Speaking at the end of the rally within his Future of Serbia campaign, President Aleksandar Vucic said his aim was for the citizens to be satisfied, adding that among his political opponents there were those who wanted good for the country and that “we should see what we could agree on,” but said he would not accept ultimatums, N1 reported.
In what appears to be his response to the opposition demands for a dialogue sent to him last Saturday with a deadline until this Friday evening, Vucic said that “anything but ultimatums and violence is possible.”
“We also must protect those journalists who we think don’t do their job as they should,” Vucic told the crowd in what seemed to be an answer to increasing attacks on professional journalists in Serbia and harsh criticism from the intentional community over the issue.
He has told his supporters and members of his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), the official organisers of the gathering, that they (the authorities) respond to the opponents nicely and decently, but if they opt for violence, the answer will be sharp and responsible.
Vucic said he would not cede to ultimatums not even concerning the Kosovo issue, though “today all kinds of emissaries are coming to Belgrade,” asking him to do something for (Kosovo) Albanians so that they abolish the 100 percent import taxes on goods from Serbia introduced last November.
“We also should protect those journalists who we think don’t do their job as they should," Vucic said in what seemed to be an answer to increasing attacks on professional journalists in Serbia and harsh criticism from the intentional community over the issue.
“Our reply is – we will do nothing, we have done a lot already, now is your turn to behave normally because the import taxes are not normal in 21 century,” he said.
Vucic invited some Kosovo Serbs, mostly young men, to the stage and they stood there during his speech.
Ahead of the April 29 Western Balkans leaders’ summit in Berlin organised by Germany and France during which the Belgrade – Pristina relations were expected to top the agenda, Vucic said Serbia had to learn from those who managed to preserve their nations.
While Vucic’s supporters were in Belgrade, anti-government protesters held their traditional Friday’s demonstration #1 in 5 million – Nis Without Fear in this southern Serbia’s city. They said that after the Orthodox Easter, the protests would change their form. The plan is to organise debates and set up stands across the country. “We continue to fight against Aleksandar Vucic’s lies; we fight for Serbia’s future,” the organisers said.
He then reminded the crowd of East Prussia which was not a part of Germany any more, as it was the case with Strasbourg in which the German was always spoken, and that despite that Germany was among the most powerful countries in the world.
“My job is to preserve peace,” Vucic said.
Before him, Serbia's Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that “we gathered here to show that Serbia is not divided country nor its society is divided."
"Unfortunately, that (attacks on journalists) follows the trend of the media freedom shrinking which we witnessed under President Aleksandar Vucic,” Gulnoza Said, the coordinator of the Committee for Protection of Journalists (CPJ) from New York told the Voice of America on Friday.
Speaking in Serbian, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said Serbia was "stronger and stronger and that the country's leaders did not disregard the national interests. You deserve to be a European Union member state, and it's unacceptable that they (the EU) lecture you and artificially slow down your membership."
Other speakers were Milorad Dodik, the Chairman of the Bosnian tripartePresidency and the most influential leader of Bosnian Serbs, and Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.
The rally officially started just after 6 pm, but four hours earlier, people were coming in great numbers, bused from across Serbia.