What do Serbs think of Aleksandar Vucic

Serbian President Vučić wants to resign party offices again

Belgrade - In the midst of the coronavirus crisis and nationwide protests, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has once again announced his resignation as chairman of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). Vučić announced on TV on Sunday that he would only be president of all citizens in the near future. He had announced his intention to relinquish the leadership of the party in April 2019. However, it did not come to that.

Actually, Vučić should have done this in mid-2017 when he took office as head of state. According to the Serbian constitution, the president is not allowed to hold any other public office. His predecessor Tomislav Nikolić (2012–17) was the only Serbian president to date who adhered to this provision.

Because of protests

The latest announcement came amid protests in Belgrade and several other cities that had rioted several times. With this step, according to observers, Vučić is trying to calm the situation in the country. The immediate reason was Vučić's announcement on Tuesday afternoon that a curfew would be imposed again this weekend in view of the increasing number of coronavirus patients in Belgrade. Thousands of people then gathered in front of parliament to express their displeasure and anger about the politics of the head of state.

According to media reports, around 270 demonstrators across the country have been arrested since last Tuesday. The Belgrade authority-critical group "Civil Resistance" called a protest rally in front of the city prison on Monday afternoon to demand the release of those arrested. The exact number of the demonstrators who have already been convicted is not known.

Serbia-Kosovo conflict

There is also dissatisfaction with politics in Kosovo. In the summer of 2018 Vučić spoke of "drawing boundaries", but nothing concrete followed. "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia" was written on posters that were carried every evening by demonstrators from more nationalist groups.

At the diplomatic level, the EU announced a success: the talks that had been on hold for a year and a half to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo were "back on track". The EU special envoy for the negotiations, Miroslav Lajčák, thanked Vučić and the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Avdullah Hoti, after a video conference on Sunday for the "constructive dialogue".

Next up is a personal meeting between Hoti and Vučić on Thursday in Brussels. During the conversation on Sunday, the participants agreed on the "most important elements of the process and the agenda for the next meeting," said Lajčák, without giving any further details. Hoti was also confident. EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell also took part in the video conference.

Still part of the conflict

The start of new talks came after the prosecutors of the Hague Special Court for Kosovo accused Kosovar President Hashim Thaçi of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Because of Thaçi's impending charges, a summit with Serbia and Kosovo originally planned for the White House in Washington at the end of June had fallen through.

The former commander of the Liberation Army of Kosovo (KLA) rejects the allegations made against him in The Hague. He may have committed "political mistakes" but never committed war crimes, he protested at the end of June. He announced that he would "resign immediately" and face the charges should the tribunal uphold the charges.

Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 2008. Unlike most EU countries, Serbia has not yet recognized its independence. However, the EU makes this a prerequisite for the country's accession. (APA, July 13, 2020)