PM: No room for xenophobia and homophobia

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić has told Deutsche Welle that Serbia was seriously opposed to xenophobia and homophobia, and fighting against it.

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He pointed out that it will become evident "in the coming weeks" how successful the state was in this. He was referring to the investigation launched after a German participant in an LGBT conference was assaulted over the weekend in Belgrade.

"Belgrade is a cosmopolitan city, Serbia is a country that is fighting not only to join the European Union, but a country that will never support the values ​​of violence and primitivism, compromising the rights of others, and other people's lives," Vučić said.

The German agency introduced the interview by saying that the incident had shocked Serbia, that the suspects have been arrested, and that the seriously injured German activist was recovering, adding that the incident was the reason for the brief conversation with Vučić.

Asked to comment in his role as prime minister and say what state authorities had done on this occasion, Vučić said that it was a terrible event and that no matter what anyone stated as their reasons, it was "pointless, insane and unacceptable."

"And we have not only condemned it as the worst thing that could happen, but as something that should not be happening in Belgrade and Serbia," said Vučić.

He added that the reaction came very quickly,, noting that "no one has ever arrested all attackers so quickly" describing the suspects in custody as "one key (attacker) and two helpers."

"State authorities have undertaken and done all the most important measures in the shortest time possible to protect the legal system, law, justice, and the innocent man who was attacked, and that's what we could do," said Vučić.

He then added that "it is up to us to try to, through upbringing and education, learning and constant talking and conversation, explain to people that attacking a foreigner, someone who has a different sexual orientation, on someone who is different, is disgraceful and not a value to be protected."

Asked to comment on his meeting with Christoph Straesser, the German government commissioner for human rights policy who was in Belgrade for the conference, Vučić said that it was a good meeting and that he on the occasion said that Serbia "knows their responsibilities":

"Serbia respects its obligations, its constitutional obligations and civil rights and human freedoms, as well as its international obligations, and Serbia will act in accordance with that."

Commenting on remarks of Amnesty International and other organizations that warned about homophobia and xenophobia in Serbia, Vučić said that every complaint was understood seriously, "but we have shown that the state is seriously opposing and fighting xenophobia and homophobia."

When the interviewer observed that there was "little time left until the Pride Parade," and asked "what was his message at this time to the the German, and also to the Serbian public, as far as the safety of participants and the prevention of violence," Vučić reiterated that Serbia found it "important to protect diversity, human rights and freedoms, and would behave accordingly."

According to Vučić, this was done not because of pressure coming from various sides or statements from different organization, "but because it is important for our country, for our people, for our citizens."

"In this sense the state is undertaking measures in line with its powers and in line with its jurisdictions," he concluded.


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