Austro Hungarian Catholics were killing us for being Orthodox Christian, Croats were killing us for being Serbian, Tito's communist partisans were killig us for being anti communist and than, we were placed behind Iron Curtain and bombed illegaly by NATO "democracy". You do not speak about freedom you shit through your mouth. You are full of shit.

  • Ignorant, arrogant, prejudiced, dumb americunts. Go fuck yourself. My favorite line was "they used to make great wine before communism". Just how dumb and insane do you have to be to say something like that? Hurr, hurr, communism destroys everything, communism is evil, communism is worse than Hitler, hurr, hurr. Try to learn about things you don't know instead of satisfying yourself with propaganda served to you. And it's not like you're kids, you are grown people. There is no excuse for your prejudice.

  • Freedom? Maybe you should go to Saudi Arabia. Last time I checked you could say what you want, have protests every single week and block traffic, walk down the street with a beer and listen to punk music at a bar until the sun comes up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *