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Interview with Tomislav Nikolic

The frontrunner in Serbia’s presidential election on June 13, according to opinion polls, is the deputy leader of the Serbian Radical Party, Tomislav Nikolic. The party is a former coalition partner of Slobodan Milosevic’s Socialist Party of Serbia and its leader, Vojislav Seselj, is, like Milosevic, now in custody in The Hague, awaiting trial on war crime charges. B92’s Sanda Savic interviewed Nikolic two weeks before the election.

Guest: Tomislav Nikolic
Author:
Sanda Savic

B92:† Tonightís guest is the Serbian Radical Partyís presidential candidate, Tomislav Nikolic.† Good evening and welcome.

Nikolic:† Good evening.† Iím happy to be here.

B92:† Your slogan in this campaign is ďRealisticĒ.† Last time around it was ďRadically BetterĒ.† Does this mean that you have given up the concept of radical changes or is it only a change of image?

Nikolic:† Yes.† ďRadically BetterĒ was a slogan for the parliamentary elections.† I think we will have something very similar for the coming extraordinary parliamentary elections, after the June 13 election.† My victory is really something realistic in Serbia and many people I have heard in the street had guessed what our slogan would be.

B92:† We shall begin by looking at one day of your election campaign.† We had a crew with you yesterday in Kragujevac, but before we see this footage I must ask you to comment on the fact that Vojislav Seselj made a decision not to vote in the presidential elections.† Does this mean that you have lost his support or is this also because of the change of image?

Nikolic:† Itís not that.† I know Vojislav Seselj very well.† When we drafted the law on election of members of parliament we said that there would not be any voting organised where there is no control and we donít want to damage any candidate or political party.† There is no control in The Hague, no one knows how people will vote there and, because the Foreign Ministry will count the votes, Vojislav decided not to give his vote away to anyone else, they would discard the ballot slips and substitute new ones anyway.† This time itís the goat who is guarding the cabbage.

B92:† You say you donít doubt his support.† So why is it you have not mentioned him during the past few days of the campaign?

Nikolic:† What do you mean I havenít mentioned him.

B92:† You have?

Nikolic:† What do you mean Iím not mentioning him?† Iím not the kind of person who would betray a friend and teacher.† Iím not interested in what other people think about whether I should betray someone or not.† I do everything according to my conscience.

VIDEO FOOTAGE FROM KRAGUJEVAC

Nikolic in Kragujevac:† I want to make sure you sleep peacefully, that you have security, that the government starts providing jobs for you instead of closing down factories.† There should be workers in the factories, not rats.† There should not be wind blowing through broken windows.† I want you to be able to be productive and I know where the market is for our goods.† Itís not in the West.† I want to cooperate with the West.† I want to cooperate in a way in which no has had the guts to cooperate for a long time.† In the way I broke Harri Holkeriís back in Strasbourg fifteen days ago.

Radical Party supporter:† It only seems that the party has changed a lot, but basically nothing much has changed.† They look a bit different, nothing more.

STUDIO

B92:† Mr Nikolic, how would you reply to this supporter of yours?† Will you tell him that youíre the same Toma, orÖ

Nikolic:† He didnít ask me anything.

B92:† Ö are you discarding your earlier policies?

Nikolic:† These observations are correct: nothing has changed.† Iím only fed up with being defeated by people not worthy of me.† I think that our response to what befell us last year is the correct one.† Weíve behaved ourselves all these fourteen or fifteen years when we were under constant attack from our political opponents, the media, you name it.† Finally, the truth has come to the surface.† The Serbian Radical Party has climbed to the top in times when we were really under threat.† When they were persecuting us, beating us, harassing us and arresting us, we behaved differently; we showed how good we are at defending ourselves.† Now, when no one is persecuting us and when we have room for activity, it would be really stupid of us to do what is not necessary.

B92:† You mean to use the violent methods you used before?

Nikolic:† To respond to violence, to respond to violence.† I donít know of anyone except Milosevic accusing us of violence, weíve never committed violence.

B92:† All right, weíll come back to that later.† Letís talk now about your main election messages.† We heard in Kragujevac about the change of foreign policy and the improvement of the economy:† these are the two things you most emphasise.† Letís start from the beginning.† You say you want both the West and the East.

Nikolic:† Foreign policy is somewhat defined by the changes which took place after 2000.† The West has brought its protťgťs to power in Serbia, theyíve been in power for four years and theyíre still in power, so I canít say the West is not present here.† Itís here, itís penetrated our society considerably, and in a bad way.† Itís possible that it had the best of intentions, but that the people in power here have failed those intentions.† We must cooperate with the West.

B92:† And, in your opinion, who is our main partner in the West at the moment?

Nikolic:† The European Union, I think.

B92:† Youíve heard what Javier Solana said:† ďIf Tomislav Nikolic wins, the EU wonít support him and this will be a very bad signal to foreign investors.Ē

Nikolic:† He didnít say that.

B92:† That is exactly what he said.

Nikolic:† He said this very gently and mildly, choosing his words very carefully.† He said that he believes foreign investors will not be too happy if I win.

B92:† ďItís going to be a bad signal,Ē thatís what he said.

Nikolic:† What, am I going to steal from foreign investors?

B92:† They wonít invest in this country: you know that.† Thatís our second topic tonight, the economy.† Letís see how you canÖ

Nikolic:† Letís clear this up, because youíre convinced Solana said something which he didnít say.† Does the EU want to invest in a country in which people like these are in power?† Does it want to invest in a country in which there have been a thousand companies privatised but none of the factories are working?

