PM discusses elections, crime cases, Nobel

BELGRADE -- Prime Minister Ivica Dačić has said that his Socialists (SPS) "also find the coming year the best for elections, because they achieved the best results."

(B92)
(B92)

But the question now is whether this is a priority, Dačić told B92 TV in an interview late on Monday.

"I do not see a reason for elections. No government since that led by Đinđić had a more positive assessment from the citizens," he said.

Dačić added while "those parties that are not in the government want elections so they could be in power," SNS leader and his first deputy in the cabinet Aleksandar Vučić and himself do not believe that elections are a priority.

"All EU members today speak positively about Serbia, there has been a historic success on the road to European integration. There is a difficult period coming: on January 17 we will be forced to a meeting with Thaci so they can pressure us ahead of the first intergovernmental conference on January 21," said Dačić.

He added that in February "experts for chapters 23 and 24 are coming, when progress in reforms in the field of justice and internal affairs will be appraised."

He said that his relationship with Vučić was "correct" and that they always "sought agreement on everything." After the government reshuffle, Dačić stressed, the cabinet was stable and the SNS received a majority without elections.

The prime minister said that the public enterprise Srbijagas - led by SPS official Dušan Bajatović - "requires assistance from the state like some others," and that the company was "buying gas at higher prices than it is selling, which is one of the reasons for its lack of profitability."

Asked what will happen with the state-owned pharmaceutical company Galenika, and to comment on claims that the SPS "killed Galenika," Dačić said: "I have not protected anyone from the SPS, in any investigation... No one must abuse politics...But, you know that power corrupts people, and such things always occur...The party has nothing to do with it, such assessments are made for political purposes."

Asked about the so-called Banana Affair and whether he was in favor of his adviser Branko Lazarević being summoned for questioned - and whether he thought that "based on some information he was personally threatened" - Dačić said that the issue of Lazarević was "part of a political fight that was being led for a while."

He recalled that several years ago a working group was set up to dealing with the issue of suspected drug lord Darko Šarić. "It is not our (politicians') business to deal with police investigations, working groups do that," stressed Dačić, who also serves as interior minister, and added that there were "indications of an arrest," but that it was difficult to answer when Šarić might be apprehended.

Asked about the murder case of journalist Slavko Ćuruvija, which happened when the SPS and its then leader Slobodan Milošević were in power, Dačić said that "whoever did political killings must be held responsible."

Asked whether Milošević gave such orders, he replied that "Milošević is now dead, but whoever gave the orders should be held responsible, surely that should be prosecuted. The state also killed Zoran Đinđić, he was killed by the people who worked in the state system."

"Nobody should be suspicious that someone will be acquitted," Dačić said, mentioning that the Commission for Investigation of Murders of Journalists helped the investigation.

"It would be just if these cases were finished at this time, because the parties that I belong to and the one which Vučić belonged to then - they were in power at the time."

Asked about President Tomislav Nikolić's claim that he was being wiretapped, Dačić said that he, as a minister, got involved in this issue and that "already some personnel changes have taken place."

"To be clear - the role of the police is to protect state officials and these procedures are the topics which will soon be discussed," he said, adding that he could not say whether the president was indeed wiretapped.

When asked what he thought about a message sent by Nikolić that he would not sign any "interstate agreement with Kosovo," Dačić said that this message was not sent to him, but to "the EU and Brussels."

"The (Kosovo) talks were status-neutral from the start, the talks which, I'll remind you, were initiated by President Nikolić," Dačić said.

"None of us has the intention and the Serbian government will never sign an inter-state contract with Priština. We will never, at the cost of future membership in the EU, change that opinion," said Dačić.

Nobel

Ivica Dačić also said that his chances of winning a Nobel Peace Prize are a thousand to one and the issue should be put aside, as even if he wins the award, he will think very seriously about whether he should accept it in the company of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

He stated that he had said it before the UN Security Council, in Thaci’s presence, that he considers Thaci to be a trader in human organs. The prime minister stressed that he had not asked anybody to nominate him for the prize and none of his efforts have been aimed at receiving it and he is not interested in it.

“Should Thaci receive it or not is not something that we can be deciding about, and the chances of my getting it are a thousand to one so the issue should be put aside. The only good thing here is that somebody said something nice about us, and whether I like the company – well, I did not like the company even when I first sat down to negotiate,” Dačić said.

“If I get it, I will seriously think about whether it should be received in such a company at all,” Dačić said when asked to comment on a statement by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic that he should not accept receiving the prize in the presence of the Kosovo prime minister.