Saša Janković, Serbian presidential candidate: The People Desire Civil Rights and Smiles

My task as the head of state will be to establish national unity – not structured on ideological or any other guidelines, rather on fundamental human values and rules. That is a precondition for us to restore people’s smiling faces, dignity and self-respect

I’m not interested in calculations of candidates, because I am orientated towards citizens and don’t fear censorship and self-censorship in the media, because I am convinced that citizens are well aware, even without them, of how tough their lives are and why they want to change that, says Serbian presidential candidate Saša Janković. From that symbolically highest position in the country a lot can be done to return the country to the citizens and stop it from being held hostage by a single man who has usurped all the power.

What do you consider as being the greatest success an independent candidate like yourself can achieve in the presidential election?

 — There is one success I am already celebrating: citizens, awakened, gathered around the same thoughts – we have suffered enough humiliation, we will not be servants to other people’s self-will, which offends our common sense on a daily basis; we have the right and the power to live in the kind of Serbia we want and deserve. It started as a snowball, but it is how already gaining the contours of an avalanche, and I see that at all of our joint meetings, at every meeting of ours in every part of our country. The next success, that greatest one, will be shared and not just mine. We will prove that, no matter how much somebody insults us by calling us lazy, incompetent and spoiled, we can achieve a lot when we show solidarity and when we’re determined. We will prove that the political system does not have to be held hostage by personal ambitions and the interests of the few, alienated from citizens. We will restore trust in it. We’ll return our kidnapped country into the hands of us – its citizens.

Do you think that Vuk Jeremić will help or hinder you in the first round, given that there are two candidates that will be options for similar sections of the electorate?

 — I don’t deal in calculations – rather I am fully orientated towards my partners in this process – the citizens. The citizens are those who will evaluate when choosing and will make a decision in accordance with what will help or hinder them, actually all of us together, and not me individually, Mr Jeremićor any other candidate.

What do the people who come to your meetings to support you desire the most and what can realistically be achieved from the position of president of the country?

 — Most are eager to smile. People in Serbia today have spasms on their faces; they’re sad because of the need to constantly check their pockets, restless due to considerations of how much and whose debt will lead to the confiscating of their property, in constant fear that they will not get sick because they do not have a health card, nor envelope to replace it. They are unsure, because while accounts are being settled on the street and property is being demolished at night, the police protect the powerful. As the nation struggles for bare survival, they are mocked in the face from the state Cabinet by those who play the role of force. Our dignity has been downtrodden, society is sick. When we heal the society and restore people’s dignity, those spasms will be replaced by smiles. We cannot do that until we establish equal rights and equal opportunities for all, as long as institutions are patched up, and the state equates to one man who has usurped all power – Aleksandar Vučić. In that function the president of the country can do a lot, because it is symbolically the highest position in the state of Serbia and reflects Serbia as it is, but also directs towards Serbia as it should be. It is a shield for basic human values and a protector of an ordered society. My task as the head of state will be to establish national unity – not structured on ideological or any other guidelines, rather on fundamental human values and rules. The law must be the supreme authority, the same for all, because without legal security there is no other security. I will publicly condemn any politicisation of the judiciary and bodies of state administration. I will seek a ban on secret contracts, return the security sector to protecting national interests, and not personal ones, refuse to sign harmful legislation adopted overnight and during the night; I will not appoint ambassadors who do not have diplomatic potential, will advocate for media freedom, but also for the protection of basic ethics and morality in their content; I will provide support for culture, education and science; I will stand up publicly against favouring foreign companies at the expense of domestic firms and will halt sales and donations, i.e. covert theft, of our strategic resources, such as land, telecommunications, forestry and water resources…

 How possible is it to run a campaign under conditions of media censorship and self-censorship?

 — It is not impossible and mustn’t be. It is certainly more difficult than for those that are abusing their state functions, blackmailing and pressuring, who have harnessed a large part of the media in their propaganda machinery. However, this must not be an excuse – for me firstly, nor for the people who are behind me. Serbia has today fallen to its knees – it is naked, barefoot and humiliated. We cannot defend it by whining and seeking excuses outside of ourselves. After all, even under the baton of the regime the media can no longer hide the image of that kind of Serbia. Citizens do not need to read the newspapers or watch television shows to find out how well we’re doing. They see that on a daily basis – when they open their fridges, look at their plates, wait in line at the unemployment bureau. That’s why this election will not be determined by media campaigns, but rather by this one of ours – this life, on a daily basis.

What will be your next step if you win a relatively large number of votes, but not enough to become the president?

 — I’m not considering that, because I am convinced that after the April elections I will be the President of the Republic of Serbia.

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