Serbia’s Truth-O-Meter

Politicians have lied since the very beginning of politics. Ramses II fought to a stalemate against the Hittites then came back and announced to his fellow Egyptians that he’d thoroughly conquered the adversary in battle. PBS, oddly, dates the beginning of political falsehood more than a thousand years later to the Roman emperor Augustus, who transformed himself into a god. In between, those first democrats the Athenians surely must have indulged in plenty of falsehoods, if Aristophanes is to be believed.

We know they lie, but only recently have we begun to track just how bad their lying is. In American politics, it is perhaps surprising to realize that the rigorous subjecting of political statements to fact-checking is a relatively recent phenomenon. Factcheck.org, run out of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, only started back in 1993, too late to evaluate the whoppers of the Reagan years. PolitiFact, which runs the infamous Truth-O-Meter, is an even more recent development: less than seven years old. The evaluation of the statements of politicians, lobbyists, and interest group representatives was previously rather scattershot. Now we can get near instantaneous report cards on major speeches, Sunday morning speechifying, and off-the-wall Tweets. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker even livens things up by using Pinocchio’s nose for a graphic.

Promoting accountability is never an easy task, particularly in countries just emerging from authoritarianism. In Serbia, the Center for Transparency and Accountability (CRTA) was founded a couple years after the fall of Slobodan Milosevic in 2002 – by several of the activists involved in bringing him down. They were disappointed in the quality of Serbian democracy. Rather than join a particular political party, they decided to subject all the parties to the same rigorous standards.

One of their most popular projects is a Serbian Truth-O-Meter. “In 2005,” explains Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic, the founder and director of CRTA, “there was a big corruption scandal involving the minister of capital investments, Vladimir Ilic. He gave a statement that if the theft is big you can’t keep quiet about it, but it’s okay to steal a little bit. What kind of message does that send to society, that it’s okay to steal a little bit? Please can you give me your wallet and I’ll take just a little?! We were angry, not just about what he was saying but because there was no reaction from other politicians, from the media, from independent institutions.”

Inspired by the American Truth-O-Meter, she and her colleagues decided to create their own version. One of the immediate effects has been around political promises. “The previous president and several ministers admitted that everyone was paying attention to deadlines,” explains Sabovic. “There was a huge amount of promises. Nobody, not even the media, was keeping track. But then we started to keep track, and the politicians stopped.“

Accountability is a 24/7 job. CRTA is trying to make parliament more open, government more transparent, the judiciary more accountable, and the media more aggressive. And they’re doing so in an environment in which corruption is rife and the assassination of a prime minister took place only a decade ago.

I sat down with three staff of CRTA last October: Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic, executive director Dusan Jordovic, and staffer Bojana Milosevic.

Vukosava Crnjanski Sabovic of CRTA

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Interview

 

How did you get involved in these issues?

 

Dusan Jordovic: I think almost all NGO activists became active during the 1990s. In my case, in 1999 I became a member of Civic Alliance of Serbia, which was a pro-democratic, civic-oriented, and anti-war party. The main reason was the Milosevic regime and all the unjust and non-transparent things happening around this regime. We decided that the only way to fight against it was through protest and activism and to call on citizens to vote against the Milosevic regime.

After 2000 and the so-called revolution, it was clear to me that nothing crucial changed. The government and some 100 people left power, but there was no change of system. And there was no plan on what to do. So, I have stayed active, first in the political sphere, then at the NGO level. Transparency and democratic procedures in political parties do not exist. Even in the most progressive, pro-reform, and pro-EU parties, the system is still very old, which causes non-transparent behavior in government, especially corruption. And that’s what we are fighting against.

When we look back 12 years after this mini-revolution, we have changed a lot of things. But the essence of the political parties still hasn’t changed. There is a lot of room for more activism by young activists and of course even older activists like us.

