Manojlović:”Conflicts contaminate and push people into apathy”

Some analysts estimate that Savo Manojlović, campaign director of the Kreni-Promeni movement, could be the new face that would lead demotivated voters to the elections, while certain media have speculated that he and the president of the New Democratic Party of Serbia, Miloš Jovanović, make a perfect candidate for Belgrade mayor.

On the other hand, messages are coming from the opposition parties that “now is not the time for political exhibitionism, nor new faces”. Manojlović was criticized by certain opposition figures before but he says that „any conflicts contaminate and drive voters into apathy”.

You placed a sculpture of a red snail in front of the building of the National Parliament, which, as you said, symbolizes a “creeping coup d’état” and RTS’s positive reporting on lithium mining in Serbia. What do you want to achieve with that? What do you want to achieve by calling citizens to come and protest in front of the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS) building on Thursday?

The protests and blockades that stopped the Rio Tinto project won the battle, while the war to prevent Serbia from experiencing environmental destruction is still ongoing. We are asking RTS for a debate in line with the Law on Public Information. By law, as a public broadcaster, they are obliged to report on topics of public interest and this is not a subjective feeling. The importance of this topic is also visible from the monitoring we carried out, according to which lithium was mentioned 239 times in two weeks (on RTS), of which 85 percent was positive lobbying. Rio Tinto was mentioned 67 times, of which 77 percent was positive lobbying. It is evident that there is a need to perform a certain kind of media lobotomy and change public opinion. The law is crystal clear in this matter – when one state-funded body or entity prevents a public legal entity from using its legal powers, that is the definition of a coup d’état.

Now that a new government is being formed, what are your expectations regarding lithium?

They will continue lobbying and that was quite clear when we announced that (Serbian President Aleksandar) Vučić would have to confirm this after his return from Davos, i.e. he had undertaken that obligation. It was a bit comical when he said at that pompous presentation that he didn’t plan to talk about lithium, while behind him was an old presentation with lithium as the topic. The government will try to lobby, however, research clearly indicates that the people simply do not want it and the expert opinion is quite clear about this. These are not our views, we stand behind what professors, academics and more than 60 scientists have concluded.

The opening of the media is, among other things, an issue that the opposition is also focused on. What kind of cooperation do you currently have with the opposition parties, given that you have similar goals?

In terms of cooperation, we had over 1,000 controllers that we trained to monitor the election and offered their services to the opposition. We also had 233 observers. To be honest, when I am talking about best interests, I am not referring to the government or the opposition, I am referring to the best interests of Serbia. I think only the worst about this government. As far as specific demands are concerned, we did not participate in the formulation of the opposition’s demands toward the government.

You mentioned earlier that you see politics as an opportunity to make a change so that people can live better. Analysts have previously pointed to the fact that you have political capital. In this regard, are you considering the possibility of participating in the elections?

I don’t like to speculate. Once I make up my mind, I will voice it clearly and it will be a decision that I made together with the people from the Kreni-Promeni movement.  

Has a political party contacted you on this topic?

No, they didn’t, nor did I offer myself to anyone.

How about before?

They did before.

Do you believe that the government will meet the opposition’s demands regarding improving election conditions and what outcome do you expect from the upcoming elections?

As someone who does not participate in the negotiations, I find it inappropriate to comment on that, especially because some of my earlier statements were severely criticized. It is crucial to stop the migration of voters in the next elections. This is something we warned about even before the previous election, i.e. that it is necessary to provide controllers at polling stations, but this did not happen. I would like to reiterate again that it is very important that all political parties, be it close to the government or the opposition, must have accurate projections of the election results during election night. We have said this so many times before, as did voters and analysts, but nothing happened.

I don’t want to talk about whether we should participate in the elections or not.  The opposition will choose its own path, but I think it’s very important that it be consistent. That is, if you choose an extra-institutional method to fight, which includes not participating in the work of the parliament, fighting in the street, strikes, blockades and the like, then you do that. If you want to fight through the institutions, you participate in all elections. I would agree with the political analyst Boban Stojanović, who said that it is illogical to boycott some elections and not others. There is a grave danger that, if you boycott the Belgrade elections and go to the local ones, people will abstain from voting in the local ones. Therefore, I think that consistency and timing is a very important thing.

(NIN, 03.04.2024)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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