PM says "there's no serious reason for govt. to fall"

BELGRADE -- Serbia's PM Ivica Dačić, who also serves as interior minister, has admitted to meeting with Rodoljub Radulović on several occasions.

Ivica Dačić, flanked by top SPS officials and ministers, holds his press conference (Beta)
Ivica Dačić, flanked by top SPS officials and ministers, holds his press conference (Beta)

However, he told an extraordinary news conference in Belgrade on Saturday afternoon that he was unaware that Radulović was a member of the criminal gang led by fugitive Darko Šarić.

Journalists invited to the press conference were not allowed to ask any questions.

The prime minister specified that the meetings took place "four or five years ago", and added that he "never helped Radulović out".

The interior minister then asked: "Who from the police is supposed to keep me informed and why have I been constantly circumvented when it comes to being given timely information about some persons?"

Dačić held his news conference at the SPS party HQ after a meeting of its presidency, and noted that in late 2008, the so-called white book on organized crime was presented, which listed 29 members of the Šarić gang - but not Radulović.

"Why have I not been warned, and who is supposed to organize the counterintelligence protection of top state officials, and guard the integrity and authority of the institution of prime minister? Am I supposed to know better than the police who belongs to a crime group? Who is doing the counterintelligence protection of top state officials? If somebody was doing it, then the hidden camera would not have happened," he said, in reference to a TV show aired recently.

Dačić also asserted that the white book presented in 2008 was "quietly filed in order to use for pressure and blackmail when the time comes".

"I never committed a crime and I will continue to head this government, because nobody has a right to stop Serbia in her tracks now. There is an attempt to target the prime minister and thus cause the government to collapse."

Dačić further complained that he had faced accusations ranging from being a traitor, "and before that a war criminal" - all the way to what he called "the most primitive" - that he was an alcoholic. Finally, he mentioned the hidden camera embarrassment, which he referred to as "the police hidden camera".

"The idea is to paint me as unfit to serve as prime minister. The tasks that the government has undertaken are far too important, and we have a united position that we should fight for a date for (the start) of EU accession date and the Kosovo issue. The government is stable and this is a government with the results that no other had. Every other scenario means that Serbia will be halted. The strikes against me are an attempt to strike at the government's credibility, but they have failed. There is not a single reason for the government to fall."

The prime minister and SPS leader also noted that many with whom he had previously met "ended up in jail" - while many that he was meeting with now "will end up in jail".

"The same goes for Radulović, if it is proven," he told reporters.

According to Dačić, his party's presidency held its meeting ahead of the news conference "because it is the government's six months (in office)".

"There is no serious reason for early elections, everything that has happened is an attempt to discredit the government and its results," said Dačić, and stressed that there was "a united stance about continued work of the government".