The ‘Karic Brothers’ Award Laureates in 2010


The opening speech of academician Prof Dr Miodrag Ostojic, winner of the Karic Brothers Award in 1998


The main character in the short story ‘The Bridge on the Zepa’ by our Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andric, the Great Vizier Yusuf is contemplating what should be engraved on the stone by the bridge that he donated to his Bosnian hometown. What kind of message should be left to time, travellers and history that has not yet even been recorded? The stone ultimately remained without a text, and the vizier even erased his own life motto ‘Silence is safety’. Architecturally and humanly daring in difficult and progressively turbulent times, driven by the desire to halt the wave of evanescence and oblivion, the Karic family is building a bridge made out of laureates’ names. Each arch represents a name, an impressive life story that selflessly leaves behind its work as a legacy to its homeland, and the world at large. The arches have followed one another over the past thirteen years. On the stone by the bridge are the names of the laureates so that remembrance continues, and nothing remains unsaid.
The Karic Brothers Award is indeed a record of a Serbian family that is aware that one’s value is measured by the mark one leaves whilst building a bridge, and linking the bank of the past to that of the endless future.

‘Thirty years ago I was inspired by the idea of an award whose laureates would be the crowning glory of a different Serbian history’, said Mister Bogoljub Karic, the originator of our award.
His idea has made him a chronicler of our time; ‘A chronicler and his work’, said Ivo Andric at the Nobel Prize award ceremony, ’serve no purpose if they somehow do not serve man and humanity.’
Tonight, for the thirteenth consecutive time, we are witnessing history. We are jointly building new bridge arches with names of great people that are to become the laureates of the Karic Brothers Award this evening. Their names, which will go down in history, are added in golden letters on the stone by the bridge. The Award will continue, as always, to serve man and humanity, and remembrance. Nothing should remain unsaid.



He is talented and imaginative, provocative and prepared to surpass a text with his dramatisation. Blagota Erakovic has been one of the most sought-after stage directors in the former Yugoslavia for the past decades. All major theatres in the former republics have the work of our present laureate in their archives. The theatre historians of the former Yugoslavia are bound to notice the name of Blagota Erakovic whose work recognises no state, creativity or spirit borders. His creativeness has marked an entire historical period.

Extract from the winner’s speech:
‘Being next to those names as a laureate of this significant award represents an obligation and a legacy for the future. What makes my delight exceptional is that this award was established by the internationally acclaimed Karic Company, which is engaged in education and donation beside their regular activities in the field of commerce, industry, construction, etc. and in so doing preserves the honourable tradition of the successful ones in this region. I see this prestigious award, set up by the Karic Foundation, as one of the pinnacles of the overall activities of this company. What makes it even more special is that though established in the times when hatred was considered a trend in public, and regardless of the varying circumstances, this award was nurtured with love and devotion, and with the desire to evoke in us the noblest emotion – faith in love and creative work as the greatest absolute of human existence.’ 


ŽIVORAD ŽIKA AJDAČIĆ, Secretary-general of the Cultural-Educational Association of Serbia

Owing to Zika Ajdacic, the culture and art of Serbia have been presented all over Europe, America, Canada, Australia and Ukraine, and Serbia was visited by artists from Greece, Russia, America, Britain, and France; in brief, the entire world. Beside a successful artistic work performance, he has also contributed immensely on a personal level as a cultural representative for full forty years by agitating for the social and economic status of culture, and particularly for the artistic creative work in the former Yugoslavia, Serbia and Belgrade.

Extract from the winner’s speech:
‘If I were to start telling you about all the accomplishments of the Karic Foundation and how it came to aid at the time when the state was not able to, or did not want to, it would take me hours. When only thinking about the volume of support they gave to culture and artistic work, to my Dragecevo, the sick children, the elderly, our people in Kosovo and Metohija, and how much they contributed in order to familiarise Serbia with the world and vice versa. Therefore, when the award of the greatest Serbian foundation and one of the biggest in Europe and the world at large is bestowed upon you, it brings about much more than just the feeling of honour. You become part of the history of your country, someone special and unique. I am very grateful to the Karic family for giving me that feeling of exceptionality.’


SASHA JAFRI, painter

The Royal Art Academy in London; The Museum of Modern Art; Guggenheim; Prada in New York; Royal Hermitage; House of Lords; Chagall Museum and Grimaldi Forum in Monaco are just some of the numerous museums and galleries where his artwork is exhibited. BBC describes him as a man responsible for the return of painting into the limelight of the world’s art scene. Sasha Jaffrey has raised over 14 million dollars from the sale of his paintings in the past six years for various humanitarian actions throughout the world – Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, etc.

Extract from the winner’s speech:
‘An artist must sacrifice a lot and be prepared for great commitments in order to achieve his goals and make significant accomplishments in his artwork. One often sacrifices one’s own life in order to give something to the world of art in some way, and that sacrifice is on both micro and macro level. This is all possible because you believe in something that way surpasses you. That is why such a great award makes me somewhat humble, but at the same time, it inspires me. I am very proud to be in the company of tonight’s laureates, as well as the previous winners of such a great award from the Karic Foundation.’



Though they have great respect for their cinematography and are very proud of their contribution to the European and worldwide cinema, the Germans call attention to a Serb as a figure that has left an everlasting mark on the screen. It is therefore not surprising that the book ‘1000 Most Important Foreigners in the History of Germany’ includes the biography of a Serbian actor born in the village of Strojkovce near Leskovac.
An impressive acting biography of Gojko Mitic consists of 30 feature films, 25 TV films and series, significant stage roles such as the character of Spartacus, Rinaldo, Robin Hood, and Zorba the Greek. He played the role of Vinetou on stage for 1024 times, and that was a major role in his acting career.

