From Horgos to Presevo on a highway. We have waited decades on that. And now it is a reality. The president of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic is one of the first who will test the road through Grdelica Gorge. The crew of portal Telegraf.rs was in his car while the president drove.
- It's 22:20. A very successful day is behind us, don't you think?
- It was a great day, I haven't driven in a long time. Sometimes, I sneak out in Belgrade, and I drive around, but I haven't driven on the roads of Serbia for a long time. I am a bit nervous, but I am happy. I think it was a great day and that all of the people are happy. You are doing something, building. It takes time and then you get results, I think that you are pleased too because you have seen a different Serbia, more successful, more modern. We have believed that we can create that Serbia, I am so happy - said the president of Serbia.
- You have mentioned several times that Serbia must continue to compete
- Serbia has to continue to compete with itself. With its flaws. To keep winning over them, to overcome them, but it must compete with everybody because the countries around us advance and everybody is fighting. That is a constant game. It is enough to see how Poland looked 40 years ago, and how it looks today. How did Serbia look 40 years ago and how it looks today. Don't forget that we had raised the gross domestic product in the period between 2008 to 2013 by 700 million. In the last five years, it was 6.5 billion. And that is not enough, we had a bad year in 2014 due to floods.
- You see, now we are passing next to the tunnel Predejane, and that is something that frightens Dragan, the owner of the motel, which hires the entire village. Since it is no longer on the main road, we will help him. We will put a sign which shows to his motel, so people can go there - said the president.
- It looks like it's about strengthening national consciousness, on several occasions we saw Serbian flags and you mentioned that there should be a flag at the Predejane loop
They are laughing at me but I think that the national symbol is something the most beautiful. I like it that this tunnel is a national symbol. Look, it is very important that asphalt is here, and not concrete. The traffic signs are great with these jet-fans, it looks incredible. About the flag, remember when they laughed at me for the mast in Belgrade? Who is bothered by our flag? We are proud of our flag, we are not destroying anyone's monuments - he said.
He said that this road is a metaphor.
- It is not just about these 74 km, nor those 86 in the east end, it is the matter of our catching up, reducing the difference and overcoming those who were more successful. I believe that Serbia can do that. That is why it was important for me to have Dodik and Zaev here tonight. I have talked with Zaev about "One stop shop", to reduce the waiting of our trucks on the border between Serbia and Northern Macedonia, for them to acknowledge the vet-sanitary reports of our inspections, and we should accept theirs. You know, we lose somewhere between 7 and 9 percent of the total value of goods in waiting - he explained.
- In addition to this route, which was released for traffic, we attended the continuation of works on the Corridor 11 section, during this year, we expect to open more parts. There are works to connect every part of Serbia
- We will complete the entire section Obrenovac-Cacak, even the problematic 12.5 km between Ub and Lajkovac. After that, we will go to Bancarevo-Crvena Reka, and the part of the high way Nis-Pirot-Dimitrovgrad-Gradina, by the end of August. We will open Obrenovac-Surcin by the end of the year, we will complete the road from Belgrade to Cacak. After that, we will go to Kuzmin - Sremska Raca, and then Ruma-Sabac and the highway Sabac-Loznica. We are working on a project Belgrade-Zrenjanin-Novi Sad, to make a triangle. After that, we will work on a highway up to the turn for Pozarevac, the 19 km, and the fast road over Veliko Gradiste to Milanovac. It is important that the Morava Corridor connects Cacak with Adranin, Kraljevo, Trstenik and with it, Serbia will have highways and roads everywhere - he said and noted that when it is finished, we will go to the east of Serbia.
- Morava corridor is very significant and it connects Cacak, Kraljevo and Krusevac and many other smaller places. We will connect Corridors 10 and 11 with that. We will finish with "Y", 26 m up near Subotica. That is just a beginning, we are working on several important things. That is why you can't see everything at once. When you look at the railroads, you can't see anything. I am inviting you to go to the rail Stara Pazova-Novi Sad, which is extremely difficult, Karlovci, Cortanovci. Russians are working there and they are doing a great job, and the part Belgrade-Stara Pazova is being worked on by Chinese. Russians are working on a very difficult section, but our trains will be able to go 200 km per hour.
