Open letter to Donald Tusk: EPP’s support for Vucic is a disgrace

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

Pro-government supporters shout slogans in front of a giant photo of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic shaking hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Belgrade, Serbia, 11 May 2020. The banner reads "Serbs and Chinese - brothers forever". [Andrej Cukic/EPA/EFE]

European People’s Party President Donald Tusk has publicly supported Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić ahead of the country’s parliamentary election on Sunday (21 June), which the opposition is going to boycott. In response, Serbian opposition leader Dragan Djilas sent an open letter to Tusk. EURACTIV is publishing its shortened version.

Dragan Djilas is the president of Party of Freedom and Justice Founder of Alliance for Serbia Serbian opposition.

Dear Mr Tusk, Aleksandar Vučić’s term has not expired yet, he has two more years until the end of it. Also, Vučić is not being elected in Sunday’s elections.

Serbia under Vučić is not a country of economic success, but a country with the lowest growth rate in the region, with the salaries of citizens among the lowest in Europe, with 60,000 people leaving the country annually, a country whose debt has increased by two-thirds, and which is being caught in debt bondage to China.

Bearing these facts in mind, the only explanation for your recent statement in which you congratulated Vučić on everything he did during his term, wishing him victory on Sunday, telling him that he should be proud of his economic success and his leadership, is that you, Mr Tusk, have mixed Vučić up with some of the leaders of prosperous European countries.

After all, something similar happened to you a few years ago, when, speaking in Serbian, you said: “I can hardly imagine a greater Serb than Aleksandar Vučić”.

If you really want to know what Serbia has become under the leadership of this “greatest Serb”, you can ask Aleksandar Obradović, the arrested whistleblower from “Krušik”, Ana Lalić, the arrested journalist, or Milan Jovanović, a journalist who survived an assassination attempt when his house was set on fire, for which an associate of Vučić has been indicted.

You can ask Marija Petrović-Stanković and Mirjana Mitrović, professors from Bela Crkva, who lost their jobs because they did not want to join the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), which is a member of the EPP, presided by you.

Do you know, Mr Tusk, that the Serbian opposition has not been featured in the national media for eight years, and that Vučić had 292 times more positive coverage than all opposition leaders combined?

The news programs of private televisions with a national coverage just continue the campaign started by the tabloids, as propaganda bulletins of the ruling party, which promote the SNS, and its leader, while demonizing and criticizing their opponents.

False statements about opposition leaders are being presented to the public with impunity, while the same leaders are not given the chance to reply. No opposition leader has been a guest on any commercial television in the last four years.

The media are under enormous pressure and controlled by Vučić and the Serbian Progressive Party. Are these the results that Vučić, in your opinion, should be proud of? Do you congratulate him on this?

Commissioner Varhelyi has been informed of all these matters by liberals, social democrats and greens from the European Parliament.

You, Mr Tusk, as the leader of the European People’s Party, can always support a party that is part of your group, as well as its president, but before that, you should get informed about the European values promoted by Vučić and his government.

Mr Tusk, do you support the fact that Vučić kisses the Chinese flag in the middle of Europe, and brings dirty technology, as well as face recognition cameras, from China to our country?

Do you know that 97% of our citizens, who are informed through the public television service controlled by Vučić, think that China saved Serbia during the coronavirus epidemic? Are you aware that our government has taken unfavourable loans from China amounting to billions, which will be repaid through several generations?

Did you hear Vučić declaring state of emergency during corona crisis using words “European solidarity doesn’t exist and it is just a dead letter on the paper”?

When you talk about the elections, Mr. Tusk, you should know that Vučić personally decided to hold the elections during the epidemic, in a situation when the number of patients in Serbia is increasing every day.

You have been against presidential elections in your homeland, Poland, due to health issues , yet you wish good luck to Serbia with its own elections. With the poor shape of Serbia’s public health system, they’ll need it.

Faced with the idea of an election boycott,  Vučić first lowered the census from 5 to 3%, only a few months before the vote and then, in the middle of the election process, and the pandemic, he changed the law on the election of deputies.

So, there are no conditions for a valid election in Serbia, Mr Tusk. In Serbia, democracy has been attacked by the regime, and the elections are neither legal nor legitimate.

It is clear that there is nothing in Serbia to congratulate Vučić on. The recent history of Serbia shows that Aleksandar Vučić is a political convert who tries to hide the true nature of his rule. If you are not ready to see this and say it out loud, please do not help him in hiding it from the eyes of the European public.

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