PM sums up year, talks about media, promises, region

Aleksandar Vucic has told the Prva TV broadcaster he will remember this year "by the hard work and the good results in many areas."

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The Serbian prime minister said these results were "not good enough to make people happy," but that there was "inner satisfaction after completing the job."

"We managed to save Serbia, because people here forget what kind of country we lived in and what is it with we had to grapple with," said Vucic.

Talking about his presence in the media, he said:

"I work a lot and I am proud of it. I know that many people are bothered that I work all the time, and when I do, it goes without saying people will talk about it. I think it is news when you open 20 kilometers of road or a factory. It seems there's a lot of me (in the media) more than that's really true."

Asked about "the media and the fear of journalists and editors to write about him and to criticize the government," Vucic said:

"What do I have to do with what happens to private broadcasters. What journalists are scared? Those who say I was offering 120 euros in a basement? I don't believe that people are afraid. I'm interested only in collecting taxes. I do not really see any problem."

He also said that Bratislav Gasic would be be replaced in January, i.e., "we will have a new new defense minister."

"We will do it because we because we want a normal Serbia," he said.

Speaking about various promises that he made in the past, Vucic said the cheap housing project had run into problems - "but we are not giving up and will try in 2016."

As for the fee citizens pay to the state broadcaster, he said:

"Recall that for two years we did not have a fee, and now something which is (costs) less than a cigarette packet is being introduced. I think that the fee should not be paid, I have not changed my position, but not everything can always be done. For that I bear the responsibility."

When it comes to the promise of cheaper electricity, Vucic said:

"Electricity did get more expensive, but iit s still among the cheapest in the region. We did not have drastic price increases, and we are record holders when it comes to low inflation."

Commenting on the failed Telekom Srbija privatization, he asked, "do you know why they opposed the sale," and then said: "Had the company gone to foreigners I'm afraid FC Red Star, Red Star basketball club or FC Partizan and many other clubs would hardly have survived. Even some media would hardly have survived."

Speaking about the Belgrade Waterfront project he said it was "no longer invisible, you will see it above the ground, too, soon."

The prime minister also commented on elections:

"I do not deal with partisan things. There will be local and provincial (elections) but there shouldn't be parliamentary elections, unless the people change their stance drastically. However, I got the new surveys last night, I see that change is not there, and the support is growing."

Speaking about negotiations on EU accession, he said there would be "pressures" - "both around chapters 35, but also chapters 23 and 24. That's nothing we didn't expect."

Vucic also said he did not think there was any serious scandal or affair that broke out in 2015.

He said Serbia still had no candidate for the next UN secretary-general, but that "whomever Serbia supports will have a 70 percent chance of succeeding."

"We want to achieve the best influence for Serbia. Perhaps they will be a citizen of Serbia, and perhaps they will not be."

Speaking about the region he said it would suit some if Serbia "behaved irresponsibly" and reiterated that he had an obligation to ensure that the country can defend itself.

"Croatian newspapers say Vucic is making threats, but I am not making threats, I'm only pleading that they (Croatia) don't buy these missiles," he said, adding, "we will not go to war."

"However, we cannot allow that Serbia is threatened and that the the balance that exists is changed. We cannot but respond to someone in the region becoming twice as strong. There are a number options to protect ourselves, and all I'm doing is pleading nicely with everyone not to force us to it," said Vucic, insisting that Serbia will be "militarily neutral."

Vucic also said that the media in Serbia "are never with the government" and that "everyone's a hypocrite - those involved in politics, and those in media."

He said he was satisfied above all because of economic indicators, but not with the speed speed of reforms and the reform of the public sector, for which he said there was no public support.

According to Vucic, the opening of first EU chapters was good "both for political and for economic reasons."

Speaking about the economy, he said that Serbia wants to buy the Port of Bar in Montenegro, and that, as of April 27, 2017, "there will not be a meter of road between Horgos and Presevo that will not be highway."

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