Soon we in Serbia there will arrive the Russian MiGs, but before we get Russian tanks and reconnaissance sentinel machines. There is also a proposal to hold a “Turkish stream” through Bulgaria to Serbia, and this is a huge opportunity for the development of our country.
Dialogue with Pristina is out on the presidential level, and we initiate the discussion of changes in the Constitution. One of the main strategic goals of Serbia and its government which is not Pro-American nor Pro-Russian, and Serbian, is to increase the birth rate in the country.
All of this, President of Serbia Alexander Vucic told the “Companion” in an exclusive interview, which was the first after the inauguration in the Palace “Serbia”.
— Sputnik: first we comment on the latest news: whether to Serbia carried out any gas pipeline from the East? What we have in this sense has a chance, given that the European Union was a closed project “South stream”?
— Aleksandar Vucic: For us the key is the new Treaty that we spoke with Alexei Miller. On this subject, I also talked to Boyko Borisov. The Russians are building the “Turkish stream”, which the Turkish-Bulgarian border will turn to Istanbul, the largest Turkish cities. Previously, the idea was to build a pipeline down through Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. Today there is an even more realistic idea to turn Bulgaria into a European centre for the reception of gas from different directions. It is mainly on Russian gas. The Bulgarians found a very wise decision and, I think, has enlisted the support of Germany. Once you have created this centre (somewhere between Bourgas and Varna), gas from it will be sent to Sofia and further to Serbia.
— What we have in this case prospects?
— From the border with Bulgaria, we have continued to build a pipeline and make it your own or, for example, with the help of Russia, it would be easier. That is, at the border we will take 9.8 billion cubic meters of gas. We are a transit country, and we will go from branch to Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Pristina, Croatia. We will charge a transit fee. Any pipeline through the territory of Serbia is beneficial to us, but this option is the best. It opens up great opportunities for the development of our country, economy and industry. We have created a network of pipelines.
What if under pressure from the West, the project will stop?
We are ready to get the cheapest and the best quality gas from anyone. For five years we talked about cheap gas from Krk and other places, but it would have cost us twice the price. Whether it is from Alexandroupolis or Latvia, he probably would have been cheaper, but to get there we can’t. And thus, after five years, we’re back to square one. We won’t buy gas at twice the price. A new project — just a drop of luck will allow us to earn 100 to 150 million euros per year.
What’s new in the presidential residence Andricev Venac
Okay. What has changed in Your life since You became President of Serbia?
— Look, today is Sunday and we are working. On Monday I’m flying to Brussels for informal talks with the Albanian side and today I will prepare for them. It is always difficult dialogue, but in all matters and all the small ways we can move forward. Such an approach is necessary to ensure that we always know what they want in Pristina, and how we defend our interests.
— When You were Premier, it was still the same and what is new?
— I have a lot less routine issues and meetings relating to strikes and different kinds of requirements. Current position allows me to engage in strategic issues important for Serbia’s future. Unfortunately, due to the different kind of needs and factors I continue to be the Chairman of the largest party, so to me are people. Some meetings can be avoided, others not.
— Does this mean that You want to be in public?
— I would not want to please the opposition talk about the fact that I’m working less, I’ll be lazy, and thus bring happiness to them. I will work hard, be efficient, will continue to accept hard work and to make responsible decisions. So opponents will have to think of another way to me. Hope my laziness or inactivity are not worth it.
— Unless someone criticizes Your hard work?
— Remember how we were criticized because of the Brussels agreement and we now demand his execution, while the Albanian side has not. I was sharply criticized for Labor law and measures of fiscal consolidation, although they have made possible our successes in the past and this year. Only four EU countries the ratio of income and expenditure in the budget is better than Serbia. Public finances are under control, but this required harsh measures and tough decisions.
Who is worse Haradinaj
— Back to regular talks in Brussels. What You will be speaking with Thaci, if Pristina refuses to create the Association of Serb communities?
— I have a hard time even thinking about these negotiations, but I’m not complaining. I am sure that Thaci is unpleasant to meet with me. This time we will not clearly marked, and we talk about what we see Kosovo and Metohija in a year, five, ten or fifteen years. It is important to continue the dialogue, because it decreases tension. Nothing should threaten North Kosovo, but the dialogue is necessary, especially for our people in Central Kosovo for its existence and security. The Serbs were, in General, abandoned to their fate, because we have neither police nor military, nor any other protection for them.
But what we hope in these negotiations if Pristina does not fulfill the agreements?
— We occupy a clear, open and honest position, fit into those boundaries that are determined by our national interests. Recently, the Albanians began to behave differently. Now they call all their internal problems and impose the thesis that the negotiations with Belgrade, they do not need. They state: “the case of Kosovo, and we are an independent state”. We said, “Well, if so, do not engage in negotiations,” to see how they cope. And then they realized that they did not work.
