BELGRADE — Belgrade Mayor and ruling Democratic Party (DS) deputy leader Dragan Đilas said that “Europe must not have double standards” when it comes to Serbia.
“Croatian prime minister thanked Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markač for Operation Storm. That means that the prime minister of a country which is to become a member of the EU is thanking perpetrators of war crimes against Serbs convicted by the Hague Tribunal,” he pointed out.
“If Croats thus share the European values and Serbs do not, what would happen if the Serbian prime minister publicly thanked Serbian generals who fought against NATO, and who were sentenced for war crimes against Albanians,” he told Belgrade-based tabloid Press, in an interview published on its website.
“President (Boris) Tadić is ready to go to Srebrenica and pay homage to the Bosniak victims, he is one of a few who daily insist on reconciliation in the region as a prerequisite for a better life for all,” Đilas pointed out.
“Tadić is willing to risk his life and go to war against the largest drug cartels. But he does not do it to get praise from the EU but rather because it is something that is honorable and honest,” he added.
Đilas said that Serbia’s EU membership was not “the meaning of our lives”, but a guarantee that rules ensuring better life would be respected by everyone in Serbia.
“Europe has helped us a lot by forcing us to change for the better. But representatives of the EU are causing a revolt of the majority of citizens of Serbia by constantly treating us as the worst pupils in the European school,” the Belgrade mayor was quoted as saying.
“Anywhere where they form a large population, Roma do not get housing and jobs just because they are Roma, and impoverished Serbia should not be asked to do that either,” he explained.
He said that Europe should not ask Serbia to see the abolition of visas as a great reward “for getting passing grades”, because free travel was “a right that belonged to every European”.
“For years we have been persuaded that we must not allow our debt to exceed 45 percent of our GDP, while at the same time the debt of many EU member states, and the U.S. as well, was twice that,” the mayor noted.
There will be no development, he continued, without investment in infrastructure and education, and asserted that the money could only come from loans.
“Unless we achieve progress in those two areas, how will Serbia develop – Serbia that was, unlike others, damaged in the NATO bombardment? Will someone give us 10 billion in donations to fix that? No! Therefore, we must do it by ourselves,” said Đilas.
Asked whether he would be the DS candidate for prime minister – after elections that will take place next year – Đilas said he wished to continue as mayor of Belgrade for another four-year mandate, “in order to finalize necessary infrastructure projects”.