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News 14 Jun 17

Serbia’s Vucic Plans Lavish Inauguration Ceremony

New Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will be inaugurated at a ceremony in Belgrade which will feature performances, multimedia displays, soldiers and thousands of guests, media reported.

Maja Zivanovic
BIRN
Belgrade

Vucic 's swearing-in ceremony in parliament on May 31. Photo: Beta/Milos Miskov.

More than 5,000 guests are expected for Vucic’s inauguration on June 23, among them 20 prime ministers and presidents, state-owned newspaper Vecernje novosti reported on Monday.

Serbian daily Blic said on Monday that because of the large number of guests expected, the ceremony will not be held at the presidency as planned, but at the Palace of Serbia, which was the seat of government of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where Josip Broz Tito had his office.

It added that the rooms at the Palace of Serbia will be decorated according to Serbian regional themes, with each of the country’s regions represented. 

“Also, digital platforms will be located in one part of the Palace and guests will be able to get information about Serbia, and images and short films will be played,” Blic reported, adding that each segment of the event will be sending a different message from the President.

Ranks of soldiers and a military band will also take part in the ceremony.

One part of the inauguration event will be organized in front of the building, according to Blic, so Vucic can “show his openness to people and the world”.

Only Serbian food will be on Vucic’s inauguration menu Vecernje novosti reported. 

Serbian media reported this week that most of the leaders from the Balkans will be present at Vucic’s inauguration, and that the presidents of Slovenia, Montenegro and Croatia, as well as all the members of the Bosnian presidency, have already confirmed their attendance. 

Vecernje novosti hinted that Vucic also expects Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov. 

It said the EU will probably be represented by Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, while Russia is sending the speaker of the upper house of parliament, one of the closest associates of President Vladimir Putin, Valentina Matviyenko. China will send representatives too.

Regional leaders ignored the inauguration of Vucic’s party colleague, former President Tomislav Nikolic, in 2012, because of his controversial statements about Serbian relations with its neighbours. 

The event was not attended by the presidents of Croatia and Slovenia, the Bosniak member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, or by the Macedonian president.

Ivica Dacic, then Interior Minister and head of the junior ruling coalition partner, the Socialist Party, said this was “an insult to Serbia”.   

Vucic was sworn in in parliament on May 31 after the former prime minister and head of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party won 54.9 per cent of the vote in the April 2 presidential election, securing a five-year term.

The day of his swearing-in was marked by several incidents, including attacks on journalists and activists. 

He was sworn in with a copy of the the constitution and a replica of the 12th-century Miroslav Gospel - one of the oldest surviving documents in Old Church Slavonic, listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. 

The day was also marked by a gathering of a large number of members of the Progressive Party and an opposition protest later on. 

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