Investigations are underway in Serbia into the work done by independent journalists and activists because they threaten the power of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, and there is no criticism from the EU, because Vučić has one ardent supporter there, both Spiegel and Deutsche Welle report.
Spiegel magazine writes in its latest issue that the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, recently declared a triumphant victory, that at the end of June, Vučić’s “right-wing-conservative” Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) won three-quarters of the parliamentary seats.
But, as the paper states, Vučić’s rejoicing over the fantastic result did not last long …
The paper points out that Serbia has not calmed down since the elections, that protests lasted for days at the beginning of July, in which there was some violence. The reason, as it is stated, was a drastic increase in the number of people infected with the crown and poor presidential and government management of the crisis.
It is recalled that at the end of July, thousands of doctors protested in an open appeal due to the bad health policy of the government and demanded the resignation of the anti-corona crisis unit.
“At the same time, the media revealed the details of the affair regarding the arms trade with Armenia, which showed all dimensions of corruption and organized crime on the domestic political level and brought Serbia a diplomatic conflict with Azerbaijan.” “To this should be added the indignation of the public because of the elections: during the election campaign and during the voting, there were major violations of the rules and attempts to falsify, and almost all opposition parties boycotted the elections anyway,” Spiegel states.
The paper points out that in that “tricky situation for him”, President Vučić started attacking the remnants of freedoms in Serbia.
It is stated that since the end of July, the Serbian authorities are conducting an investigation against almost 40 non-governmental organizations and independent media, as well as against twenty individuals on suspicion of money laundering and possible links to terrorism, while specific accusations against the defendants have not been stated.
“Among them are the two most important non-governmental organizations – the Helsinki Committee in Serbia and the Belgrade Center for Human Rights, as well as the investigative journalism networks BIRN, Cins, and KRIK, which have revealed numerous scandals of the Vučić regime with corruption and abuse of power.” .
“Aleksandar Vučić is a man eager for power, with an insatiable thirst for even greater power and control,” says Viennese political scientist and specialist for the Western Balkans Vedran Džihić about the background of these investigations. “It is difficult for him to bear any criticism. Attacks on independent NGOs and journalist networks follow the scenario of other autocrats such as Putin, Erdogan or Orban. ”
It is recalled that Vučić was the Minister of Information during the time of Slobodan Milošević in 1995, and that more than a decade ago he made an electoral-tactical turn towards more moderate positions.
“As the president of the state, Vučić has only small powers. But, in fact, he rules Serbia indefinitely. “His power is strengthened by the fact that the Serbian opposition parties are divided, they generally do not have credibility, and they are partly trying to overtake Vučić,” the paper states.
According to Spiegel, for Vučić, they are a real threat to the journalistic network against which an investigation is currently being conducted, because their announcements have always caused public indignation and mobilized people to demonstrate.
“There has been no public criticism of the investigation into money laundering from the EU or the official Berlin, which is especially active in the region of the Western Balkans. The most important thing for Brussels and Berlin is not to lose Serbia as a partner in resolving the conflict regarding Kosovo,” states Spiegel.
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To that, he says, should be the open support of the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, and his party, Fidesz. That party and Vučić’s SNS are members of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament.
“The Hungarian prime minister is one of the most ardent advocates of Serbia’s quick accession to the EU. Orban hopes that this will strengthen the illiberal counterweight to Brussels “, states Spiegel.
“The project of the illiberal European alliance is essentially against the EU and democracy,” says political scientist Vedran Dzihic. “Therefore, it should be clear that tactics and pragmatic treatment of the new autocrats will not tame them and turn them into democracy.”
According to Dzihic, the EU will have to side with the libertarian and democratic forces in Serbia in a shorter or longer period of time, “or it will lose part of its legitimacy.”
“In the meantime, Vučić announced that an investigation is being conducted against four ministers of the current government due to money laundering. Names – not specified. One of them should be the Minister of Finance, Siniša Mali, who symbolically represents corruption in Serbia “, writes Spiegel and states that Mali, among other things, is involved in the affair over a large real estate project in Belgrade.
This post is also available in: Italiano