President reaches 1,000 days in office milestone

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic has spent 1,000 days in office, allowing, unlike his predecessor, the prime minister the lead role in the political life.

Source: B92

However, he has not been "an unnoticeable figure," either.

Public gaffes, affairs related to his closest associates or his son's illegally built cottages represent a lesser problem compared to the increasingly obvious differences between the president and the government over the country's foreign policy.

Ruling SNS party member Veroljub Arsic commented on the milestone to say that the former SNS leader deserves the highest marks for his performance as president.

"No president of the republic in Serbia's history previously resigned his party membership and leadership. That means he is above all the president of all citizens," Arsic said.

Head of the opposition DS party group in parliament Borislav Stefanovic said he was "sorry that a man because of whom citizens of Serbia are embarrassed is president of Serbia."

"A man who violates the Constitution and laws, who attacks independent institutions, who attacks the war crimes prosecutor. In other words, a man who has in essence showed we (should) all change channels or close our eyes when he talks, especially abroad," said Stefanovic.

Commenting on Nikolic's remark about "yellow people" during his meeting with the Chinese prime minister last year, Arsic said it was "no gaffe":

"It's just a different point of view. There's no gaffes there, it's something normal that happens in the political life of a country and of a president."

Nikolic's predecessor, now leader of an opposition party, Boris Tadic, thinks that the president "often damages Serbia's position."

"I don't see that there is clear coordination between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, more precisely, the government, and Tomislav Nikolic, because there were pure collisions on several occasions. For instance, the invitation to Belarusian President Lukashenko to visit as the prime minister was going to Angela Merkel for essential and very important talks about the future of the country," said Tadic.

Nikolic's recent criticism of the war crimes prosecutor prompted a group of opposition MPs to ask for his removal from office.

"Right now we have the problem of violations of the Constitution and laws, attacks on the war crimes prosecutor, threats of the kind, 'nobody will dig around my land," as if Tomislav Nikolic owns this country or (is) Louis XIV," said the former president.

Nikolic's time in office also gave Serbia its first "publicly visible" first lady. Although he was criticized for allowing a humanitarian foundation run by his wife, Dragica Nikolic, to be headquartered in the Presidency building, he continues to give her his full support. The foundation's activities have included repair of flood damaged homes and assistance to health-care centers and maternity wards in Serbia.

The Presidency has declined to comment on the milestone, with officials saying it would amount to self-promotion - "something the president does not do."

The only comment came from his adviser and close associate Oliver Antic, who mentioned Hesiod's epic "Works and Days" - to say that "his deeds speak best" about President Nikolic and his 1,000 days in office.


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