Aleksandar Vucic sworn-in as new President of the Republic of Serbia

Aleksandar Vucic was sworn-in today, at the National Assembly of Republic of Serbia, which marks the beginning of his five-year term-of-office as President of Serbia.

Mr. Vucic took the oath of office with his hand on the Constitution of Serbia and the Miroslav Gospel.

“I swear that I will dedicate all my energies to the preservation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia, including Kosovo and Metohija as its integral part, to the respect of human and minority rights and freedoms, defence of the Constitution and laws, safeguarding of peace and well-being of all citizens of the Republic of Serbia, and that I will perform all my duties in a conscientious and responsible manner.”

Vucic was elected President in the first round of presidential election, held on 2 April 2017, by capturing around 56% of all votes cast, i.e. having received support of more than 2 million voters. 

Prior to the swearing-in ceremony, Mr. Vucic addressed the citizens who had gathered in front of the Serbian National Assembly to demonstrate their support and congratulate him on the assumption of the office of President. 

Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms. Maja Gojkovic, welcomed Mr. Vucic and the now former President of Serbia, Mr. Tomislav Nikolic. 

The official swearing-in ceremony was attended by former Presidents of Serbia, President of the Republic of Srpska Milorad Dodik, Serbian Government Members, representatives of the diplomatic corps, religious communities and prominent figures from Serbia’s public and cultural life. 

Having been sworn-in as President, Mr. Vucic addressed the MPs and guests, sending a message that peace and stability would be the core of his political activity. 

Statement by H. E. Mr. Aleksandar Vucic, President of the Republic of Serbia, delivered at the National Assembly

Mr. Aleksandar Vucic, the newly elected President of Serbia, addressed the MPs and guests at the Serbian Parliament after his swearing-in ceremony. Following is the full text of Mr. Vucic’s statement: 

Dear Citizens, Dear Members of the Parliament…

Today, when I stand in front of you, in front of Serbia, all its citizens, not so far form the place where back in 1830 Milos Obrenović declared the First Hatt-i-Sharif and founded the independence of modern Serbia, it is more than clear to me that no matter how long I have prepared for it- and I have, my entire political life- I still cannot find the words to summarize, explain both honor and fear that I feel by assuming this, for me, sacred duty and obligation. 

And I know, as much as any man and woman in this country, that for being the President of Serbia I need deeds much more than words, and that it- final word and judgment will be said not today, but on the day when I leave this duty and when I am done with this most honorable responsibility.

Today, here, I want to thank all previous presidents of the Republic who gave their contribution to progress and prosperity of Serbia. In particular, I want to give recognition to President Nikolić, not a courtesy one, but for having the courage to support the most difficult, but the only meaningful measures that the Government took on the path of Serbia’s recovery. And I wish you Mr. President every success in your future work.

I am used to presenting the Government’s Program in front of this this distinguished institution– a comprehensive and complex one, and today, in accordance with the tradition of this ceremony, I will say a few indications, principles and legalities that I will follow during my office, striving- during that period- to change both myself and Serbia and to encourage every citizen to do the same, just to make it better,  stronger, richer and happier country, and all of us happier and more fulfilled people.

I know very well that this is a job for entire generations, and likewise I know that someone must begin with it, someone must make a step forward, take on himself the first momentum towards the future, the first leap over the dangerous precipice and that that person, while doing all that, has right to deal neither with his own destiny nor with any kind of personal benefit, but he needs to take very conscious sacrifice, for the people and for the country.

In other words, today, just like three years ago when I was assuming the office of the Prime Minister of Serbia, I have no doubts about what I should do.

For Serbia, its citizens, for the future we need to achieve-I must give literally everything, and for doing so I do not want to and I will not get literally anything, apart from the judgement on what I did and which will remain in history.

And it might seem a little to someone, since history does not envisage sanctions, but for me, that judgement is equal to the final one and it is the biggest warning and the best guideline for everything I must and will do in the upcoming period.

