In her op-ed piece for the US daily, the Washington Times, Serbian PM, Ana Brnabic responds to claims that the government’s handling of the fight against the Covid-19 contagion has trampled on democratic values.
Brnabic writes:“ President Aleksandar Vucic and the Serbian government have taken serious precautions to protect our citizens and economy. Sadly, however, some have inaccurately depicted these precautions as government overreach or even suppression of democracy in Serbia. Neither is true. The measures adopted by Mr. Vucic and the Serbian government to fight coronavirus are both proportional to the threat and consistent with democratic practice in times of crisis.”
She then goes to say that, just like Italy, Spain, Romania and Estonia, Serbia has declared the state of emergency and adds:
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„Since the Serbian Assembly went into recess because of social distancing requirements, in parliament’s absence, Mr. Vucic, the outgoing speaker of the assembly, and I, as prime minister, appropriately employed our joint constitutional prerogative to declare a state of emergency, which is limited to 180 days.”
„Second, to concentrate the limited medical care and resources that exist, Serbia has established numerous quarantine facilities throughout the country. One of these facilities is the Belgrade Fair dome, which can provide temporary isolation to 3,000 of our infected citizens. Unfortunately, photos of the facility were released in the midst of preparations, causing critics to call it “chilling,”, Brnabic goes on to say and adds:
“Had these critics waited until its completion to pass judgment, however, they would see that the Belgrade Fair is far more comfortable than those first photos might suggest. As one visitor said, “it’s not the Hilton, but it’s not terrible either.” While I wish Serbia was in a position to establish temporary Hiltons, no country is at the moment.”
As for the economic measures to help the ailing economy, Brnabic writes: “Third, in coordination with the International Monetary Fund, the Serbian government adopted a $5.6-billion economic stimulus package that focuses on support for small businesses and the deferral of tax payments. It also includes direct financial aid to each citizen of Serbia. Although far smaller in absolute terms, these measures track closely with those adopted in the United States and many EU countries.”
Commenting on the media allegedly twisting President Vucic’s statements about the projection of the number of dead from Covid-19 in Serbia, the PM says: “Finally, some have criticized President Vucic’s statement that “Belgrade’s graveyards won’t be big enough” if people ignore isolation and social distancing requirements. They have twisted and manipulated his words to suggest this was some sort of threat. It certainly was not.
Rather, this was a statement of fact. Mr. Vucic has lost his closest childhood friend to coronavirus. His son has now contracted the disease. The pandemic is serious, especially for one of the oldest societies in Europe. If our citizens violate social distancing requirements, people will die. This is true in all countries, and all of our citizens need to understand the consequences of irresponsible behaviour in the clearest of terms.”
This post is also available in: Italiano