Presidential Elections in Serbia 2012
Tomislav Nikolic: “Only a strong economy may contribute to an effective foreign policy”
18. May 2012. | 07:30
The Serbian Progressive Party took off with a clear attention towards economic and social issues, which clearly defined the tone of the campaign this year. The Progressives not necessarily ignoring the two hot topics of European integration and issue of Kosovo, focused mostly on what they judged as being the concerns of most Serbian citizens, how to improve their living standards.
The 2012 general elections in have seen the evolvement of a new party in Serbian politics. When the leading figures behind the Serbian Progressive Party separated from the Serbian Radical Party they also significantly changed their stances towards many issues. The recent general elections have given them the opportunity to present the voters with their new programme.
The Serbian Progressive Party took off with a clear attention towards economic and social issues, which clearly defined the tone of the campaign this year. The Progressives not necessarily ignoring the two hot topics of European integration and issue of Kosovo, focused mostly on what they judged as being the concerns of most Serbian citizens, how to improve their living standards. Therefore, they came out with an ambitious economic programme.
The economic plan of the Serbian Progressive Party is not too much innovative compared to other parties. There is not anything new to be said, but definitely much to be done. Combating unemployment, regional development, combating the grey economy and fostering entrepreneurship, responsible management of public resources and boosting the economic growth are all subjects that hold prominent positions in the programme. However, foreign investments as life injections in devastated economies must be brought in, by making Serbia even more attractive. The innovative solution of the Progressives is the establishment of a “Office for Rapid Responses”, or “One-Stop Shop” as Rudolph Giuliani called in his recent visit in Belgrade.
The general idea behind the “One-Stop Shop” is to have a central address for international entrepreneurs wishing to invest in the country. Such an office would provide with instant answers and arrange the necessary permits for businesses to start. The necessity behind it is to reduce the time and cost and simplify procedures for investors while setting up their businesses in Serbia, which have been so far too high and stressful. The “One-Stop Shop” would serve also as an intermediate between investors and local authorities, as direct contacts have been too inadequate and resolved in failures.
The government on its behalf would hold regular public meetings with all relevant factors in the country to discuss and evaluate economic policies. This would provide with rapid solutions to occurring problems and would create transparent decision-making processes. These meetings would include all political parties, employers, trade unions and directors of export-oriented enterprises.
For an ideal system that includes this invention to work, one needs to combat cancerous issues of the Serbian society. Corruption, crime and party employment are the problems that Serbian citizens and investors are dealing with every day. These problems have led the German media group WAZ away in 2010, leaving the Serbian media landscape monopolized, just to mention as an example. Nevertheless, combating these acute fallacies will enable an economic growth and the increase the citizens’ purchasing power, and as an effect the boost demand and production. The Progressives believe that only a strong, healthy and a landscape freed from damaging party influences and personnel appointments may provide with an attractive soil for investors and a functional society.
“Only a strong economy may contribute to an effective foreign policy” said Tomislav Nikolić in the television duel with Boris Tadić on the Serbian public broadcaster. His claim is based on the belief that in such conditions Serbia may be on in a position to negotiate and be an accountable partner. Thus, the foreign policy the Serbian Progressive Party aims to follow is one of equal and friendly relations with European countries, the United States, Russia, China and all emerging powers. In order to achieve that, the “shuttle diplomacy” employed by Boris Tadić and his government must be abandoned. Serbia according to Nikolić must reset its diplomacy by giving more emphasis to experienced and skilled diplomats on the spot, rather to sporadic visits and nominal agreements. Personnel solutions in this sphere must include professionals, rather than prominent individuals that have no real experiences in international relations, or in the worst case, people appointed solely for their party affiliation. Otherwise, Serbia will carry on having amateurish foreign relations.
The imperative course Serbia has to follow with a nation-wide consensus is to join the European Union. With a full membership Serbia may receive an additional impetus to restructure itself and form a functional system that will put the citizens first. The access to funds will enable Serbia to develop, but also give profits to the Union itself, which is a win-win strategy. Therefore, the Progressives are committing themselves to the European path as an instrument of improving the Serbian state and society. The first step they intend is not only to adopt European laws and standards, but also to undertake the pioneer step of implementing them.