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News 01 Jan 18

More Political Antics Predicted in Balkans in 2018

Journalists expect more of the same old antics when it comes to the deeds, words (and songs) of Balkan politicians next year.

Belgrade, Podgorica, Tirana, Sarajevo, Zagreb

Serbian FM Ivica Dacic taking selfie at the Media Market, October 27. Photo: Beta/Serbian Foreign Ministry/Ognjen Stevanovic

As the Balkans gets ready for 2018, journalists expect to see a continuation of the usual unorthodox pranks and eccentric statements and acts on the part of politicians.

“I expect even more singing and breaking of locks,” predicts Serbian journalist Dejan Anastijevic, referring to the musical stunts of Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic, who has used many diplomatic opportunities to bellow out a tune.

Dacic once again demonstrated his singing skills in October, by serenading Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a dinner that President Aleksandar Vucic organised for him in Belgrade.

A video of singing Dacic soon went viral.

When it comes to “breaking locks”, Anastasijevic was recalling an event from 2013, when the then First Deputy Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, now President, broke the lock on his office door after members of the Flight Control Agency's management asked him to pay them and the Agency’s workers a 13th month salary.

“How you are not embarrassed! Go out, I never want to see you again! You never have enough money, and you have the highest salaries in Serbia,” Vucic responded, the daily paper Blic reported.

Across the border in neighbouring Bosnia, one journalist also expects to see politicians singing - the same old tune.

Journalist Ivanka Katic said she expected Bosniak presidency member Bakir Izetbegovic, Bosnian Croat presidency member Dragan Covic and Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik all to join in singing: "No one can do us harm”.

This song is, incidentally, one of Dodik's favourites, and he has used it whenever he had a chance to do so, which explains why Katic thinks the quarrelling politicians might well sing it together.

Albanian journalist Lutfi Dervishi meanwhile expects Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to continue to show his colourful and sometimes daring fashion sense, which has included attending summits in smart sneakers.

Edi Rama in Trieste. Photo: Rama's Facebook Page

“In 2018 I hope Rama wears shoes to formal meetings, although I believe he would do so only if his counterparts wore sneakers to these meetings,” Dervishi told BIRN.

Rama is known for his sartorial imagination and he has gained a reputation for stepping out in style ever since he became Minister of Culture back in 1998.

A journalist for Montenegro's daily newspaper, Dan, Marko Vesovic, said he expected the "eternal ruler" of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, to finally put on a royal crown to celebrate his unrivalled three decades of power, which began with his rise to the top of the then ruling League of Communists in 1988.

"Unfortunately, it is realistic to fear that Montenegro is moving towards becoming the only state in Europe that has not experienced any change of government in almost three decades, since the fall of the Berlin Wall," he commented.

"This, in addition to sounding absurd, indicates a serious deficit," he added.

Despite having retired, again, from frontline politics, Djukanovic recently signalled that he might stage yet another come-back in spring 2018 – if he decides that "the country needs his help".

In Croatia, the term "hybrid warfare" was put before the public in 2017, when Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and other government officials suggested a form of unarmed "war" was being conducted against the country.

Hrvoje Simicevic, a journalist from the weekly Novosti, thinks this war “has only just begun”, with “fierce fighting ahead of us”.

“Although numerically inferior, the hostile infantry, [the media] will, using [World War II] Partisan methods, charge from an ambush against the government’s concept of patriotism, which is a prop for looting the budget, clientelism, lying, plagiarism and war mongering,” he told BIRN.

“The victorious army [the government] … will reject all these attacks, denounce them as internal and external enemies, until it publishes a warrant against the last journalist on Croatian Radio-Television, with his photograph, and with information that he is dangerous and armed with questions that reflect critically on the Prime Minister,” he added.

“In a few years, once the minority aggressors [media] are driven out of the public space, as Father of the Homeland, Plenkovic will ceremonially give out awards to all the defenders [a term used for Croatian independence war fighters] in the hybrid war – the editorial staff of HRT, spin doctors, ministers, journalists, historians, priests and spies – for their merit in the final, thousand-year-dreamed-of proclamation of the independence of the Republic of Croatia from common sense,” Simicevic concluded.

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