PM "has no problem to go to polls if people are fed up"

Aleksandar Vucic says he has faith in the president's good intentions when it comes to the Kosovo platform, and that the government is not a servant of the EU.

Source: B92
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The prime minister was interviewed on TV B92 on Sunday by B92 reporter Aleksandra Miladinovic and Novi Magazin, Blic and Beta editors-in-chief Nadezda Gace, Svetomir Marjanovic and Ivan Cvejic.

Asked why he "keeps talking about the ratings of the parties and an atmosphere of early elections," Vucic said that such an atmosphere is good because it encourages political competition.

"I was not talking about a general election, I do not rule it out, but do not speak (about it). The atmosphere in society is very important for the existence of a reform course. If people are fed up with the painful cuts I have no problem with elections," said Vucic, adding that "there is no scenario" under which his party, the SNS, can be "divided."

"I do not want to be at the helm of the SNS for a long time and I will look for my successor," said Vucic.

The prime minister repeatedly mentioned that he had "no support from the elite."

Asked by B92's reporter whether this was the case "because anyone who raises their voice against the government ends up in the tabloid mud," Vucic answered with a question:

"What tabloid mud? (The daily) Informer? The only newspaper that is not on the side of our opponents. Where do you see my influence on what we are responsible for? RTS, Politika, Novosti? That is the money of Dragan Vucicevic, this is the money of your boss and he does with them what he wants."

Vucic said that he "fought like a lion" to persuade the IMF to give up on the demand for an increase in the price of electricity in Serbia.

Vucic also noted during the interview that President Tomislav Nikolic "wants the continuation of Serbia's European path." Commenting on the president's Kosovo platform, he said:

"Together we will talk, we will sit down, talk, if it is possible to realistically do something, we will go to the public. The attitude of the West also needs to be discussed, which is extremely negative in relation to the platform. It is not realistic to expect that Serbia has institutions in Srbica, Glogovac and Urosevac, that is a problem of bad policies of the previous period."

He also said that he believes that Nikolic "knows how difficult the (Kosovo) talks in Brussels are."

Svetomir Marjanovic noted that he was under the impression there was a conflict between the prime minister and the president, to which Vucic responded:

"I'm not going to participate in a conflict with Nikolic, and I believe he will not, either. I am ready to hear him out, not because I'm scared for myself, if you think I care to dominate in the party that I lead - those who know me know that is not true. These conflicts are not and will not be happening."

Asked by B92's reporter to comment on relations in the region, primarily with Albania, he said he Albania and Albanians are "a nation in expansion" and that "we must take care with them, have good relations." As for the Greater Albania map drone incident last fall in Belgrade, he said "we know and authorities know what happened, it was undoubtedly politically organized. Both Edi Rama and I know who did that."

Vucic said that Serbian authorities have made "the least number of stupid statements related to politics in the region," noting, however, that there had been some, and stating:

"Serbia is best-loved among the Macedonian population after the recent events. They saw (our) good stance where we did not make their trouble worse and did not interfere in relations. Also, we love the Serb Republic, but we respect Bosnia-Herzegovina."

Asked whether he plans to visit Srebrenica, Vucic said this will "yet be talked about," and remarked that "something that is not merely a photo opportunity needs to be seen and done."

He also that Serbia has more often kept silent that reacted to statements coming from Croatia.

"I cannot accept that Mrs. (Vesna) Pusic is mentioning the rehabilitation of Draza Mihailovic as a criticism of Serbia, I said they should not talk about it any more," said Vucic.

He also commented on the case of Vojislav Seselj saying his government did not receive any demand to return him to the Hague Tribunal's detention.

"We have not received an official request, but we will ask them - they send him back without asking for guarantees except to take his passport. We'll see how this will unfold, we will not jeopardize Serbia's EU future, but we will also not refrain from reacting. Let them explain to us when Seselj healed, if he was so sick."

Vucic added that "we will see if Seselj will be arrested, it will all be done according to our laws. Let's first see what the law says, what procedures say."

The prime minister also stressed that the support of citizens of Serbia to EU integration was "falling."

"A more negative attitude toward the EU has never been recorded, this shows why there is the growth of right-wing parties. Any possible change in the policy of the SNS would dramatically threaten the orientation towards the EU. We are not their servants, they are not looking forward to talking to me, no one comes here to knock us on the head, because they always get a response. European society is the best type of society and we strive toward it," said Vucic.

According to him, Serbia will not change its attitude towards Russia.

"We will not impose sanctions on Russia. We need to have better relations with the U.S., there are obstacles, the Bytyqi case in which we acted very badly. The United States is important on Serbia's European path, because we have to preserve peace in the region. We have tons of reports from Macedonia, foreign agencies have asked for information from us," said Vucic.

Responding to a comment that he was "protecting incompetent ministers," Vucic said he was not.

Asked why some court cases were resolved "with unexpected decisions," the prime minister said he "does not interfere in the judiciary."

Speaking about a military helicopter crash in Belgrade that killed seven and the responsibility of Defense Minister Bratislava Gašić, Vucic said he had not "pardoned the minister from responsibility."

According to him, there will be changes in his cabinet, and those will happen when he thinks the time is right. The Beta news agency editor-in-chief noted that Vucic did not use the word "(cabinet) reconstruction," to which he responded by saying, "the results will be increasingly better, the country is becoming more normal. I thought we'd do that on the government's anniversary, but I have decided it should happen a little later."

After the inflammatory statements from the ranks of the SNS and some ministers the prime minister met with Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic, after which they issued a joint statement.

"We are in agreement only when it comes to those two sentences in the statement. Does he think well about me, i don't think so, I'd rather not talk. Who from the EU could tell me to invite Sasa Jankovic? Who can propose it to me? Because Johannes Hahn had met with them? Come on... I wanted to meet with him, he called me earlier and it was my fault that I did not meet with him."

The prime minister also said that the ombudsman has a right and an obligation, in accordance with the law, to complete the inspection of the VBA, the military security agency.

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