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Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic has told local daily Novosti that pressure was applied on Belgrade by Brussels to stage the banned Gay Pride Parade.
Speaking after the cancellation of last weekend's planned Belgrade Pride Parade, Dacic has said: "It is true that there were calls and pressure from Brussels to stage the Pride Parade at all costs. It is better that I am responsible for this gathering not being held than being responsible for the blood that would have been spilled in Belgrade on Sunday," said Dacic, without specifying precisely who called from the EU administration.
"Unfortunately, we have become too susceptible to pressure and now they [the EU] can blackmail us for whatever crosses their minds. Everybody must understand that parades and various marches are an internal issue of Serbia and if we cannot say no because of Kosovo we surely can because of this,” said Dacic.
Dacic assessed that the rights of the gay population had not been impeded, as the police simultaneously banned all gatherings that were scheduled for last Sunday and that had been deemed risky.
"I am the Serbian Minister of Internal Affairs and not the Commissioner of the EU’s Internal Affairs. Surely I know better than them what represents a security risk for my state."
"The security services submitted a report to me saying that they expected a major disturbance of public order and peace with the possibility of endangering people’s lives and property, as well as the torching of embassies. I have no doubt that any of my colleagues from the EU would have acted in the same way if they were confronted by a similar challenge," Dacic insisted.
The European Commission responded to the cancellation of the Pride Parade by expressing deep regret over the Serbian authorities’ decision to ban the event and condemning the threats issues by extremist organisations.
Calling on Belgrade to “do everything to fully respect the freedom of assembly and expression in order to allow all peaceful gatherings in the future”, an EC statement says that the commission “strongly condemns the intimidation and threats of extremist organisations against the Pride Parade organisers, which prevented Serbian citizens from exercising rights guaranteed by the Constitution and anti-discrimination laws”.
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