Professor Vojin Rakic at University of Belgrade and Haifa commented the nomination of governments of Serbia and Kosovo in an open letter to the US President Donald Trump's special envoy for the Belgarde - Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations Richard Grenell, which we publish in its entirety.
"Dear Mr Grenell,
I am addressing you as one of the creators of the Washington Agreement, signed on 4 September of this year in the White House. You have retweeted the idea that the governments of the United States, Serbia and Kosovo be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Please allow me first to emphasize that the signed document about agreements and intents is a good step for Serbia, but a step that is not „good enough“ – a term that Americans liked to use when addressing manipulative actions of Slobodan Milosevic and others who they taught how politically appropriate behaviour ought to look like.
Let us begin with the positive sides of the agreement. The turn to the U.S. and the E.U. that President Vucic has been forced to make, is indeed a huge turn in Serbian Foreign Policy. That turn ought to be strongly welcomed.
The U.S. is a traditional ally of Serbia, it is still the most powerful country in the world, and practically the only power that, except the E.U., is relevant for the region Serbia finds itself in. Israel is for several reasons a natural ally fo Serbia and proximity with that country brings a lot of good to Serbia. Almost as important and very compatible with an approximation with the U.S. (and Israel) is a strong intensification of the movement of Serbia in the direction of the E.U. The costs of turning away from Russia, China and a part fo the Arab world are incomparably lower than the benefits of an alliance with the U.S., the E.U. and Israel.
The announced turn in Serbia`s foreign policy has however to become a permanent roadmap that should be reinforced with the passing of time. This roadmap does of course not exclude cultural, ecclesiastical and other cooperation characterizing the traditional ties between Serbia and Russia.
Why is this nonetheless not „good enough“ for the Nobel Peace Prize? Because correction of a sidetracked foreign policy course ought to be accompanied by a correction of a sidetracked internal policy that is being conducted in Serbia. President Vucic is an autocrat, a dictator who does not respect the values on which both the U.S. and other Western democracies have been built.
Without democratization of Serbia its foreign policy orientation toward democratic states cannot be sustained. If Serbia remains a country that is not being marked by a division of powers, in which the legislative power and judiciary are largely branches of the executive power - which has been usurped by one man, while there is no free and fair elections, no media freedoms, no respect for basic human rights, Serbia can at any moment turn back to the foreign policy course of its authoritarian mentors in Russia and China.
How does this relate to the Nobel Peace Prize? False elections, the harassment of political opponents by lies, even about their families in President Vucic`s tabloid newspapers, the mistreatment of their children in the same tabloid newspapers, preposterous reporting in media with national frequencies – all this are only some of the reasons why the Government of Serbia and the President of Serbia are very far from anything resembling democracy and a deserved Nobel Prize in any field. The fall of the Serbian media scene in the deepest mud moves at an increased pace in the direction of a hardly believable smear campaign against selected political opponents, in which all means are being used to defame them.
Apart from this, the members of the SNS delegation in Washington (SNS is the acronym for the ruling party of President Vucic) are not people the names of whom should be brought in the context of the Nobel Prize – unless we want to make a mockery of this prize. President Vucic is a dictator, a usurper of power, a violator of the Constitution, the de facto editor-in-chief of the most vulgar tabloid newspapers.
I also would like to remind that Aleksandar Vucic was the Minister for Propaganda in the Serbian Government during Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Serbia who has died in the prison of the Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, indicted for war crimes and the most severe crimes in the field of human rights in general.
Let us not forget that Vucic has never been brought to justice for his role in these crimes – a role he is alleged to have had as the person in charge of creating public opinion and instructing people to commit crimes for which Milosevic has been indicted. Apart from that, President Vucic`s entire thirty-year long political career has been marked by the commitment of various forms of violence and calls to commit it in his own country, by an open and protracted support to wars, as well as by a call for mass murders of genocidal character. Is it possible to imagine that such an individual obtains the Nobel Peace Prize, except in a joke?
It also deserves to be mentioned in this context that an important member of the SNS delegation in Washington is a proven thief of intellectual property, a plagiator – something that the Senate of the University of Belgrade has found and officially confirmed.
When dealing not with the President of Serbia, but with the Government of Serbia, the state of affairs is also far from rosy. The „Crisis Staff“ for the „fight“ against the pandemic, which consists of a large number of politicians and a few experts, is highly compromised (at least in its political part) by some decisions it has made, out of which the most bizarre one is an abrupt and drastic relaxation of very strict anti-pandemic measures, only in order to hold fake elections on 21 June 2020. The data of independent researchers (BIRN) raise very serious suspicions that the Crisis Staff falsified data about the number of deceased and infected people in the weeks preceding the „elections“ – to such an extent that, according to BIRN data, the number of deceased people has been lowered by at least 300%. The Crisis Staff has never even attempted to explain these data discrepancies, that is, the "double evidences".
It ought to be kept in mind that the President of the Crisis Staff is at the same time the Prime Minister of Serbia, Ms Ana Brnabic, who has been masterminding and managing this enterprise, not only with President Vucic, but also with her Chief of Staff and a number of ministers and Government appointees in the Crisis Staff. Does such a government deserve to obtain the Nobel Prize for Peace or anything else?
President Vucic has undoubtedly caused ridicule among the Serbian public, while sitting, in the manner of a humble butler, in front of President Trump`s desk. His sad appearance is however not the most important issue.
The most important issue is the turn of Serbian foreign policy in the direction of the United States, the European Union and Israel. Now it is however of the utmost importance, in order to stabilize this turn, to fundamentally reform the political system in Serbia. In that political system, there is not anymore a division of powers – all the power is in the hands of a quasi-political mafia that serves its chief.
All an all, as a Serbian saying formulates it, „One swallow does not create spring“. A spring is what a humiliated Serbia craves for. That time of the year is incompatible with a dictator and an organized criminal group that is in power.
Professor Vojin Rakic, PhD
Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Bioethics
Head of the European Division of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics
The University of Belgrade, University of Haifa."