— Will the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina on the presidential level formallyas reported?
— I think it will. After all, if the Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija have to collaborate and negotiate with all, even with jardinagem, it is unlikely that someone could force Belgrade delight to sit down at the negotiating table with those whom we pursued to arrest for the most serious crimes.
— What if Haradinaj will become Prime Minister of Kosovo? Will it be the West?
— The representatives from the West I heard several times that for them it would be an unpleasant situation, but, nevertheless, they will work with everyone chosen by the Albanians. Serbs will have to accept this fact, but Belgrade simply can not positively perceive neither Haradinaj nor Kurt. I see no difference between them, except that one has distinguished himself in the fighting against the Serbs, and the second not yet, but maybe someday it will surpass the Haradinaj. In any case, this is a complicated process, but it is better to talk than to abandon the dialogue.
— Do not You think that the Serbs in Kosovo hostage and to protect them, we even agree on what you don’t want, but even worse would be if we did not agree on the proposed?
— No matter how treated it is. The fact that these facts are easy to manipulate. But whatever you did appears someone from the centre of Belgrade and say that to do so is unwise. And when you ask him if he wants to go to Don Gusterica, Oparah, Velika Hoca, he never set foot there. They don’t know where these places are, but I know how to teach us every day.
— What were you thinking when You announced the beginning of dialogue on Kosovo within Serbia? Prime Minister Brnabic mentioned in a conversation with “Companion” dialogue on NATO…
— As for NATO, then everything is clear: Serbia will remain neutral. On the other hand, I believe that the important internal dialogue about all the strategic issues and, of course, is Kosovo. In the consultations before the formation of the government I was asked by the representatives of the DSS and the radicals, on the one hand, and Chanak, and Cedomir Jovanovic, on the other, what I mean by this dialogue. I told them that for society it is important that we hold nothing back and not operated on pre-prepared answers. It is important to know what to do, to realize the full gravity of the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, to know how many Serbs there, and what we can do for them. It is important to understand what is real and what is not. And if someone is on my every word reply that it is contrary to his idea of the perfect Serbia, better silent. Because only in monasteries and churches in Kosovo and Metohija, Serbia put in more than all the others over the past 30-40 years. It is known in the Serbian Church.
— When You talk about “the real situation in Kosovo,” many may think that You are ready to accept that de facto Kosovo is not Serbia?
— I didn’t say that. I, being the President of the Republic, took the oath, putting his right hand on the Constitution of Serbia and uttering the word about Kosovo and Metohija. However, this does not mean that I’m not ready to see what is really going on in Kosovo. I ask all the political heroes who reproach me, why in 2008, they did not intervene when Kosovo’s illegally declared independence. Why did they not have solved the problem on their own, if they are brave. Why are they worthless? Because require it now.
The opposition exists to power was better…
— Yes, it would be nice if they actually did so that the power and Serbia became better. But I am afraid that some people do not rejoice in the success of the country, and enthusiastically waits for the worse to take advantage. I don’t understand the irrational positions in politics. Or we want our children to live in a country where the growth reaches three, four or five percent, or do we want to lie to yourself that in Stimlje all sing songs Bor CORBA and go to the Serbian Church. Only in Stimlje Serbs there.
What will happen to the preamble
— You have announced the discussion of amendments to the Constitution, and the new Minister Branko ružić has mentioned about the possible changes in the preamble… They are scheduled in that part of the preamble, which refers to Kosovo and Metohija?
When I speak about the dialogue about changes in the Constitution, I was referring to the preamble. Now I can tell you that it will be difficult to reach consensus about constitutional change, but I want to start the discussion. We have two thirds in Parliament, so it’s not in the votes. But I, as President, do not want to change the Constitution without the consent of the masses. The Constitution does not accept, she lasted only a year, two or five years. This document should operate for 50 or a hundred years. It is vital that we all this is exactly what came up. That is, I proposed to open in Serbia, the dialogue and realized that few people want to really discuss something. Some people think that overnight they will be able to come to power without thinking about Serbia, but only through the cry: “Against Vucic dictator!” — who all will pick up.
— As I understand it, the dialogue on NATO membership is not conducted?
— Here all is certain: Serbia will retain military neutrality. We maintain correct relations with both NATO and CSTO. This will continue, and nobody will dictate to us who to us to buy weapons. I stated this openly and publicly.
— Why the neighbors did not support Your idea of creating a regional economic Union?
In Dubrovnik I said, “you do Not want”. But Serbia has about two billion of foreign direct investment, and the rest of the countries of the region do not exceed 400 million. This also applies to Montenegro, and Macedonia, and Albania. If we unite, even tax rates, abolish taxes, get subsidies, you get a market with 20 million people.