B92:† I agree with you.† The EU is investing very little, but the economy canít get off the starting blocks without favourable loans or foreign investments.

Nikolic:† But weíre more in debt at this point than we were in Titoís day.† Only now weíre not spending it on production but on consumption, thatís the problem.

B92:† Weíll talk about the economy later.† First letís finish with foreign policy.† Tell meÖ

Nikolic:† And if theyíre not investing much, what is it thatís going to stop if I win?

B92:† That little will stop.

Nikolic:† That little.

B92:† That little will stop andÖ

Nikolic:† Itís not enough.† I donít want to live on charity, you know.

B92:† Itís not charity.† Itís loans and foreign investments.

Nikolic:† Thatís charity.† These are loans for repaying old loans and debts.

B92:† And how would you solve it, if youíre so keen to talk about the economy.

Nikolic:† When I come here as prime minister designate you can ask me all those questions.† I have answers to all those questions.

B92:† But your messages from the presidential election campaign ralliesÖ

Nikolic:† Yes, but you heard what I said.† Iím going to make the governmentÖ I really want to make the governmentÖ

B92:† How are you going to make it?

Nikolic:† What do you mean?† I will use the Constitution.† I control the government.† I hear gaffes from certain media, even Radio Belgrade, they say the government and the parliament control the president.† I canít believe it.† I canít believe that so many people have gone into the contest with me.† I control the Serbian Government.† The prime minister reports directly to me.† Ministers report directly to me, they answer my questions, they answer my criticism.† Iíd like on day to take over your thankless role and ask the prime minister some questions here.

B92:† Who knows, perhaps you will.

Nikolic:† Itís a thankless job, thankless, thatís why Iím saying this.† I would really like to be unbiased, unlike some other people.† I oppose the government politically and Iím the one who will control it.† The citizens of Serbia donít trust the others when they say theyíll control the government.† They donít trust the government representative because he canít control his government and its prime minister.† They donít trust people who say the government will support them in the second round of elections.† If they support you, you canít criticise them.† You canít criticise them because youíve been elected by their votes.

B92:† All right.† Letís get back to the West and the East.

Nikolic:† Yes, why not?

B92:† So how are you going to go to the West without the EU?† The US, perhaps?

Nikolic:† I donít know what youíre getting at.† Letís say Iím the elected president of the republic.

B92:† Youíre not.

Nikolic:† But youíre saying I am and asking me how I would doÖ

B92:† All right, all right.

Nikolic:† So, Iím the elected president of the republic, and you know Iíll be elected.

Savic:† I donít know that.

Nikolic:† Letís say Iíll be the elected president.† I want to be.

B92:† You said ďOnly if Iím dead will I not be elected on June 13Ē.

Nikolic:† That was a reply to a democratic message from the prime minister which you refused to comment on.

B92:† Iíll comment on it when heís present.

Nikolic:† He said, during his visit to the West, that Tomislav Nikolic wonít be president of the republic.† If Iíd said that youíd say the Chetniks are rising again, the rusty spoons will be out, youíd say all those things about me.† Then I asked the prime minister publicly why I wonít be president if the people vote for me.

B92:† So this was only a reply, you donít actually believe that you will win the first round?

Nikolic:† Iím certain.

B92:† About what?

Nikolic:† That Iíll win the first round.

B92:† All right.

Nikolic:† Iím on the road every day.† I have been to sixteen towns in the Srednje Banatski District and we finished with the rally in Zrenjanin today.† Every day.

B92:† Letís get back to the West and the East.

Nikolic:† Please do get back.

B92:† How will you go to the West, and with what will you go to the East?

Nikolic:† Iím the elected president of the republic.† I have a government to control.† I have a parliament which I appreciate and respect deeply.† I have the Constitutional Court, I should appreciate and respect that and, if everything goes well and there are respected lawyers in it and the professors from the Law School, we will have a constitutional court we can respect.† And then the Serbian Government will conduct an economic policy Ė I assume G17 Plus wonít be part of it, theyíll resign the day I win Ė and it will have to think about the West and the East.† It wonít be a problem.

B92:† But what will you be thinking about?

Nikolic:† Iíll be thinking about how the people live.

B92:† Wait a minute, as president of the republic?

Nikolic:† As president of the republic I have to think about how the people are living.

B92:† Youíre supposed to represent the state.

Nikolic:† And then I call up the government and ask them: have you done anything in the West, have you secured investments, have you secured the right technology, have you made it possible for our businessmenÖ

B92:† And they say itís problematic because youíre the president of the republic.

Nikolic:† They say itís difficult because Iím not allowing mobsters to run the state, itís difficult because I insist so much on democracy, itís difficult because I insist on human rights, itís difficult because I insist on us observing the Constitution and the laws.

B92:† All right, but how will you represent Serbia in the West as president?

Nikolic:† My only sin against Serbia would be if I donít warn the government about the rise of crime: people who sell drugs to kids; people who buy our natural resources or factories for a pittance; people who were paying politicians while they were in opposition and who now have to return the favour.

B92:† You havenít told me about the West.† Or would you rather talk about the East?

Nikolic:† No, I want to talk about the West.† My door will be open.† Iíll respond to every invitation from the West.† If someone wants to talk to me Iíll talk with them.† Iíll tell them the views Iím telling you right now.† I really canít believe that the West wants Serbia to be the way it is at the moment.† Serbia in the past four years is Serbia the way the West wants it!† I want with all my heart to believe that the West wishes us better things than that.† I want the West to convince us of that, not to praise a government under which a million people lost their jobs, not to praise a government under which not a single worker has gone into the factories.† Theyíre all the same to me.† Weíve been without a constitutional court for a year and a half, now we have a political court.† Weíve had our prime minister assassinated, weíve had a state of emergency which introduced a dictatorship, weíve had voting fraud in the parliament, weíve become a lot poorer and weíre another nine years further away from Europe.† Before 2000 they told us we were ten years away from Europe.† Four years have passed and weíre now fifteen years away.

