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IBNA/Interview: Serbia will have presidential campaign soon

IBNA/Interview: Serbia will have presidential campaign soon
Belgrade, August 11. 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Milos Mitrovic

-The foreign influence on forming the government was certainly important, but it was not decisive. I think that Serbia could and should have got new government earlier. We have waiting so long not only and primarily because of foreign pressures, but rather due to well-known PM's tendency to dramatize and lament- Safeta Bisevac, prominent Serbian journalists said in interview for IBNA commenting the ongoing process of forming new cabinet of prime minister Aleksandar Vucic.

Safeta Bisevac is the editor and columnist in “Danas” daily.

* Serbia is finally on the way to get new government, almost four months since Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) has won the elections. What were the reasons for this stalling - was it the consequence of foreign pressures, as it has been claimed by tabloids, but also some officials?

- It is not unusual for foreign countries, especially those big and important, to take an interest for the composition of the governments of the countries they found interesting. The same can be said on wish of those big countries to see some people who are close to them becoming ministers. Therefore, it is natural that U.S, Russia, EU, but also some other countries, take an interest on who would be members of the new Serbian government. In Serbia, this is frequently interpreted as pressure or interfering in the internal affairs, while, according to some media accounts, Serbia is so important that Obama and Putin were spending sleepless nights because of worry who would be the members of the new cabinet of Aleksandar Vucic. It's a kind of Balkans mentality to be more important than we really are. We are so important that everybody fight for our affection, and we cannot decide whether we would go with Americans, Russians, Germans, or Chinese... The foreign influence on forming the government was certainly important, but it was not decisive. I think that Serbia could and should have got new government earlier. We have waiting so long not only and primarily because of foreign pressures, but rather due to well-known PM's tendency to dramatize and lament.

* Do you think that we could soon face the start of the campaign for presidential election which would be the extension of a kind of "state of emergency" in the country?

- The elections for Serbian president should take place next year, but we already have the lengthy list of the bidders who have already nominated themselves through media. These elections will be interesting mostly because they will indicate the state of affairs within the ruling party (SNS). The main issue would be whether premier Vucic would support reelection of Tomislav Nikolic, or this voting would mark their political divorce. We have permanent election campaign in Serbia and we will certainly have presidential campaign soon. And this would be new waste of time, energy, money...

* Do you expect any change in Serbian foreign policy? Will new government continue to "balance" or it will more decisively embrace the positions of the EU, including in country's relations with Russia?

- Ivica Dacic, leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), remains foreign minister and I don't believe that we should expect significant changes, despite the fact that politics in Serbia is conducted by one man - premier Vucic. Dacic is close to Moscow and I don't think he would allow turning back to Russia. EU expects from Serbia, as a candidate for membership, to gradually harmonize its foreign politics with that of Brussels. I don't think this would be possible in the near future. Serbia is completely dependent on Russia in terms of energy and our economic interests order us to be very careful on what we are doing. I think that calming down the situation in the region would be important for our foreign policy. This would be very important task for minister Dacic, taking into account his undiplomatic statements he has been giving recently, especially in arguments with Croatia.

* Vucic presents himself as the champion of the reconciliation and cooperation within the region. What was his role in recent tensions with the neighboring countries, especially in Serbia-Croatia relations?

- Frankly, we cannot claim that Vucic was directly involved in "adding fuel to the fire". He simply allowed ministers Vulin, Dacic and Stefanovic to raise tensions from Serbian side with senseless statements and notes of protest. Vucic was wisely standing behind the scene and only occasionally appearing in order to remain that he is "factor of reconciliation, peace and stability". I belong to those who believe that Vulin, Dacic and Stefanovic were saying in what Vucic believes, but refrain to say in order to preserve his image, particularly in the West. We are getting new government; Croatia will have its new government after elections in September, so calming the tensions should be expected, at least between Zagreb and Belgrade.

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