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News 13 Jun 16

Serbian PM Meets Ambassadors After Plot Claims

Aleksandar Vucic has met EU and US ambassadors following claims made in the pro-goverment media in Serbia that they are sponsoring an anti-government conspiracy.

Milivoje Pantovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Prime minister Aleksandar Vucic on meeting with EU and US Ambassadors. Photo: Beta

Serbia's Prime Minister has met EU and US diplomats on the request of US ambassador Kyle Randolph Scott and the head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Michael Davenport.

The meeting follows claims in newspapers and TV stations seen as close to the government, that independent media and citizens movements in Serbia are working under the mentorship of the ambassadors of the US and EU to destabilize Aleksandar Vucic's government.

At the meeting on Monday, the ambassadors told Prime Minister Vucic that their countries are dedicated to helping Serbia on its path towards EU integration.

“The United States supports the aspirations of Serbia to join the EU and we welcome the dedication of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic to continuing on the EU path,” the US embassy in Belgrade said after the meeting.

It also said that the US embassy understood the hard work of the government on reforms and on strengthening the judiciary, that are necessary if Serbia wants to enter the EU.

The European Commission also denied involvement in the citizens movement “Let’s not drown Belgrade” and “Support RTV”, following accusations by TV Pink, TV Studio B and the tabloid paper Informer, which are all close to the government.

Controversy started when Dragan Vucicevic, the editor of Informer, at the Prime Minister's press conference on Wednesday, accused the EU and US of sponsoring media and citizens campaigns aimed at destabilizing Serbia - and Prime Minister Vucic agreed with him.

Spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Maja Kocijancic stated on Thursday that the allegations are without foundation.

“The EU is firmly and without doubt dedicated to the European perspective of Serbia and EU is the biggest financial donor and trade partner of Serbia,” Kocijancic recalled.

The head of the think tank the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, Jelena Milic, said the diplomats were warning Vucic to back off.

“Those who understand diplomatic language and the political situation in Serbia can understand from the embassy statements that this was a way of telling the Prime Minister to cool the rhetoric,” she said.

However, she added that she was not sure the Prime Minister would actually hear what the ambassadors had to say.

“We are slipping into a similar situation as Turkey... society is heading towards autocracy. What worries the most is the de-legitimization of non-violent movements and democratic process,” Milic added.

Milic also claimed that the voices of the media close to the government are not just their own voices but clearly represent the views of the Prime Minister.

According to the newspaper Politika, Vucic has canceled previously scheduled visits to Washington and Brussels, although there is still no confirmation of this from the government.

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