B92:† Do you think if you are elected president it will bring us closer to the West.

Nikolic:† I donít know.

B92:† You donít know?

Nikolic:† It will depend on the West and the Republic of Serbia.

B92:† As I said, there are certain messages.

Nikolic:† I wonít make a single move to justify any kind of measure by the West against Serbia.† Iíve told the head of the EU monitoring mission in Belgrade: ďSay it openly: if Serbian citizens vote for Tomislav Nikolic, we will bomb you, and then Iíll withdraw from politics.† Say it openly.Ē

B92:† They wonít bomb us, but there is a certain kind of isolation they could apply.

Nikolic: †What will they say?† ďLetís isolate the people of Serbia because they voted for Tomislav Nikolic?Ē† Come on!† Those days are behind us.††† Labus said in an interview today that thereíll be no isolation and sanctions if Tomislav Nikolic wins.

B92:† And on what are you basing your belief that thereíll be no isolation?

Nikolic:† On the fact that I will be elected by the people.† On the fact that I respect the Constitution and the law.† On the fact that I will help the government to work well and criticise it when it does not. †On the fact that I will stop laws which are unconstitutional and put them into procedure immediately if theyíre in accordance with the Constitution.† On the fact that I will fight for the rights of each individual in Serbia, each and every one.† What will the West have against me then?† Is the West against people like that?† If it is, I donít want to be supported by the West.† And if they support me with views like these I have nothing to be ashamed of.

B92:† All right, if weíve exhausted the West, letís talk about the East.

Nikolic:† I think that the East is a much more unpleasant topic for you.

B92:† No, there are no unpleasant topics for me.

Nikolic:† I visited Moscow again for the first time in four or five years and I saw what I sensed when I was initially for cooperation with Russia.† Russia has been through expansion, an economic boom.† Russia has a hundred billion dollars of foreign currency reserves and each year a forty billion dollar surplus in foreign trade.† Thereís not a single deputy in the Duma who is against cooperation with Serbia, not a single one.† In the Russian Duma, thereís not a single pro-Western deputy, people have simply not voted for them.† The Russian president has offered a better life to his citizens.† First, I told them everything I donít like about the Russian administration, not the Russian people.† I know about the ties between them and us, but I wonít forget the vote for sanctions, the vote for the weapons import embargo, that Chernomyrdin brought the plan, that Russia took part in drafting Resolution 1244, that its battalion was the first to arrive in Pristina Ė the Serbs were immensely delighted by that Ė and then moved to Slatina Airport only to eventually return to Russia.† They withdrew from the Balkans because they didnít count on us as strategic partners, as having historical ties.† And then, after Iíd scheduled talks with only one faction, all the rest called me and wanted to talk to me: the foreign ministry, the presidentís advisorsÖ

B92:† Did you meet Zhirinovsky?

Nikolic:† No.

B92:† Why not?

Nikolic:† Weíve not been in contact for five years, even more.† I donít count the time that DOS wasted, three or four years before that our relations became cold.† We havenít been at each otherís congresses, that cooperation has withered away.† We have no concrete cooperation any more: we have another political party to cooperate with in Russia.† When I arrived in BelgradeÖ

B92:† Thatís good.† I apologise.† Go on.

Nikolic:† I have learnt that the prime minister will travel to Moscow on June 3.† Iím happy about that.† Heíll find an open door there.† He, who hasnít been to Moscow for five years, he whom MoscowÖ

B92:† Do you think that we have a chance, economically speaking?

Nikolic:† Thereís no other way out.

B92:† Thereís no other way out.† What can we do?

Nikolic:† Iím going to tell you now.

B92:† What can we offer to the East?

Nikolic:† Iím going to tell you now.† And what can we sell to the West?† Thatís what hurts me the most: no one has the guts to say openly that we donít have any products for the West, not a single factory of ours has products for the West; weíve closed down our factories so that we can sell Western products here and we even have to sell European sugar on the Serbian market, we donít have our own sugar any more.† The question is when the farmers will again be able to produce sugar.† We import it from Slovenia for four dinars and sell it for one.† We import it from Croatia for three dinars and export it for one.† Donít talk to me about cooperation with the West any more.† I want that cooperation.† I want new technology, I want the government to secure capital, investments, good legislation, democracy, human rights, at the highest possible level, but I know that Serbia cannot survive without factories.

B92:† But can a factory work without loans and investments?

Nikolic:† It canít, all right, it canít.† But no one wanted to use the convenience we created in 2000, in early 2000.† I hear now that the government has shown interest in it and even that several ministers have travelled to Moscow to deal with this.† We can sell almost eighty per cent of our products in Russia without customs duties.† Current products, the ones we already have.† Any company in the world can make its products here and then transport them to Russia and they will be cheaper than if they were made on ships in duty free zones.† Why hasnít this opportunity been picked up in the past five years?† Why have we had to sink so low?† Why have we had to become this poor?† I donít know how much you travel around Serbia.† I travel a lot these days.† I meet a lot of people, honourable, honest men and none of them are wealthy.† There are poor people living in Serbia today and Iím going to ask the government some questions about them.

B92:† Were you meeting those poor people when you were deputy prime minister?

Nikolic:† We had a lot of serious work in those days.

