There is a hidden agenda behind the announcement of a snap election in Serbia, said expert in political marketing and political PR Cvijetin Milivojevic, adding that this news is made public for some different goals.
Speaking for the Fonet news agency, Milivojevic said the recent talks with European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn proved that Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic “got some more time” to be cooperative in terms of Kosovo.
According to him, the European Union and most probably the OSCE too will turn a blind eye to the lack of the freedom of speech, and the lack of the freedom in general, in order for Vucic to be “hyper-constructive and hyper-cooperative about Kosovo.”
“I think that in the end the Chapter 23, which refers to the judiciary and fundamental rights – which means the human rights and the press freedom as well, will be a bigger problem than Kosovo,” according to Milivojevic.
Some of Serbia’s media outlets have been dealing lately with treats which were condemned by international organisations promoting media freedom and protection of journalists. The latest threats and pressure were addressed to N1 TV, which prompted its management to send a note to more than 130 international organisations, media associations and EU institutions, calling them to protect N1 from the campaign led by high-ranking government and ruling coalition officials.
Meanwhile, the EU-mediated talks between Belgrade and Pristina on normalisation of relations have been put on hold after Pristina authorities introduced late last year the import taxes for goods from Serbia. Despite the calls of the EU and USA to lift them, Kosovo keeps the tariffs in place to date.
According to Milivojevic, “it seems like the authorities are more ready to give up on Kosovo with a consolation prize than to seriously approach the 23rd chapter.”
The expert agrees with assessments that calling the snap election in Serbia also depends on “Pristina’s decision to lift the taxes,” or more precisely “from the decision of Washington, which determines Pristina’s policy.”
Commenting on “nature” of the ruling SNS party’s moves, from the announcement of snap election to the announcement of April rally, Milivojevic said that these moves “cannot be described either offensive or defensive.”
The President, according to him, noticed that something was happening in Serbia although he is diminishing the number of protesters on streets, which is why, Milivojevic added, he launched “the partisan campaign the Future of Serbia.”
At the same time, he imposed a disqualification and criminalisation of another campaign that is called the protest of citizens naming it “the campaign of gallows” and “the campaign of the chainsaw,” said the political expert.
According to him, President Vucic “fears the most two demands set by the opposition – free and fair electoral rules and the freedom of media.”
On the other hand, he continued, “setting free two crucial, most popular media outlets, RTS (Serbia’s public broadcaster) and the most influential commercial TV station (PINK TV)” could easily influence the growth of collectivity who would not vote for Vucic.
Vucic reads “fantastically good” the opinion polls, which say that the current President would get the support of about 60 percent of citizens who would vote in the election, said Milivojevic. “That would be all, nothing more, the others would not vote, and even if they do they would not vote him.”
Commenting on current atmosphere in Serbia and “dug political trenches,” he said “only one, the stronger side in Serbia actually dug a trench” and that same side “built a wall and wants to draw borders with the opposition.”
Milivojevic, who is the owner of Pragma marketing agency, deems that President Vucic is “a classic political improviser,” capable of presenting opposing stances in few days or several times in one single day.
President of Serbia violates the Constitution on a daily basis
Milivojevic finds it particularly concerning that “the President violates the Constitution and behaves as the executive authority, which he is not, and dictates the state policy, although this falls under the jurisdiction of the Government.”
According to the political expert, “every day he (the President) does something that is subject to criminal liability,” while neither the state prosecutor nor the Constitutional Court react to.
“The President of the Republic, according to the Constitution, maintains the state unity. Vucic’s behaviour, let me be nice here, speaks of the lack of the home manners, even if he didn’t know much about the law and he does know a lot,” said Milivojevic.
He finds it shocking that the President of Serbia “changes the names and surnames of his political opponents, naming one opposition leader drug addict Trifunovic, the second one fascist Obradovic, while he calls the third one tycoon Djilas.”
“He sometimes calls the fourth one Qatari or Hong-Kong mercenary, while his media outlets call the fourth one the greater-Serbian nationalist and also Islamic fundamentalist because of his family background,” Milivojevic recalled.
As the SNS leader, Vucic does not have to talk to anyone but as the President of Serbia he does, that is his duty, added Milivojevic.
“As the SNS President, he does not have to talk to anyone, and we can see he does not talk even to his closest associates, but as the President of the country he must pursue dialogue,” he said pointing out that everything except talks would be the waste of time.
All those who served in the army know, Milivojevic continued, that war happens if dialogue fails. “In order to stop a war, a talk on conditions to end the war or to capitulate is a necessity.”
He believes that no one wants the situation to get radical neither in the opposition nor in the ruling coalition which, according to him, could win the election again under “relatively normal electoral conditions.”
List of media outlets as ‘proof’ of media freedom
Milivojevic finds it quite problematic that the authorities interpret the civil disobedience as radicalisation, “which both theory and practice deny.”
The list of 18 media outlets that President’s media advisor Suzana Vasiljevic mentioned as “a proof” of the media freedom reminds Milivojevic of “a spectacular” exhibition of “Non-censored lie” made up by “(Montenegro’s President) Milo Djukanovic’s consultant and then Government of Serbia.”
“That list is a brutal threat for those who think different, who write different, speak differently,” said Milivojevic, expressing concerns that this list also means a file of editors and journalists who work there and their home addresses.
According to him, this is a warning that their whereabouts and work are known and that “they should think about how to behave in the future.” He assessed as “inappropriate” for a civil servant to present a list of media outlets.