 

Bojana Milosevic: I don’t have a political background. I got involved in the NGO sector when I was a student. I was volunteering for various NGOs dealing mostly with vulnerable groups: Roma, refugees, returnees. I love working in the NGO sector. It’s a chance to really change something: to work with people and for people. I came here to CRTA two years ago, and I loved it. Accountability and transparency are an area where you can make some basic changes that affect all groups of people.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: I have a similar background as Dusan in that I was active in the Civic Alliance of Serbia. I wanted to be involved in the election process, to be part of the NGOs doing election monitoring. But then something happened in society. One of the hidden leaders of the democratic movement who was active in the 1990s in communist circles, Ivan Stambolic, was kidnapped just before the election in 2000. That was a turning point for me to become a member of a political party. I was a fan of the Civic Alliance, but I never thought to become a member. But then they organized a series of rallies and protests asking what happened to Stambolic. They were the single voice in society asking for the truth.

There were several reasons why I became active, but everything revolved around the truth. For example, in 2002, my colleagues and I formed the NGO called LiNet or Liberal Network. We wanted to spread the ideas of liberalism, human rights, and the free market at the university. We saw some interesting parties in Europe with youth wings that were completely separate from the mother party. These youth wings had two parts — a classic NGO and a branch active at the university. We wanted to form an NGO active at university where we could talk about liberal values.

I guess it was successful. But we were always undecided whether we should be an NGO or become active in a political party. Like Dusan was saying, political parties here in 2012 are still not internally democratic. Decision-making processes don’t exist or are not from the bottom up. All the power is centralized around leaders. Members are not asked, or they are only involved during the election campaign.

The next turning point is when we made the Center for Transparency and Accountability (CRTA) and Truthometerr.

In 2005, there was a big corruption scandal involving the minister of capital investments, Vladimir Ilic. He gave a statement that if the theft is big you can’t keep quiet about it, but it’s okay to steal a little bit. What kind of message does that send to society, that it’s okay to steal a little bit? Please can you give me your wallet and I’ll take just a little?! We were angry, not just about what he was saying but because there was no reaction from other politicians, from the media, from independent institutions.

Then there was a protest against the assassination of Zoran Dzindzic. In the media, there were mixed messages: that the killers or the people who were accused of organizing these things were heroes. I strongly believe that we can’t play around with these things.

So, we were thinking about what to do. Of course we were active in LiNet. We were active in political parties. A bunch of us were spending time together, and our anger was gathering steam. Then in 2008 we saw Truthometer on CNN. We were like, “Hey, why don’t we have such a thing?” So, we decided to build it.

The problem is that it’s really difficult to build a truly independent institution like that. You’re immediately labeled as belonging to someone. I guess we were smart in asking some important people to be part of our advisory board. We invited journalists and activists. And in one year, with no money, we built a Truthometer. When we had some results, we asked the National Endowment for Democracy to help us to develop the Truthometer. Today, it exists in 10 countries in this region, and Moldova is also building one now.

 

Did they come here to learn from you?

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: Some of them, yes. There are people from Bosnia who did something similar called Istinomjer. They were very influential in spreading Istinomjer through the region. They are activists like us. They are also web developers, and they are doing more of that on the ground level. But for methodology, people usually come here.

Talking about the truth, being somewhere between politics and NGOs, doing advocacy: that’s something all of us love. We want to be in politics but also fight for values. You always have to make compromise. But when you talk about values, you can’t compromise. You have to make a coalition, yes, I understand that. But when you are talking about values, there are no compromises.

 

Can you give me your favorite examples of where Truthometer intervened in public sphere in successful ways?

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: We have a favorite example. It’s not successful, but we think it will be a turning point for Truthometer.

We’ve evaluated more than 1,500 statements. When you look through these evaluations, one person is really the worst. That’s Milutin Mrkonjić, the minister for transportation. He was minister of infrastructure in the previous government. When I say the worst, his red marks — bad evaluations get red marks – total more than 85 percent. When we evaluate, only facts count. We only evaluate statements published in newspapers or aired on television. They’re not rumors or off-the-record comments. We have to determine whether the facts in these statements are true or not: if the person fulfilled a promise, if he was consistent in what he was saying.

When this government was formed, Milutin Mrkonjić was again one of the people on the list to become a minister. We said, “Come on guys, you’re talking about accountability, but this guy is lying all the time!” We decided to have a press conference to ask Prime Minister Ivica Dačić whether he will again appoint Milutin Mrkonjić to the government, and then we asked people to react. We had a petition with 10,000 signatures in a couple days. We motivated citizens to react.

