ZZS IN ENGLISH
ZZS IN ENGLISH
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s2smodern

The leader of Together for Serbia (ZzS) party and one of the leaders of Alliance for Serbia (SzS) Nebojsa Zelenovic called the government on Saturday to “cancel all public-funded New Year’s celebrations” around Serbia and the money allocated for this “allocate for treatment of sick children, people with special needs and young couples”.

Zelenovic, Mayor of Sabac, the only larger city in Serbia not under control of Aleksandar Vucic’s regime, stated in the written statement that this city would not have an organized New Year’s celebration “because there are incomparably more important things where the money of citizens should be invested”.

“Instead of fees for celebrity stars, the budget money was allocated for Fund for Children Ill with Difficult and Rare Diseases and financing in-vitro fertilization for young couples. This is just one example of how to run a responsible policy towards children and young people”, Zelenovic stated.

“In such harsh economic circumstances, it is unacceptable and immoral to allocate astronomical fees for parties on city squares. Unfortunately, the full truth is that the government is using people’s money to buy the support of celebrities so the signers and starlets could publicly support (Serbian President and the leader of the ruling SNS Aleksandar) Vucic in elections campaigns and at the party rallies”, Zelenovic concluded.

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s2smodern

For years, Serbia has been labeled as one of the frontrunners for EU accession in the Western Balkans, being one of two countries in the region currently negotiating membership. Unfortunately, there is little truth in this perception, write representatives of the Serbian opposition.

[Following is the opinion article by the Serbian opposition leaders and members of the Alliance for Serbia coalition: Dragan Đilas, President of the Freedom and Justice Party, Nebojša Zelenović, President of Together for Serbia, and Dejan Nikolić, Vice-President of the Democratic Party.]

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Serbia has experienced a dramatic democratic backslide since the 2012 ascent to power of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) led by current President Aleksandar Vučić. In recent years, we have seen a resurgence in authoritarian leadership which has captured the state almost in its entirety.

Most prominently, Serbia is experiencing one of the most severe regressions in media freedom in the world. According to the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, Serbia dropped 36 ranks since 2014. All national frequency television stations are either directly controlled by the government or owned by those with close government ties. In addition, independent journalists are facing increasing pressure, exemplified by the case of journalist Milan Jovanović, whose house was set on fire and his door was shot at to prevent his escape. While members of the opposition are vilified daily in all national news outlets, high-profile government scandals are not even mentioned.

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s2smodern

„Vucic’s statement that 'the authorities gave more than the opposition had demanded regarding electoral conditions' because 'he is a lenient man' is nothing but a cynical mockery of the citizens of Serbia and the entire democratic public.“, said the leader of Together for Serbia Nebojsa Zelenovic.

“The Members of the European Parliament had the opportunity to see for themselves that in Serbia there are no elementary conditions for normal political life, let alone fair elections,” pointed out Zelenovic, who is also the Mayor of Sabac, in a written statement.

“The regime unsuccessfully tried to feign a dialogue in front of the eyes of the international representatives, making up some fake concessions, all to break up the unity of the opposition, and win over at least one of the relevant opposition parties for the fake elections. However, realizing that nothing will come of it because a million and a half citizens are unified in our stance to delegitimize the authoritarian government through boycott and that this will lead to fair elections with a fair election campaign of at least nine months,” he said.

"There are months of a difficult fight ahead of us, but we will win because Serbia deserves to be a decent and normal country. Any repression at one point begins to work to the detriment of its authoritarian leader. This will happen to Vucic very soon when he realizes that his most loyal and richest, heavily corrupted allies are leaving him; when he finally understands that he can not keep the people intimidated forever.

There are 230.000 part-time civil servants in Serbia who are frightened for their families' future because their employment depends on time-limited contracts, which must be extended every six months. This extension is decided in one single office of the ruling party in Belgrade, based on their performance as the (unwilling) activists of the Serbian progressive party. If they have gathered enough capillary votes, if they have written enough positive comments about „the Great Leader“ on social media, they can keep their jobs and feed their families – and the other way around. This so-called „bott army“ is a unique case in the entire world. The regime humiliates and abuses the despair and hopelessness of the frightened people. This can not last forever. These people are becoming aware that this situation can not go on, and that changes are necessary. "- concluded President of the Together for Serbia, Nebojsa Zelenovic.

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s2smodern

Following is the speech of Nebojsa Zelenovic, president of the Together for Serbia and mayor of Sabac, given at the opening part of the high-level event at the European Parlament on December 11th, 2019. This event was organized by Socialist and Democratic Parliamentary Group to give the representatives of the Serbian opposition a chance to explain the difficult situation they are facing in Serbia ahead of the parliamentary elections that are due to be held in the spring of next year. Serbian opposition was represented, besides Zelenovic, by the president of the Freedom and Justice Pary Dragan Djilas, and the vice-president of the Democratic party, Dejan Nikolic. 

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"Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honor to stand before you today to shed light on the worsening political crisis in my country, Serbia. The last few years have seen serious regression in Serbia’s democratic reforms, which has led to the complete state and media capture* by the regime. In the meantime, Serbia opened another chapter in the accession process just yesterday. This is an incredible situation.

Let me stress that my strategic priority as President of Together for Serbia is - and will remain - Serbia’s accession to the European Union.

There can be no doubt that Russian, Chinese, and other external influences are growing in Serbia. However, when you ask Serbians where they want their children to grow up, they will name the European Union without question. While EU membership might be an abstract concept for many Serbians, they all want to live in a country modeled after EU member states. Namely, where you can receive a quality education, where there is a robust healthcare system, where the rule of law is a reality rather than a term in the newspapers. Most of all, Serbs want a country where our children will want to stay and build towards a better future together. The only way to achieve these basic human needs is through EU membership. I count on your support as we navigate this difficult, but necessary, process of structural change.

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s2smodern

Sabac Mayor and the leader of the party Together for Serbia, Nebojsa Zelenovic, will be in Brussels on Wednesday, in the seat of the European Parliament, where he will speak of the political situation in Serbia, FoNet agency reported.

Zelenovic wrote on his Twitter profile that he would “speak about the absence of a minimum of conditions for a normal political life without which there can be no free elections either”.

Zelenovic will, along with another two representatives of the opposition parties rallied in the bloc Alliance for Serbia (SzS) - the leader of the Freedom and Justice Party (SSP) Dragan Djilas and deputy leader of the Democratic Party (DS) Dejan Nikolic - speak at the discussion in the organization of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the EP.

“The S&D Group is organizing a high-level event together with Serbian opposition. The goal of the event is to give the representatives of the opposition a chance to explain the difficult situation they are facing in Serbia ahead of the parliamentary elections that are due to be held in the Spring of next year”, the S&D Group said on its website.

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