Experts say that mass shootings in Serbia were used as political tools ahead of huge rallies
Political experts have reacted to the two huge political protests being organised for the weekend, portraying the rally organised by the ruling party and that by the opposition as using the tragic mass shootings for political means.
The Serbian capital will host two large political gatherings on Friday and Saturday. Analysts Vladimir Vuletić and Boško Jakšić spoke to EURACTIV about the “toxic discipline” of politics in Serbia. A rally by leading SNS will occur on Friday, with the fourth “Serbia against violence” opposition and anti-government protest to follow on Saturday.
“The opposition protest is in and of itself a political one, regardless of its name. It is organised by political parties, but also the demands are copied from the arsenal of multiple previous opposition gatherings”, Vuletić, a sociologist and analyst, told EURACTIV.
The opposition calls for Internal Affairs Minister Bratislav Gašić and the director of Serbia’s intelligence body, BIA, Aleksandar Vulin, to step down. It also demands the cancelling of several “violence-promoting” media.
“By making those demands, the opposition is trying to ride and redirect the wave of sorrow and anger after the mass shootings in Belgrade and Mladenovac towards undermining the pillars of government. Symbolically, the guilt for the unfortunate events is being directed at significant regime media, as far-fetched as that is”, said Vuletić.
In reaction to the protests, SNS, the governing party of President Aleksandar Vucic, has scheduled a rally named “Serbia of Hope” to show it has much more supporters than the opposition.
According to Vuletić, both events could lead to a serious confrontation that would signify the pure opposite of the alleged reason for the protests.
“Who would benefit from such an escalation, the government or the opposition? Another way out could be early elections at all levels”, said Vuletić, warning that this scenario would hold up other political processes, such as implementing the European plan for Kosovo.
“The political calculation is not yet obvious to everyone, but what is clear is the fact that a tragic event without precedent has served as a stake in a political game that is just gearing up”, he said.
Jakšić, journalist and political analyst, told EURACTIV that Serbia has again shown that its politic is a “toxic discipline”.
“A quiet and dignified protest against violence has been belittled by minimising the number of participants and is being called a disgraceful demonstration of vultures, accused of trying to capitalise general pain. The opposition had to have guessed that even one of its members being present would be used to manipulate. They should have had the courage to step back and let citizens, for once, show their emotions on their own,” he said.
“Political wisdom was missing on that part, but President Aleksandar Vučić is in a rare situation that could go out of hand. With more nerves and less creativity, he relied on the scenography of the times of Slobodan Milošević. It will be another colossal divide. On one side, Serbia deeply concerned about its future. On the other, a rent-a-crowd that chooses the past because of fear or pure lack of thinking”, he added.
(EURACTIV.rs | Tamara Milošević Grbić)