Something like Yugoslavia?
— Yes, but the question of political Union, in Yugoslavia, is not. Each country is independent and sovereign.
— As The Commonwealth Of Independent States…
— We immediately become extremely attractive, including, for investors. It would be easier to export products, and we would be perceived as more strong and sturdy unit.
— What, then, are not like our neighbours?
— I have not heard any argument against this idea, even in the EU like it. So I realized that acts against a third party and was opposed by the representatives of neighbouring countries. So I offered to forget everything, as if I didn’t offer. If everything is explained by the expectation that in three to four years we all get in the European Union and we don’t need any substitution, then I think it is unlikely for this period we will enter the EU. He, too, needs more time to solve its internal problems, and we need to live in the next five, six, ten years before we enter the EU.
— That is, in the first place are not economic arguments. Your conversations in Dubrovnik is good, but the Sarajevo does not investigate who wanted to kill You in Srebrenica and Montenegro States that they can join the war against Serbia. From the diplomatic point of view, perhaps, wise that You did not say anything, but all this scary stuff…
— More precisely, I have not answered all this insults, but I said most important. And I will repeat it. Neither NATO nor the Montenegrins will not attack Serbia nor in Kosovo and Metohija, nor anywhere else. This is a clear and honest statement. In my opinion, the official representative of Montenegro Boskovic invited Voline to explain: this phrase was taken out of context, or something like that. Of course, what happened with the Serbs in the 90s won’t, and I stated this in Jasenovac and repeat everywhere. I say this as a Supreme commander. We’re not going to attack, but also will not allow to expel and kill our people.
What arrive Shoigu
— Rogozin told us that You will notify when you get MiGs from Russia.
— I think, very soon. I also believe that in a few days and weeks, Serbia will be safer than it is now. If we evaluate the defense industry, we have lagged behind in development for 20-30 years, and from the West, and from the Russian mechanics and electronics. We try to fill this gap, and the plant that I opened on Saturday in Usechh is the first enterprise with high technological level. We are still unable to produce military vehicles with independent suspension and four-wheel drive. And it is important for the maneuverability of military equipment. Talking about cars, like KAMAZ. If their manufacturers wanted to open a factory here, we would have provided the opportunity and would pay all necessary.
— Do You have attempts to attract them?
— Undertaken. I’ve done it several times already.
— Do you plan to open the enterprise for repair of helicopters?
— Yes, we’re working on it.
— Sergei Shoigu reportedly will soon visit Belgrade…
— We expect the arrival of the Minister Shoigu in the near future, as well as the delivery of tanks and scout vehicles. For us, they are of great importance. Although some laymen asked, “Why do we?” We need them, it’s a great defense. They substantially change the situation of our country. Instantly increases our defenses.
— Then, in 1999, our defence system deliberately destroyed…
— So. Today we have three or four of the MiG-29, and melee is better, no plane. When we add to all radar systems and air defenses, citizens will be able to feel safe. As for the defense industry, then, unfortunately, war is everywhere, and in the next 20 years we will be able to sell all that produce.
— How do You assess the international turbulence, and where in the world location Serbia?
— Now there is a multipolar world. There are four powerful forces: the USA, China, Russia and the EU with Germany at the helm. We are looking for opportunities to provide a wide variety of interest in different parts of the world. In fact, powers have political, military and economic plane, and mediated conflicts happen every day. In such circumstances, we must pursue wise policies and take care of yourself. Walking elephants crush the grass.
We are going to protect themselves as well as Tito, who chose a policy of non-aligned?
— We will maintain military neutrality and independence. It’s not easy. The struggle is every day. But the government had been sent the agenda for approval to the Embassy, and then on the phone it claimed to be. Now ambassadors in Serbia do not rule.
— Would You, as President, to always be aware of government decisions?
— For reasons of strategic security, I will inquire about it, but not every day. Suddenly someone decides to put an end to democracy in Serbia. I am the Chairman of the largest party in the Assembly, which approved the government. I hope no one thinks he can take us as the party that won the elections, the right to make important decisions for the country.
The difference between Scott and Chepurina
— Some with conviction claim that because of the PM, the government is Pro-American. Others say that for some Ministers it is Pro-Russian. So what is it?
— We have the Serbian government. Citizens have a President who is an ethnic Serb (although this is not the most important) and which operates in the interests of Serbia. First was troubled some because of government, then others due to certain Ministers. This proves that we have the Serbian government, which will work in the interest of Serbia.
