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An insight into a Swiss interview with Serbian Prime Minister Vučić

15.03.2015 | By Roman Oeschger

Serbian Prime Minister Vučić gave an interview to the Swiss newspaper “Neue Zürcher Zeitung.“ The main topics were as well domestic policy as Serbia’s relations to its neighbours, the EU and Russia.

Beginning with domestic policy, in fact the state budget is in deficit and the economy stagnates but Serbia, Vučić explained, was and is able to implement reforms which will further pave the way for getting closer to the EU. Also, as part of an IMF agreement, the process of privatizations will be completed until the end of year, he believes. “Either we will find someone who buys a state factory and makes it profitable or we will dissolve it.”

Being asked about the de facto independency of Kosovo Serbian Prime Minister disagreed about the status. Indeed, there are dialogues and there were made many compromises in order to protect Serbian minority in Kosovo and to come towards the EU. But neither de fact nor de jure “we are not willing to accept independency of Kosovo…hopefully Brussels will not just expect concession from us.”

A question about the 7000 Bosniaks who were killed by Serb-Croats in Srebrenica 20 years ago led to the statement that Serbia totally supports the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Vučić additionally maintained that he also expresses this position all the time to the President of Republic of Srbska. “And as you know, for my first foreign trip as a prime minister I went to Sarajevo.”

Concerning Croatia and its role towards Serbian EU membership Vučić explains his non-critique-strategy towards its neighbouring countries. Despite of some disharmony over the last months between Serbia and Croatia the Prime Minister wants to work on improving the relations.  “We are not reserved because we are weak. We are reserved because we want to work on the stability of the Western Balkans. Stability is a keyword in my policy.”

Furthermore, the Serbian Prime Minister also expressed his astonishment about Putin’s decision to stop constructing the South Stream which would have been important for Serbia’s energy supply. However, Vučić stated that he does not finally care so much about from where the gas comes from but he cares about having enough gas for the Serbian people – “It is about survival.” Nevertheless, Serbia wants to have good relations with Russia. But “this does not mean we are trying to find an alternative way, no, Serbia stays on EU-course. Period.”

In spite of not taking over the EU sanctions against Russia Vučić is convicted that the relations are very good with the EU. “I say that now the first time: Serbia will be the 29. member state of the EU. We will do our work and Serbian people know that it will still take time to see improvements in their lives.”

The observation of the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” that in Serbia people seem to rather focus on charismatic leaders than on functioning institutions seemed to meet Vučić own impression. “You know, Serbs love it…this is a tradition here… but we do our best to improve the capacity of institutions. And I hope with further integration into the EU institutions will get better and more independent. This is decisive for Serbia.”

Finally being asked about Vučić’s own nationalist past he explained that it was a process and he wanted the best results for his country. “There is one important thing for me: Results.” He also mentioned the difficulties during 90’s. But “I was young and I am not ashamed to say: I have done mistakes but I have changed. Now I refuse to pick up any nationalist topic. I work hard and that is all what I do. Today Serbia is a pillar of stability.”

Source: http://www.nzz.ch/international/europa/serbien-wird-den-pfad-nach-bruessel-nicht-verlassen-1.18498619
Picture: srbija.gov.rs

About Author

Roman Oeschger

Holds M.A. in International Relations & Diplomacy from the Faculty of International Relations of Anglo-American University, Prague. He also finished his B.A. in Politics & Society at Anglo-American University. He specializes in the European Union, the Visegrad Group, German, Swiss & Austrian Politics and Environmentalism.

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