By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade
“All heads of the police departments will be dismissed“, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said today. The decision has been made in accordance with the Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic initiative and the police director has approved the move, Vucic stressed at the press conference.
Earlier today the Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic announced the dismissals of police officials “from key positions” expressing his dissatisfaction with their performance; “the police should not use media manipulation”, Nikolic said adding that police officials should not be engaged in politics. According to the President, in this moment “an adequate fight against crime and corruption is impossible”.
In his address to the nation, Nikolic has demanded the appointments of “responsible people” at key positions in the police in order “security for all citizens to be provided”.
“The citizens of Serbia justly expect from their state to provide them a safe life without fear that they may become victims of violence one day”, Nikolic stated adding that the people’s confidence in the police depends on its efficiency; “therefore, it is necessary for reforms to continue for the creation of an efficient and depoliticized police that will serve the people“.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Vucic has said that “the state will promptly put an end to the crisis produced by the security system itself”.
Tanjug, state-owned news agency underlined that “media speculate on the dismissals of all police top officers putting this in connection with the case of Saric (Darko, drug lord arrested earlier this year) and an assessment by the Prime Minister of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic that the atmosphere in Serbia resembles the one in 2003, when Prime Minister (Serbian) Zoran Djindjic had been assassinated”.
Djukanovic’s “friendly warnings” to Vucic
Earlier this week Djukanovic, the ally of the current Serbian government, warned Prime Minister Vucic on 2003-like atmosphere in the serbian media. Vucic thanked Djukanovic on his concern, but said that “Serbian state is stronger than those who want to destroy it”.
In May, some Serbian newspapers had launched the stories on alleged plot by some police circles aimed at provoking the resignation of Vucic. The reports suggested that those circles have intended to blackmail Vucic on the basis of the alleged restaurant fight in which Vucic’s son allegedly took part. However, these alleged attempts have failed.
Djukanovic and Vucic are now allies, just like Djukanovic and Djincic, first democratic Serbian Prime Minister used to be. Vucic, who is now insisting on comprehensive reforms, the politics which is still not confirmed and is followed by populism according to critics, was a fierce opponent of Djindjic’s reforms. At the time, Vucic was striving for “Greater Serbia”, denying war crimes from the serbian side, and was strongly against the country’s path towards the European Union. Serbian joining EU is now his priority.
What Djukanovic and Vucic have in common are the clashes with media, regardless of the suspicions that some of them are misused by certain political or criminal groups. During the authoritarian regime of Slobodan Milosevic (1998 – 2000) Vucic was information minister; his two-year term was marked with a terror against independent media which had been banned, censored and fined with enormous amounts.
It turns out that the media are the weak spot of the politically transformed, pro-European Vucic, inspired by Max Veber, rather than Vojislav Seselj, “Greater Serbia” ideologist and leader of Serbian Radical Party, the group Vucic belonged from 1993 to 2008. Earlier this month Vucic has accused OSCE for conspiracy against him and his government, for this group expressed its concerns over the alleged censorship in Serbia. He still expects apology from the OSCE, claiming that the remarks by this international organization have been motivated by the unwillingness of the serbian government to impose sanctions to Russia.
Djukanovic is in an open conflict with some media in Montenegro, especially with “Vijesti” daily. Police investigations on a number of attacks on “Vijesti” journalists and property have yielded no results so far.
President Nikolic has concluded that “an adequate fight against criminal and corruption is not possible” due to the “unprofessional approach by individuals in police”. Thus, Nikolic has demanded from the government to appoint “true fighters against criminal”.
“Police cannot use media manipulations nor act under the pressure of police officers or the political authority; it should protect all in accordance with the Law, and protect nobody from the Law. It has to be completely clear who was elected by people to engage with politics, and who is responsible for the peace and security of all citizens of Serbia”, Nikolic emphasized.