February 21. 2024. 8:36

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Serbia’s Vučić hints at early election, PM post

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić is ready to call an early election in September and run for prime minister because he is disappointed with his Socialist coalition partners, he told a closed-door session of his ruling party on Monday, Serbian media reported.

“I am ready to go to the polls, as a candidate for prime minister, but I won’t give in to blackmail, by the West, by the Socialists, or the fake right-wingers,” Večernje Novosti daily quoted Vučić as saying following a session of his conservative nationalist SNS party.

According to the daily, Vučić had felt “alone” during last week’s parliament session dedicated to the issue of Kosovo, Serbia’s former province that declared independence in 2008.

Both Serbia, an EU candidate since 2012, and Kosovo are under US and EU pressure to reach a comprehensive deal on the normalisation of relations if they want to advance their EU membership hopes. Serbia is a candidate, while Kosovo applied for membership in December 2022.

During the two-day parliament session – which at times threatened to degenerate into violence between ruling and opposition MPs – Vučić stressed he would “never recognise Kosovo”.

He repeated that he had been told by diplomats that a rejection of the latest Western proposal, which has not been formally made public but has been presented to both sides, would mean a freeze of EU talks and investments in Serbia.

In the end, however, most deputies agreed that Serbia should not recognise Kosovo’s independence or accept its bid for membership in the United Nations, a key element of the proposal.

Vučić told his party colleagues on Monday that he was disappointed with the behaviour of the Socialist party (SPS) in the assembly.

“I am very disappointed by the behaviour of the Socialists, who were somewhere in between, trying to please everyone,” he said.

“It is better to become opposition than to let the party and private interests run the state”.

Vučić has already been prime minister twice, from 2014 to 2016 and from 2016 until 2017, and the head of state since 2017, cementing his grip on power at the helm of a regime that observers describe as increasingly autocratic, with a fragmented opposition and a shrinking number of independent media outlets.

(Zoran Radosavljević | EURACTIV.com)