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All Eyes On Serbia: What Is The Price Of Democracy?

Aleksandar Vucic
Copyright: Tanjug/Tanja Valic; Source: Flickr

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?

Alexandar Vucic
PM of Serbia talking in the panel at the Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. Copyright: Clinton Global Initiative

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.

 

2 Comments

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  • We have had assassination and assassination attempts on US Presidents, and it doesn’t go that far back. There was an attempted assassination of Reagan in 1981. And there have been four successful assassinations: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and Kennedy. The last, Kennedy, in 1963.

    Not to diminish the significance of an attempted assassination of Serbia’s PM, but it doesn’t necessarily mean democracy is in peril. You’ll know democracy is in peril when elections no longer determine the next leader, and leaders are replaced only by coup.

    • In Serbia, it does. Comparing two systems has no foundation whatsoever. USA has never been a communist county and never a dictatorship. Also, party system during Milosevic and the communists, if you are looking to compare these specific times in history with US is very much different. Free elections do not guarantee democracy, Serbian politics is very complex which I don’t have space to discuss here in more details.

About the author

Ksenija Pavlovic

Ksenija Pavlovic

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent.

Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department at Yale University, Lead Instructor in International Affairs and Security and Politics Law and Economics programs at Yale Global Scholars, Head Writing Fellow at the Yale Graduate Writing Center, Fellow of the “Research and Travel Award in Grand Strategy” from International Security Studies (ISS) at Yale University, Fellow of the Roger Hertog Global Strategy Initiative in Religious Violence at Columbia University, a Doctoral candidate in Political Conflict and Peace Building Processes at Complutense University in Madrid, Fellow of the OSI Global Supplementary Grant Program, and a Visiting Doctoral Fellow at the Juan March Institute. She holds an M.Sc. in European Politics from the London School of Economics, an M.A. in American Politics, and a B.A. in Journalism and Communication from the University of Belgrade. She speaks English, Serbian, Croatian, and Spanish.

Pavlovic has interviewed exclusively pivotal figures including Arianna Huffington, Sir Richard Branson, President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim, Karlie Kloss, filmmaker and founder of the Webby awards Tiffany Shlain, film director Lars von Trier, actors Adam Brody, Monica Bellucci, fashion designers Adolfo Dominguez, Tommy Hilfiger and Donna Karan, publisher and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes; the world No.1 tennis player Novak Djokovic; novelist Martin Amis, as well as big names in the governmental arena such as the former President of Serbia Boris Tadic, the leading members of the first democratic Serbian government and Milorad Dodik, President of the Serbian entity of BIH. Moreover, Ms. Pavlovic has exclusively covered the Cannes Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival, London Film Festival, Madrid Fashion Week, The Madrid Open, and a range of other international benefit and political events.

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