B92: It was a time when, it seems to me, all of us were poor.

Nikolic:† Yes, but we were fighting terrorism then.† We were defending ourselves from NATO and we were rebuilding the country.† Those were our three tasks which we were engaged on for a year and a half and nothing more could have been done.

B92:† But you did manage to resolve your housing problems during that period.

Nikolic:† Yes.† I did.

B92:† And members of your party, too.† Were you thinking about poor people then?

Nikolic:† What do you have against my solving housing problems?

B92:† Did you buy an apartment of 187 square metres?

Nikolic:† Thatís not true.† I live in a 90 square metre apartment.

B92:† Because you had to sell the big one.

Nikolic:† And why did I have to sell it?

B92:† Why did you sell it?

Nikolic:† Not to make money, but to pay the taxes invented by the state on the apartment.

B92:† Never mind, you had a place to live then.

Nikolic:† And where was that?

B92:† In a house in Kragujevac.† Is that true?

Nikolic:† But I live and work in Belgrade.† My son lives with his wife in my house in Kragujevac.† This year I will have a grandchild.

B92:† Do you think itís all right for anyone who becomes a state official to accept a large apartment and, when his term ends, not to return it but to sell it off?

Nikolic:† I didnít accept the apartment to use it.† Iíll move now to the presidential residence.† Iíll use it while Iím president of the republic and then Iíll leave it to the new president.† Whatís this got to do with the East?

B92:† It was you who turned the topic back to the West, but as we were speaking about poor people, I wanted to ask you whether you had thought at all about all of us being very poor at the time.

Nikolic:† I thought about it.† But I had to live somewhere, a million people in Serbia live in apartments.

B92:† Yes, but they donít have a house and an apartment of 187 square metres.

Nikolic:† You canít count a house which is a hundred and fifty kilometres away.

B92:† I say you could have returned your apartment.

Nikolic:† A house a hundred and fifty kilometres away has never been an obstacle to getting an apartment in any company I have worked for.

B92:† Yes, butÖ

Nikolic:† I want to tell you allÖ

B92:† Yes, you want to talk about everything.† Thatís why youíre here.

Nikolic:† But I donít know the question.

B92:† Make yourself at home.† Say it.

Nikolic:† No, you do it, please.

B92:† What questions did you expect?

Nikolic:† The ones B92 would ask a Serbian Radical.

B92:† And what questions are they?

Nikolic:† You havenít tackled The Hague yet.

B92:† No.

Nikolic:† Do you want to talk about bread?

B92:† Bread?

Nikolic:† Yes.† Three dinars for a loaf of bread.

B92:† We can talk about bread.† Not about three dinars a loaf, but Iím interested in the kind of economic system you have in mind, we can come to that later.

Nikolic:† What did you have in mind.† Feel free to use your prepared script.

B92:† Prepared script?

Nikolic:† Yes.

B92:† I should have liked to talk a little more about the government.

Nikolic:† I donít believe I have intrigued you enough to ask more questions.† I think youíve already asked them all.

B92:† I want to talk about the honourable behaviour of the Serbian Radicals when they are in government.† How they find themselves apartments.

Nikolic:† Have you revealed anything new to the Serbian citizens.† Have I been secretive about this?

B92:† Iíd like you to comment on your behaviour in Zemun.

Nikolic:† I want to get this over with.† Do you think it would be better if I took a hundred or two hundred thousand Deutschmarks from the Mob and bought myself an apartment so that no one could bother me about it?

B92:† What kind of comparison is that?† I donít know what you mean.

Nikolic:† Itís a powerful comparison.† Everyone in DOS was doing it and youíve never asked them about it.

B92:† Itís not true that we didnít, but tonight youíre the guest here and because you claim that the Serbian Radicals have nothing to do with crimeÖ

Nikolic:† Tell me about Zemun.† Whatís wrong with Zemun?

B92:† There are a lot of things wrong.† I have a pile of documents here.† Iíll give them to you, although you already have them.

Nikolic:† What you can give me isnít important.† Letís see what we can do while weíre on the air.

B92:† Weíve obtained court records on some of this material.† Thereís an enormous amount of documentation on how the Radicals behaved between 1996 and 2000 in the municipality of Zemun.† Thereís a debt of sixty-eight million dinars; the courts established that there was a series of abuses related to business premises in Zemun, and; according to the financial police the Radicals received at least a million and a half euros in campaign funding and gifts.

Nikolic:† You see, thereís only oneÖ

B92:† All right, we can go through them one by one nowÖ

Nikolic:† Thereís only one court case and only one man in question.† There is only one indictment against one man from the Serbian Radical Party and youíre talking about an ongoing case.† Nothing has been proved, whether weíre guilty or not, but you say itís fact because you received it from the Zemun Municipality.

B92:† Iím asking you, do you want to talk about these one by one?

Nikolic:† Please do ask me.† But I have to tell your viewers that not a single Radical is in prison, not a single one has been convicted, and we lost power in Zemun five years ago.† Last year we had a landslide in both the presidential and the parliamentary elections in Zemun.† In the parliamentary elections, in Zemun we had more votes than all our opponents put together.† Thatís the attitude of the citizens of Zemun to our tenure.† All right, now tell me what the attitude of the outgoing authorities is to our tenure in Zemun.

B92:† But the people of Zemun probably donít know, for example, that they could have had two million dinars per month more if you had not been leasing the Magistrate Building, more than two thousand square metres, for 1.57 dinars per square metre.† Is that honourable behaviour?

Nikolic:† Yes, it is.

B92:† It is?