Therefore, it is the biggest account to give -in front of our children and children of their children. Everything else is a daily politics, which, as of today and in accordance with the Constitution I am not entitled to. At least not to the extent I was until yesterday.

It is up to me- and I was given that duty and responsibility, to lead this beautiful, adorable country towards the future. . 

It is up to me, and please allow me to quote, to find the path, take it and show it to others.

It is up to me, according to recommendations that in the beginning of the 19th century famous American President John Quincy Adams left as a heritage- to inspire others with my actions to learn more, dream more, do more and become more; to make Serbia- our motherland, our starting point and our dream- a better, happier, safer and richer country.

What I want to say is that no matter how much I want strong, safe and rich Serbia, I cannot reach it by myself. We need energy, strength, will and clear vision of such Serbia, in every citizen, entire people, who, by giving me this mandate, had already decided to embark on that long and difficult journey. 

I need unity, the one towards the same direction, in the same faith that it can be reached, and in the same amount of efforts invested in its achievement; unity free of daily, party, ideological and any other differences, and I will work on that unity with all my strength; on unity of all those who love Serbia, those to whom Serbia comes first- before personal and party interests.

I will ask for unity, every day, I’ll fight for it, giving a very brief explanation. I personally do not need it, I am politically an accomplished person, I have achieved all political ambitions, I won all election records, I have nothing else to reach on that sky, but Serbia and every person in it need that unity.  

Whether our future will be a common one, or whether we’ll have one at all is literally dependent upon our possibility to recognize a common goal, put joint effort into it and take such common sacrifice.

Divided Serbia and Serbia crushed down by interests cannot reach anywhere. Torn by ambition, divided by vanities, in fight over ideology, religion, party, nation, club, this and any other country does nothing else but signing the eternal act of remaining forever small, forever and in every sense poor one and forever free from any hope for better tomorrow. 

There is no freedom in divisions; no progress in quarrels; no goal in the mist of conflicts and no results without mutual respect. It is not visible, it cannot be recognized, it is unclear and thereby, unreachable.

And it is my duty-among the first ones to say that; just like it is my duty to say much harder things and to hear all those that are not good for me.

Anyway, according to George Orwell, freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. 

This is the one of the principles I will follow. Because it enables continuation of the process that we have started several years ago, and that has brought the first serious results. 

We told the truth, regardless of the fact that so many of them did not want to hear it, and we have started to change; to change ourselves and to change Serbia.

We admitted that we are not some kind of a chosen people, that we are neither the biggest nor the smartest, that we do not live in some kind of a heaven, but here in our Serbia and that situation will be just the one that we deserved with our work. 

We stopped waiting and started searching.

We stopped making excuses and started taking responsibility.

We stopped hiding and started facing every challenge.

We stopped looking for someone to blame and looking for excuses and started discovering mistakes in ourselves.

We stopped hoping that someone would give us something and started believing that we can create.

We stopped believing in death and war and started believing in life and hard work.

And finally, we stopped asking anyone for crumbs, but started believing in ourselves and in Serbia.

We built the foundation of our own future and future of this country on all that- on that change.

Together with the Government of Serbia I intend to continue to build on. To build, together with everybody in Serbia, floor by floor, step by step, brick by brick with no desire to ever finish this building, but only to build it high enough, to make it solid enough so that others who come after me, after us can reach unthinkable heights. 

And I am very aware of what I need, what we need to perform that task that is neither an easy nor short-lasting one. 

And we need what the great Thomas Edison swore in: hard work, commitment and common sense. 

In every difficulty- and there are many ahead of us- we need to look for the very same thing that Albert Einstein was looking for in them- an opportunity to succeed. 

We need, and I’ll stop quoting here, like Thomas Jefferson, to start believing in happiness but, just like him, to know that there is always more of it if we work even more and harder. 

This is the key to the door of our future; very simple one, if you are ready to take it in your hands and turn it in the right direction.

