On April 2 all eyes of politicians in Europe were on the presidential election in Serbia. 11 candidates were running for president. But the main intrigue was the policy that would be chosen by the country after the election. The Balkan state is often called the balancing one between West and East. On the one hand, Serbia strives towards membership in the EU and has already applied for it. The EU lifted the visa regime for Serbian citizens. On the other hand, anti-Western sentiment is strong in Serbia. Serbs won’t soon forget the bombing of Belgrade by NATO.
The polling stations opened at 7 a.m. on April 2. Each polling place contained a special device that allowed preventing the same person from voting twice.
The presidential campaign 2017 was held without rows, sleaze wars and almost without a comedy. Candidate Ljubiša Preletačević "Beli" (the real name is Luka Maksimovic), a student who took 3rd place in the struggle for power, was the only exception. He became some kind of alternative to a voting option “NOTA”. And Aleksandar Vučić, who managed to reduce unemployment and improve the economic situation of Serbia, became an obvious favorite. According to the latest data, he won with about 57% of the vote.
Vučić, the first violin in the pre-election orchestra, still preserves neutrality. He is a representative of the same party as the president of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić. Both politicians paid official visits to Minsk and met Alexander Lukashenko. The politicians talked about bilateral problems openly and outlined possible ways to solve them. That’s why it is reasonable to expect that the relations between Serbia and Belarus will continue to become closer.
Dragomir Karic, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Belarus in Belgrade:
Whatever happens (a tidal wave or 50% + 1 vote) we will continue our friendly relations, we will keep on working, cooperating and developing our relationship for the good of the peoples of Belarus and Serbia.
One of the candidates brought up a point of “brain drain” in his campaigning. There are plenty of ex-ministers on the list of contenders for the presidency in Serbia, so the potential presidents are quite familiar to the country.
Another question is who will be able to become a new “people’s”
prime-minister when Vučić as expected wins the election. Serbia is a parliamentary republic, and political executive is a key person in this case. Moreover, it won’t be easy for a new person to stand on the East-West crossroad, because in order to join the EU Serbia will have to accept concessions that are fundamental for the country.
Aleksandar Vulin, Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs of the Republic of Serbia:
Serbs will never agree to join the EU at the cost of renunciation of Kosovo, territorial integrity and state independence. If someone doesn’t like our position, well, we are a sovereign state.
Eastern countries, Belarus in particular, won’t demand victims and reservations. The cooperation of our states is proved by facts and figures. Although the commodity circulation fell short of expectations, the foundation for building an ‘economic tower-block’ is solid. In Serbia, there are assembly plants where our equipment is produced, buses and trolleybuses run under the sign of BY and an electrobus that was released in Belarus will appear soon. There are still dozens of avenues of cooperation, but there are also dozens of competitors of our products.
Vladimir Chushev, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus to Serbia:
As for the position in the Serbian market, the start of the year was successful neither for MAZ (Minsk Automobile Plant) nor for MTZ (Minsk Tractor Works). Over the last years, we’ve been keeping nearly half-market of the average range of tractors, but at the same time we have competitors represented by 42 brands, and it demands additional efforts and attention. It’s necessary to accelerate the work, to tune small tractors of Bobruisk plant of tractor parts and units up in order to sell it to third countries through Serbia.
Success of the bilateral economic cooperation will also depend on the new president of Serbia.