Unfortunately he became the minister. But people were clear that accountability is worth it. Because of that, I think this is the turning point for Truthometer. People showed that they trust us. We had an action where people automatically sent emails to Dačić’s office. There were a couple hundred emails asking for Milutin Mrkonjić not to be a member of government. Now we are following what is going on. So, we have a constituency that supports this idea. That’s something we’re proud of. This is really important for our society, which is really passive. After 2000, people didn’t become active and engaged.

 

Do you have any examples of politicians becoming more careful because of Truthometer?

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: You know, there is no word in Serbian for accountability. But when the previous government had a restructuring, the prime minister used the word “accountability” for the first time. The previous president and several ministers admitted that everyone was paying attention to deadlines. There was a huge amount of promises. Nobody, not even the media, was keeping track.

But then we started to keep track, and the politicians stopped. Maybe they don’t want to give any more deadlines for their promises. Also, the media is taking greater care to keep track of what politicians say. Several of these politicians have referred to Truthometer and what we highlighted on our website. I think this has influenced the political situation. But of course it’s not enough. We can’t stop and say that our job is done.

 

Truthometer requires a lot of people reading a lot of things and doing a lot of research. In the United States, we have several Truthometers connected to media organizations. Do you have a model that can make it sustainable if NED decides to stop funding it.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: That’s the issue for us. We need a lot of resources to do this properly. All of our donors right now are U.S., the biggest being NED and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. They really support our work. At the moment, it’s not possible for someone from Serbia to help fund this project. First of all, you don’t know who is behind that money, and we want to stay independent. The media are not free here, and one of the biggest issues here is who owns the media. So connecting with any media is also questionable. One daily newspaper Blitz publishes one of our stories every Saturday, but they publish what we send them. They don’t influence it.

Another source of funding might be companies: small and medium-sized enterprises advertising on our website. But people are afraid of doing anything connected with politics. As my colleague said, most everything is controlled by political parties. It’s hard to get a job without links to political parties. So, it would be hard to continue the work if we didn’t have support from abroad.

 

Have you considered affiliating with a journalism department at the university?

 

Dusan Jordovic: Actually, yes, we had this idea. But it takes a lot of energy to involve students from journalism or political science departments. Truthometer has to be dynamic. We have to publish new analyses every day. But we can’t expect students to respond as quickly as journalists who are working every day on these issues. Still, in the next period we will try to involve students in researching parliamentary functions to make reports to post on the website and try to improve legislative work.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: For all these things, of course, we need capacity. If you invite students, you need a mentor who will work with them. Also, professors at university are not so active here in Serbia. When we were in Great Britain on a study visit, we saw great cooperation between university and NGOs. In Britain, many NGOs use knowledge from academic research. Here that’s not an option.

 

What has been the most positive step taken at the government or party level on the accountability issue?

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: Rodoljub Sabic and the independent institution called the Commission for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection was one of the most positive things that happened in our society. Basically, this is a Serbian version of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from the United States. It was established around five years ago, maybe a bit more. It’s still good.

 

Bojana Milosevic: One of the best in the world.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: And the implementation is very good too. And Mr. Sabic succeeded in building an independent institution. People trust in what he and his colleagues do. That’s a really important part of democratic society.

 

Has there been a FOIA request that produced really interesting results?

 

Dusan Jordovic: Last year, there were 50,000 requests. Most of them were responded to in time. The office of the public trustee has functioned really well. But even though the response to the requests has been good, the results in society in terms of the transparency of institutions and accountability have been weak. I don’t know why. It’s really strange. When Kostunica was in power, from 2004 to 2008, there was a decrease in transparency of government work. Corruption is still the main problem.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: Also positive is the progress of the national parliament as an institution. Of course they could be better. But they did good work in the previous period regarding internal plans, internal staffing, organization, answering questions on FOIA. The Open Parliament process has been publishing parliamentary documents. So, parliament has become more open. The black hole is government.

 

Dusan Jordovic: We have adopted pro-reform, pro-EU laws in parliament. But implementation is a problem. There were pro-reform laws that were adopted but not implemented. We ask the national parliament, and they say that this is a priority and that they are aware of it. Everyone is aware of it. But I don’t know who will start to do it, or when.