— No do You feel direct pressure from the outside, when Ambassador Scott said that Russia in Serbia has “a negative impact”? He says this to You, or we are talking only about the “grandstanding”? If You heard someone from Russia something like, “Dadich needs to become Prime Minister”?
— To listen to such demands has not happened to me. Scott this is also not said. We told him quite clearly that we do not see any negative influence of Russia. We told everybody that supported by correct relations with the Russian, American and European partners. I start to tell you how much pressure is on me, I would have had to retire, but I’m still young for it. However, I have left notes on the Brussels negotiations and in the future, perhaps, I shall publish them. Success with readers provided: hard to believe, what were the negotiations about Kosovo, Srebrenica and other issues.
— Did the Russian Ambassador Chepurin that America enjoys in Serbia a huge impact?
— No, Chepurin I didn’t say that.
— I am pleased to hear that. I’d like to talk about Russia. First, recently, a newspaper campaign against Nisa. The authors argued, based on the word of anonymous interlocutors, that natural rent is low and steadily declining, and You, like the government, do not respond to it.
— In Serbia, a free press, and I would not like to comment on a newspaper article. We and Gazprom are partners, and of great importance a new agreement on the vault. Natural rent is low, but we already signed the contract, and there’s no one left to complain.
We also signed an agreement on the accelerated development of oil fields that, allegedly, cause damage?
— A significant part of oil already extracted, and that this explains the net profit of the first years. Now, however, NIS and Gazprom pereorientirovanija, there is a profound transformation, and it was good.
— It seems that NIS has devastated our fields…
As if we didn’t do… everything was absolutely perfect, but now the situation is changing for the better. I spoke with Kirill Tyurdenev, and he understands how to develop NIS. He’s a great professional, and the results will exceed expectations. NIS is one of the companies providing budget major revenues. Gazprom, too, is of great importance as a repository for 750 million cubic meters of gas. Construction will soon begin. Six months we can survive without gas.
The similarities between trump and me
— How will be solved the problem with the status of the Humanitarian centre in niš? This question long delayed, but the Prime Minister said the “Satellite” that now is one of the priorities…
— We are in a difficult situation.
What does that mean?
— It’s hard to talk about it. But we all know that we are in a difficult situation. The government will take a decision on this issue.
— Is it really so heavy a burden?
— You seriously ask me that?!
Yes. I know, but I want people to hear this.
— Yes, it is a heavy burden. What would the government do, or deem it unfair and dishonest, or there will be consequences of a different kind.
— How do You assess the results of opinion polls, according to which the young Serbs are against the EU?
— This is an obvious trend that does not surprise me. Serbia wants EU, but does not want to impose sanctions against Russia and plunge the knife into her back. My son Danilo tells me, “Well, you and your EU”. I say let them wait 15 years and then he will understand and that policy and attitude to Russia. Accession to the EU, a greater degree depends on us. It depends on us only a small part. We were required to appoint an Ombudsman, although many in the EU it is not, and it was known that in Serbia the position is a political figure. Many EU members do not recognize national minorities as we are in this for the respect of minorities is criticized… We blame because of the situation in the media sphere. But the media of one country are waging a daily campaign against the President!
— In America?
Exactly. Trump and I are in the same situation. The media spent days talking about us. The New York Times and CNN are doing the same with him as with me.
— The New York Times and CNN will do that to You?
— No, but the principle is the same.
— Briefly, what are Your strategic objectives?
— In politics the stability and security of the region. The economy should continue to strengthen the economy and grow. Third, we will reduce the negative natural growth as is necessary for the future. In the first quarter of this year, was born almost one and a half thousand more children than in 2016. In 2011 and 2012, every year we lose about 47 thousand people. Now we stay at the level of about 31 thousand a year and want to reduce that figure to 18-22 thousand people a year.
— You nplaniruete some financial incentives?
Now that’s not the problem: population policy is not only about financial matters. In areas inhabited by the poorest citizens, we note the high birth rate. And in Belgrade the most affluent neighborhoods are also the most “old”: Stari grad, Vracar and Savski venac — where the birth rate is minimal. That is, we have to strategically affect some other things. We will attract experts from different countries and will take those measures which they practice to achieve not just improvement, but a long-term positive trends. The easiest thing is to resort to money but I fear that the factor of selfishness that people think less about future and more about myself.
Is a global trend, but it is important that parents know that their children will stay here and not go somewhere else far away…
— Of course. I think our negative natural increase is decreasing because is increasing this confidence.
How is Your baby — son Vukan?
— Wakana all is well. It develops. He has a case of colic, and I usually say that he calms down when I pick him up, but not so often. I am proud of my children (and the police, and Danilo). Milica goes to a Russian school. Daughter I’m proud of, especially: it is no fours. She’s slick, it’s all over, more successful me.