22.12.2011 Belgrade

Djilas: Belgrade is changing Serbia

Djilas: Belgrade is changing Serbia
Belgrade Mayor Dragan Djilas says he wants another term as a mayor and that there is no possibility that his party will ask him to engage in any other function he does not want.

I deliver the best results to Democratic Party when Belgrade is prospering. There is no possibility that my party will instruct me to engage in something I do not want. It is not a good thing to make Superman of Dragan Djilas. I am not sure that this experience in Belgrade and my previous life experience are enough to be a good Prime Minister. But I know for sure that life experience of Tomislav Nikolic did not teach him anything about that function and that it would be wrong for him to be Prime Minister, Djilas said in an interview with Novi Magazin.

I will do even better job in Belgrade for the next four years, trust me. Today I know much more about Belgrade than four years ago, there is still some work for me to finish, and when Belgrade is prospering then entire Serbia is making progress as well.

Asked about allegations of corruption, Djilas said that when he came to Belgrade, the RSD price for concrete paving was 25 percent higher than it is now. If the value of RSD has dropped for 25 percent in the meantime, then the same amount can be used for concrete pavement of 50 percent more streets in Belgrade today. We made the Public Procurement Agency following the example of European ones and saved tens of millions of RSD.

However, I have auditor’s orders which say that I, as a mayor, cannot buy crude oil for hundreds of schools at the same time. There is no use in trying to prove that by doing this we will get a lower price and ensure that each school can afford heating. The auditor requires that the City complies with the law and funds each school to individually acquire crude oil, and it does not matter how much more this will cost. I am saying this because we do a good and rational thing, and someone is trying to convince us that this is illegal. So what should be changed then - life or law.

The city's health minister, who was a doctor by profession, used to build health centers in the past. He knows how to cure people and where we should be making new health center, but has no idea about the construction itself. This is why we established the Agency for Investments, hired 50 architects, mechanical and electrical engineers... And we gave this job to them. In three years we have built 30 kindergartens, six schools, health centers in Belgrade suburbs Zemun, Mirijevo and Kaluderica. Thanks to this organization Belgrade now has an effective system resistant to ignorance and corruption. We built a school in Belgrade suburb Bezanija in one hundred days. We had offers from 430 to 550 million. We canceled all bids and went for an auction. Do you know which price we got - 370 million. One million Euros was saved for Belgrade citizens only in case of this one school. This is how I would conduct any public procurement.

Kosovo and the EU, Djelic and responsibility

When asked how the closed discussions with the Central Committee of Democratic Party leaked into the public, Djilas said he thought it would be better if the entire main board was open to the public. This will rule out any speculations on issues that actually never happened.

I said what I meant, and I still mean it today. I, Dragan Djilas, feel responsible because we did not get the candidate status even though my job was in Belgrade, not in the government. If nobody in the government, other than Bozidar Djelic, feels responsible, I believe this is a problem all of us at Democratic Party which should be discussed, instead of the dilemma of whether or not to replace one or two ministers before the election. In line with this story about our responsibilities, I suggested to the Main Committee that every candidate should have his name first, and only then a membership card of this or that party.

I ask the citizens of Belgrade to vote for people who have worked with me for four years and not for the parties, because Belgrade has nothing to do with politics. And on national level I ask my party to nominate those people who will get citizens’ votes because they are capable politicians with recognizable names, and not members of a certain party. I was very strict regarding this issue and I told some people to run for the power in their municipalities or towns only by means of their names, and not to hide behind the Democratic Party.

If they do not get support from citizens, they should retire from politics. The part that was most mentioned in public concerns Serbian candidacy for EU and was linked to my observation regarding Bozidar Djelic who resigned because he did not fulfill his promise that Serbia will get candidate status, although he and the European Integration Office gave their best.

We did not get candidate status because of problems in northern Kosovo and Metohija. I said that the actions of Germany were deeply unfair because Serbia has deserved this status by all means. But I believe it is our job to see if something different could have been done to avoid what happened to us. When it comes to Kosovo we have two extremes again, one is that we should not talk to Albanians at all, and the other is to give them everything immediately. We need to sit down and talk because otherwise we will lose everything. There is no plan that can give the North of Kosovo less than what they have now, and that is the fact that Kosovo is de facto Serbia.

author: Nadezda Gace, Misa Brkic source: Novi magazin
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