Hard work, commitment to such a hard work, common sense telling us that opportunities are hidden in obstacles that are in front of us, and happiness that we deserve, conquer by our hard and continuous work.  

Once we accept that, those simple rules, we will be able to resolve all the tasks that are in front of us and whose number is really great.

Peace- permanent, solid, fruitful peace, in Serbia in the entire region is certainly among the first. And I’ll work on it, I’ll talk to everyone, offer solutions, insist on dialogue and compromise, because I deeply believe that is the basis for every progress, every successful work and safe future. So, peace and stability- for many nothing but the words without a true and vital meaning, are and will be the essence of my future political actions. In order to be able to safeguard ourselves, we must talk to everybody, but also strengthen our defense capacities, because only in that way we can keep our country from those who threaten us on daily basis, publicly and openly, but also quietly and covertly. Serbia is an independent and sovereign country and such and only such Serbia can be the pride of all its citizens. Anyway, freedom is a value that our citizens have always put to the highest pedestal. 

Because of that and such beloved freedom, Serbia wants to create and secure its own defense, its borders, land, air and water. Therefore we do not want to enter military alliances and pacts, and take part in actions against some other nations and countries, just like some of them took part in the aggression against our Serbia. We want to be on our own, to have well equipped and modern army, Serbian army that can and knows how to keep and defend what is ours. We do not want anything from anyone, but we will not give ours to anyone. And we will be strong, strong enough to be able to do so. Politics of military neutrality will be politics that I will protect, but also cooperation with everybody whose part we do not want to be, but we are obliged to build different and better relations. 

Additionally, I believe that this entire region is a big system of connected vessels and destinies and that it cannot be good for us in Serbia if anybody, around us, is facing a bad situation. 

All of us together cannot find many things, apart from friends, in the great world that had been determined, divided and organized long time ago, but therefore, we can find many things here, in the market of more than twenty million people, whose size is hidden in their differences.

With hard work, common sense and happiness that we make ourselves, we can create a region where differences are an advantage and not a base for conflicts. 

By working and connecting, we can finally understand each other; we can understand how interdependent we are and we can create that kind of a future where a base for our relations will never again be fear and stepping back-reasons for reaching for arms so many times throughout our history instead of starting working.

And it will be my main message to everybody around us. Let us create jobs, because jobs create us, make children and then give everybody a new chance for more jobs and even more children. 

We have had enough funerals in the Balkans, it is time for births.

I will safeguard the integrity of Serbia, but I will always accept discussion with Kosovo Albanians, because we thereby preserve and defend peace. It is better if I feel bad, and sometimes humiliated, but it is much more important that Serbia is not humiliated and that people in our country have peace and tranquility. 

We have given enough to death; it is time to give life to life.

All of us together, in the Western Balkans have torn down a lot; almost everything-it is time to build. 

All of us together have been victims of our fears for quite enough; it is time to be heroes of the future we believe in. 

And precisely those messages are the program I’ll begin explaining in the region, looking for a new opportunity for all of us who live here. 

And I will not do that because Serbia is afraid of anyone, but quite contrary, I’ll do it precisely because we left all the fears behind. 

Therefore, I want us to open an internal dialogue on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, with all our differences, with no prejudice, observing the Constitution of our country. We must be open, liberated from mythical approach, but also from easily giving away something we are fully entitled to. Our internal dialogue, regarding that issue, is maybe more important than the one we should be having with Albanians.

Serbia is a serious, strong country that can defend itself, that is committed to its freedom and security and that, precisely because of it, always can and will offer a hand to everybody, having no fear about what might happen to that hand. Yes, we want to improve our relations with Croatia, we want to further promote cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia,  but also with Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria.

We have no doubts about anyone, but let no one have doubts about us; neither about our commitment to peace nor about our readiness to defend ourselves. 

Just like there should be no doubt about European path that we are committed to. And it is not just a phrase or a mandatory sentence learned by all the politicians in the Balkans. We want to create a democratic society and exactly that type of a society is the main reason for our persistent and lasting survival on the European path. We will continue on that path, without asking anyone for anything, but firmly believing in ourselves and reforms that we can and must carry out - again, not because of Europe, but because of ourselves. 

