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Serbia: President Nikolic Abandons Bid For Second Term


By Maja Zivanovic

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic announced he had given up plans to run for another term after a meeting on Monday with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

After a tense few days, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic has decided not to run for another term in this spring’s presidential elections.

The decision was announced after a meeting on Monday between Nikolic and current Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who emerged last week as the favoured presidential candidate of the Progressive Party to which they both belong.

“We have agreed to continue leading the state together. We are going to discuss posts after our victory in the elections,” Nikolic told the daily newspaper Kurir after the tete-a-tete.

“We will continue to raise Serbia up. Aleksandar will be the candidate for president,” Nikolic added.

The meeting was held after local media reported last week that Nikolic had decided to run for another term, despite his party having voted to nominate Vucic as its presidential candidate.

Although media reports since then have focused on an apparent conflict emerging between the two men, a joint statement released after the meeting emphasised their past cooperation and said they had agreed to work closely in the future to ensure the security of the region.

“The president and prime minister completely agree that Serbia is facing serious challenges and threats that require a joint and comprehensive response from the state leadership,” said the statement.

“The unity of all state officials in resolving regional problems and avoiding a large-scale crisis are the priority tasks of President Nikolic and Prime Minister Vucic,” it added.

It described a shared stance between Nikolic and Vucic on key topics such as the renewal of Bosnia’s lawsuit against Serbia for genocide, which was announced on Friday, and towards proposals for Kosovo’s “so-called membership” in UNESCO and the Council of Europe.

Serbia’s Progressive Party had confirmed Vucic, who is leader of the party, as its unanimously selected candidate for the country’s upcoming presidential elections, which will be held on April 30.

Vucic’s candidacy was backed by Serbia’s Socialist Party, coalition partner of the Progressives, following a party meeting on Saturday.

Nikolic won the presidential elections in 2012 as the Progressives’ candidate, and appears to have expected their support for another term.

Nikolic, who founded the Progressives but gave up leadership of the party when he became president, told Sputnik on Friday that he had asked Vucic to decide to either support his bid, or – if Vucic wanted to run himself – hand presidency of the party back to Nikolic.

Nikolic added that he could decide to run separately in the elections, depending on whether or not he could reach a deal with the prime minister.

Over the weekend, in response to Nikolic’s potential candidacy, the Progressives published a video on Saturday to promote Vucic.

The video shows pilots and air passengers on board an aircraft, in panic after heavy turbulence. The scenes are accompanied by the text “Serbia 2017”.

It then shows Vucic waking up on board the plane to tell viewers how he will deliver the country from such a “nightmare”.

“Our country, as well as this plane, was entrusted to the management of the two men: president and prime minister,” he says, adding that if those two men took the country in different directions, it would be impossible to maintain Serbia’s stable course.
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The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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