Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic gave an interview to Belgrade weekly NIN, a magazine considered by the authorities to be siding openly with opponents of the Serbian regime.
Vucic and his associates lashed out at NIN a few years ago when the weekly published a cover story picture of the president at an arms fair with a rifle seeming to have been aimed at him. Editor-in-Chief Milan Culibrk reminded readers that Vucic’s previous interview with the weekly was given 9 years earlier.
Vucic was asked about the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) campaign call centre revealed by a CINS investigative reporter and replied that claims that it was paying its staff cash to avoid taxes would be investigated. He denied that the call centre location is secret, adding that the party has at least 1,500 mainly volunteers in local branches. He said that a “small violation of the law” had been made and that a fine had to be paid.
The president also denied that Belivuk organized crime group members provided security for his inauguration in 2017, accusing the interviewer of inventing the claim. Vucic said the police report of close links between government General Secretary Novak Nedic and the Belivuk group proves nothing. “You can prosecute someone if a crime was committed, not based on news reports. The state is not a tabloid,” he said.
The president said he is not considering Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) leader Ivica Dacic for the post of prime minister. “The SNS is considering at least two people as am I but none of them are Dacic,” he said. Vucic said that the SNS would win an absolute majority in parliament, adding that he “can’t find his way around in co-habitation”.
According to him, his election ticket won’t need the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) to secure a majority nor will it need the national minority parties.
“If they win I will congratulate them that same night. I will immediately say that I am prepared to discuss presidential elections in May or September 2024 because I know I can’t achieve any serious results like that. And that is the end of the story,” Vucic said.
He went on to say that the Ohrid Agreement (pertaining to Serbia’s normalization of the dialogue with Pristina authorities) could become a part of Chapter 35 in Serbia’s EU accession talks and, consequently, a condition for the country to join the bloc.
“First, let’s see what happens because they (Western powers) cannot ignore something they have discussed with me. After each of their visits, including after Ohrid itself, I have come out and said clearly what it is that we accept and what we cannot accept, because my explicit verbal statement is also the position of the state,” he said.
He noted that he had also told Serbian MPs the so-called Kosovo’s admission to the UN was out of the question and that he had also informed “the French, the Germans, the Italians and all Europeans” of that.
Vucic said two countries – which he declined to name for the time being – were “strongly pushing” for the Ohrid deal to become a part of the EU talks process.
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