For many years we have been accused that we would not be able to preserve our clear and honest friendship with the Russian Federation, but in the most difficult conditions we managed to resist every pressure and stubbornly keep and build the best possible relations with the Russian people and their state leadership. Serbia will follow that politics in the future as well. We are proud of our friendships and not ashamed of them at all. 

In the past few years we managed, more than ever, to build cordial and very warm friendly relations with the People’s Republic of China. They helped us by taking over Smederevo Steel Mill, but also by participating in numerous infrastructure projects in the field of energy and mining.

We established new relations with India, improved the ones with Japan and South Korea, and we need to invest a lot more efforts in strategic improvement of relations with the United States of America. The one who would not build friendship with America, regardless of our differences on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, would make a big mistake and cause an immense damage to our Serbia. I will certainly not do that. 

We want open, broad sighted Serbia; Serbia for everybody, ready for cooperation, eager for work and new opportunities. We want Serbia of different nations, which live in peace and harmony; we want people that will not be recognized only by their religion, but also by their honesty and diligence.  

Because it is the best way-since work requires rules, to organize our country, to make right everything that we hadn’t yet, to make it comfortable for every man and woman living in it. 

And I will particularly be committed to that and I’ll ask the Government and the Parliament to speed up and continue with reforms, out of which those in judiciary are probably the most necessary, but certainly not the only ones, and that we all continue with daily changes, in every segment of our public life, in order to be able soon to say peacefully and rightly-we, Serbia, are both Europe and the world, according to every standard existing in Europe and the modern world. 

I plan to open discussions on constitutional reforms. We are bound to that by continuation of our European path, but also by our internal needs. Those changes cannot be reached without agreement, without many talks and discussions on what for the first time might be our strategic goals in the future. It will be required to involve all social stakeholders into those discussions- starting from the Academy of Sciences, civil society and political parties. Anyway, this is a big and an important goal, and if we fail, it will be just one more time that we failed to agree on key state issues. 

We should look forward. If the purpose had been to look backwards we would have had eyes in the backs of our head.  One should love the country of our children and not the one of our ancestors. Because the honor will not depend on where we are coming from, but where we are heading. This was written by the great Bora Pekic, and I will try, to the extent possible, to follow these true and magnificent words.

It is, my dear citizens, honorable members of the Parliament, a job that is in front of us and that I intend to deal with.

I am not afraid of it, because you know the saying that nobody ever drowned in his own sweat, so I can – and which I intend to, give myself a good sweat. 

Anyway, history makes me do that. Eight hundred years ago, in 1217, after coronation of Stefan the First-Crowned, Serbia became internationally recognized country. Two hundred years ago, in 1817, Serbia- after centuries of slavery, gained its autonomy and made the first step towards the new statehood. 

Today, in 2017, probably nothing so big and important has happened, except for one thing. Serbia got a President that will fight for it, with all his heart, strength and energy. 

It was given by the people, in the name of the people and for the people. 

For the people that will be the same for me, their President, regarding the rules, possibilities and opportunities to ask from me, to make demands. 

As the President of Serbia, I’ll always want to stand by our people living around us, to stand by Republika Srpska, but also to stand by Serbs in Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia and Romania. To help preservation of temples and monasteries, because only there where the Serbian Orthodox Church is strong, in the space of former Yugoslavia, our people managed to keep their thresholds. 

Finally, I want to thank our people, all our citizens for their enormous support, for hope and faith in different and better future, and after all, for responsibility and help to perform our official duties in the best possible way. 

And I believe that with your help, dear citizens of Serbia, I will be able to answer every question and every demand, and to respond to every challenge in front of me. Because, like Lao Tzu said, being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

And I love this country above everything.

And it will make me a very brave president.

It is up to me to earn everything else.

Thank you for your attention.

Long live Serbia!