Extract from the winner’s speech:
‘I have recently read, I believe it was in the Ilustrovana Politika, a translated interview with me taken from the Stern, and titled ‘Where has Gojko Mitic disappeared?’, and guess who found me? It was the Karic Foundation! I am very happy and honoured to receive this award in my country of origin, in my Serbia. I wish to express my gratitude to the Karic family, the Foundation and the jury that has selected me as a laureate.’


JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BUISSON, journalist and publicist

During the nineties, Jean-Christophe Buisson has defied with his texts the media blockade of Serbia, and objectively reported about the events that took place in the former Yugoslavia. Buisson is an author of a number of books on the subject of Serbian history and its capital. Amongst the popular titles are ‘Mihajlovic – a hero betrayed by the Allies’, and ‘The Taste of Belgrade’. The latest novel of Jean-Christophe Buisson called ‘The Novel of Belgrade’ has been recently presented at the Serbian Cultural Centre in Paris. It comes as a unanimous opinion that the newest title gives a picturesque view of the turbulent history of the Serbian capital throughout centuries, categorizing it as one of the most significant capitals of Europe.

Extract from the winner’s speech:
 ‘It is fifteen years now since I have been trying to comprehend the Serbian soul. I also delved into the history of Serbia since I believe that the present of a certain nation cannot be comprehended without the knowledge of its history, and the past of a nation can only be understood if one is acquainted with its heroes. I have tried to understand who the heroes of the Serbian people are. I was genuinely touched by Mestrovic’s sculpture on Kalemegdan, on which it is written Love France the way it has loved you.
Mrs Karic, I would like to let you know that I shall have Love Serbia the way it has loved you tattooed next to my heart.’


MIKHAIL EFIMOVIC NIKOLAEV, Vice-President of the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia

A Russian politician that is internationally recognised as a promoter of progress, economic growth, development of culture, science and peace, and a supporter of the economic and cultural integration of Siberia, the far east of Russia and the Asian-Pacific region. In his capacity as vice-president of the Federation Council, and as president of the National Committee of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia in charge of the UNESCO matters, Mr Nikolaev is responsible for the preservation of the cultural heritage.
He achieves significant results in the field of culture and social cooperation between the region of the Russian Federation and the European countries.

Extract from the winner’s speech:
Gratitude speech by his daughter Mrs Andreevna Olga Nikolaevna
‘As a vice-president of the Federation Council, my father was obliged to remain in his homeland. We are both very grateful to the Karic family, primarily Mrs Milanka Karic, president of the Karic Foundation, Mr Dragomir Karic, and the entire Karic family for expressing affection towards our family and country with their compassion and benevolence, and did the same towards many other people from different countries. It is owing to the Karic family that we meet and form friendships all over the world.’


HAJJI HAMDIJA ef. JUSUFSPAHIĆ, The honorary Reis-ulem of the Islamic community in Serbia

The promotion of the Islamic community in the world did not pass by the promotion of the Yugoslavian, and thereafter, Serbian society. With his attitude and faith truthfully moulded, to this day Hajji Hamdija ef. Jusufspahic sets an example of how one belongs to faith, nation and homeland with one’s intentions, deeds, words – both spoken and written, and passes down to new generations a testament to the friendship and peaceful coexistence within one state.
Wherever he would go, he would always represent in full glory not only the Islamic community in Serbia, but also his nation and country.

Extract from the winner’s speech:
A gratitude speech by his son Mohamed
‘Dear Karic family, and dear brothers of ours, you were the first one in Serbia who had a live broadcast of the Bayram prayer on your TV channel. You were the first who reacted to our appeal for support in the construction of our school in Belgrade. You have been deeply rooted in our hearts to this day. Furthermore, you were the first to remember a slightly forgotten man who has been appealing for peace and amiable coexistence among communities in Belgrade for four and a half decades.
Our dear brothers, you are always the first in benevolence, and God shall undoubtedly reward it in a special way; who He loves, He puts to the test. Challenges in life are difficult, but the most important is that they are of temporary nature. A man should remain a man, and that is who you are. On that note, I thank God for making your acquaintance.’



Mrs Esther Coopersmith, the Ambassador to the UN for the World Intercultural Dialogue, belong to those never sufficient envoys of human hope. She is an individual that strives to bring peace all over the world, to initiate understanding amongst people and make them see that the differences in faith, nationality and culture represent an advantage, and a chance to appreciate the diversity and find a linking common ground.
In April of 2010, our dear Esther visited Serbia and the monasteries in Kosovo and Metohija, and during the meeting with the Serbian Patriarch Irinej, offered help from UNESCO, in addition to her personal engagement to preserve our churches in Kosovo and Metohija.
With her selfless professional and benevolent involvement, Mrs Esther Coopersmith presents Serbia in all its glory and uniqueness to the world.

Extract from the winner’s speech:
‘I am very grateful to the Karic family, and certainly the Karic Foundation, for this very significant and wonderful award. I accept this award in a good American tradition, and, of course, on behalf of my family, the United States of America, my state, and the UNESCO. For this reason, and the award that means so much to me, I wish that my family were here with me tonight, so that you could all see them and greet them.
The youngest members of my family have visited Serbia, and they absolutely loved everything about it, as does their grandmother. Serbia is truly unique, and I must tell you that you are located on the most beautiful geographical spot in this region.’