 

When I talk to people here, political corruption is number one on their list of complaints. They don’t seem to know where to start. They say that all the parties and politicians are compromised, and they can offer only a few examples of clean politicians. They say that all institutions are corrupt. They say that the revolution wasn’t a revolution and the old guard is coming back. It seems like an overwhelming problem. It’s not even clear what the scale of the problem is! So, where do you begin and what kind of benchmarks can you establish for small-step progress.

 

Dusan Jordovic: Actually, there is no case in the world of NGOs successfully fighting against corruption without the support of independent institutions connected to the government: the judiciary system, the prosecutor’s office, the police. It’s clear that you need a political signal. Every political party, especially during the election campaign, promised to fight against corruption. That was a priority next to a higher living standard and more employment. But we never heard concrete plans.

The previous government said that it established a campaign to fight corruption. That shows its willingness to fight. And the agencies and independent institutions help our work, but I think they are feeling lonely. The only partners they have on this issue are some NGOs. We are pushing the new government to go from words to deeds. Forced in part by the EU, they are investigating some privatization deals from the previous period. But there is an overwhelming feeling that there is corruption at every step.

We are trying to collect data connected to public spending on the local level. By publishing this information, we want to inform citizens about what is happening with local investments and thereby narrow the space for corruption. If citizens have enough information about public spending, then the government feels that someone is watching them. But we cannot really force the agency fighting against corruption to fight more or to push the prosecutor to take up more cases. NGOs and citizens are both walking in the dark.

 

Bojana Milosevic: Part of this fight against corruption is education. We try to teach people that the money from the budget is their money. They just don’t feel that it’s their money.

 

Dusan Jordovic: Of course there’s corruption in America, in Western Europe. But here, aside from the big corruption, there’s also petty corruption. People will provide money to speed up the application procedure, for instance. One of the problems is that many citizens don’t see this as corruption. They just see it as, for instance, giving a gift to the doctor. So educating citizens is really important. But no one works on petty corruption.

 

People just see it as a tip.

 

Dusan Jordovic: Maybe it’s human nature. If you need to finish some work and it will take a year but you can pay 50 Euros to do it in one week, a lot of people will say that they know it’s corruption but they really can’t wait.

 

We make it official in the United States: you pay more to “expedite the process.” But the money goes to the government and not into individuals’ pockets. Would you say that this system of petty corruption existed under the Yugoslav system?

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: I can’t remember our parents talking about petty corruption. I don’t think it was as widespread as it is now.

 

How would you evaluate this office of corruption? As you said, it requires a political signal. And you said that it’s isolated. But is it effective?

 

Dusan Jordovic: There are some positive results regarding politicians’ property. All politicians have to declare their property to the anti-corruption agency. Also there have been several successful actions regarding the double functions of politicians, including someone who was both president of a municipality and member of parliament, which was not allowed.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: But again, we’re missing the judiciary system. When the prosecutors investigate, the judiciary system has to react. They don’t react. Or they react by postponing.

 

Why is the judicial system a problem? Because the judges are bad? They have case overload? They’re political?

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: All of these reasons. There’s case overload. And politics has influenced all levels.

 

Dusan Jordovic: It’s not just the judges. The prosecutor’s office plays a crucial role in the fight against corruption. They are, of course, politically influenced. If some politician in the ruling party says that some prosecutor is not doing his job – when in fact he’s simply looking into some cases involving the ruling party — they can be easily fired or moved to another municipality. There’s a case in Kragujevac with corruption at the university. The prosecutor there started the case. Some professors were fired. But they came back after a few years as if nothing had happened.

 

The professors were fired for misconduct?

 

Dusan Jordovic: They received money from students to pass exams. They also received money to give out diplomas without the students finishing all their requirements. The prosecutor in this case was punished silently, moved to another city on the other side of Serbia. Nobody told him directly that he was being punished, but later instead of going up in the structure he went down. Other prosecutors, when they see something like that, ask, “Why should I start some sensitive cases if that could happen to me? It’s better to remain silent.” And no one is asking them to be more involved to seek out these cases and make more prosecutions.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: We also don’t have enough judges and prosecutors, according to some research during this reform process.