Nikolic:† Yes.† All parliamentary parties in Belgrade lease offices for prices like that.† Weíre not a profit-making organisation: weíre paid by the state.† Why donít you ask in which parts of town and in what kind of buildings other parties have their offices.

B92:† Iíll ask them when theyíre here.† Now Iím asking you.

Nikolic:† But thatís the law.† Those are the regulations.† Itís a city decree.† We werenít in power in the city, we went to Zemun.† Everyone else was in central Belgrade in huge offices, donít we have the right to do that?† What are we?† Aliens?Ē† Under what conditions do we have a long term lease?

B92:† Shall we move on?

Nikolic:† We have a long term lease in accordance with the law.† We have a long term lease contract, thereís nothing questionable about that, itís fully in line with the law.† The price is not questionable at all.

B92:† Iím asking you whether itís honourable behaviour: you say it is.† All right, youíve answered my question, may we move on?

Nikolic:† But please, listen to me.† Thirty political parties in Belgrade have offices like that.† Itís an honourable thing for political parties to have a place where they work.

B92:† All right.† Is it honourable, then, for Dragan Todorovic to lease, on October 3, 2000, a thousand square metres of land in Zemun for a dinar per square metre for thirty years?

Nikolic:† Let me ask you something now.† As Dragan Todorovic has sued everyone who said this, are you reporting someone elseís words or will he be able to sue you because these are your words?

B92:† Here.† I can give you the documents.

Nikolic:† Let me ask you: according to the law are you not responsible if you report someone elseís information?† Is this your information?† Are these your words?

B92:† This is a report from the Zemun Municipality from a meeting held on October 2.† A dinar per square metre per month.

Nikolic:† Itís not true.

B92:† One day later they changed it to a dinar per square metre per year.† For thirty years.

Nikolic:† Itís not true.† Theyíre lying.

B92:† Theyíre lying?† This is a forgery?

Nikolic:† Itís not true.† There are court proceedings under way.

B92:† Okay, itís a forgery then.

Nikolic:† Thereís a trial under way and Dragan Todorovic has sued all of them.

B92:† All right.† We have Gordana Pop Lazic, then.† Very similar thing.† Thereís a contract, she also got some land.

Nikolic:† I donít know about her.† Where did she get the land?

B92:† She also got land.

Nikolic:† Where did she get land.

B92:† In Zemun, also.† Land to build a private house.† She and her father, Andrija Milic of Barajevo, signed the contract jointly.

Nikolic:† Please donít do this.

B92:† Iíll give you the document.† Do you want something that concerns you?

Nikolic:† Yes.

B92:† Letís see something that concerns you.† We have another interesting matter here, financing of the Serbian Radical Party from the municipal budget and the budget of the public community works.† The money was transferred from the municipality to your partyís account.

Nikolic:† How?

B92:† Do you see this?† The local Zemun paper, you must remember this.

Nikolic:† Yes.

B92:† Five hundred thousand copies were printed.† And five hundred thousand Deutschmarks were transferred to make this.

Nikolic:† Are you sure it was five hundred thousand Deutschmarks?

B92:† Five hundred thousand Deutschmarks.† In dinars it was two point one million dinars.† Itís all here.

Nikolic:† Why has it been converted into Marks?

B92:† So thatÖ

Nikolic:† So that one copy cost one Mark.

B92:† Who needs half a million copies of the Zemun paper?† How many people live in Zemun?

Nikolic:† Where does it say five hundred thousand copies were printed?

B92:† Here, take a look.

Nikolic:† Does it say so in the paper?

B92:† It does.

Nikolic:† What does it say?

B92:† It saysÖ

Nikolic:† Circulation.

B92:† Circulation.† Circulation.† Five hundred thousand.

Nikolic:† Copies.

B92:† Yes.† Take a look if you donít believe me.† Read it for yourself.

Nikolic:† Thatís the Zemun paper?

B92:† Yes.† The Zemun paper.

Nikolic:† Do you have anything else?

B92:† I have loads of things, but I still havenít had a single answer from you.

Nikolic:† You donít have anything.

B92:† I havenít had a single answer.† I have a heap of material.† An enormous number of facts.

Nikolic:† I knew this program would be like this.

B92:† An enormous number of facts.† I can read them out to you.

Nikolic:† Donít read someone elseís facts to me.

B92:† These are not someone elseís facts.

Nikolic:† Why didnít you approach me with these before this program?

B92:† The Serbian Public Revenue Bureau.† A report.† Listen to this.

Nikolic:† I canít respond to lies.

B92:† These arenít lies.† This is an audit report.

Nikolic:† Lies.

B92:† This is a report on the audit of business dealings by the Zemun Corporate Business System between January 1, 1997, and December 31, 2000.† The register has been extracted to Tomislav Nikolic.† That means you have this too.

Nikolic:† I have never worked in the Zemun Computer Business System.

B92:† Excuse me?

Nikolic:† I have never worked in the Zemun Computer Business System.

B92:† This is public information.† Iíve just told you it was the Serbian Public Revenue Bureau.

Nikolic:† Iím telling you something.

B92:† All right.

Nikolic:† Let me ask you one thing.

B92:† Please do.

Nikolic:† If youíre a good journalist, why didnít you ask me to prepare my answers in advance?

B92:† This isnít the first time these allegations have been made.† Iíve only asked you to comment on them.

Nikolic:† These lies have never before been gathered in a heap like this.

B92:† Whether they are lies in a heap or not, Iím presenting them to you for comment.

Nikolic:† Theyíre piled up, these lies.† Why didnít you tell me?† I thought we were going to talk about the future of Serbia.

