Opposition DS leader wants "to win back voters"

BELGRADE -- Dragan Đilas says he does not find the issue of "how many individuals will leave the Democratic Party (DS)" to be of principal importance.

Dragan Đilas is seen in Belgrade on Friday (Tanjug)
Dragan Đilas is seen in Belgrade on Friday (Tanjug)

Instead, he said, the most important thing was to convince the citizens to support them in elections.

At a press conference called on Friday after the meeting of the Presidency of the DS in Belgrade, Đilas said that this now opposition party has 200,000 members and that for him the most important question was not whether "10, 20, 100 or 200 people" had left.

His comments came amid reports that many local DS boards were losing their membership.

"There are people today who are leaving the DS. I am really sorry because of that, but they did not see themselves in the party after the reforms we are implementing," said the Belgrade mayor, who took over as leader of the DS last fall.

Đilas added that the Democratic Party "will not agree for its members who point out to the errors of the current government to be declared criminals".

"I do not defend anyone for whom there is evidence that they broke the law, but we can not accept that anyone who is a member of the DS to be declared a thief," he said, and mentioned Goran Ješić and Dušan Elezović "whose arrest has been announced in some media".

"Goran Ješić told the citizens what the government should have said," according to Đilas.

The leader of the Democratic Party added that there was "no basis" for early provincial elections in Vojvodina where his party - opposition on the state level - is in power. The ruling Progressives (SNS) have asked for early elections to be held on the province.

Asked about the proposals to amend the Constitution, Đilas said that the current Constitution must be respected and that those who want to change it must first launch an initiative, "in order to say exactly what it is they wish to change".

Đilas added that he would speak with the central bank governor, Jorgovanka Tabaković, "because she did not allow" the Development Bank of Vojvodina (RBV) to guarantee the party's overdue loans with "personal bills of exchange from the people from the DS".

As a result, the party's bank accounts were frozen earlier this week.