By Igor Jovanovic
After several days of serious accusations exchanged within the ruling coalition, Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic initiated the dismissal of his deputy, Mladjan Dinkic, on Monday (February 14th).
Cvetkovic told a news conference that the government is unable to function in the midst of internal clashes, and he wants to dismiss “those cabinet members who are destroying the government’s reputation”.
State Secretary at the Finance Ministry Slobodan Ilic and National Investment Plan Minister Verica Kalanovic will also be relieved of their duties.
Parliament is to vote on their dismissal. The conflict between President Boris Tadic’s Democratic Party and Dinkic’s G17 Plus is making the current government unstable. The ruling coalition holds a weak majority in the parliament and, with assistance from the opposition, Dinkic’s 24 MPs would have no trouble toppling it.
Dinkic said at a news conference that he will respect the prime minister’s decision and his party will remain in the government — but he said, the government is doing poor work and needs to undergo serious changes.
G17 Plus issued a news release at the weekend, saying that decisions important for the state were not being made at government sessions, rather they were made by certain close associates of Tadic, “who have no public or political responsibility”.
The Democrats fired back. Cvetkovic accused his deputy, who had been in charge of the economy, of being responsible for the high unemployment, currently around 20%.
Belgrade analysts say the internal conflict will threaten the continuation of reforms and new foreign investment.
“The reforms Serbia needs require a government with a stable majority, internal harmony and a clear vision — this government does not meet either of those prerequisites,” analyst Dejan Vuk Stankovic told SETimes. Serbia is on the verge of an early election, because the survival of the ruling coalition is a “dishonest decision”, he said.
“The parties of the current cabinet are waiting for Serbia to become an EU membership candidate and to sell telecom operator Telekom Srbija, which they will then try to capitalise on in the next election. But it is questionable whether they will see that happen, because this conflict between the Democratic Party and G17 Plus is severe,” he said.
Marko Blagojevic of the Centre for Free Elections and Democracy agrees. He says that the turmoil within the government has coincided with the cabinet’s failure to pass the law on the financing of political parties.
“I cannot decidedly claim that was the cause of the conflict within the government. But the interesting bit is that the law was pulled off the government’s agenda twice and it is an important law on Serbia’s path to the EU,” Blagojevic told SETimes.