Tamara Milenković Kerković is a Ph.D. in law and a professor of international trade law at the Faculty of Economy in the University of Nis. Vice president of the national conservative Serbian movement, Dveri, and member of parliament of the Republic of Serbia, Prof. Milenković Kerković is the author of the Economic and Social Programme of Dveri. She is in charge of social and economic issues, public finances, higher education, and culture.
After the first meeting in Kragujevac, the new National Rally held a meeting in Nis. Is the unity of the Serbian Right confirmed?
Yes, the meeting in Nis was a great success, with large attendance and the commitment of the three patriotic and conservative parliamentary groups to move forward, to hold further meetings all over Serbia and to unify our activities.
The driving force behind this unity has been Kosovo.
Yes. We are totally opposed to the so-called Franco-German agreement, which is nothing more than an ultimatum to recognise the state of Kosovo. Last month there was a dramatic parliamentary session in which President Vučić tried to defend the agreement, but without showing us what the agreement said. Our rights as parliamentarians were not respected and the session ended abruptly. Of course, the next day the regime’s media accused us of being extremists and of having tried to ‘lynch’ the president.
Is there a demonisation campaign in the media against the National Rally?
Of course there is. The media are closed to us. The regime media are paid by the government and the so-called independent media are paid by the West. So we have no means to defend ourselves against those who try to stigmatise us—and even accuse us of wanting to stage a coup d’état. This is the price we have to pay for not accepting Kosovo’s sovereignty de jure and de facto.
But this is against the Serbian constitution which says that Kosovo and Metohija are an integral part of the country.
That’s right, and there are many arguments why this recognition would be unconstitutional. First of all, it goes against international public law and also against UN Security Council Resolution 1244. Furthermore, the president of the republic does not have the power to decide foreign policy—that is the task of the government and parliament. But the media call us extremists for defending the constitution.
Could Serbia’s EU membership be behind this agreement?
No, we have no promise that we will join the EU and I doubt it will ever happen. European integration is being used as an excuse to accept the agreement. If we refuse, the integration process will stop, but the truth is that we have been integrating for 23 years. It is nothing but blackmail.
What does the agreement entail?
As far as we know from the agreement, Serbia shall not prevent Kosovo from joining international bodies, including the UN, and in return Serbia will get the “Community of Serb Municipalities” in Kosovo. This is something that had already been achieved in the Brussels Agreement, signed by our government ten years ago, in 2012. An agreement that was also unconstitutional, but our Constitutional Court decided not to assess the legal nature of this agreement.
However, despite signing it, the Albanians refused to implement this “Community of Municipalities,” and now they are offering us the same. But in reality it is worthless because it is a merely symbolic entity that has no real power. It is all for nothing.
Several European countries, including Spain, have not recognised Kosovo’s independence. Is this agreement not opening the door to a Trojan Horse for many European nations?
Of course it is. The recognition of Kosovo sets a catastrophic precedent in Europe and can cause many problems in Cyprus, Spain, and other countries. On the other hand, the president’s media campaign is announcing that if we do not accept the agreement, sanctions will be imposed against Serbia—or that all foreign investors will leave our country. Basically he is comparing us to Russia, but Serbia is not at war and has not broken any international law to receive sanctions.
Has there been any reaction on the streets to this agreement?
Yes, on Serbia’s independence day, February 15th, there was a large demonstration of around 5,000 people in front of the presidential palace. The police arrested several demonstrators, including a journalist who has begun a hunger strike to denounce that he was arrested for simply speaking out during the protest. This is the situation we have in Serbia.
The National Rally also defends the family, conservative values, and Christianity.
We are a conservative party and we defend important values. The protection of the family is one of the central points of our programme. Serbia has lost almost one million people in the last ten years, too many for a country with only seven million inhabitants.
Another major issue is the undervalued national economy. In recent years 93.5% of state subsidies have gone to foreign investors, while only 6.5% have gone to domestic companies. This is a huge disproportion. Our state must support our companies and our agriculture.
What about gender ideology?
This is also a fundamental aspect of our struggle. In the summer we won a great victory when we succeeded, with the support of the Church, in preventing the Europride week from being held in Belgrade.
I think your party have also managed to remove a number of school books that contained gender ideology.
Yes, when we checked the primary schools books we found that several textbooks contained LGBT ideology, and we started a campaign in the media and in parliament to have those contents removed. Of course, we suffered a campaign by the independent media that branded us as anti-LGBT and anti-human rights. But we were again supported by the Church and the education commission agreed with us. Gender ideology was removed from four biology textbooks.
Eighty percent of the Serbian population is of the same opinion as us on this issue. We find a similar percentage opposed to the Franco-German agreement, as well as sanctions on Russia from Serbia.
Serbia has so far refused to impose sanctions on Russia and Vučić has good relations with Putin.
Last year, at the beginning of the war, the Serbian president and government rejected EU pressure to impose sanctions on Russia, but now the discourse is completely different and it seems obvious that public opinion is being prepared for such a step. Vučić has been Putin’s great friend and was even decorated by the Russian president—but times have changed.