Serbia’s Parliament Speaker: Opposition leader hides behind bishop

Ivica Dačić
Source: Foto: Tanjug/ Rade Prelić

Ivica Dacic, Serbia's Parliament Speaker, accused on Tuesday Dragan Djilas , an opposition leader, of hiding behind Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Bishop Grigorije of Düsseldorf and Germany mantle, "because he (Djilas) himself cannot win an election."

Grigorije, an outspoken SPC dignitary, has recently criticised Serbia’s authorities who understood that as his intention to get involved into politics and even run for president.

„There is no man who can be a saviour; it is necessary to create a system so that we do not look for a saviour every time, Grigorije said last Thursday, adding that he had a plan to gather young people who were ready to sacrifice for Serbia to create a system in which nothing would depend on one person.

His remarks apparently referred to what many other critics of Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said, accusing him of taking control of all institutions and bringing decisions on his own.

And as an inevitable target by the regime’s officials and the pro-government media, Djilas, the leader of the opposition Party of Freedom and Justice (SSP), denied to N1 on Monday, he had anything to do with Grigorije’s statement, saying only the two knew each other from long before.

But Dacic said that „what is the issue here is a need for a hide-and-seek game to blur who is behind,“ explaining why he saw Djilas behind Grigorije’s mantle.

Before Dacic, the SPC Synod said Grigorije spoke for himself and not on behalf of the church. It described the bishop’s words as „exclusively political, even of a party’s character, which has nothing to do with the SPC mission.“

In contrast, when other SPC dignitaries issued the pro-regime statements, neither state nor the church officials described them as political.

The Synod failed to characterised as „exclusively political and even that of a party’s“ the statements of its dignitaries who referred to Vucic as the saviour of the Serb nation in Kosovo.

The SPC late Patriarch Irinej said last October: „Vucic is fighting with many problems in Kosovo. He showed himself as a responsible statesman regarding many national issues. His work will be judged in the elections.“

On Tuesday, Dacic said he would not like to offend any SPC’s bishop, but „if go to the political ground, that would certainly be a political fight.“

„I only want to say that you cannot be both – a bishop and a presidential candidate,“ he told the Belgrade Happy TV.

He disclosed that over a year, some people from political analytics told him that Grigorije, the SSP Deputy leader Marinika Tepic and the President of Serbia’s Academy of Science Vladimir Kostic „or someone like that, but not Djilas, (another opposition leader Vuk) or the others.)