In his diary this week, BBC Europe editor Mark Mardell reports on a difficult year for Serbia as it courts the EU, Montenegro makes moves to break away, and international pressure grows for Kosovan independence.
The diary is published every Thursday.
But on the stone I am looking at there is just a name in Cyrillic and dates. Ana Mladic killed herself when she was 23. It is said that her father, the fugitive accused of war crimes, has on occasions broken cover to sit where I am. It is the government's failure to capture him that threatens to stop talks designed to lead to Serbia joining the European Union.
Serbia faces an incredibly difficult year, with a succession of events that may be seen by some Serbs as blows to their sense of self. Either the delaying of talks planned for early April or the capture of Mladic will make some unhappy. The next blow could be the referendum in Montenegro. The government there wants to leave the Union of Serbia and Montenegro, the last scrap of the federation that once made up Yugoslavia.
Montenegro is place of wild beauty. The fringes of Lake Skadar are flood plains, twisted trees and reeds growing out of the water. When I visit it is a cold, grey day and the smooth surface of the lake isn't the deep glorious blue of the picture on the cover of my guide book. Instead, standing on a mountain road writing a radio script I struggle to find an adequate description of the strange hue it has that day and give up. Later my producer, who I suspect would rather be known as a blunt no-nonsense type, reveals a poetic soul when she say it is the colour of old jade.
She is almost as reluctant to talk directly about the coming referendum, saying that she will vote, but it's private and she will opt for what is best for the prosperity of the country. Finally after much prodding she talks about the current relative prosperity of Slovenia, already a member of the EU, and Croatia, a candidate country. She says suddenly: "If we'd known 15 years ago what we know now, perhaps we'd have broken away then, like them."
Many Montenegrins see the sins of Serbia as a drag on their ambition to join the European mainstream.
Perhaps many Serbs will not be stricken with horror if Montenegro becomes Europe's newest nation state after May. But Kosovo may be a different story. Talks on its status begin soon and there will be a definite result by the autumn. Many in the international community (is that the same as what used to be called "The Great Powers"?) want full independence.
As I write, I have yet to meet with members of the Radical Party, but I wonder if this hard-right group will be the beneficiary of this year's humiliations. I can almost see the shrug down the phone as a diplomat from another country that was once part of Yugoslavia tells me: "They are paying now for Milosevic - it's time to pay."
But what has always disturbed me about Tolkien's classic is the lack possibility of redemption for those born within Mordor's boundaries. There is no such thing as a good Orc. I only hope the "Great Powers" know that while this may be unsophisticated in fiction it is plain stupid in real world politics. Some Serbs, and some others, behaved like demons incarnate in the last decade. Now many feel their whole country and race has been demonised.