I am writing this OpEd in New York and I am not sure if I am angry or deeply saddened by the news that the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has to deal with the issues of his personal safety. An assassination attempt of Prime Minister should have no place in modern politics.
I was in the middle of my Saturday dinner in New York City when I heard that the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and his family were moved to an undisclosed safe location after the police found the weapons cache including a rocket-propelled grenade launcher near his parents’ home in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.
“The Prime Minister is now safe, as well as his family … it is worrying that weapons were in the place where his motorcade has to slow down to almost 10 km (six miles) per hour,” Stefanovic, Minister of Interior stated.
However, just the fact that the Prime Minister has been moved to a safe location, it does not mean that the threat is gone and that he is in the clear. History on the Balkans has a tendency to repeat itself, and it seems that every single politician who is trying to bring Serbia closer to the West is expected to pay the price for democracy. This is unacceptable.
Was it all for nothing?
I left Serbia soon after our first democratic, pro-Western Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was brutally assassinated. For me at least, it felt as if the revolution against Milosevic was all for nothing. I did not want to entrust my life to any politician for the next ten to twenty years to give me an opportunity to live better. I emigrated in pursuit of my own goals armed with perseverance to make London School of Economics, my alma mater.
Today, however, with the breaking news about the found weapons for assassination of the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, all eyes are set on my home country. The smoking gun is international breaking news, but we still do not know anything about the actors and their motivations.
Who is Aleksandar Vucic?
Aleksandar Vucic is a young and tough politician. Many would say that he is uncompromising and strong willed. This year, he has been invited by former U.S. President Bill Clinton to join him in the panel at the Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative on inclusive communities and reconcilation in the Balkans two decades after the Dayton Accords.
The Serbian Prime Minister has showed a lot of political but first and foremost emotional courage to openly talk about Srebrenica twenty years after massacre. I do not know any single politician of my country in the past sixteen years who was able to face an ice cold audience in New York with already pre-conceived ideas about Serbia and to manage to win them over with a round of applause in the end. In the closing remarks of the CGI, Bill Clinton confessed that this was one of the most emotional panels in the history of Clinton Global Initiative.
Vucic is clearly taking Serbia towards progress, paving the way to liberal democracy. His political agenda that is setting the course towards the West is surely not what his opponents would like to see succeeding. The far right does not like the idea that Serbia is getting close to the West while the former so called pro Western block has lost what for a decade was an exclusivity to progressive politics in the Balkans. Prime Minister’s position is without doubt one of the hottest seats in the global politics today. Although Serbia is a small country, it is in the middle of interests of great powers and the leadership Aleksandar Vucic has is not an easy one.
Twenty first century modern politics should not put at stake a physical safety of any government leader. I could hardly imagine that something like this happens to President Obama or anyone in his cabinet. Only once has a British Prime Minister been assassinated. We are talking about the year 1812.
It makes me concerned that this is happening in Serbia, sixteen years after dictatorship of Milosevic has been dismantled. But then, was it really pulled apart, if we still have forces of darkness plotting to take away a human life and stop Serbia from moving forward? It makes me angry that the price of a human life in Serbia is so low. It sadden me deeply that there is a levy to be paid for democracy. An assassination attempt of any political leader should have no place in modern politics.