"Serbia's economy in catastrophic shape"
Aleksandar Vučić addressed MPs to say that the government's budget review proposal was "forced" by what he said was "a catastrophic economic situation".Source: Tanjug
Speaking during the debate in the Serbian parliament that ended late on Thursday, the first deputy PM noted that "nobody thought it was the result of the work of the current government, which has only been on the job for the past 45 days".
Addressing opposition Democratic Party (DS) MP Borislav Stefanović, he said that "not even his voters" believed that the new government was to blame for the economy.
"We are doing an honest job," said Vučić, and added that the government would "always be with the people", but also give a chance to its political opponents to speak their minds.
He stressed that with the appointment of Predrag Ćulibrk as director-general of the state-owned telecommunications company Telekom Srbija, "a non-partisan person came to its helm for the first time".
Ćulibrk, the deputy PM asserted, would not allow Telekom to turn into party property - "as was the case while the Democrats were in power".
Vučić told MPs that the company was, during that time, used to "suck out money and for party interests".
Vučić added - dubbing it "another sensational appointment" made by the government - that Dejan Pavićević was now heading the Belgrade team in the Kosovo talks, replacing, Stefanović, and said this was a good development.
The minister also stated that more funds must be said aside for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but that the money must be spent appropriately, wondering "how much the airplane tickets cost, who took the trips, using which agency, and who were the persons 'driving around the world'," apparently in reference to the previous government.
He also accused Stefanović of giving him "sleepless nights" by initialing an agreement on "integrated border management", reached during the EU-sponsored Kosovo talks. Stefanović responded by pointing out to the legal difference between the act of initialing and signing a document, saying his initial was the only one present on the agreement, and there "to verify the veracity of the text".
"You initialed every page of the agreement, and then, because elections were coming, decided not to implement it. But we are the same state and this government will have to implement it," said Vučić.
The deputy PM, who is also defense minister, also told MPs that Serbia would pursue a policy of military neutrality.