- Railways are very important because of the conversations you had in China, and this is the "Belt and Road" which should transport the goods from Thessaloniki
- We are now fighting for these corridors, to get the passengers. We will have 67 million this year, and we had 32 million 3 years ago. We have to reach 120 million. We have to "fight" with our neighbors, to attract foreigners and people. I didn't understand Croats, when we offered to do Belgrade-Zagreb, they avoided it, because it would be cheaper for us. We are now working on Belgrade-Budapest, and everybody will take the train from Central Europe to go to Skopje-Thessaloniki, Athens, Sofia, Istanbul. After that, we must work on Corridor 10 through central Serbia. With around 850 euros, the trains could go 120 or 160 km/h. Those are the works around Nis and we have just signed the memo. We have a contract and we must finish the gas pipeline, if there is a stop in Ukraine, we will be able to get it over Bulgaria. When you do all of those things, that is a far different country from the one which we inherited. Of course, things aren't ideal, you have seen a lot of poor people, but even they see that something is changing. But, you can't do that overnight, just like Zaev said "It ain't happening" - said Vucic.
- During your prime ministerial and presidential mandate, the process of reindustrialization of the south of the country has been launched?
- I have listened to all kinds of things from various political opponents. Djilas and Borko Stefanovic had some promotion in Nis. Vlada Djukanovic sends that Stefanovic said that Nis was an industrial city, the city of soot and progress, and now there is nothing. How come nothing, the man wonders if this is a candid camera? You have destroyed the factories in Nis and I opened 5 of them and now I am trying to open the sixth one. And then you take a moment and you wonder if they are just acting crazy - he said.
- If we say that Serbia is connected from Horgos to Presevo, is the Serbian society divided due to this?
- I don't think it is. Is there any other opinion? Of course, there is, it would be unhealthy not to have a different opinion, but when you say divided, that means somewhere 48-52, 49-51... and that has nothing to do with this. They insist that the Serbian society is divided because it is 10 percent of them, they think that they are equally worth as those 90 percent. The essence of democracy is to respect the minority, but that is the rule of the majority. I won't accent division, but I will accept diversity if it is based on arguments, seriousness, and responsibility. I am not capable of saying what is the basis for this - said the president Vucic.
- On May 27, you will be in the Serbian Assembly at a special session dedicated to Kosovo and Metohija. Could this session be the beginning of a dialogue between the government and the opposition, in order to reach a consensus on this most important issue?
- We have dialogue every day and no one is eager to meet one another, and we don't like each other, we shouldn't fake that we love each other. The point is that we have the right to say what we have done, what we are about to do, what are our plans. Each of us has the possibility to do that. The other thing is that some of the people don't like it and they say "look, they are more successful, that is why we are losing the elections", the media will always be the ones to blame, or who knows who. I expect that we will show the citizens what is really happening, what we have done right, wrong, and what we can still do. Do I expect someone from the opposition to agree with it? No. I will listen to the same story, that I am a traitor, that I should have given Kosovo Sooner. I don't have big dreams, but I think that it is important to hear the arguments - said the president of Serbia.
- It seems that the relations between Belgrade and Pristina worse than at the start of the dialogue. Can anything happen in the next month and a half, until July 1st and 2nd when the continuation of the negotiations is scheduled in Paris?
- Basically, no. There is a question if something is going to happen, if there is going to be less aggression and if the things will be somewhat more comfortable. But, I have no doubts that anything can happen - he said.
In the end, he discovered that he sometimes escapes his security and that he is driving around the city in his car.
- When I escape sometimes in Belgrade, that is a chase like in Otpisani. you can't believe what they are doing to catch me - said Vucic but he mentioned that he does that very rarely.
- Their job is to worry about my life and if something happens to me it is their fault. They can't be held responsible and to suffer their entire lives because I was irresponsible. Sometimes I do that but they catch up with me quickly - said the president of Serbia.