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International Information Centre for Balkan Studies



Serwer: Serbia’s current elite steals, people to think about it in elections

October 12, 2021

Daniel Serwer, a Johns Hopkins University professor, told N1 on Tuesday that the mention of Serbia's three ministers and a close friend of President Aleksandar Vucic in the 'Pandora Papers' showed a corruption problem in the country, similar to the one existing in other Balkans countries.

In an interview with N1, he said some parts of the population were unhappy with corruption in all those countries.

„Why (Kosovo’s Albin) Kurti became Prime Minister? The public felt the corruption was out of control and that he would be able to fix it. As far as Serbia is concerned, I think it’s clear – the current elite, in power for some time already, steals, and I have nothing against that the people realise that and take it into account when going to the polls,“ Serwer said.

Commenting on a wave of the rightist defeats in Europe and what that can mean for Vucic, the professor said it was clear the ethnic nationalism was withdrawing in the world and that the US former President Donald Trump’s ouster was an important step. However, he said, that did not mean Vucic would lose the next elections since he had great support in Serbia.

Serwer said Vucic managed to implement illegal repression over the opposition, that he controlled media and courts in the country. According to the professor, that meant Vucic would be most likely re-elected unless a strong leader from the ranks of liberal democrats appeared.

Speaking about the recent European Union – Western Balkans Summit, Serwer said it left doors open to enlargement. But, it was too early to talk about dates since the candidate countries would have to meet rigorous conditions.

Referring to Slovenia’s proposal for 2030 as the year for the regional countries to join the EU, Serwer said he was not surprised. „I think the mentioning of 2030 was positive.“ He added that for one or two countries, the membership could happen even before.

„No doubt the joining is not automatic. It requires a consensus of all member states, and that is difficult to achieve. It will be easier when the EU economy recovers from the COVID-19-related recession,“ he added.

Commenting on Serbia’s chances of joining the EU, he said it was clear that Belgrade was not looking at both East and East.

„Vucic clearly said he would not solve Kosovo’s issue before the next years’ elections, and probably not during the next mandate if elected. So, he is not looking at both sides anymore, but at one directed to Russia and China,“ Serwer said.

He added that Serbia’s authorities reintroduced autocracy at home and focused its foreign policy on the East.

„The same goes for some other Western Balkans countries, but to a certain extent for Montenegro, whose Government likes Russians. Even the previous regime had huge investments from China, like a motorway that is under construction,“ Serwer said.

At the same time, he added, Kosovo, Albania and North Macedonia remained focused on the West and the EU membership. That is why he believes one or two countries can join the bloc before 2030 if they „get serious in maintaining democracy and open society.“

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/serwer-serbias-current-elite-steals-people-to-think-about-it-in-elections-2/

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