"Time for Vučić to become prime minister"
Tomislav Nikolić says he is "president of all citizens" - but that he does not view all parties equally, and will "root for the SNS" to win in early elections.Source: RTS, Tanjug
Nikolić, who stepped down as leader of the Progressives (SNS) when he was elected Serbian president, noted that he was also an SNS candidate in the presidential election.
He told RTS in an interview that he now thinks "the decisive force that the state and society lacked all the time has been established, is mature, and has established its policy and began to realize it."
Asked whether he will be involved actively in the campaign, Nikolić said that "no one needs him actively in the campaign," but that he "cannot be neutral with respect to participants and results."
According to Nikolić, the government has done much work, but it became clear that in the current composition "it could go no farther."
"It became clear that the prime minister is no longer the one who leads the whole orchestra, but that instead smaller orchestras were formed and everyone was playing their own part, then some ministers left the orchestra, and the concept began to break down," said Nikolić.
Asked "what was missing in this government," the president said that the cabinet , which lasted two years, was facing a difficult task and succeeded with the beginning of negotiations with the EU.
"Whoever becomes the coalition partner of the SNS, a new government will have at least 150 MPs and with that number some things can be done," Nikolić stated.
He then revealed that he told SNS leader and currently Deputy PM Aleksandar Vučić that it was time he "took the responsibility also as prime minister."
"It is natural that Vučić will ask for the mandate and form a government," stressed Nikolić.
The president noted that during the negotiations to form the cabinet in 2012 he suggested something he "did not think he would ever suggest" - for the smaller coalition partner, i.e., Ivica Dačić's Socialists (SPS), to have the post of prime minister.
According to Nikolić, this functioned until members of the big party, the SNS, started to ask for elections and thus showed that the party "justified the confidence it gained in elections, grew stronger and that it was time to put that to the test."
Commenting on Serbia's membership negotiations with the EU, Nikolić said he expected they would last a long time and said there would be "difficult issues" in the talks for which he believes "we are not yet ready," citing the example of agriculture.
"Our farmers cannot sustain such competition, our country cannot provide farmers with subsidies in the way that any EU state can (their farmers)," said Nikolić, and added he feared that the Serbian market may be flooded with imported cheaper food of poorer quality than that produced in the country.
Speaking about relations with Croatia, Nikolić said that the political situation and the future of political parties in Serbia does not depend on whether Serbia decides to withdraw its genocide counter lawsuit - "while in Croatia, that is different."
Asked to comment on statements made my legal experts who believe neither lawsuit has a chance in court, Nikolić said this was something he was also told in Croatia, "by those who wrote the lawsuit" - but that it was now "official policy."