B92:† Weíll talk about it now.† You provoked meÖ

Nikolic:† We wonít.

B92:† Ö by talking about people being poor.

Nikolic:† I havenít provoked you at all.

B92:† Youíve been talking about the poor people you meet in the city squares so I needed to remind you of your honourable behaviour in the past.

Nikolic:† Why are you working so hard to prove the kind of television this is?

B92:† What kind of television is that?

Nikolic:† Why am I a thorn in your side?

B92:† Why are you a thorn in your side?

Nikolic:† Iím a candidate for the president of the republic.

B92:† Thatís why youíre here tonight.† To present yourself.

Nikolic:† Yes, thatís why Iím here.† Why didnít you tell me you would talk about Zemun so that I could bring the documentation?

B92:† I have given you documentation which is public knowledge.

Nikolic:† What have you given me?

B92:† The documentation.

Nikolic:† Canít you see weíre sitting five metres apart?

B92:† You have not answered a single question for me, but letís forget about that.

Nikolic:† What can I tell you about stories about us launched by you, Blic and some other news agencies.

B92:† These are not stories.† These are documents, as you can see.

Nikolic:† They are stories.† But why are we talking about them tonight?† Have I come hereÖ

B92:† You donít want to talk any more?

Nikolic:† Have I come here as a candidate for the presidency of the republic?

B92:† Yes.† Yes, you have.

Nikolic:† Then why donít you talk to me in a way appropriate to that?

B92:† I have, and you said ďI will help the people to live betterĒ.

Nikolic:† But youíre doing it without motivation.

B92:† I am sayingÖ

Nikolic:† But youíre doing this without motivation.

B92:† No, Iím only sayingÖ

Nikolic:† I can see it in your eyes.

B92:† I can take you at your word, but I have to judge you on your past deeds.

Nikolic:† Are you trying to justify something tonight?

B92:† Absolutely not.

Nikolic:† Are you trying to justify something tonight, some money, perhaps?

B92:† I have not had an answer to these questions.† Money?† We have no reasonÖ

Nikolic:† You have no money?

B92:† B92 has no reason to seek justifications of that kind.† Letís take a commercial break now.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

B92:† Our guest tonight is the Serbian Radical Partyís presidential candidate, Tomislav Nikolic, who is still in the studio with us.† Our viewers have sent a lot of questions for you tonight, and Iíll ask some of them myself.† Iíll read as many as we have time for later, but a lot of them are from people who have come from Croatia.† Theyíre asking if you will stick to your position that if you become president of Serbia you will break all diplomatic communication with Croatia.

Nikolic:† Unfortunately, thatís not in my jurisdiction, but I have one clear message for Croatia.† The authorities which call themselves democratic will become democratic for me the very moment they allow Serbs to return, and thatís all I have to say about Croatia.† I would remind them of the genocide they committed, Iím not reminding them that thereís not a single Serb left in the whole territory of Croatia, that many people are changing their religion, that children are changing their names.† I would remind them that they have to do a great deal in order to gain the trust of Serbia, enough trust for us to have diplomatic relations with Croatia.† Iím only reminding them that theyíve expelled people and not allowed them to return while, at the same time, they want trade and other relations with us.† Weíre rather hypocritical when we want to cooperate with Croatia: we take special care of our refugees, offer them attention and kindness, but we are unwilling to resolve their problems.

B92:† And will you be helping Serbs to return to Croatia with this attitude?

Nikolic:† But Iím presenting my point clearly and cleanly.† So far no one has helped them to return, not with a different view, the complete humiliation of Serbia and humiliation of them.† You know, when you visit them at the top of a mountain, in a ruined building, where children and the elderly and the middle-aged all live together, then you start thinking differently about them.

B92:† Is there any other neighbouring country you would not go to?

Nikolic:† I have nothing to do in Slovenia.† I have nothing to do in Croatia.† Why should I go there?

B92:† There are constitutional jurisdictions.† This is also laid out in your presidential platform:† the Serbian president is the head of state and representsÖ

Nikolic:† Yes, he conducts diplomatic relations on all levels, of course, but I think that the level of diplomatic support Serbia needs right now for Kosovo and many other issues is not the level of Slovenia and Croatia.† It has to be done with the big players.

B92:† As youíve mentioned Kosovo, how do think Albanian extremists would react to you winning the presidential election?

Nikolic:† Who knows what goes on in the heads of extremists or how they would react?

B92:† And Albanians in general?† How would they react?

Nikolic:† I donít understand the question.† Iíve taken partÖ

B92:† Would it suit their efforts for Kosovoís independence?

Nikolic:† How could my winning help them with that?

B92:† Youíre not electing yourself.

Nikolic:† And is it any better the way it is?† At the moment theyíre certainly prevented from winning independence.† The state of Serbia and the West are right now stopping them in their attempts to win independence.† Come on, I said it clearly and openly in Strasbourg.† First Harri Holkeri was speaking and everyone applauded.† Then I said ďWhy are you all applauding?† This man here supports killers, people who burn down churches and houses.† He gave them a foreign ministry, heís giving them elections on October 23, which he says they will conduct themselves.† Why are you applauding?Ē† Do you think that Serbia hasnít managed to persuade Albanians in the past five years that they wonít have their own state?† I think that theyíve rather convinced them that they will have their own state.† We should start working from scratch.† Draft a platform for a political solution to the Kosovo crisis.† The whole parliament has been active in this, Iím not standing out as an individual on this matter: this is what all the people of Serbia want.† Kosovo must be part of Serbia, whether anyone is happy about it or not, whether someone is disgruntled about it or not.† Itís defined in Resolution 1244.† I didnít write it, I was unhappy with it, but now itís our last hope.† For five years the United Nations has refused to meet the conditions of the resolution while we did whatever they wanted.† Every high representative revises the resolution every day.† Weíve come to the position that a new one should be written just to cover what theyíve done so far.

