PM to meet with EU representative after controversy

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic will on Tuesday meet with EU Delegation head Michael Davenport, it has been announced by the Serbian government.

Source: B92

The meeting comes after Vucic accused the EU of financing media to publish articles against his cabinet.

The strongly-worded statements came after the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) published an article about alleged manipulation in the selection of the company hired to pump water out of the flooded Tamnava - West Field (Zapadno polje) mine.

Vucic rejected these claims and accused the journalists who reported them as being "liars."

"BIRN, that's those who lied about Air Serbia, those who received money from Mr. Davenport and the EU to speak against the government of Serbia. Tell those liars that they lied again," Vucic said during a news conference last week.

The European Union then "strongly rejected as baseless" Vucic's claim that the EU pays particular organizations to campaign against the Serbian government, while Vucic said in his response he was "astonished by the fact that (EU spokeswoman) Maja Kocijancic was trying to shut him up on behalf of the EU."

Michael Davenport, who was directly called out by the prime minister, has for now not made any statements on this subject.

Meanwhile, BIRN Coordinator for Serbia Slobodan Georgiev said the publication "stood behind its articles" that he described as "100 percent true."

The Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia (NUNS) has strongly protested over the manner in which Vucic spoke about the publication.

"The polemic between Vucic and Maja Kocijancic could be perceived as additional pressure so that the prime minister decides whether to go toward the EU or not," said analyst Dusan Janjic.

Vucic is under pressure "because he is trusted the most," and is expected to "say whether it is still a partner of the EU or not."

"It is better that this polemic as soon as possible becomes constructive dialogue and certainly this should be seen as additional pressure of the European Union so that the prime minister takes a stand whether he is going towards the union or is joining the trend of stopping the negotiation process, which has been announced by President Tomislav Nikolic," Janjic told Tanjug.

He said that it is "certain" there is a tension between the government, Vucic, the OSCE and the EU on the issue of freedom of speech and of the press.

"The problem is serious and deserves a different response than the one that came both from the prime minister and from Maja Kocijancic," said Janjic.


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