Jankovic: State institutions in the hands of a political party

The presidential candidate and the former Serbian Ombudsman, Sasa Jankovic, claims he has information from the Secret Service about his safety being in jeopardy if he passes into the second round of the elections.

Saša Janković
Saša Janković

Jankovic, who has been under attack by the pro-government tabloids for the past year, said in an interview for that he got the information from a friend working at the Secret Service (BIA) who is concerned for his safety and who told him that “even violence is possible.”

“Unfortunately, we do not have proper institutions to investigate these claims. One of the main reasons for my candidacy is to ‘rebuild’ the institutions that were taken hostage by the ruling party. Only then can this information be properly investigated, and those responsible or those who provided false information sanctioned,” said Jankovic.

The former Ombudsman also said that the BIA, the Police, and the Prosecution are well informed about possible violence during and after the elections, but they have not reacted to these security issues. He added that the same institutions know the election fraud is under way, but “they are not willing to do their job.”

Sasa Jankovic was the Serbian Ombudsman from July 2007 to February 2017, when he resigned in order to run for the presidential office. He became a target of the pro-government tabloids and the authorities after he made a report on the night demolition in Hercegovacka street in April last year. His findings showed that the police refused to react when the citizens called to report the night demolition. The demolition occurred in a part of Belgrade where the PM Aleksandar Vucic’s pet project Belgrade Waterfront is under construction.

According to him, the citizens in Serbia are frightened by the authorities. In some cases, the situation is worse than under the rule of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic during the nineties.

“Some institutions are now under much greater political pressure than they were in the beginning of the nineties. However, the citizens do have the power to break the darkness we have been in for the past 5 years,” said Jankovic, alluding to the rule of the Serbian Progressive Party since 2012, whose founding members were in power during the nineties. Jankovic also said that, prior to his presidential campaign rally in the town of Kovacica, he was informed by an insider from one of the state institutions that his supporters may have problems with the Progressive Party members.

“He told me that some of the most violent members of the Progressive Party are there. We were not able to even rent a space for the rally in Kovacica, so we reported to the police that we will have a rally in an open public space. When we arrived, there were booths of the Progressive Party installed at that exact spot. If we protested, there would certainly be problems,” said Jankovic.

Kovacica is one of the places in Serbia with a large Slovak community. The Vice President of the Slovak Government, Dusan Caplovic, said last week that the Parliament of Slovakia will discuss the pressuring by the Progressive Party, which is forcing Slovaks to join the party or vote for it.

Kosovo issue is a historical process

Presidential candidate Jankovic said that, even though Kosovo is de facto independent from Serbia, the Serbian Constitution does not allow him to say that the process of independency is finished. The Serbian Constitution defines Kosovo as an inseparable part of Serbia.

“Maybe one day, Serbs and Albanians will want to live in the same country. When it comes to Serbia’s accession to NATO, it may happen one day. Personally, I support military neutrality, but I do not have the right to impose my individual thoughts and feelings. This decision will be made after careful considerations on the highest state levels,” he said.

Jankovic also said that the war crime committed in Srebrenica in 1995 is genocide. This definition is still problematic in Serbian society, and most of the presidential candidates, including the current Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, do not want to admit that genocide was committed in Srebrenica.

“The International Court of Justice ruled that genocide was committed in Srebrenica. Therefore, it was genocide. The Court also ruled that Serbia is not responsible for it, but it did not do enough to prevent it. A deliberate murder of thousands or even of a single person is unforgiving,” said Jankovic.

“I want to remove this shadow of shame from my country, not by minimizing this crime but by clearly identifying our state and society’s historical responsibility for it. Jankovic also said that he was recruited to fight in the Yugoslav wars in the nineties, when the members of the current government were also in power.

“I was sent to the frontline when I was 21, and today, it seems I need to justify myself to the politicians who were in power both then and now,” said Jankovic. He also accused some members of the current government for forming paramilitary forces during the Yugoslav wars.

“I entered the presidential race to also stop the mass flow of young people leaving the country. I wish they have an option to leave by choice instead of being forced to leave as they are today. Too many young people are leaving Serbia,” said Jankovic.

Danica Vucenic

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