B92:† And what can you do to improve this situation?† Increase diplomatic activity?

Nikolic:† Of course.† We have to find our own protector out in the world.† I donít know what our diplomats are doing, apart from closing deal for businessmen in the countries theyíre posted to, for a commission, besides discrediting our country and telling everyone we committed genocide.† I donít know what else our Foreign Ministry has been doing.

B92:† Weíre back to my earlier question.† To what extent are you able to represent us, because a lot of doors around the world will probably remain closed to you?

Nikolic:† I probably wouldnít be able to represent you, but Iíll certainly be able to represent the majority of Serbian citizens.

B92:† And why not me?† You said all citizens.

Nikolic:† I see you have different political views and, whatever I do, I wonít please you.† Iím really prepared to do everything for every Serbian citizens, but something bothers certain individuals.† Is it the word ďRadicalĒ?† I donít know what it is.† But we, who had three hundred thousand votes in 2000, will now have a million and five hundred thousand votes.† That means weíve probably been doing something right in the past four years.

B92:† All right.† Iíd like us to see a little history of the Serbian Radical Party over the past few years, and then weíll talk about it.

RECORDED SEQUENCE:

Presenter:† The Serbian Radical Party was founded as an opposition party, but the first decade of pluralist politics in Serbia showed that it had more fruitful cooperation with the parties in power, such as the Socialist Party of Serbia and the Yugoslav Left.† While close to other opposition parties for a brief period in 1993, by calling for the ousting of the Socialist Government, the Radicals brought about early parliamentary elections in Serbia, but did not take part in any mass protest against Slobodan Milosevic before or since.† They joined the government with the Socialists and the Yugoslav Left in 1998, only to be ousted along with them in 2000.† They were the only party in the governing coalition to acknowledge the victory of the democratic opposition before the popular uprising on October 5, that year.† In 2002, Slobodan Milosevic, from The Hague, gave his support in the presidential elections to his ďfavourite opposition politicianĒ, referring to Radical leader Vojislav Seselj in the same way he had during the nineties.†

In the federal and republic parliaments, the Radicals have introduced such techniques as destroying microphones, throwing water in their opponentsí faces, punch-ups and other forms of obstructing the work of the parliament.†

Outside the parliament, students, taxi drivers, pensioners and some lawyers have felt the wrath of the Radicals on their own skin.† Their opponents accuse them of using their period of power in the Municipality of Zemun for financial machination, usurpation of apartments, land and the Magistrate Building.†

The Radicals respond by saying that these claims have not been proved in court.† The Serbian Radical Party lays great emphasis on patriotism and the fact that they took part in the wars across the former Yugoslavia.† Vojislav Seselj refuses to give up his vision of Greater Serbia, even in his prison cell in The Hague.

Seselj:† Karlobag-Ogulin-Karlovac-Vitrovitica must be our option and thatís the border line along which our army must deploy all our troops.† If itís not capable of withdrawing troops from Zagreb without a fight, it should withdraw them in a combat operation while Zagreb is being bombed.† That official operation was planned in Belgrade.† It included Bosnian Serb forces, many of them, but the majority of the special forces came from this side, special police units, the so-called Red Berets, special units of State Security and volunteers from the Serbian Radical Party.

If NATO begins bombing us, if the US aggression ensues, we Serbs will die in great numbers, but there wonít be a single Albanian left in Kosovo.

Presenter:† The Serbian Radical Party is the only political to have been boycotted for period by the majority of independent media in Serbia after threats and unfounded allegations that journalists were accessories to the murder of Defence Minister Pavle Bulatovic.† Even today the Radicals donít hesitate to say that they donít regret the death of publisher Slavko Curuvija, killed in central Belgrade at Easter, 1999.

Seselj:† The gloves are off.† Everything has become crystal clear.† He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword, you need to keep that in mind.† You surely donít think we will let you kill us off, one by one, like rabbits, while we caress you and cherish you like potted plants.† Keep that in mind.† You from B92 and the other traitor outlets.† You want to kill off statesmen like rabbits and keep yourselves safe at the same time.† Well, youíre mistaken.† Youíre very, very mistaken.† No more kid gloves.† Anyone who works for the Americans will have to suffer the consequences.

Interviewer:† Would you take back the sentence ďI donít regret that Slavko Curuvija was murderedĒ?

Tomislav Nikolic:† No.

Interviewer:† You wouldnít take back the sentence.† You still stand behind it.† You would repeat it again.

Tomislav Nikolic:† What about it?

Interviewer:† Nothing, Iím just asking.† Itís just that Iím a little bit disgusted.

Tomislav Nikolic:† The fact that youíre disgusted doesnít mean itís not nice.

STUDIO

B92:† Mr Nikolic, how do you comment on this today?

Nikolic:† I donít know what.

B92:† Everything you have just heard.† Is there anything in this story weíve just heard that you would renounce today?

Nikolic:† No.

B92:† No?† Thatís it?

Nikolic:† You tell me what.

B92:† For example, what about the list of journalists which Mr Seselj read out.† He said on a number of occasions that he was only adding to the list.† Did he leave it to you as a legacy?

Nikolic:† It is a list of journalists we donít want to cooperate with.

B92:† So the list still exists?† You havenít torn it up and thrown away?† You still stick to it?