 

Have you been following the situation in Bulgaria around judges? They just had public hearings on judges in the parliament and it was all broadcast and translated into English. It was the first time that people had a chance to hear the candidates for judges. Is there anything like that here?

 

Dusan Jordovic: The lists of judges are made by political parties. The European Union and some independent institutions said that this was a major problem: political parties are voting for concrete judges. When someone wants to be a judge, the party asks: is this candidate close to us or does anyone in our party know this candidate in order to influence them?

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: All 215 MPs should have the same opinion about the same judges. It shouldn’t be: we have our candidate and you have your candidate and let’s vote. A judge should be working in the interest of all people and all MPs.

 

Dusan Jordovic: They’ve changed the structure of the courts. In the previous period, every municipality had a basic court. But now, judges in one municipality travel to another municipality to hold a session. That’s a problem in terms of costs. But there’s another problem. Sometimes the judge and the accused are living in the same town and commuting together to the court. They are sitting together and going to a court session! Also, sometimes there isn’t enough space for trials, so the judges hold sessions in their offices. The public can’t be there, which is against the law.

 

In Montenegro, I was in a car accident and I had to appear in front of a judge, in his office. The most outrageous thing was that my court-appointed translator was the son of the woman who drove into my car.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: Such things happen here as well.

 

You mentioned that parties are not particularly democratic in structures. I assume that applies to the Democratic Party as well.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: They’re all the same. There are some differences, but they are not so important. As I said, everything is about the leaders. Usually, those leaders are surrounded by yes men. So there is no critical opinion within the political party. There is no debate, no essential discussion about policies. The decision-making process is very bizarre. They are all pro-democratic, but they can’t in themselves be democratic.

When they disagree about some major policy, they split the party. So you have two parties immediately. That process started at the beginning of the 1990s. It’s not about values or ideologies, about liberal or conservative. Of course there are social democrats, but they’re so weak.

Maybe we expect too much.

 

Have you had contact within political parties, where politicians have said that this is an important issue?

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: During the pre-election period, six months ago, no political party was clear about their policies. It was so general. There was nothing tangible that I as an ordinary citizen could hold the politicians accountable to when they took office. There was no manifesto or bullet points, for instance, on the health care system, education, culture. Of course they talked about fighting corruption and improving the economy. But clear measures and clear steps were missing. Only the United Regions of Serbia had something that resembled a platform and they got the ministry for economy.

At CRTA, we had 18 questions for the candidates. They were very tangible, like whether they would increase GDP. We sent this questionnaire to all political parties to get their answers. Here’s one example of their response. One of the questions was: are you in favor of putting sex education in elementary school? There were three choices: in favor, against, or no comment. Most political parties said no comment. We are one of the top ten countries in the world in terms of adolescent abortion. Less than 1-2 percent of the population uses contraception. And you say that you don’t know what to do about sex education? What are you talking about?!

 

Do you think they don’t have a position because it’s controversial given the Church position? Or because they are lazy? Or because they don’t have a process to come up with an answer?

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: Definitely the last reason. But they also balance these things. I don’t think they were thinking about the Church. Of course the Orthodox Church is very strong. On the other hand, we are not extremists. It’s not about that. It’s elementary education. It’s basic. We know that there was no process for answering the questions. If they could sit and think or if they had a policy board or if they had someone to deal with policies in the pre-election period, they could come up with answers. And no political party has done that.

 

Dusan Jordovic: Before doing any of that, they should solve the problem of fresh water in the school. We have schools that don’t have fresh water in the buildings. When you think about the first step, it would be to have some basic services for kids. Then you could go on to developing curricula and new subjects and evaluating teachers.

 

When you were in Washington, you talked about how representatives don’t really represent their areas. They represent the party interest rather than the constituents. One initiative was to establish offices in the district. It seems that to deal with problems at a local level, like a school that doesn’t have fresh water, you need a representative that feels the pressure. What other options are you thinking of?

 

Dusan Jordovic: We can change the election system.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: We want to establish direct communication between citizens and MPs. Right now, on the national parliamentary website, only 29 out of 250 MPs have their email addresses listed. Come on guys, email is a basic these days. That’s one thing we’ll push for in the future, for MPs to communicate directly through email.

