Marinika Tepic, a Serbia's opposition leader, told N1 on Wednesday that the announced merger of state-controlled Telekom Srbija and privately-owned Telenor represented "the last and strongest blow of the regime to make Serbia (President Aleksandar) Vucic's dark vilayet".
„The goal of the merger is to destroy SBB. That is equal to the non-existence of TV N1 and Nova S, and for me, that is absolutely alarming,“ she said.
Tepic added that „what is being tried now is for one private company, with the help of another – the state one – to destroy, eliminate and expel the third private company from Serbia, not because of the profit, but because of maintaining the rating of the party. “
She asked Peter Kellner, a Czech businessman and the Telenor’s new owner, whether he was aware that the business with Telekom Serbia involved the destruction of the competing company?
Tepic added it was not in line with the European business standards, nor was it in line with what Telenor had said in a statement.
„It’s the last hour for Telenor to withdraw from this business. I ask Telenor to look again at everything Telekom’s officials planned on behalf of the (ruling Serbian Progressive Party) SNS and be aware that this is entirely contrary to European standards. If it does not withdraw, I assume that the European Union will also have to react because Telenor comes for an EU member state, „Tepic said.
She added that Vucic „faked the existence of democratic and free media on the eve of the election year, only to preserve his sources of information and eliminate N1 and Nova S.“
Milovan Brkic, a journalist, agreed the Telekom and Telenor merger would be „a direful practice,“ and „an example how a company with the majority of state’s stakes „cannot fight the competition in the market with its business performance, but has to use the political power of its owner, i.e., the state, to deal with the competition.“
He added that this is „an example and proof of what a predatory state is and what it is ready to do and what power it has to destroy both the market and the competition, to preserve its company.“