Nikolic:† Iím offering you tonight an opportunity to show Serbia that you are at least to a small extent a good television, because for you the Radical Party doesnít exist.† This is a goodwill gesture from me because I want to cooperate with everyone, even with you who wish us nothing but ill.

B92:† Youíve changed your rhetoric: you no longer issue death threats, nor do you threaten the people† Thatís why youíre here tonight.† And, among other things, because youíre a presidential candidate.

Nikolic:† Thatís not true.

B92:† Thatís the way it is.

Nikolic:† And tonight of all nights, five years after we changed our rhetoric.† Come on!

B92:† We have three or four minutes left.† So you wouldnít take back anything of what weíve shown here.

Nikolic:† I donít know what you mean.† What exactly do you want to ask me?† What is wrong there?

B92:† Iíve asked you about the lists.

Nikolic:† You say our political opponents say we were thieves.† The Radicals say the truth will be proved in court.† Is that journalism?

B92:† Weíve heard many opinions from Mr Seselj.† You say you still stand behind them.† I was only interested in that.

Nikolic:† I knew you were only interested in that.

B92:† Letís go to some of the questions from our viewers.† As president, will you pardon the former head of state television, Dragoljub Milanovic?

Nikolic:† First I would have to look into the case, but Iím not afraid to pardon him if something is not right.† I wonít pardon notorious criminals, the ones who sell drugs to kids, rapists, people sentenced by politics to long prison sentences.† Iíll look into the case in detail.† Or do you perhaps think Dragoljub Milanovic is guilty?† Or may he have been a scapegoat?† In that case thousands of people should be in prison, because NATO told us we were collateral damage, everything they hit was a legitimate target.† They were hitting hospitals.† So all the heads of hospitals should be in prison.† Youíve set your sights on Dragoljub Milanovic, heís the embodiment of evil for you.† He ran a really bad television station but, believe me, it may not have been half as bad as yours.

B92:† As ours?

Nikolic:† Yes.

B92:† All right.

Nikolic:† He supported Slobodan Milosevic and the Yugoslav Left a lot less than you support these others.

B92:† I shanít comment on that, we donít have time.† Next question: why is Tomislav Nikolic afraid of a television debate with Boris Tadic.

Nikolic:† Itís not that Iím afraid.† If he gets through to the second round weíll have that television debate.† All fourteen candidates can seek a television debate with me, first they have to decide who deserves to be in a television debate with me.† Why Boris Tadic?† What reason is there for me to accept a debate with Boris Tadic.

B92:† You donít trust the opinion polls?

Nikolic:† When did I ever trust the opinion polls?† When did you?

B92:† Then how do you know that you will win?† How many did you say?† A million and a half votes?

Nikolic:† Iím out there, from morning to evening, every day.

B92:† So you count?

Nikolic:† Look at the rallies.† You avoided showing KragujevacÖ

B92:† How many people were there in Kragujevac?

Nikolic:† Ö masses of people.

B92:† How many people were there in Kragujevac?

Nikolic:† All the others put together wouldnít have that manyÖ

B92:† Tell us, how many were there?

Nikolic:† I donít know, I donít count.

B92:† Well, you must have some kind of estimate.† You know how it is at the rallies.

Nikolic:† The only bigger rally we had in Kragujevac was in 1992, and never after that.† But how many people was that?

B92:† Approximately?† A thousand?† Ten thousand?

Nikolic:† I think it was ten thousand.

B92:† Ten thousand?

Nikolic:† Okay, someone else can say five hundred, but when you consider the size of the square, and if people are standing close together three of them fit into a square metre.† The journalists who was with us yesterday could have measured the square and say not more than a thousand.† Thatís ten thousand, but also fifty thousand.

B92:† When you say more than a thousand, thatís not ten thousand, not even close.

Nikolic:† How many is over a thousand, tell me so that I know in the future?

B92:† Okay.† Now, to finish, let me ask you a question.† Do you watch Mile vs. Transition?

Nikolic:† Not since he announced he was a member of the Democratic Party.† Up to then I liked the show.

B92:† Do you identify yourself at all with that character?

Nikolic:† Well, no.† I appreciate art expressed in any way, but I donít like political campaigns on television which are aimed at drawing us into a particular policy through a likeable actor.† I donít like it and I steer clear of it.

B92:† All right, and let me ask you, if you go through to the second round of the election, and you probably will, all the opinion polls say you will, will you come to this studio with your opponent?

Nikolic:† Let me tell you something.† I donít think we will have debates every day.† I think we should have the debate on a much more serious television station than yours.

B92:† Such as?

Nikolic:† Any other, really, your television is not in that league.

B92:† Yes, it is the least serious of all.

Nikolic:† Well, itís not among the least serious ones.† I go to television stations which are watched only in, for example, Blace, but trust me, donít underestimate them.† There are a lot more serious people in small television stations than in the so-called big ones.

B92: †All right, before we wrap this up, tell us what kind of television station we are.

Nikolic:† Usually very bad, partial and biased, and thatís standing in your way.† Take a look at the number of people who watch you.† Iíll come whenever you invite me.† I wonít run away from it, but change the direction a little.† Or maybe you canít, because you wouldnít be getting any money then.

B92:† I hope our viewers have gained a little more insight into what the Serbian Radical Party is today, and whether you are the former Tomislav Nikolic or the only you would like to present yourself as today.

Nikolic:† You havenít devoted this show to presenting me as a presidential candidate, but I wonít hold that against you.

B92:† Thank you very much for being our guest tonight.† Good night.

 

 


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