These local offices were very good. On the other hand, they had some costs. When our budgets are empty, I don’t know if they will continue. But email has almost no cost.

Electoral reform is one option, and some organizations, even international organizations, are pushing for electoral reform. But if we make parties more democratic, we can talk about representatives who are more accountable to their citizens and not just their parties.

 

I’m interested in the rise of extreme nationalism in the region. I tried to get an interview with Dveri in Nis and here in Belgrade, but unsuccessfully. I’m curious whether you think there’s been an increase in extreme nationalism or if it’s been relatively the same, and the degree to which the current government represents that trend or not. And perhaps more importantly, what impact has that had on your work?

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: In our work, I would say not so much. We haven’t had any problems with them.  The court has even decided to ban one of these organizations, the one called 1389.

Yes, the current government played this previous role in the 1990s and also in 2000. And now when they are in government, their relationship with the extremists connected with football clubs and Dveri will be different. The relationship is not an open one. Some members of the Progressive Party can be seen at their rallies and events – as citizens rather than political representatives — and those extreme nationalists are also attending the rallies of the Progressive Party.

 

Bojana Milosevic: They celebrated together after the elections. You can see pictures of that.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: But now that they’re in government, I think their relationship will be weaker. On the other hand, I truly believe that the Orthodox Church supports these extreme nationalists. But I don’t think there is any indication that their influence or activism has increased. For this Pride march, there were just 20 people identified as problematic. If 20 people can stop the state from allowing the Pride march ….

 

I was told that the Constitutional Court said last year that it was unconstitutional for the state to cancel it.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: It still is. According to the constitution, you have freedom of gathering. And they will again ask the constitutional court to say what they think about this cancellation. And the court will again say, of course, that the constitution permits freedom of gathering.

 

Were your friends outraged that the march was cancelled?

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: It depends. Activists were pissed off, cursing the state, the country. On the other hand, you can read the comments of ordinary people in the newspapers or online. The problem is that we raise LGBT issues only when we have Pride. During the year, there are not so many actions or discussions about LGBT rights. You need to educate this society, to work with people. One of our colleagues suggested, and I think it’s a great idea, that we have Pride every month on the 6th. Or here’s another tactic: to hold a Pride parade on the day that the most popular football clubs have their final match. Then, if the government cancels Pride, will they cancel the final match as well?

 

The reaction of some activists, it seems, is to leave the country.

 

Dusan Jordovic: Some of the organizers of Pride 2010 left the country.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: It’s not just LGBT. The response of some activists is not to be more active but to leave the country. What’s the message here? Leave the country and…?

 

…wait until other people resolve the problem. And then come back. Let me ask you to evaluate the near-term prospects of Serbia, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being most pessimistic and 10 being most optimistic.

 

Vuka Crnjanski Sabovic: After the government changed with the elections in May 2012, I had mixed feelings and expectations. I didn’t expect that a new government and new president would be elected. On other hand, I thought it was time for a change. I was not happy with the previous government. I expected more from them, like combatting corruption and promoting a more pro-EU policy. Although they did do a lot of things that were pro-reform, it was not fast enough or deep enough.

On the other hand, this government had a role 20 years ago during the 1990s and that role was really problematic. Many people say that this is a new chance for them. We did a lot of good work in 2000 and after so that there wouldn’t be a new chance for them, so that they would be in jail.

Maybe these people will change something. Especially the new Minister for Defence Aleksander Vucic. People say he doesn’t have any connections to criminals so that maybe he can really fight corruption. As I said, I am optimistic, but with split feelings. So I’m in the middle with five.

 

Bojana Milosevic: I am more pessimistic. Because of the role this government had 20 years ago. I’d be a 3. I am still so surprised every time I hear on the news, “President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic.”

 

Dusan Jordovic: I’m also around the middle, maybe 5-6. Most of the people in the political parties in the current government had significant control in 1990s. Also, the previous government formed a path to the EU. But with this government we may only go some small steps down this path or we might go forward a few steps and then backward a few steps. Also, the economic situation and the overall political situation in Serbia cannot give us many reasons to be optimistic. So maximum 5 or 6.

 

 

Belgrade, October 8, 2012.

 


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