IBNA Op-Ed/The biggest difference between Vucic and his colleagues from the region consists on the profile and work. He doesn’t talk about “successes” and “achievements”, but through his language, he scans the serious situation in the country and he presents this diagnosis to his citizens in order to unveil the steps that he’s taking to change the situation
By Beqe Cufaj
Essayist and great German poet, Hans Magnus Enzensberger often practices a saying. “I’m a man. This is what makes me different to the oak, because the man moves, walks, alters his view, perception and with this, his position. The oak doesn’t do this. The oak stays where it is and cannot move!”.
Enzensberger’s saying can perhaps describe at best on one hand the biography and on the other hand, the politics of Aleksandar Vucic who as of today is officially the strongest man in the neighboring country.
As it was expected, the winner of the elections in Serbia is leader of “Progressivists” of Serbia. It would be too much to talk about the biography of Aleksandar Vucic, which even today, it continues to be a subject of the media in the region and the world. From a convinced nationalist and chauvinist, but also a committed student of Sheshel’s and Nikolic’s political views, within a short period of time, he managed to become no. 1 in Serbia. This metamorphosis which at the beginning seemed unbelievable, today it’s perfect and quasi irreversible in his role as the leader of the Serb state, but also an important factor in the region, where peace with neighbors is at stake and when Serbia’s domestic reforms which would lead to the European integration are also at stake. In these two challenges, Vucic will be unthreatened from within and without any alternatives for partners abroad.
Vucic’s path toward this triumph was neither easy, nor simple. On the contrary, under the shadow of his “fathers” in the abovementioned politics, for more than a decade he was seen and perceived as their instrument in Belgrade’s politics.
After the painful decision of Tomislav Nikolic to first separate and then form his political party, Aleksandar Vucic had hesitated to join him at once. Nobody ever understood why and how he then joined Nikolic’s ranks. Has he seen his chance on his departure? As the third man among Radicals-after Sheshel (who went to Hague) and Nikolic who became a de facto chief, perhaps he had seen his chance to occupy the chair of the leader? Nobody knows. What’s known is what has been done. Nobody knows even what the accord was with the founder of “Neprednjaks” and head of Serbia today. Nevertheless, whatever this was, it went well for Nikolic. Because along with Vucic, whom he brought along, they killed two birds with one stone. They separated from Sheshel and his ideology and at the same time, radicals threw them in the waters of anonymity. In this, they also had the help of Koshtunica, who continues to be the Serbian politician who never improves. What’s known about the Nikolic-Vucic tandem is that in their politics, be it the “cleansing” politics from the chauvinist past and in the restructuring of the new party, they showed stamina that it’s hard to find in the Balkan. For years in a row, Serbia’s Progressivists Party, burdened by the radical past, denounced and stigmatized by Tadic’s “democrats” as “a party of the destabilization of the Balkan” and hindered by the international factor who did everything to hold in power Djindjic’s benjamins, they nevertheless managed to become the biggest party in the country and at the same time, to endure the burden of being in the opposition. Let us not forget their demonstrations and hunger strikes and also the fatal blows given to them by Tadic 5 years ago when he entered a coalition with Dacic’s socialists. We must also not forget the total mobilization two years ago when Tadic’s Democrats lost the elections and collaborated with Dacic again by offering him “only” the post of deputy prime minister, thus offering them two a very big opportunity: Nikolic and Vucic. Without further hesitation, these two did what was expected: Dacic, who had won only 13% of the votes, was offered a lot more: the post of the Prime Minister with the condition of Nikolic to become President whereas Vucic would become the deputy prime minister of Serbia. Everything that follows belongs to the near past which we all remember.
As president of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic could still not be detached from his nationalist past. This is why he’s often seen with hesitation in Europe (Berlin and Brussels). But this cannot be said about America, where “Progressivists” have strong ties and even lobbyists who have opened to them doors in the Congress, Senate, but also in the State Department and White House (everything had started with the former US ambassador William Montgomery, who is considered to have helped Nikolic and Vucic a great deal). Dacic too was seen with the same skepticism. Dacic was given the task of negotiator with Pristina and tasks which didn’t have too much to do with domestic administrative reforms, economic and financial processes and reformation of the Serb government 7 months ago. All of this was undertaken by the third man in the hierarchy and what he did made him a winner in these elections and made him the leader who won most of the votes in the history of pluralism in Serbia.
Why and how did Vucic do this? Because in the quality of the new leader of Serb “Progressivists” and deputy prime minister, through a soft system, he managed to be detached from nationalism without turning into a cosmopolite denier, but by remaining a mature patriot. Because he didn’t attach himself to absolute power and didn’t argue with the small partner of the coalition, but he was wise with the only scope of taking his political “father” to the post of the President of Serbia by accepting a compromise to allow Dacic to hold the post of prime minister, although the he had many more votes than socialists.
All of this starting from this point.
With a simple language, since the time when he was in opposition until he acted as deputy prime minister, Vucic did something which seemed and seems uncommon in the Balkan: he talked and still talks to the Serb citizens about the serious situation that the country is in. He used to tell them and still tells them that when Kosovo is at stake, they should have accepted and should accept serious and terrifying compromises (from their point of view).
They should make these compromises in order for the country to be granted the EU candidate status and this was covered by him and not Dacic. He used to tell and still tells people that corruption is a matter of individuals, consisting on politicians and tycoons, but also an issue of the citizens who must get used to the fact that they can live even without corruption. And he managed to act by arresting the biggest shots in the Balkan, such as Mishkovic and also prosecute others such as Sharic. He sent to prison Tadic’s former ministers and also remove from his ranks corrupted people.
Above all, what characterized Vucic and what became the foundation stone of the new politician in Serbia and Balkan if you will, is the sincerity that he uses to talk to the citizens, that he acts in politics and in the international arena-be it in Europe or America, Asia and Africa.
The biggest difference between Vucic and his colleagues from the region consists on the profile and work. He doesn’t talk about “successes” and “achievements”, but through his language, he scans the serious situation in the country and he presents this diagnosis to his citizens in order to unveil the steps that he’s taking to change the situation. His declaration after Sunday’s victory that “his new government will not work to win the next elections but the future generations of Serbia” is the best indicator as to where the new Serbian leader is coming from. He wants to lead his people and the citizens of his country toward the European Union integration!
Does he do this for nationalist causes? No. I believe that Vucic has discovered something that we do not dare and we’re not willing to accept. Perhaps not so much the motto of the German essayist than the German model: Serbs, as losers of the Balkan wars, want to make a comeback in the Balkan, as winners in economy and development! This is the truth whether we like it or not!
*The author is an Albanian writer and publicist from Kosovo. He’s one of the most translated and published author in foreign languages. His essays and his novels have been published in different languages and European anthologies, such as in German, French, English, Italian, Dutch, Croatian, etc. He also writes for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitun and Neue Zürcher Zeitung, etc.